Sometime this evening, if it hasn’t already happened, Saddam Hussein will most likely be executed for a portion of the crimes he committed during his reign as dictator of Iraq. While his lawyers are pleading for a stay of execution for various reasons, many in Iraq are glad to see this chapter of Iraq come to an end. However, should he be executed now without being tried for the many other crimes he’s been accused of? And what does the execution mean in the grand scheme of events in Iraq?
“Saddam’s execution is a gift from God, and we must thank God for this gift,” Shiite cleric Sayed Sadir al Din al-Qubanchi told worshippers in Najaf.
“I swear, I will pay all the money I have to see him executed,” said Emad Jassim, a 41-year-old businessman from the Shiite holy city of Najaf, where Saddam – a Sunni – had ordered thousands of people attacked, tortured and killed. “He killed three of my brothers, my father, two of my uncles and sent my mother and sister to jail. God help the oppressed.”
While these sentiments are echoed by many in the country, there is a bit of confusion about the speed at which this execution is occurring, especially since there are many more crimes that many would like to see him tried for.
Since December 2003, when American forces discovered Saddam hiding in an underground bunker near his hometown of Tikrit, many Iraqis had said his execution was inevitable. But the news Friday that it was imminent confused and shocked the country, which had assumed that its dictator of nearly three decades would face several more trials before death, including for his actions during the Iran-Iraq war and the Persian Gulf War.
Coupled with the issue that Saddam will not be tried, while living, for these other crimes, the supporters of Saddam, especially those in the town of Tikrit, have vowed that his death will result in an increase in violence in the country of Iraq.
Ramsey Clark, who worked on Saddam’s Defense has suggested that the Iraqi tribunal should be disbanded and that the trail was flawed, adding:
“The stunning illegality and unfairness of the trial has already been overwhelmingly condemned by international law experts,” Clark said. He called for an “independent international group of legal experts to fully review the trial.”
I personally agree that Saddam should not be executed so quickly, but not because I think that he should be afforded some leniency or that the International Community doesn’t agree with the death penalty. No, I think that there is much more we could learn from him about the state of Iraq before the war, his involvement with terrorism or at least try him on other charges before performing the sentence he was given by the Iraqi government.
However, that is tempered by the knowledge of what could happen to him and those trials if he were to be taken to the Hague and tried in International Court.
In March of 2001, Slobodan Milosevic was forced to surrender to security forces on charges of corruption and abuse of power. Five full years later, with delays and excruciating slowness of action, Milosevic died of a heart attack with the trial still going on and, never able to present his defense and no closure on the issue could ever be completed.
In seeing the result of the ‘speediness’ of an International trial in full view, I must say that the situation we have with Saddam is better, but now that he has at least been tried with one of the crimes against him, there is much less to lose with going ahead and trying him on the other serious crimes he is charged with so that the victims of those crimes can see justice done as well.
Unfortunately, it appears that the minds of the Iraqi government has been made and he will be executed soon.
But what will this do to the current state of Iraq? Shiites will applaud the action, Sunnis will not. It will most likely create a further divide between the two groups as they play out control of the current Iraq. In the conflagration currently occurring, Al Qaeda will most likely continue to try increasing their foothold in the country, neighboring states will become more concerned by the violence while trying to ensure their desires are met in Iraq. And the county itself will not start forming as it should.
It was once thought that the death of Saddam would bring an end to the separation of the country, start a new chapter and hopefully start the healing that will be needed if Iraq is to rebuild. However, because of the total mismanagement of the current state of affairs in Iraq and the foolish attempt to stave off a civil war and possible separation of Iraq into three distinct country, Saddam is no longer really much of an issue in the county and it’s healing process any more.
I’m not sure I understand the constant desire to prevent civil war from taking place. Throughout history, even our own, there have been times when war was the only way to resolve the conflict that existed between two peoples. In this case especially, a country that was created arbitrarily by an outside force and further kept together by a brutal dictator’s regime, it may be that allowing the violence that is already occurring to continue and resolve itself naturally may be the only way now that this issue can be put to rest and some sense of peace and prosperity can take the place of hatred and violence in the area.
In the end, the execution of Saddam has gone from being a major event in the development of Iraq to a sad footnote of an every increasing land of violence that is itself being prolonged by the very people trying to keep it from occurring.