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'A desperate act of a very, very desperate Bush'

By Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
December 30, 2006 21:54 IST
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The opinions of Indian expert's in the Middle-East and Islamic world on the legacy of Saddam are mixed but there is a unanimous view that his execution will fuel and deepen the Shia-Sunni divide in Iraq and the entire Middle-east.

While talking about the timing of Saddam's execution Ambassador Hamid Ansari, former diplomat, told, "Saddam's execution is unusual in more than one sense. In Iraq... in the entire Arab world and in many parts of world, except India, Muslims are celebrating Eid today. Nowhere in the world on a festival day has such an execution taken place. Why has been Saddam executed today? This is not a measure of justice; this is a measure of revenge and celebration. We agree that it's any government's job to do justice. People are punished for crimes but Saddam was executed with a message."

"I have done it," is the message sent in conjunction with the major festival by President George Bush. The timing of Saddam's hanging is vicious and can not be accidental." argues Ansari.

While explaining the American authority's mindset in hastening Saddam's execution, Ansari says, "Iraq has reached a rock bottom. Everyday people are dying. Nothing is improving. Already 2,900 people have died and 22,100 have been injured. The US and world media, the Baker report and many others have said that the war is failing. Bush has to swallow the bitter pill but he has not agreed so far to change his policies. I think the execution of Saddam is a desperate act of a very, very desperate man."

While reacting to the Saddam's execution, Ambassador Chinamay Gharekhan, retired diplomat and PM's special Envoy for Middle-east told, "He was the symbol of resistance to the Iraq government. So they might have thought 'why delay it'? "

Like millions all around the world B S Raghvan, Chennai-based retired civil servant and former Director, Political & Security Policy Planning was outraged to see the footage.

Raghvan tolf, "All they (Americans) have succeeded in doing by this inhumanity is, on the one hand, to aggravate the sense of sheer horror felt by the millions of watchers round the globe at Saddam's execution and, on the other, to fuel further hatred and hostility at the presumptuousness of the US to assert its hegemony by fair means or foul."

Most experts agree that Iraq stands completely divided. The de facto division of Iraqi society is stark on eve of the execution of Saddam.

"The process of reconciliation in Iraq hasn't even started. The basic problem is the militia. There are Kurds with 1,60000 militia, Shias have two armies. It seems that Iraq is heading for the sectarian divide." Says Gharekhan.

He says, "He was a ruthless leader. He doesn't deserve sympathy. He didn't tolerate dissent. We will have to wait and see how his legacy is carried on as the Arab nationalist."

Gharekhan argues that Saddam's so-called pro-India stand was more a slogan than reality.

However, he says, "Saddam died bravely. It will accord him martyr's death. He didn't ask for mercy and refused to cover his face. He didn't collapse under pressure. It is believed that his last words were in support of Palestine. This will have a very big impact in the Arab world."

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi