Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saddam in Court: Trial or TV Drama | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

If the latest events telecast out of Saddam Hussein’s genocide trial were not carried on Arab satellite news channels, viewers could have easily mistook it for one of the new Ramadan TV drama series.

The metaphor here is not to mock or undermine the significance of the trial but rather to draw parallels between some of the dramatic scenes played on these Ramadan Productions, and what we have witnessed coming out of Saddam’s court room drama, regardless of its 20 minute delay.

Images of Saddam’s first trial (and the first trial of a tyrant Arab leader) came and went and were weak and inconsistent, because its cast lacked solid justification or a significant presence. The chief issue of the Iraqi people’s rights who suffered many atrocities during the Saddam era, is fading into the background, and is now only a prerequisite of the current court room drama. The evidence is in the news coverage which centers around the explosive exchanges between Saddam and the presiding judge, with hardly any focus on the case the former Iraqi leader is being tried for, or the witnesses who revealed the injustices they’ve encountered first hand.

Now without a doubt, conducting a trial with an individual like Saddam Hussein is a complicated endeavor, but because it is just that, it helps to repeatedly re-examine what Iraqis and Arabs perceive by watching this trial and the meanings endorsed because of it.

The former Iraqi president seems to thrive on his shouting-matches with the judge, as he could be seen smirking while being led out of court. From the onset of the trial, Saddam realized that he was the lead character in this court room drama, and enhanced his performance to emphasize that role, and this led the judge in the case to lose his temper telling both the former Iraqi leader and his co-defendants to “Shut up”.

The sad thing here is that hardly anyone who witnessed the latest sessions can recall anything about the focal point of the trial; the Anfal military campaigns. The 1988 campaigns resulted in the deaths of around 100 000 Kurds, the destruction of three thousand villages and the displacement of thousands of innocent people and is just one of the cases Saddam is being tired for.

The latest to come out of the Saddam trial is not a conducive model of the justice that is desired. The issue here is not about sympathizing with Saddam Hussein, but is a matter of justice, law and a sense of significance that Iraqi people need before anyone else. The truth of the matter is that Saddam’s trial is more of a local ritual for retribution, which does not serve the truth and will not heal the wounds of the Iraqi people.