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A KURDISH AMERICAN VIEW



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Najmaldin Karim writes: 

My personal battle with Saddam Hussein — which began in 1972 when I abandoned my medical career in Mosul, Iraq, and joined the Kurdish armed resistance — is at an end. To execute such a criminal, a man who reveled in his atrocities, is an act of justice.

The only issue for me is the timing — executing him now is both too late and too early. Too late, because had Saddam Hussein been removed from the scene many years ago, many lives would have been saved.  

Killing Saddam now, however, for ordering the massacre at Dujail in 1982, means that he will not face justice for his greatest crimes: the so-called Anfal campaign against the Kurds in the late 1980s, the genocidal assault on the Marsh Arabs in the 1990s, and the slaughtering of the Shiite Arabs and Kurds who rose up against him, with American encouragement, in 1991. …

[W]e have not had full justice. Saddam Hussein did not confront the full horror of his crimes. Building on previous initiatives by Arab nationalist governments to persecute the Kurds, he turned ethnic engineering and murder into an industry in the 1970s. Hundreds of thousands were evicted from their homes and murdered. Swaths of Kurdish countryside were emptied of their population, men, women and children taken to shallow graves and shot.  …

During the 1980s, entire towns, including Qala Diza in Iraqi Kurdistan and Qasr-i-Shirin in neighboring Iranian Kurdistan, were destroyed. To ensure that survivors would never return to their homes, the mountains were laced with land mines. The widows and children were detained in settlements lacking fresh water and sewage disposal; these were called “mujammat” in Arabic, which translates, with all the dreadful implications, as “concentration areas.” …

Kurds aren’t the only ones who will be cheated out of full reckoning. In 1991, as we all know, the retreating Iraqi army massacred Shiite Arabs as well as Kurds who had heeded President George H. W. Bush’s call to overthrow the Baathist regime. According to the 2004 report of the Iraq Survey Group, the dictator used chemical weapons against Shiite Arab civilians in 1991. …

For all the mistakes that the United States has made in Iraq — and I feel the betrayal of 1975 was the worst — I am a proud (naturalized) American because this country brought the murderous despot to trial. Still, it is a great shame that he will not be held accountable for all of his crimes, and a far greater tragedy that he was allowed, sometimes with American complicity, to commit them in the first place.

More here.  



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