Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The King of Clubs | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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He ranks number six [King of Clubs] in the most-wanted Iraqi playing cards that were distributed by US troops during the invasion of Iraq, however until now he remains the only card at large. He is like a cat with nine lives, for every time there are reports of his death, he appears within days to disprove them. It was reported that this man was suffering from leukemia, diseases of the digestive system, and colon and heart disease, therefore news of his death is something that we almost expected. His external appearance gives little clue to his inner self; his face does not betray his thoughts or position. If you were to strip him of his title, and remove him from the limelight, nobody would even notice him. This man was only educated until middle school before he began his life in politics. He was imprisoned at an early age, and he tasted poverty, and homelessness. He even took up selling ice cubes on the side of the street until he was given the nickname “Abu al-Thalj [Father of Ice].”

When the Saddam Hussein regime collapsed, many predicted that he would be the first to be captured, and that his need for medical treatment would force him to surrender. However he defied all odds and refused to surrender. This man is an enigma, and even the $10 million bounty placed upon his head by the US has failed to unlock the mystery surrounding his disappearance. Some claim that he is living in Syria, while others say that he is hiding in Yemen, while others believe he is hiding elsewhere, however his supports insist that he remains in Iraq, that he is leading the armed resistance against the US military presence, and that he has allied with Al Qaeda.

His adherents look at him as if he were a Sufi ascetic, saying that he is one of the most devout and upright figures of Saddam Hussein’s regimes. However his rivals strongly question this, and cite his unethical role in the 1988 Anfal Campaign [against the Kurds] and his silence over the injustices that he witnessed. He is also known as something of a playboy, having been married number of times; he is also known to be a strong father figure to his 24 children.

Some believe that the stories that are told today about his resistance against the US military presence in Iraq are exaggerated to the point of fiction, and that his name is merely being evoked a symbol. This is because a man of such advanced age suffering from numerous medical conditions requires medical treatment, care and attention. However his rivals have acknowledged his role according to the Arabic proverb “the truth is what is witnessed by your enemies.”

In short, the continued disappearance of Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri is one of the most baffling and complex mysterious of our time. If we try and apply the laws of logic to this, we would find that everything points to the conclusion that this man may actually have died years ago, and all that is left of him is a “scarecrow” that is being used by some militant groups to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies or to win over sympathizers of the former regime. There is always an opportunity to win over new supporters amidst the ongoing sectarianism and foreign intervention in modern Iraq. This support does not spring from nostalgia for the past, but rather from a sense of hatred towards current conditions.