YTsurveys Yemeni public on Saddam’s executionHussein hailed as martyr, denounced as dictator [Archives:2007/1015/Front Page]

January 11 2007

By: Mohammed Bin Sallam
SANA'A, Jan. 9 ) Thousands across Yemen held Al-Ghaib prayer service to honor the soul of the former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, on Tuesday, Jan. 2.

High ranking officials and Hussein's relatives living in Yemen since the collapse of his regime in 2003 held the service two days after Hussein's hanging at the break of Eid Al-Adha. They were with Yemen branch's Ba'ath Party to perform the prayers in an open yard, very close to many foreign embassies in Sana'a.

Those who attended the prayer demonstrated against America and Iraqi government and chanted slogans against American president George Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Noori Al-Maliki.

The demonstrators also lifted posters of Saddam Hussein together with Iraqi flags and black flags, indicating their sadness. There also lifted signs reading, “The racism of American administration has been shown before the whole world” and “If Saddam martyred, all of us are Saddams”.

26, organ of Yemeni Army, published a letter sent by Hussein's family to President Saleh. The letter, signed by Haj Taha Abdullah Al-Haj, Mohammed Hassan Al-Majeed Al-Haj and Haj Jasim Hussein Al-Magid, expressed their thanks and gratitude to President Saleh for his position, considering him an exemplary of Arab bounteousness and dignity. Addressing Saleh, the letter continued, “The Iraqi Jihadists [Mugahideen] will not forget your noble attitude.”

The Iraqi government, headed by Noori Al-Maliki, executed Hussein at the break of Saturday, Dec. 30, a day coincided with Eid Al-Adha, after an Iraqi Court sentenced him to hang as part of the Dujail case where 148 Shiites were killed.

Arab reaction

People's reactions about Hussein's hanging have been varied at all levels. In Iraq, some people came out to streets to celebrate the occasion in some regions where they consider Hussein to be a criminal who slaughtered thousands. The satellite channels presented hundreds scenes of Iraqis dancing and firing into the air, while sadness and speechlessness prevailed other faces. Hundreds of them came out to streets to protest his execution considering it a great loss for the Arab Nation.

The contradiction of attitudes prevailed in the entire Arab world and across the globe. Many people considered the timing of his hanging as an insult to all Arabs and Muslims, while others considered it to be multiplied joy as the execution ridded them of dictatorship.

Political analysts believe the quickness in implementing the execution against the former Iraqi President is an attempt to hide the secrets of other regimes involved in other crimes.

Some other analysts believe Hussein's execution will stop or reduce violence and security unrest prevalent in Iraq and this prompted the Iraqi government to renew its calls to all Iraqis for a comprehensive national reconciliation, aiming to end the daily bloodshed.

Yemeni reaction

In Yemen, the attitudes were also different.

Nabil Al-Soufi, a member of Islah Shoura Council and editor in chief of News Yemen website, declared that people agree that Hussein committed many crimes for which he deserved execution; however those who executed Hussein did not realize he is the president whose government fell under occupation and not by a public revolution.

According to Al-Soufi, execution should have been treated in some other manner as his execution will create greater internal problems and the court that convicted Hussein did not meet the required natural, legal and technical conditions.

“Americans dealt with Hussein's case in a duality we could not understand. Al-Maliki's government cannot do anything only with directions from the American Administration,” he explained. “So, the latter is the real player in Hussein's execution and thus it is held responsible. It became clear later and from scenes telecasted by some websites that Hussein was executed in a political revenge.

“His execution has taken a sectarian shape and this is dangerous to all countries neighboring Iraq. A political party is trialing another party out of his possession of power – Saddam's regime displaced the opposition and now they displace his regime followers and here we can't speak of rights or law.”

For his part, Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani, a leading member of Public Forces Union Party with Zaidi tendency and chief editor of the party's organ, said Hussein's execution was expected after the trail that took place. However, the timing of execution was not suitable. It was supposed that Hussein should stand an international trail for his alleged crimes against humanity. Also, some parties, in revenge and supported by U.S., implemented the execution and not the state. When Bush was unable to catch Osama Bin Laden, he executed Hussein to raise his popularity among his people.

Executing Hussein in such a manner turned him into a national and Islamic martyr, according to Al-Khaiwani. The reactions made it clear that there is a sectarian scenario within the Arab media address as in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. It is clear that the execution is to be invested against the Iraqi resistance and to pass the American project in the area. It is also to divert attention from the Palestinian issue, by naming Iran as an alternative enemy instead of Israel.

“I do not believe Iran stands behind the execution as promoted by some because it is a country that deals pragmatically with political issues. It is true that it supported the execution, describing it as just; however, it denounced his execution in Eid Al-Adha,” explained Al-Khaiwani. “I can't blame Iranians for celebrating his death after eight years of war, a million martyrs and the same number impaired.

“There is a national project adopted by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in the Arab area. Virtually, the project's aim is to defend Sunni Arabs, while they aim to keep up the American existence in Iraq. It seems that all neighboring countries will not allow the establishment of a democratic system in Iraq as they are the only beneficiaries of dividing Iraq.”

Unfair trial

Qasim Sallam, a member of country leadership of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party told Yemen Times that, “It is wrong to call it an execution. It is killing, for execution is built on legal pillars and moral restrictions.

“Saddam Hussein did not stand a trial, they tried to tame him and Americans at other side were talking with him with an aim of concessions on his part. However, he refused all temptation and declared what he thinks of Iraq and its people, but not of himself as he said when addressing the court,” added Sallam.

Sallam went on to say that Hussein's killing was programmed since March 2003. Some Arab regimes asked officially for his head from Bush in return for their participation in war. America knew it could not attack Iraq only with consent of the five neighboring countries. America presented a gift for Iran, which was greatly involved in the process. There had been a dialogue between America and Iran from one side and Iran and some Arab regimes on the other earlier to Iraq's invasion in 2003. Thus, the American and Iranian lobbies met on this operation.

“Killing Saddam was programmed beforehand,” said Sallam. “They offered him to set him free in return for giving up resistance. Bush did not go to Iraq to for democracy and human rights, but to plant American bases there to protect American interests in the area – oil, energy and dominance are the reasons for which leader Saddam Hussein was assassinated.”

At Arab and International levels:

Middle East Newspaper published an opinion for Mashari Al-Thaidi in which he tried best to know the beneficiary behind killing Saddam Hussein.

“Executing Saddam in that quickness and timing would add fuel to the sectarian war in Iraq between Sunnis and Shiites, whether accepted Noori Al-Maliki and Mufaq Al-Rubia'i or not.

“He was executed and, to say the truth, he was brave, courageous and committed to his principles to the last breath. The coming question: what is next? And before that who is the beneficiary of Saddam's killing in that strange manner and timing?” enquired Al-Thaidi. “Al-Maliki's government, that rectified the execution, seems to be personally responsible for Saddam's killing and thus we are before an individual and partisan revenge.

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“Was Iran aware of Saddam's execution and did Al-Maliki and his governing Shiite sect consult it in this respect? For sure, these people can not decide anything without Iran's consent. New Iraq's men as for Masoud Barazani know how many times Al-Hakim came out the room during the formulation of the constitution to phone Iranian side to get the instructions from them,” added Al-Thaidi. “Still the question is what interest Iran has in executing Saddam and evoking Sunnis at this time?

The answer is ambiguous and we know nothing. Some would say Iran wants to burn up Iraq under American feet and make the task difficult before regional powers as for Saudi Arabia via launching a real civil war and to say later we are the only ones who can calm down Shiites and prevent their violence. Either you confess this and come to us or we will destruct all your projects and at the long run you will come to us.

Iran wants to give Shiites the impression that it is the only one who is concerned about their sufferings and who revenges their enemies.

