Saturday, January 06, 2007

Saint Saddam?

David Seaton's News Links
There are things that beggar belief. Any apologist of the Iraq war, when driven into a corner by the weight of his opponent's arguments, would finally retreat behind, "well, anyway, the Iraqis are better off without Saddam Hussein, aren't they?" The image of Saddam as a sanguinary, subhuman beast was central to the entire narrative. By dying in a manner straight out some Arab legend told around a Bedouin campfire, a lion among jackals, defiantly praising the Palestinians, his last words the Shahadah, Saddam was allowed to utterly destroy the American raison de guerre. Total incompetence or a move to deepen the split between Sunnis and Shiites leading up to an attack on Iran? Certainly for the neocons the main objective has always been Shiite Iran. However, it's difficult to see the drama of Saddam's hanging as a Zionist conspiracy; how could they know he would die so bravely? Finally, then, who is the loser in this war? Not Saddam Hussein. If death is defeat we are all losers... everybody has to die sooner or later... to enter into Arab folklore, to be sung and honored for generations, after doing almost everything you have ever wanted to do for most of your long life could certainly be considered victory. DS
Images of Hanging Make Hussein a Martyr to Many - New York Times
Abstract: In the week since Saddam Hussein was hanged in an execution steeped in sectarian overtones, his public image in the Arab world, formerly that of a convicted dictator, has undergone a resurgence of admiration and awe. On the streets, in newspapers and over the Internet, Mr. Hussein has emerged as a Sunni Arab hero who stood calm and composed as his Shiite executioners tormented and abused him.(...) in Beirut, hundreds of members of the Lebanese Baath Party and Palestinian activists marched Friday in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood behind a symbolic coffin representing that of Mr. Hussein and later offered a funeral prayer. Photographs of Mr. Hussein standing up in court, against a backdrop of the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem, were pasted on city walls near Palestinian refugee camps, praising “Saddam the martyr.” “God damn America and its spies,” a banner across one major Beirut thoroughfare read. “Our condolences to the nation for the assassination of Saddam, and victory to the Iraqi resistance.” By standing up to the United States and its client government in Baghdad and dying with seeming dignity, Mr. Hussein appears to have been virtually cleansed of his past. “Suddenly we forgot that he was a dictator and that he killed thousands of people,” said Roula Haddad, 33, a Lebanese Christian. “All our hatred for him suddenly turned into sympathy, sympathy with someone who was treated unjustly by an occupation force and its collaborators.”(...) “The Arab world has been devoid of pride for a long time,” said Ahmad Mazin al-Shugairi, who hosts a television show at the Middle East Broadcasting Center that promotes a moderate version of Islam in Saudi Arabia. “The way Saddam acted in court and just before he was executed, with dignity and no fear, struck a chord with Arabs who are desperate for their own leaders to have pride too.” Ayman Safadi, editor in chief of the independent Jordanian daily Al Ghad, said, “The last image for many was of Saddam taken out of a hole. That has all changed now.”(...) “He stood as strong as a mountain while he was being hanged,” said Ahmed el-Ghamrawi, a former Egyptian ambassador to Iraq. “He died a strong president and lived as a strong president. This is the image people are left with.” Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian media critic and director of the online radio station, said: “If Saddam had media planners, he could not have planned it better than this. Nobody could ever have imagined that Saddam would have gone down with such dignity.” Writers and commentators have stopped short of eulogizing the dictator but have looked right past his bloody history as they compare Iraq’s present circumstances with Iraq under Mr. Hussein.(...) “Was it a coincidence that Israel, Iran and the United States all welcomed Saddam’s execution?” wrote Hamadeh Faraneh, a columnist for the daily Al Rai. “Was it also a coincidence when Saddam said bravely in front of his tormentors, ‘Long live the nation,’ and that Palestine is Arab, then uttered the declaration of faith? His last words expressed his depth and what he died for.”(...) Mr. Safadi, the Jordanian editor, said: “In the public’s perception Saddam was terrible, but those people were worse. That final act has really jeopardized the future of Iraq immensely. And we all know this is a blow to the moderate camp in the Arab world.” READ IT ALL

No comments: