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[casi] 'We got him ..'

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 Published on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 by
'We Got Him'
by Felicity Arbuthnot
The juvenile trumpeting over the capture of Iraq's - arguably still -
President, since the invasion is considered by numerous international law
experts, illegal, will come back to haunt the 'coalition'. Iraq's
'sovereignty and territorial integrity' is also guaranteed in the first UN
Resolution after the first Gulf war, a condition never rescinded.

Adding to an endless list of imbecilic comments ( 'you're either with us, or
with the terrorists', 'wanted dead or alive', 'bring 'em on ..' the latter,
George W. Bush from the safety of Washington, effectively saying that young
troops were delighted to die for Bechtel, Halliburton, Carlisle, oil, and
Bush and his pals other interests, no matter how uninformed policies
escalated increased resistance) we now have Viceroy Bremer (resplendent in
suit and desert boots, who cowers in a fortified palace virtually
twenty-four hours a day) adding to the list. 'We got him', he announced of
the capture of Saddam Hussein. The subsequent baying of the US troops was
reminiscent of wild west lynch mobs, when 'wanted dead or alive' posters
were nailed to trees. The whoopings, bayings and facile comment flashed
repeatedly round the globe, unfairly reinforcing for much of it, the
impression that Americans are crass, simplistic, murderous, cowboys.
Further, that Bremer, the US top terrorist 'Czar', should adopt and trigger
such triumphalism, further humiliating the entire Islamic world, already
largely explosive as a result of the Iraq invasion, is an act of near
The further act of releasing pictures of Saddam Hussein undergoing a medical
examination - almost certainly in breach of the Geneva Convention and a
swath of human rights laws - with the memory of his slaughtered sons
displayed near naked, legs apart, and left unburied for days - unthinkable
acts, insulting Islam, however unloved they were, still raw - is further
lunacy. Ominously, Algeria's President responded instantly, saying the acts
were: ' ..a humiliation for all Arabs.'
In a further insult to the Middle East, the world was treated to a legal
treatise on the apprehension, by the founder of the CIA-funded Iraq National
Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, now a member of the Coalition Provisional
Authority. Chalabi was sentenced in absentia in Amman, Jordan's, Central
Criminal Court in 1992, to two consecutive sentences of twenty years for
massive embezzlement and would be arrested instantly if he crossed Iraq's
western border. The Jordanian authorities are currently seeking ways to have
him finally serve the sentence.

Another unfortunate error which will create anger and hostility in even the
most anti-regime Iraqis, was that the Kurdish war lord, Jalal Talabani, now
also a CPA member, announced that Kurdish forces and intelligence had
contributed to the capture. The Kurds are regarded (not without some
justification) by the Iraqis, as allies of arch enemy Israel, an enmity
which literally goes back to Babylonian times and also of the CIA. Israel
has been training US troops on their methods, now being carried out in Iraq,
of demolishing homes, cutting off populations and generally killing and
terrorizing. The CIA have long had bases in Kurdistan which triggered
attacks by the Iraqi army in 1996, causing them to temporarily flee back to
the USA, taking a number of Kurdish collaborators with them for fear of
their lives (for their trouble they were instantly jailed in America for
considerable time, until a rare bit of Administration embarrassment set in.)
Mr Talabani better watch his back.

Of further resonance for the Iraqis is that in Bush's declared 'crusade' - a
word which sent a shock wave around the Islamic world - Saddam was
apprehended close to his home town of Tikrit. The great Muslim leader
Salahuddin (Saladin in the west) was born in Tikrit in A.D.1137. As King, he
ruled over Egypt, Syria and Palestine and was ferocious in defeat of
invaders in Arab lands. His army defeated the Crusaders at Hittin in
Palestine in 1187. Tikrit is also mentioned in some of the earliest
cuneiform writings (i.e.: wedge shaped characters on stone) by the Assyrian
King Tukulti Ninnurta in the ninth century BC and by Babylon's great King
Nebuchadnezzer nearly six hundred years BC.