Others would say no and Iran is not beneficial from Hussein's killing as his rein ended years ago and he has posed no risk since then. Iran also wants to appear before Muslims as non-sectarian. Killing Hussein at the hands of hangers who chant the name of Muqtada Al-Sadr and Mohammed Baqr Al-Sadr (Al-Dawa'a Party's symbol) would provoke Sunni anger against Shiites, not just in Iraq, but the whole Islamic world.

Thus, Iran will be compelled to defend and protect Shiites instead of being the leader of the Islamic world as wished by its leaders. It will turn to a sectarian country that protects Shiites in East and West.

What is really surprising is the American role. Why did Americans hand Hussein over to Al-Dawa'a Party and Al-Sadr and Al-Hakim followers? Were they ignorant that executing Hussein in this particular time would lead to civil war in Iraq?

Is it another mistake committed by Americans in Iraq or do they want Iranians and Shiites to be involved in combating the Sunni extremism and thus they come out of it with Shiites and Iranians fighting on their behalf?

The encounters between aspirant Iran and Arab camp has become clear. Saudi Arabia issued a statement in which it denounced Hussein's execution which had been planned over night and the same thing applies to the Egyptian statement as both of them predicted the coming period would be a heated one.

Concluding his article, Al-Thaidi maintained, “The coming period will witness more tension, war and sedition, and who expects Iraqi war to be the peak is false. There would be other peaks for seditions which have not sprung up yet and they will destruct everything: security, peace, development and religious toleration.”

In Yemen, the Yemeni Socialist Party, in its statement distributed on Jan. 5, denounced the way in which Hussein was executed.

“The disaster has reached unaccepted limit where destructive and unaccepted violence mingled with legitimate resistance against the foreign occupation,” the statement said. “Saddam was executed in barbaric manner with legal aspects mixed with sectarian fanaticism, hatred and revenge spirit.

“The Socialist Party calls upon all parties to have a dialogue to let Iraq out of the current situation via working on toleration, national interest, democracy and occupation termination,” concluded the statement.

For his part, Munir Shafiq, criticized Hussein's execution and warned of the consequences of this crime.

“Saddam's trial was a formal and illegal one and it was supervised by Pentagon. This execution came as coronation to the American invasion of Iraq which led to complete chaos, thousands of victims and millions forced out the country,” said Shafiq. “It also caused Iraq to let in a civil war. Executing Saddam at the dawn of Eid Al-Adha is an insult directed by American occupation to Arab and Islamic Nation and further fuels the civil war.”

Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and expert in human rights, asked the Iraqi government not to execute Hussein's accomplices and to reform the judicial system in accordance to the international standards.

According to a U.N. press release, Alston pointed out that the Iraqi government should take measures immediately to remove capital punishment penalty against Brazan Ibrahim Al-Hassan and Awad Al-Bandar and instead apply life imprisonment. The government should be prevented from changing judges and adjust the 30-day period between issuing the ruling and its implementation.

Alston, a law professor at New York University, added that the trial was characterized by limitations and Hussein was not given the chance to defend himself and the government hastened his execution under political pressure. There was not enough time for appeal and legal channels were closed before those who sought to review the ruling. Moreover, the manner by which the execution was implemented is offensive and violating to human rights as Saddam was looked down upon by his hangers as seen on TV screens.

Human Rights Rapporteur, Luzir Arbour called the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, not to execute Saddam's Aide, Brazan Al-Hassan, former head of intelligence and Awad Al-Bandar, former chairman of Al-Thawra Court, which ruled in Al-Dujail case.

“The international law does not allow the implementation of capital punishment only under strict legal framework,” said Arbour. “Being committed to international conventions, the Iraqi authorities should give the convicts a chance for reducing the punishment or complete amnesty.”

Michele Montas, U.N. spokeswoman, noted that the Secretary General agrees with Arbour for postponing further executions.