Monday, January 01, 2007

Botched Execution’s Impact on New Way Forward in Iraq?

What impact will the illegal hanging of Saddam Hussein have on President Bush’s new way forward in Iraq? A judge who presided over the case said the former dictator's execution at the start of Eid was illegal according to Iraqi law, and contradicted Islamic custom.

How will the crowd’s taunting of Saddam with references to firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr go over in the Sunni community?

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."

Why would President al-Maliki, whose top order is reconciliation, allow a spectacle with such divisive potential? And why would the U.S. go along?

As for free speech in Iraq, the latest government act raises questions.

Also Monday, the Iraqi government raided and sealed the offices of a privately owned television station, charging it had incited violence and hatred in its programming. In its coverage of the execution of Saddam over the weekend, a newscaster had worn black mourning clothes.

With Gerald Ford’s funeral being televised this week, American announcers beware. Be sure to wear your winter whites! And be sure not to remind folks that Ford opposed the Iraq War and his party’s pandering to the Religious Right.

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