Saddam was a monster. “Our” monster at one stage, something the West would rather forget these days. The verdict in his trial may make John Howard feel all warm inside, but what about the Iraqi people?
A day before the verdict was announced, Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked Iraqis not to “celebrate too much” when the announcement came.
Other Shia leaders have been trying to sober down such celebrations, and even oppose the death sentence. They say that execution of the former leader would make a martyr of him, and give him a higher status than he deserves.
The picture of a split society was completed by protests and anger in Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq, particularly in Baghdad and in al-Anabar province to its west. Facing repression now from a Shia-dominated government under U.S. influence, Sunnis have adopted the former leader as one of their own.
In Baghdad’s predominantly Sunni neighbourhood al-Adhamiya, Iraqi police battled resistance members armed with machine guns. In Saddam Hussein’s hometown Tikrit, thousands defied a curfew to carry pictures of Saddam through the streets.
The divisions were deepened further when Iraqi army units attacked pro-Saddam demonstrators in many areas. Sunni television channels Zawra and Salahedin that aired pro-Saddam demonstrations were immediately shut down and raided by Iraqi security forces.
The closure of the two networks has infuriated Sunnis further. The move appeared similar to the U.S.-ordered closure of the newspaper al-Hawza of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which sparked his first uprising against occupation forces two years back.
Just another day in “liberated” Iraq.