Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saddam Amongst Friends | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Those who watched the drama unfolding during the latest session of the historical trial of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad would have been in no doubt as to how powerful he remains behind bars. He is still the president, or so it seemed to all those who watched the trial, despite the judging reminding him otherwise. Other defendants treated him as if he were the president, obeying his orders and believing all his words.

As for his half-brother, Barzan al Tikriti, he appeared as a bad actor, screaming loudly, initiating fights and faking illness. Paradoxically, Barazan was claiming to the whole world, especially the media outside of Iraq, that he represented the good side of a heinous regime and that he had nothing to do with what happened in the past: he has rebelled and opted for exile in Switzerland where he became involved in defending human rights, after giving up all his privileges and leaving behind his post as head of intelligence. In practice, however, Barzan was head of Saddam’s publicity machine abroad and its financial backer, thereby gaining this fake reputation.

Barzan who turned up in court in his underwear appeared, evil, cowardly and conceited. He denied every document he had signed himself, claiming the signature was faked. Saddam, on the other hand, voluntarily declared he was responsible for every piece of paper that carries his signature and would not hold his former colleagues accountable. In the past, Barzan maintained he was ill and suffering in his cell and claimed he was on the verge of death, demanding world leaders and the Iraqi president and prime minister intervene to secure his release. In court, he appeared healthy and raised countless objections. He exhausted the court but did not tire and repeated, “You are oppressing me so that I do not speak”. The judge ran out of patience and replied that the defendant had wasted a quarter of the session talking and interrupting.

Barzan was unlucky to return to Baghdad at the worst possible time, having left the Iraqi capital and settled into a new life by Lake Geneva . He suffered a string of bad luck when his second wife died at the start of the trial, while his first wife died of illness before he was arrested.

Other defendants in the dock appeared to enjoy being let out of their cells to watch the world or, rather, be watched by it. They contented themselves with supporting the president, when he glanced at them from time to time and deferred to him. They are not to blame given that they imagine their future to be one of two alternatives: either they gain the sympathy of the court and are given prison sentences or the situation might change and Saddam will return to the presidency, as he himself believes. In that case He will show no mercy and punish those who deserting him by sending them to the guillotine.