Thursday, October 20, 2005

On Saddam's trial

Read, today, a very good opinion piece by Gassan Sharbal, editor in chief of al-Hayat, about the trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Check it out when you get a chance: it's just excellent.

In my personal opinion, Saddam is someone who deserves the death penalty not only once, but a million times. And yet, for the sake of justice, he must have the right to a fair trial, with due process and access to legal counsel.

A friend of mine jokingly told me: "If it was for me, I would just let him go." Then he added: "On the condition that he takes home in some popular (i.e. modest) neighborhood of Baghdad."

I bet there are a lot of shia in Sadr City (and elsewhere) who would love to have him as a neighbor :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Saddam Hussein and the town of Dujayl

In today's Los Angeles Times, a very sad story about the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein, more specifically about the revenge he took on the people of Dujayl, a shii dominated small town 40 kilometers north of Baghdad, after a failed attempt on his life by someone there. The story is a little long, but certainly worth a read:

DUJAYL, Iraq — Once a torrent of water coursed through this central Iraq town, which takes its name from Nahr Dujayl, the Little Tigris River that for centuries nourished its lush palm groves and orchards.

Now, only raw sewage flows through open gutters along the city's unpaved alleyways.

Inside a mud-brick home, an old man chokes back tears as he recalls his three sons. They were killed, prosecutors say, as a result of then-President Saddam Hussein's vengeful fury following a 1982 assassination attempt.

"One by one, my sons were taken from me," said Ali Hossein Mussawi, a 68-year-old onetime farmer. His humble living room is filled with fading photographs of the three young men. "Saddam took away my sons, he took away half of my heart."

Hussein's Sunni Muslim-dominated regime unleashed a wave of retaliation within hours of the July 8, 1982, attack in the Shiite-majority city, Iraqi officials, prosecutors and witnesses say. At least 148 were rounded up and executed, an Iraqi prosecutor said. Some estimate three times that many were killed. Prosecutors allege that almost 400 men, women and even children were in custody for years.

The small river running through the town, which gave it life and prosperity, was cut off, plowed over and eventually turned into an asphalt road. The date palm groves and gardens where residents earned their livelihoods were bulldozed or left unwatered until they died too, according to prosecutors and townspeople.

Few Iraqis were brave enough to speak about events in Dujayl. Days after the botched assassination, the state-controlled newspaper Thawra sardonically hailed plans to "redevelop" and upgrade the town.

But as soon as Hussein fell in April 2003, people began speaking out. "If someone tries to kill the president, you should arrest the suspects," said Jawad Massoud, 38, a produce wholesaler and Dujayl native who lost relatives. "Why destroy everything? Why punish everybody?"

To read the full text of the article, click here.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

On Turkey's prospects for joining the EU

Read, yesterday, an interesting article in Al-Ittihad by a Lebanese intellectual about Turkey's candidacy for membership of the EU, and what this entails for both Turkey and western Europe:

استطاعت تركيا بفضل مساعدة بريطانيا (أو بالأحرى الولايات المتحدة) الفوز بالدخول إلى مفاوضات العضوية الكاملة مع الاتحاد الأوروبي· وهذا الانتصار الذي عملتْ له تركيا سنواتٍ وسنوات له حدودٌ طبعاً بقدْر ما لهُ من آفاق· حدودُهُ تتمثل في طول المدة التي تستغرقُها المفاوضات على العضوية الكاملة: عشر سنوات! وحدودُهُ التشكيك من جانب دولٍ أوروبيةٍ عديدة في طليعتها فرنسا(!) في إمكان انتهاء المفاوضات بالعضوية· أمّا الآفاقُ فبعضُها مُدّعى أو مأمول، وبعضُها الآخَر تحقّق أو هو في طريقه لذلك·

أولُ المتحقّق وأَهمُّهُ: تغيير وجهة تركيا، من دولةٍ شرقيةٍ وعسكرية الطابع، إلى أُخرى أوروبية أو غربية حديثة· والأمر الأول ما بدأ اليومَ، ولا مع الدخول في المفاوضات مع أوروبا قبل ثماني سنوات· إنما بدأ بدخول تركيا في حلف الأطلسي عشية نشوب الحرب الباردة أواخرَ الأربعينيات· وقد ترتبت على هذا الدخول تغييراتٌ استراتيجيةٌ كبرى أهمُّها تحوُّلُ تركيا إلى دولة مواجهة على حدود الاتحاد السوفييتي، مما رفع من قيمة موقعها من جهة، وعرَّضها لمخاطر من جهةٍ ثانية· وعلينا أن لا ننسى أن تركيا شاركت عسكرياً في كل مواجهات حلف الأطلسي: من الحرب الكورية عام 1951 وحتى حرب أفغانستان عام 2001/·2002 بيد أنَّ الدور البارز للعسكريين الأتراك في السياسات الداخلية خلال عقود الحرب الباردة، عرّض الدولة الوطنية التركية لخضّاتٍ وتعطيلات للدستور وللنظام ذي الطابع الديمقراطي، والذي تحول لأكثر من عقدٍ في ما بين الخمسينيات والثمانينيات من القرن الماضي، إلى نظامٍ عسكري، استتر حيناً بالعلمانية، وأحياناً بضرورات الانتظام الداخلي والاستقرار

To read the full text of the article, click here.