Saddam: Really and Sincerely Dead

I’ll never forget the Iraqi student who became terrified when he discovered the car he was riding in was inadvertantly passing by Amman’s Iraqi embassy. He insisted Saddam’s mukhabaraht was hanging around the embassy and would recognize him and come after him. As the car passed by the building, he tried to sink down in his seat so as not to be visible. Maybe it was true. Back in 1999 there were plenty of Iraqis in Amman with stories about their relatives being killed by Saddam.

Richard Nixon was certainly a divisive figure in American politics. But when he died, the man who he had defeated for the presidency, South Dakota Senator George McGovern, was the first to put aside the Watergate fiasco and remember that Nixon opened diplomatic relations with China.

In the same way, Chicago gangster Al Capone was no doubt was responsible for innumerable gangland killings. Today he is remembered in his home suburb of Cicero as a man who kept the streets safe for children. Adults remember how when they were children during the depression they would line up every weekend by the movie theater. Capone’s car would pull up and he would pay the nickel admission for all the children.

Now Saddam is gone and the eulogies can begin as the world tries to redefine itself without him. Maybe we can start with how Saddam defined himself. In a letter released by his lawyers before his death, Saddam says,

“You have known your brother and leader very well and he never bowed to the despots and, in accordance with the wishes of those who loved him, remained a sword and a banner.

“This is how you want your brother, son or leader to be… and those who will lead you (in the future) should have the same qualifications.

This is how Saddam saw himself as a leader. Not compromising or engaging in diplomacy, but doing battle and being contentious. Not exercising guidence and leadership, but being swept up by the Arab street as a symbol for the mob. This was the old style Arab leader in the mold of Egypt’s Nasser, Palestine’s Haj Amin, or even Jordan’s King Hussein who frequently visited Saddam on vacation hunting trips. Someone who was larger than life and could be a symbol of the emotional ferver of the nation.

But Saddam was wrong when he said the leaders of the future need to be in the same mold. The new leaders will have to understand tribal politics, but also global politics. They will have to understand not just how to stay in power, but how to maintain economic stablity in the region.

In Saddam’s 8-year war against Iran, some 1.7 million died on both sides, and Iraq was left with a war debt of $75 billion. Some $30 billion of that war debt was owed to Kuwait. In the subsequant war against Kuwait, an estimated 20,000 to 100,000 more Iraqis died.

Does Iraq need more bloodshed and saber-rattling, or do they need someone in the CEO mold of Jordan’s King Abdullah, who seems to understand global economics enough to negotiate successfully with the IMF. No, this is the 21st century. Let’s hope Saddam was the last dinosaur of an era.

Here is the translation of Saddam’s letter:

“In the past, I was, as you all know, in the battlefield of jihad and struggle.

“God, exalted by He, wished that I face the same again in the same manner and the same spirit in which we were before the revolution but with a problem that is greater and harsher.

“Oh beloved, this harsh situation, which we and our great Iraq are facing, is a new lesson and a new trial for the people by which to be judged, each depending on their intention, so that it becomes an identifier before God and the people in the present and after our current situation becomes a glorious history.

“It is, above all, the foundation upon which the success of the future phases of history can be built.

“In this situation and in no other, the veritable are the honest and faithful and the opposing are the false.

“When the insignificant people use the power given to them by the foreigners to oppress their own people, they are but worthless and lowly. In our country only good must result from what we are experiencing.

“To the great nation, to the people of our country, and humanity: Many of you have known the writer of this letter to be faithful, honest, caring for others, wise, of sound judgement, just, decisive, careful with the wealth of the people and the state… and that his heart is big enough to embrace all without discrimination.

“His heart aches for the poor and he does not rest until he helps in improving their condition and attends to their needs.

“His heart contains all his people and his nation, and he craves to be honest and faithful without differentiating between his people except on the basis of their efforts, efficiency, and patriotism.

“Here I am speaking today in your name and for your eyes and the eyes of our nation and the eyes of the just, the people of the truth, wherever their banner is hoisted.

“You have known your brother and leader very well and he never bowed to the despots and, in accordance with the wishes of those who loved him, remained a sword and a banner.

“This is how you want your brother, son or leader to be… and those who will lead you (in the future) should have the same qualifications.

“Here, I offer my soul to God as a sacrifice, and if He wants, He will send it to heaven with the martyrs, or, He will postpone that… so let us be patient and depend on Him against the unjust nations.

“In spite of all the difficulties and the storms which we and Iraq had to face, before and after the revolution, God the Almighty did not want death for Saddam Hussein.

“But if He wants it this time, it (Saddam’s life) is His creation. He created it and He protected it until now.

“Thus, by its martyrdom, He will be bringing glory to a faithful soul, for there were souls that were younger than Saddam Hussein that had departed and had taken this path before him. If He wants it martyred, we thank Him and offer Him gratitude, before and after.

“The enemies of your country, the invaders and the Persians, found that your unity stands as a barrier between them and your enslavement.

“They planted and grounded their hateful old and new wedge between you.

“The strangers who are carrying the Iraqi citizenship, whose hearts are empty or filled with the hatred that was planted in them by Iran, responded to it, but how wrong they were to think that they could divide the noble among our people, weaken your determination, and fill the hearts of the sons of the nation with hatred against each other, instead of against their true enemies that will lead them in one direction to fight under the banner of God is great: The great flag of the people and the nation.

“Remember that God has enabled you to become an example of love, forgiveness and brotherly co-existence…

“I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave a space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking and keeps away one from balanced thinking and making the right choice …

“I also call on you not to hate the peoples of the other countries that attacked us and differentiate between the decision-makers and peoples…

“Anyone who repents – whether in Iraq or abroad – you must forgive him…

“You should know that among the aggressors, there are people who support your struggle against the invaders, and some of them volunteered for the legal defence of prisoners, including Saddam Hussein…

“Some of these people wept profusely when they said goodbye to me…

“Dear faithful people, I say goodbye to you, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in him and who will never disappoint any faithful, honest believer… God is Great… God is great… Long live our nation… Long live our great struggling people…

“Long live Iraq, long live Iraq… Long live Palestine… Long live jihad and the mujahideen.”

Saddam Hussein
President and Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Mujahid Armed Forces

He then adds a further note: “I have written this letter because the lawyers told me that the so-called criminal court – established and named by the invaders – will allow the so-called defendants the chance for a last word.

“But that court and its chief judge did not give us the chance to say a word, and issued its verdict without explanation and read out the sentence – dictated by the invaders – without presenting the evidence.

“I wanted the people to know this.”

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