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Saddam's execution provokes joy, proclamations of martyrdom and predictions of a surge in violence

Saddam's execution provokes joy, proclamations of martyrdom and predictions of a surge in violence

His enemies rejoiced, his defenders proclaimed him a martyr, and others looked ahead to the impact the execution Saturday of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein would have on Iraq.
But there was no official comment from Arab leaders, many of whom have been accused of human rights abuses _ though on a much smaller scale than Saddam _ and slow progress on democratization by Western countries and non-governmental rights watchdogs. For Sunni Muslims, Saturday was the first day of the most important holiday on the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha.
Libya's government declared a three-day official period of mourning. Flags flew at half mast and all official celebrations of the eid, were canceled.
Libya's gesture followed an indirect appeal Friday by its leader Moammar Gadhafi who told Al-Jazeera television that Saddam's trial was illegal and that he should be retried by an international court.
Yemeni Prime Minister Abdul-Kader Bajammal also made an appeal in the final hours of Saddam's life wrote to the U.S. and Iraqi presidents urging them to save Saddam, the official Yemeni news agency Saba reported.
The Libyan and Yemeni leaders are among several Arab heads of state in office for decades who would have dealt with the deposed leader personally.
Kuwaitis and Iranians welcomed the death of the leader who led wars against each of their countries.
Former information minister of Kuwait, Saad bin Tafla al-Ajmi, said, "This is the best Eid gift for humanity," referring to Eid al-Adha, which began Saturday for Sunni Muslims.
"This is the fair punishment for the one who executed our sons without trials," said al-Ajmi, who heads a state committee that has been searching for 605 people who went missing in Saddam's seven month occupation of Kuwait that began in 1990. He said the families of the missing were "ecstatic."
Kuwait's social affairs and labor minister, Sheik Sabah Al Khaled Al Sabah, said Saddam's execution was "a matter for Iraqis." His comments, carried by the state-owned Kuwait News Agency, are Kuwait's only official remark on the hanging.
Iranian state TV hailed the hanging of Saddam who waged war with Iran from 1980-88. "With the execution of Saddam, the life dossier of one of the world's most criminal dictators was closed," state-run television reported Saturday.
In parts of Tehran, Iran's capital, residents handed out sweets to passers-by in celebration for Saddam's death.
"Saddam was a brutal dictator who committed numerous crimes against his own people and his neighbors," said Parvaneh Dousti, a bank clerk, in the Iranian capital Tehran.
"Death was the least punishment for Saddam," said Hasan Mohebi, a fruit seller who was offering produce at half price to mark the occasion. "He destroyed the lives of millions of people in this region."
But for university student, Sareh Naghavi, a university student, Saddam's death came too soon. "He should have been made to answer why he invaded Iran and Kuwait and why he launched chemical attacks against Iranians and Iraqis," she said.
Saddam's defenders and members of his deposed regime mourned his execution and said he would be revered for his serving his country and the Arab world.
"For Iraqis, he will be very well remembered," said Najeeb al-Nauimi, a Qatari member of the deposed leader's legal team. "Like a martyr, he died for the sake of his country."
Mohammed al-Douri, who was Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations in the run-up to the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, declared, "The Arab nation has lost a hero. So have all of those who are against Iran and Israel and for Arab unity."
Another of Saddam's lawyers lashed out at the United States, saying that the death penalty had been decided before Saddam's trial had ended.
"The farce execution was announced by (George W.) Bush seven months ago, when he said that Saddam will be executed before the end of the year," Issam Ghazzawi said. "Bush need a Christmas present and he was offered the most precious gift, which is the blood of the Iraqi president."
As others struggled with the significance of the execution, one observer underlined its timing.
A leading member of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, Jamil Abu-Bakr said, "Choosing the Eid to execute Saddam shows a premature will to harm the Muslim Nation."
Abu Bakr also warned the U.S. administration that Saddam's execution would have dire consequences. "If Bush thought that he achieved victory with this move, he is wrong because the Iraqi resistance will be intensified and the hatred of America will increase in the region," he said. "The circle of violence will escalate drastically in Iraq."
Al-Douri, Saddam's former ambassador to the U.N., shares the view that the execution was a false victory. "They think this is a victory, the execution of President Saddam. They have no other victory to claim. There is no new Iraq, no new democracy, no example for the region."
The editor of the Saudi- English-language daily Arab News, predicted a brief surge in violence. "The Baathists and their allies consider this an affront to Arab nationalism," said Khaled al-Meena of the members of Saddam's disbanded political party. "They will crank up their anti-American tirade a few more notches. But I think it will die down after a while."
"People want to see this chapter closed. ... A month down the road people will forget about Saddam Hussein," al-Meena said.
Nasser al-Abdali, who heads the Kuwaiti Society for Advancing Democracy, also suggested that any surge in violence would be brief, predicting that Saddam's followers "will ultimately succumb because democratic process has already started."
Al-Abdali noted that Kuwaitis were congratulating one another on Saddam's end, but there were no public signs of celebration. "Their concern now is a stable Iraq that doesn't slip into civil war."
In a region where conspiracy theories are rife there was even someone who doubted that Saddam was actually dead. "Probably, it was a Saddam double who was executed _ not actually him," said Mohammed Karimi, a taxi driver in Tehran.
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Associated Press bureaus from across the Middle East contributed to this story.


Updated : 2020-12-01 17:05 GMT+08:00