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The Execution of Saddam Hussein…A Crime of Timing - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Saddam Hussein killed his opponents in the name of Arabism, honor, and pride. The Iraqi government executed Saddam Hussein by hanging at dawn on Saturday, before Muslims slaughtered their sheep as a sacrifice on the first day of Eid ul-Adha, in the name of democracy.

Whilst the excuses were numerous, the act was one: the killing.

Unfortunately, what was disturbing about the timing of the execution and its pretexts was that it made a lot of people seem as if they are apologists of Saddam Hussein. This was the atrocity of the Iraqi government, as a strong smell of sectarianism surrounds the execution.

To hang Saddam Hussein for the Dujail case only is a way of ignoring many facts. It was not only the Shia who suffered from the former Iraqi ruler’s regime; the Kurds, who are also Sunnis, were massacred monstrously at the hands of Saddam’s soldiers. Why was this not documented as part of the conviction of the “slaughtered” president? There was also the massacre in Ramadi, which was committed against the Sunnis. Furthermore, Saddam Hussein was also responsible for the blood of the victims of the Iran and Kuwait wars and the prisoners of the latter. Thus, it was not only the Shia who were victims of Saddam’s actions.

Regrettably, the government has opened a sectarian wound that will never heal. It chose the first day of Eid ul-Adha for the Iraqi Sunnis and the Islamic world to hang Saddam Hussein. We are aware that even the west would not implement capital punishment on Christmas day or on any other religious occasions and after all that, the Iraqi prime minister came out to say that Saddam is not a representative of any sect in Iraq! Such an argument is of no use.

Saddam Hussein, throughout all his crimes, was smarter than the current Iraqi government. He spread his oppression equally, as his victims belonged to various communities in Iraq, whereas the Iraqi government has reduced Saddam Hussein’s crimes to those which affected the Shia.

Some spoke about the judicial measures. All of us know that Saddam Hussein’s trial and execution were both political issues and not only a judicial matter.

The timing of the hanging came as everyone discussed national reconciliation. Ironically, the slogan of Iraq’s state channel, Al Iraqiya, was “For Reconciliation in Iraq”, whilst it broadcast a song called, “Today Iraq asks for His Blood”.

Saddam Hussein was a tyrant who deserved to be hung and to this we say yes! However, the timing of his execution was extremely provoking, due to the holy day. Therefore, we have the right to say that the problem with Saddam’s hanging was that it was a crime of timing, and the speed with which it was carried out will only pose more questions than answers, and it will deepen the loathsome sectarianism in Iraq and in the entire region even more than what we have witnessed so far.

What we saw and what we heard from many Iraqi officials after the execution of the former Iraqi president had nothing to do with statesmanship, but was rather the sheer desire for revenge. The state does not take vengeance but rather punishes, and the political leader should show consideration rather than take risks. What we witnessed however, was revenge and not punishment.

Unfortunately, the democratic government of Iraq became equal to Al Qaeda by showing the scenes of the one being executed. It ruined the conviction against Saddam Hussein and he spoiled their democracy. It even managed to give the former president an ending that portrayed him as a strong and staunch man.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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