Saddam from captivity though, may prove a burden to far for troops and
Washington. Those who did not attack in the occupiers for fear of Saddam's
return if they left, will now do so with impunity. In this most fiercely
nationalistic of countries, visitors are welcomed with open arms. Invaders
are not. As an ex-military pointed out recently, the Pentagon keeps
repeating the mantra: 'Failure is not an option, I agree, it is not an
option, it is an inevitability.'

An impartial, internationalized trial, subject to transparent legal norms
would go a long way to healing wounds and fresh beginnings. It would also
include Donald Rumsfeld explaining about his meetings with Saddam in the
early eighties, the chemical and biological weapons sold by the US to Iraq
and since the gassing of the Kurds at Halabja is high on the list of crimes,
it might be a bit embarrassing. There is ample evidence the US both sold
Iraq the chemicals used and even advised which were the most 'effective.'
Britain's David Mellor, was an M.P. who also had close dealing with Saddam.
as did Lord Howe. Britain even built a chemical factory at Falluja, paid for
with export credit guarantees and kept secret from Parliament. France and
Germany too sold some pretty dodgy stuff, so the trial and testimony of
eminent witnesses would be uniquely enlightening. Thus, it is vital the
venue would not be in Iraq, not alone to guarantee impartiality, but with
the new 'democratic' regime shooting, disappearing and expelling
journalists, closing news outlets who don't write what they like (sound
familiar?) the world might never have access to this unique learning curve.
Then there is another little local difficulty. If Saddam is to be put on
trial for using chemical weapons, how long before human rights organizations
start calling for something similar for those in the US responsible for
napalm and a host of horrors used Viet Nam, Laos and indeed in Iraq in 1991
(and maybe in 2003.) Depleted uranium too has been three times unanimously
declared a weapon of mass destruction (along with napalm, fuel air bombs and
just about everything used by America in Iraq) by UN Sub-Committees.
Then there is Saddam's cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners. How long
before someone points out that at least he kept lists. The occupying powers
count neither apparently, list those they disappear, or those they shoot.
They 'do not list Iraqi dead.' Iraqis consistently say there are more
disappeared under the US than ever under Saddam and families' frantic
efforts to find where they are, rend the heart. And heaven forbid anyone
might mention Guantanamo Bay, or executions of the mentally ill in Texas.
'This event brings further assurances that the torture chambers and secret
police are gone for ever'. said the President of the capture. Well no - and
his Iraq Administration is re-employing the secret police.

It would be embarrassing too if there was pressure brought to have those
responsible for the countless hundreds killed and maimed by illegal bombings
by the US and UK, the two rogue states on the UN Security Council, over the
last thirteen years. Patrols which had no mandate from the UN. Someone might
even bring up the cases of the little child shepherds minding their flocks,
who were routinely blown to bits in these actions. Asked why they targeted
flocks of sheep their child minders, the British Ministry of Defense told
this writer: 'We reserve the right to take robust action if threatened.'
Their Ministers surely deserve a chance to explain such fascinating military
insights in a legal setting.

Someone might even think to query because two buildings were wiped out in
New York, two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, were virtually reduced to
rubble - neither whom, it would seems, had a national on the hijacked
'planes. They did, however have oil, gas and minerals coveted by the US. On
apprehending Saddam, the coalition might have 'got' a little more than they
bargained for.
No wonder we are now told that the de-briefing of Saddam might take some
considerable while. Lets hope his health doesn't give out on the meantime as
a result of all that time allegedly down a hole. If he died of a heart
attack the word would certainly be deprived of unique insights in to
'history being a chronicle of lies agreed on'. But the relief in Washington
and London would be palpable.
Felicity Arbuthnot has written and broadcast widely on Iraq and with Denis
Halliday was senior researcher for John Pilger's Award winning documentary:
'Paying the Price - Killing the Children of Iraq.'   

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