Wednesday, January 03, 2007

how to make a martyr

nir rosen @ iraqslogger:

hijacking eid and hanging saddam

the important muslim holiday of eid al adha was due to begin over the weekend. for sunnis it began on saturday the 30th of december. for shias it begins on sunday the 31st. according to tradition in mecca, battles are suspended during the hajj period so that pilgrims can safely march to mecca. this practice even predated islam and muslims preserved this tradition, calling this period 'al ashur al hurm,' or the months of truce. by hanging saddam on the sunni eid the americans and the iraqi government were in effect saying that only the shia eid had legitimacy. sunnis were irate that shia traditions were given primacy (as they are more and more in iraq these days) and that shias disrespected the tradition and killed saddam on this day. because the iraqi constitution itself prohibits executions from being carried out on eid, the iraqi government had to officially declare that eid did not begin until sunday the 31st. it was a striking decision, virtually declaring that iraq is now a shia state. eid al adha is the festival of the sacrifice of the sheep. some may perceive it as the day saddam was sacrificed.

... although the shia dominated iraqi media claimed saddam was terrified prior to his execution and fought with his hangmen, saddam's on screen visage was one of aplomb, for he was conscious of the image he was displaying and wanted to go down as the grand historic leader he believed himself to be.


the new york times:

u.s. questioned iraq on the rush to hang hussein

none of the iraqi officials were able to explain why mr. maliki had been unwilling to allow the execution to wait. nor would any explain why those who conducted it had allowed it to deteriorate into a sectarian free-for-all that had the effect, on the video recordings, of making mr. hussein, a mass murderer, appear dignified and restrained, and his executioners, representing shiites who were his principal victims, seem like bullying street thugs.

but the explanation may have lain in something that bassam al-husseini, a maliki aide closely involved in arrangements for the hanging, said to the bbc later. mr. husseini, who has american citizenship, described the hanging as "an id gift to the iraqi people."


nir rosen @ iraqslogger:

saddam had been in american custody and was handed over to iraqis just before his execution. it is therefore hard to dismiss the perception that the americans could have waited, because in the end it is they who have the final say over such events in iraq. iraqi officials have consistently publicly complained that they have no authority and the americans control the iraqi police and the army. it is therefore unusual that iraqis would suddenly regain sovereignty for this important event.


digby @ hullaballoo:

bush's law: if it's possible to make things worse, he will.

saddam hussein is the the man i would have thought was least likely to be turned into a martyr, but damned if they didn't manage to do it. bush's law. and here's the great thing about it — the us, which claims rather unconvincingly that it had no say in this because iraq is a sovereign country, gets blamed for this right along with the shi'a government and moqtada al sadr. terrific. lose, lose for us — as usual. heckuva job, bushie.

christopher hitchens @ slate: (hitchens has been called "the gold standard for leftwingers who had adopted the neocon stance on iraq", so his post represents something of an ongoing epiphany)

lynching the dictator

... in spite of his mad invective against "the persians" and other traitors, the only character with a rag of dignity in the whole scene is the father of all hangmen, saddam hussein himself.

... the said chief perpetrator was snatched from the dock — in the very middle of his trial — and thrown as a morsel to one of the militias. this sort of improvised "offing" is not even a parody of the serious tribunal that history demands.

... did our envoys and representatives ask for any sort of assurances before turning over a prisoner who was being held under the geneva conventions?

... we have helped to officiate at a human sacrifice. for shame.

... to have made the butcher saddam into a martyr, to have gratified one sect, and to have cheated millions of iraqis and kurds of the chance for a full accounting — what a fine day's work!


p.z. myers @ science blog pharyngula:

how can they screw up this badly?

why is it that i, nasty ol' atheist who is completely ignorant of theology and religious history, can see the parallels in the execution of hussein, but our theocracy-sympathizing leaders bumble along, failing to see the damning errors of their position?

... you know, foreign occupying power, powerful religious group agitating for the execution of a hated, charismatic competitor, promises of who will bear the guilt for the deed, metaphorical washing of the hands ... jebus, if i know what a counterproductive pr disaster that was for the pharisees and the romans, what's the matter with the american leadership in iraq? don't they read the bibles they thump? add to that that they've apparently done the execution at a time when it is "religiously unacceptable", and we've got a situation that makes pontius pilate look good.


the new york times:

at the burial, several mourners threw themselves on the closed casket. one, a young man convulsed with sobs, cried: "he has not died. i can hear him speaking to me." another shouted, "saddam is dead! instead of weeping for him, think of ways we can take revenge on the iranian enemy," sunni parlance for the shiites now in power.


the los angeles times:

sunni grief, anger flow at funeral

"today they proved themselves that the trial and the execution were mere retaliation and not justice," said a mourner from tikrit, near al auja, who gave his name only as abu mohammed, a customary nickname. "it is clear now against whom we should retaliate."


booman @ the booman tribune:

shrine desecration and other happy news

the execution of saddam was handled very badly. there were many errors, but allowing footage of the executioners yelling 'moqtada, moqtada, moqtada' was perhaps the worst mistake. the sunni response, breaking into the samarra shrine and parading around a faux-coffin of saddam the martyr-hero, is about the worst sacrilege imaginable. imagine a bunch protestants blowing the dome off of st. peter's cathedral. then imagine them breaking into the church and parading around pictures of hitler and mussolini. there is not going to be any end in the cycle of sectarian violence.

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