Just as suddenly and mysteriously as it appeared, it disappeared even more suddenly and mysteriously.
I am talking about the so-called “al-Arab” channel that was broadcast for only a few days. This appeared during the first days of Eid al-Adha, which coincided with the third anniversary of the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and which broadcast his pictures, speech, and poetry, as well as images of his execution synchronized with songs and poems recited by Saddam himself.
Despite what was said about the ambiguity surrounding the location of the channels headquarters, and the identity of its backers, the mechanism of satellite transmission allows one to discover where the channel is being broadcast from, whether this is Syria or Libya, and through which satellite [provider]. But perhaps there is no desire – except from one party – to announce this. It is clear that there is some collusion between financiers, supporters, and sympathizers, who wanted to take part in an adventure by broadcasting such a channel and receiving feedback on it, but this satellite channel was quickly taken off air.
There can be no doubt that the great mistake made in Saddam Hussein’s execution was the way that it was carried out, and it brought about a violent and sectarian atmosphere. This is a mistake that has been exploited for the past three years and it seems this will continue, especially in a region that is as troubled by sectarianism as ours. It is as if the ritual of execution that the channel – which came and went quickly – tried to show was an attempt to erase the truth about Saddam Hussein and his past in exchange for portraying one truth, namely, how Saddam was killed and who killed him. However those who tried to invest in the incident forgot that the execution took place in accordance with Saddam’s own legacy, which was practiced against the Iraqis in a much uglier manner. Of course this does not justify what happened in any way but it brings to mind the power of the legacy that the former Iraqi president left behind…
There is no doubt that in Iraq and in the surrounding areas there are many Saddamists who do not hesitate for a single moment to depict someone like Saddam as a hero. What is meant by heroism in this instance is the heroism of bias sectarianism, nationalism and fanaticism that is not void of delusions that feed off the Arab imagination and its legacy of heroes of the sword and shield. Saddam, who ruled with an iron fist and who drowned Iraq in slogans of “Arab unity” and fake heroes [riding] on the back of a tank has today been transformed into a symbol, and a crucial factor for many who want to secure a victory in the upcoming Iraqi elections and in regional confrontations.
What should we expect following the Saddam television channel incident? Should we assume that doctrinal and sectarian fever will push some people to launch a channel that continuously broadcasts images of the leader of the Islamic revolution [in Iran] Khomeini and images of his death in the same way that Iranian television [already] does, showing this moment by moment, and repeating it on every anniversary!
There is no doubt that Saddam’s transformation into a symbol represents a major defect in the politics and in the meaning of citizenship in post-Saddam Iraq.
Being preoccupied with the meanings behind a Saddamist channel, and perhaps in the future a Khomenist channel, symbolizes a misuse and failure of politics.