From Socialist Voice, January 2007

International

The hanging of Saddam

The political and military crisis facing the occupation forces in Iraq continues to deepen. Bush suffered a significant defeat in the recent mid-term elections, with the result that the two houses of Congress are now in the hands of the Democrats. Time will tell whether that party will rein in Bush or whether they will huff and puff and then fall in and follow the interests of US imperialism.
     The hanging of Saddam Hussein after a trial carried out in what was clearly a kangaroo court, under the tutelage of an occupation army, was an affront to all those who suffered greatly at the hands of this person who was a CIA agent and US puppet for many decades. Saddam’s execution was as much justice as he himself handed out to his political opponents, whether communist, trade unionist, Kurdish, or Shi‘a, during his reign of terror. It is hard to believe that Saddam Hussein could have been hanged and appeared to die with dignity while his executioners taunted and baited him. The nature of the hanging and the religious and political affiliations of those who carried it out, from the Shi‘a religious majority and supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, was deliberately organised to provoke conflict and to reinforce sectarian divisions.
     One other outcome of his execution is that it silences any potentially embarrassing revelations about the role of all the western governments in keeping Saddam in power over many decades. His execution had the hands of the Americans and British all over it.
     The response of the Irish Government was as we would expect from a government implicated in the continuing occupation of Iraq by the United States: weak and subservient. They condemned the hanging but not the farce that was a trial, organised to secure that very outcome.
     The puppet Iraqi government is not master in its own house. It was elected in a way whereby if people did not go out and vote and get their identity papers stamped they would not receive food or other supports. This “democratic” coercion clearly does not reflect what the Iraqi people desire.
     Many within the mass media and among the military pundits are only now catching up with those who opposed this war of aggression, when we stated that the war was unwinnable and would lead only to massive loss of life and deep divisions within Iraq and within the region.
     It was clear from early on in the occupation of Iraq that the objective was to establish a weakened, divided and compliant state. The capture of British soldiers with a carload of explosives on their way to bomb a mosque in al-Basrah was a significant indicator of this strategy. British forces subsequently stormed the jail where these soldiers were being held and released them. We know form our own experience in the North of Ireland that the British have used loyalist paramilitaries to carry out assassinations and bombings in order to stir up divisions. We know they even encouraged the bombings in Dublin and Monaghan and political assassinations here in the Republic by loyalists.
     They have deliberately provoked conflict between the Sunni and Shi‘a religious groups to divide and weaken the resistance against the occupation forces. As in the past, the dominant political, colonial and imperialist powers have exploited religious, racial and tribal differences to secure their interests.
     The experience in many colonised countries, including Ireland, is that the colonialists and later the imperialists turned a minority into the new ruling elite, thereby making that minority dependent on the former colonial power in order for them to retain their dominant position. This divide-and-rule approach effectually left politics paralysed while the colonialists still had the real power, just as today they exaggerate the role and influence of the Shi‘a religious groups and in particular that of Iran. This ensures the continued compliance of the oil-rich Sunni states, with the United States as their protector.
     The Israelis encouraged the emergency of HAMAS to counter Fatah in Palestine, just as the British supported and promoted the religious extremists of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and other Arab states in smashing secular and democratic organisations and individuals.
     They have never been afraid of religious extremism: they have simply used it. History has shown that where progressive movements have led the struggle there has been great potential to push religious extremism into the background; but if they fail, the vacuum is filled by others.

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