Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rat-a-Tat-Tat Thoughts

Saddam Trial: He’s being charged with the massacre in Dujail, right? That happened sometime in 1982. Was there any international condemnation at the time? Did anyone make a statement somewhere? I mean, satellite technology was still under-developed, but I’m sure some US government analyst would have noticed that a little town and its adjacent date groves had suddenly went missing, no? What were the French doing at the time? Or the Arabs? It seems that not only Saddam is on trial here, but an era in international relations as well: at the time, the US was supplying Saddam with satellite images of Iranian trenches, the French were painting Mirage fighter planes with Iraqi Air Force logos, and the Arabs were trumpeting Saddam’s defense of their eastern flank.

Mehlis Report: The New York Times catches up on the Mehlis situation today, even though the Hosam Taher Hosam story had been out for two weeks. These are the interesting parts:

And more troubling news seems to be on the way, as Mr. Mehlis prepares to make his final presentation to the Security Council by Dec. 15. Two people who work for a Syrian government agency said Tuesday that another witness would soon
recant his testimony, claiming he was bribed with half a million dollars by Lebanese officials to level charges against Syrian officials.

The two people who said they had heard the new claims from the witness - who they said called himself Abu George - insisted on anonymity out of fear of retribution for
undermining official plans to spring this development at a time most embarrassing to the investigation…

…"No, they are not dumb," Mr. Hussam said of the investigators, who he said never doubted his account of events even after questioning him dozens of times. "I am smarter. I penetrated through all of them. I am proud of it. I penetrated through all of them, and I acted well…"

…A European diplomat based in Damascus, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said: "He definitely has a credibility problem. You cannot trust this guy. How did Mehlis trust this guy?"

…In his later hotel-room interview with security agents, Mr. Hussam smoked French cigarettes as he offered a two-hour account of the events that led him to this
place in the investigation. He said he had never actually been an employee of the Syrian intelligence services, but since childhood he had spied on those around him and informed on them to the police. So he said when he went to Syria to work as a barber, it was natural that he would continue snooping. "It is a gift and a sense, like they say, a sixth sense," he said about his ability to convince people he is telling the truth when he is not.
Executions: Asharq Al-Awsat is reporting that Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari’s office has signed-off on 14 executions of persons charged with terrorism, murder, rape, and other death-penalty-worthy crimes. A further list of 16 others is pending. Hanging is so outdated; if terrorism seeks to terrorize then the purpose of death-penalty punishment as deterrence should be equally terrorizing. How about slow-burning furnaces…An early preview of Hell?

Al-Sha’alan: the ex-Minister of Defense turned fugitive gets a very long interview in the premier Arab (…and Saudi-owned) daily Al-Hayat, where he’s asked soft-ball questions like “You and Ayad Allawi have been out of office for a year, but your names are still [popular] in the Iraqi street, what is the reason?” Al-Sha’alan says if one should open the Koran to page 511 (…umm, which edition?) then one would find the verse “we have rendered you a big victory…” (511’ is the number of his electoral list.) Al-Sha’alan was also asked about earlier claims he had made concerning a familial relation by marriage between Muqatada Al-Sadr and Iran’s Khomeini.

Withdrawals: The Iraqi Uprising Entity (list no. ‘671’) has filed a complaint with the Independent Electoral Commission against Al-Forat TV (owned by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq SCIRI) for airing news that they had withdrawn their candidates for the Najaf elections in favor of the UIA list (no. ‘555’) that is headed by SCIRI’s Abdel-Aziz Al-Hakim. Apparently, ‘671’ is still in the running. The UIA had been claiming that several of the smaller lists have withdrawn their nominees in the UIA’s favor, per Sistani’s edict.

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