CNN is reporting, based on news reports in Arab media, that Saddam Hussein was hanged shortly after 10 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time. At this point the reports are unconfirmed, but Iraqi TV is reportedly broadcasting that information to the citizens there. I guess Bush won't get his State of the Union split screen after all...
Although the U.S. has taken pains to distance itself from the event, so that it doesn't look like it's being carried out by mere viceroys (good luck convincing the Muslim world of that...) there was a bizarre twist at the last minute, with Hussein's lawyers appealing in U.S. district court to try and stay the handover of the former dictator from U.S. to Iraqi custody. There's a lot of rich irony in this paragraph from a Bloomberg account:
Gilman told the judge that Hussein is petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus to force the U.S. government to let him argue that his rights are being violated.I guess Hussein's lawyers didn't realize that in the Bush era, the U.S. doesn't do habeas corpus ... sort of like a certain dictator we know...
10:33 update: CNN now reporting that Iraqi state run TV is confirming that Hussein is dead. His half-brother and intelligence chief Barzan al-Tikriti and Awad Ahmed al-Bandar, who was chairman of the Revolutionary Court that ordered 148 Shiite villagers in the village of Dujail, north of Baghdad in 1982, after an assassination attempt there, also are (or already have been) on the gallows. I can't help but wonder if it's significant that Hussein was hanged on the day of the high point of the Muslim Hajj (he wasn't exactly a model Muslim, though not surprisingly, he seemed to find religion at the end...)
True to form for our violent little duchy in the desert, Iraqi state run television couldn't even get the scoop on the Hussein execution -- that honor went to U.S.-run al-Hurrah TV, the Bush administration, and outfits like CNN (which broke the story first.) The BBC concurs that the U.S. trying to portray this as a purely Iraqi event, but it appears that story isn't going to be quite believable. More on that and reax from London here. This reaction is typical:
Kamil Mahdi, Iraqi expatriate, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter universityIraqi Shiites and Kurds will no doubt rejoice at the execution of their tormentor, who ran Iraq like his own private fear factory. Sunni reaction, both in Iraq, and around the world, remains to be seen.
Quite honestly, I don't think much of it any more, given what's happening in Iraq. It will be taken as an American decision. The worst thing is that it's an issue which, in an ideal situation, should have unified Iraq but the Americans have succeeded in dividing the Iraqis.
...so, by the way, does the videotape. And I suppose Dubya will make some sort of sober sounding statement, as soon as he and Laura and the puppies are through hiding in the armored car from that tornado alert in Texas... (ahem) But will Bush benefit from Saddam's offing? signs point to no, according to John Zogby and other analysts, unless Iraq is somehow magically pacified, stat.
Labels: current affairs, Iraq, Iraq war, news, Saddam Hussein