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January 01, 2007

Gasoline On The Fire Iraq

The hanging of Saddam Hussein was carried out in such a thuggish, barbaric, and chaotic manner that it defies belief. It seemed like an improvised lynching, not a state execution.

A cell phone video shows the execution to be a Shiite affair, complete with chants of "Muqtada, Muqtada." Saddam is the most dignified guy in the room, and the manner of his execution is sure to make him a martyr in the eyes of some.

AP reports that Sunni outrage is building. Excerpt:

Enraged crowds protested the hanging of Saddam Hussein across Iraq's Sunni heartland Monday, as a mob in Samara broke the locks off a bomb-damaged Shiite shrine and marched through carrying a mock coffin and photo of the dictator.

The demonstration in the Golden Dome, shattered in a bombing by Sunni extremists 10 months ago, suggests that many Sunni Arabs may now more actively support the small number of Sunni militants fighting the country's Shiite-dominated government. The Feb. 22 bombing of the shrine triggered the current cycle of retaliatory attacks between Sunnis and Shiia, in the form of daily bombings, kidnappings and murders. [...]

Until Saddam's execution Saturday, most Sunnis sympathized with militants but avoided taking a direct role in the sectarian conflict — despite attacks by Shiite militia that have killed thousands of Sunnis or driven them from their homes. The current Sunni protests, which appear to be building, could signal a spreading militancy.

Sunnis were not only outraged by Saddam's hurried execution, just four days after an appeals court upheld his conviction and sentence. Many were also incensed by the unruly scene in the execution chamber, captured on video, in which Saddam was taunted with chants of "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada."

The chants referred to Muqtada al-Sadr, a firebrand Shiite cleric who runs one of Iraq's most violent religious militias. He is a major power behind the government of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Many Sunnis are also upset that Saddam was put to death the day that Sunni celebrations began for Eid al-Ahda, a major Muslim festival. The judge who first presided over the case that resulted in Saddam's death sentence said the former dictator's execution at the start of Eid was illegal according to Iraqi law, and contradicted Islamic custom.

The law states that "no verdict should implemented during the official holidays or religious festivals," said Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin, a Kurd. [Emphasis added]

Everything about the execution seems designed, deliberately or not, to inflame sectarian enmity between Sunnis and Shiites. It is gasoline on the flames. Barbaric and disastrous.

(See also: Baghdad blogger Riverbend and Glenn Greenwald.)

Posted by Jonathan at January 1, 2007 09:46 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb