In the midst of the Iran-Iraq war, on July 8, 1982, members of the Dawa Party, at the behest of Iran, tried to unsuccessfully assassinate Saddam Hussein in the town of Dujail. On December 30, 2006 the Dawa Party finally got their man.
Saddam Hussein’s hanging after a deeply flawed trial is not likely to increase the violence in Iraq. However, the hanging is likely to make the already remote possibility of political reconciliation that much more distant. The death of Saddam at the hands of Iranian-backed Shia will also rehabilitate Saddam Hussein’s legacy in the Arab world. The erstwhile Butcher of Baghdad will become a martyr of sorts – an Arab nationalist who resisted Western forces and died at the hands of an unholy alliance between Iranian and Western powers. Saddam will be remembered as a bloodier version of Gamal Abdel Nasser. Saddam Hussein will represent to Iraqi nationalists what Mohammed Mossadeqh represents to Iranians – a nationalist leader who was overthrown by Western powers for a few more barrels of oil.
There is simply no way around this fact – the United States of America allowed Saddam Hussein to be killed by the very pro-Iranian Shia party that is responsible for killing hundreds of Americans in terrorist bombings. The United States allowed Saddam to be killed for a crime he committed while he was an agent of America against Iran. These are the ironies of the American involvement in Iraq today. The occupying power has served up the head of Saddam to one of the warring parties engaged in a civil war. If the goal is to push Iraq further into civil war, today’s hanging will help achieve it.
While Mr. Maliki of the Dawa Party and Mr. Jabr, the death squad leader of SCIRI, were cooling their heels in Damascus in the Spring of 2003, they probably could not have imagined that just over 3 years later America would hand over Iraq and the head of Saddam Hussein to them and their Iranian backers. After all, they had fled to Syria and Iran because of their attacks against Saddam Hussein and American interests in Kuwait and Lebanon. After trying to assassinate Saddam Hussein in Dujail, the Dawa Party, on Iranian orders, exploded truck bombs at the American and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983:
The driver of the truck that exploded in an attack on the United States Embassy in Kuwait on Monday has reportedly been identified by Kuwaiti investigators as a pro-Iranian Moslem fundamentalist from Iraq.
According to diplomats in Kuwait and press reports there, the driver, who was killed, was 25-year-old Raad Mouchbil.
An Iraqi Embassy spokesman said in a statement issued in Kuwait that Mr. Mouchbil had already been condemned to death in Baghdad for what the statement said were ”criminal activities.”
The Iraqi spokesman said Mr. Mouchbil was a member of the banned Moslem fundamentalist pro-Iranian Al Dawa group in Baghdad. He described Mr. Mouchbil as having been a strong supporter of Iran’s policies.
The United States stepped up support for Saddam Hussein after the attacks by the Dawa Party. Iran and the Dawa Party terrorists were the enemy. And of course Saddam Hussein had oil and there was money to be made:
Another key element in the growing American involvement here is the planned construction of a $1 billion oil pipeline from Iraq’s Kirkuk refinery through Jordan to the Gulf of Aqaba. The project, now under negotiation, would include a $570 million contract for the Bechtel Corporation.
From the American point of view, the pipeline, along with a second planned line through Saudi Arabia, would help tie Iraq to what are regarded as moderate pro-Western countries in the region. The Iraqi perspective is that having an American equity in the project – particularly that of Bechtel, whose former officers are prominent in the Reagan Administration – will guarantee its protection from Israel.
Iraq is now pumping about 700 million barrels of oil a day through its Turkish pipeline. A second pipeline through Syria, which supports Iran, was shut off by Damascus.
The United States has also granted Iraq about $2 billion in commodity credits to buy food over the last two years. Donald Rumsfeld, the former Middle East special envoy, held two private meetings with the Iraqi President here.
While Donald Rumsfeld, as the representative of the American President, was negotiating for Bechtel and giving out map coordinates for chemical weapons attacks, there was no mention of the killings in Dujail or the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds and Iran.
So, now 14 years after Dujail, Saddam has been hanged for his response to an assassination attempt by the Dawa Party. Saddam’s response at the time was to kill over a hundred Shia of Dujail as retribution – and the United States turned a blind eye. Fourteen years after the fact the Butcher of Baghdad has himself been butchered by terrorists who themselves have American blood on their hands. Today’s killing does not look like justice to me – it looks like an assassination.