Posted by: Lister | October 13, 2008

Saddam’s Victims Miss His Rule

How bad do things have to be before you miss the guy that killed your uncle? OTOH, Seif al-Zubaidy lost 10 members of his family to Saddam — he prefers life today. Reuters:

Saddam Hussein was hanged for killing 148 Shi’ite men and boys in Dujail in 1982. But today, some people in this town on the Tigris say they miss life under the Iraqi dictator because they felt more secure.

Even some of those from Dujail whose family members were murdered and imprisoned during Saddam’s iron-fisted rule seemed seduced by the idea of a strong leader after years of chaos, bloodshed and deprivation since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

“If someone like Saddam came back, I’d not only support him, I’d invite him to dinner. My uncle was killed in 1982 in the Dujail incident. Still, life then was a million times better than now,” said Saad Mukhlif, a Shi’ite.

[…] “(Prime Minister) Nuri al-Maliki is sitting in (Baghdad’s fortified) Green Zone, what’s he doing to protect us? What’s the point of this government?” said Mohammed Mehdi, a Shi’ite, whose cousin was jailed in 1982 and whose brother was killed in a car bomb in Dujail last month.

“Saddam Hussein is the only noble leader we’ve had,” he added, before shouting “God bless Saddam 1,000 times,” within earshot of U.S. troops accompanying reporters visiting the town, 50 km (30 miles) north of Baghdad.

[…] “They’re speaking like that because they’re angry. People here haven’t seen their lives improve,” said Hussein Yassin, an interpreter for the U.S. military.

“I could never say that Saddam’s time was better, even if we were living in hell. Members of my family were killed in 1982.”

[…] Ahmed Jawad, a policeman with both Sunni and Shi’ite relatives, lost 27 members of his tribe in 1982, including an uncle. But he too feels nostalgic for the Saddam-era.

“Before we could visit any province. Now you could get killed,” he said. Asked whether he would want the return of someone like Saddam, he said: “I wish. A leader who could provide security? I wish.”

[…] Some in Dujail also see Saddam’s legacy in recent killings.

“Who do you think sets these car bombs off? These are all Saddam’s people. You think Shi’ite clerics go around blowing themselves up?” said grocer Kadhem Darwish. Many of the bombings in Iraq in recent years are blamed on Sunni Islamist insurgents.

Shopkeeper Seif al-Zubaidy said his life had improved since Saddam’s fall. His business was doing well, and his family, which opposed Saddam, was no longer persecuted.

“Whatever happens in Iraq, from north to south, life is still better than under Saddam. He killed 10 members of my family in 1982. I was only 11 months old, but I was told what happened and I remember it like I remember my own name.”

Dujail is Shia. While Saddam’s government was meant to be secular, it was mostly staffed by Sunni.

The article also reports that, in addition to killing 148 people from Dujail, Saddam destroyed their farmland.

HRW estimates that 290,000 people disappeared during Saddam’s rule.

The above sample of views is actually more encouraging than previous articles on this subject. Such as when the Guardian interviewed the guy who started to bring down Saddam’s statue, back at the start of the war.

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