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Murder by Proxy: Hanging of Saddam Hussein
By Ram Puniyani

The hanging of Saddam, though sudden was extremely predictable. Since the time he was captured by US armies and the case put up against him by the puppet Iraqi Government, it was writing on the wall, that live Saddam is still dangerous to US. He has been done away through the mock justice, the ?judicial assassination? as some one has put it, or through the justice of the Kangaroo court set up by the occupation army, under the guise of democratically elected Government.

The reaction to this has been extremely diverse. President Bush has hailed it as a path to democracy in Iraq. Of course, democracy is projected to be the major plank of US policy; but in fact it just a slogan for US invasions World around. A section of Kurds and Shias have celebrated the event with joy as Saddam had been oppressive against Kurds and Shias, both, during his dictatorial regime. In India, Congress has come out to criticize the hanging, while RSS progeny BJP has preferred to keep quiet on the issue. A large section of observers have displayed their dismay over the way things are shaping up in West Asia, while Arab World has condemned this act. A large section of Muslim community has been deeply upset over this and has shown intense displeasure over the hanging.

Saddam had a very complex trajectory in Iraq. After coming to power, he did start the process of modernization of Iraq, and was fairly secular in his approach to social issues. He was not guided by clerics or by other so called religious considerations. Iraq did begin its journey towards transformation in social relationships of gender and other feudal hierarchies. Modern education was given due importance and the plight of women in particular saw a rapid change towards equality. With the overthrow of US stooge, Raza Shah Pehlavi and coming in of Islamic Revolution in Iran, under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, the scene changed. Iraq was involved in an eight year long war, in which it was duly supported by US in the form of sharing of intelligence and supply of arms in huge quantities. Saddam was looked up as an ally by the Western powers, more so by US.

It was during this period that Islam began to be projected as a new threat to democracy by the US, through its media and all other paraphernalia, and foundations for consent for its policies in popular mind and the global opinion against Islam began to be cultivated. It is during this period of alliance with US that the atrocities on Shias and Kurds were committed with impunity.

With Kuwait drawing out disproportionate oil through wells with common source, Iraq became concerned and marched its armies on the Kuwaiti border. US ambassador Glisspe subtly hinted to Saddam that US has no opinion on the issue meaning that he can do whatever he liked in the area. That was good enough of a signal for Saddam to attack Kuwait and to declare it as its 24th state. US turnaround came sooner than expected and it started crying hoarse for protecting the sovereignty of Sheikh of Kuwait. The attack on Iraq followed and sanctions were imposed on Iraq, the result was the killing of thousands and crippling of infinite number of Iraqi people more particularly children. When asked whether such an intense move was needed in Iraq, it Secretary of State, Madleine Albright answered in affirmative.

US designs in Iraq were to unfold gradually after its occupation of Afghanistan, US started saying that Iraq is in possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The UN commissioners were deputed in Iraq who unequivocally gave the report that Iraq is not in possession of any such weapons. Undeterred by that, US went on to attack and occupy Iraq, marching lakhs of its armies. It was said that this army is the liberation army and will be welcomed with roses by the victims of Saddam. Soon imaginary roses turned into real guns and resistance movement picked up in Iraq. So far, while US army has ?liberated?, by killing, over five lakh Iraqis, the resistance reaction has sent over five thousand body bags to US, the bags containing the bodies of US soldiers on the ?mission democracy?, the pet slogan of US in its design to control the World and appropriate the oil resources in the region.

In its blinded march for control over oil wells, US continued its project of demonizing Islam and creating Islamophobia, well supported by the vested elements all over the World. Its policies in the oil rich area, has sent shivers down the spine of large section of Muslim community all over the World and it is perceived as the Great Satan. So a large section of Muslim community is wary of any step by US. Every further action by greatest violator Human rights ever in the World further frightens this community. Of course there are further supplementary reasons for the same. The veneer of its democratic values is too thin and it keeps peeling off with every other move. Its shameless greed for oil and power is too obvious to be overlooked.

US has been and is the biggest patron of the Sheikhs, tyrants and dictators all over the World. Its plea that all this is being done to enhance democracy is totally bogus. Also it violates the basic dictum that democracy cannot be imported from outside. The very notion of democracy rests on the will of the people, free exercise of their mandate. With US army breathing down the necks of people and committing the atrocities of the type of Abu Graib, naked human pyramids being made by the sadistic army to torture the Iraqis, one cannot think of any type of democracy, whatever the claims. During earlier times the project of ?Exporting Socialism? by USSR met with a similar fate. These terms themselves are very contradictory in nature and betray more of the political goals of exporter, rather than the grass root popular ambitions, where they are imposed. US has been able to play this game a bit too far, and with the decline of the other pole of power, the USSR, its aggressive stance is a step ahead of the earlier imperial powers, the one?s which colonized a large part of the globe in pursuits of markets and raw material.

Another interesting part of the story is how uniformly the colonizers, imperial powers, pursue the divide and rule policy. For their own self they project a secular identity and for their ruled subjects they use the religious, sectarian, identity. That?s what British did to prop up Muslim Communalism (Muslim League) and Hindu Communalism (Hindu Mahasaba, RSS) in India. They themselves never identified themselves as Christian rulers. In Iraq, the Shia Sunni identity has intensified after the US occupation of Iraq and now after Saddam?s execution it will worsen further. In democratic societies over a period of time narrow sectarian identities get secondary status to overarching secular identities. Under the rule of external powers, whatever be their slogan, sectarian identities grow and dominate the social and political scene.

While one condemns Saddam for his atrocities against Shias and Kurds and his dictatorial methods, one realizes that he also emerged as a symbol of resistance against the imperialist acts of US. Starting from the US invasion of Iraq in 1990, to occupation of Afghanistan and later of Iraq the insecurity amongst section of Muslim masses is hitting the roof. In such a situation if a tyrant like Saddam, defies the US dictates, he naturally emerges as a hero. It has more to do with the targeting of Muslims than with the ?virtues? of the ilk of Saddam Hussein. It is defiance against the oppressor that gives hope to the demonized and oppressed sections; it cannot be construed as the sanction for the tyranny committed by them. Surely today US is the bully-in-chief and so every powerful voice against it sounds as a hope for the millions.

There is another analogy which comes to one?s mind. When British ruled India, they also partitioned the country. US policies have already aggravated the sectarian divides between Shias, Sunnis and Kurds. The imminent aggravation of civic strife is on the cards. Who does one blame it on? 

 As a sidelight, in Indian scenario, RSS has been the permanent defender of US attacks and aggressions around the world. Starting from US butchery in Vietnam to the current US polices in Iraq, this organization has been supported all of these as a most loyal retainer of Uncle Sam. At the time of attack on Iraq by US armies, RSS chief vociferously defended the US aggression. In this case there may be an added glee in the heart of this organization as their ?permanent enemies?; Muslims are being attacked one way or the other. And this may be one of the reasons for BJP to look the other way around when Saddam boldly faced the gallows, when his life was sniffed out. So martyr for some and villain for the other, he leaves tales for all the times!