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Iraq | International

Robert Fisk: A dictator created then destroyed by America
by UK Independent (reposted)
Saturday Dec 30th, 2006 9:49 AM
Saddam to the gallows. It was an easy equation. Who could be more deserving of that last walk to the scaffold - that crack of the neck at the end of a rope - than the Beast of Baghdad, the Hitler of the Tigris, the man who murdered untold hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis while spraying chemical weapons over his enemies? Our masters will tell us in a few hours that it is a "great day" for Iraqis and will hope that the Muslim world will forget that his death sentence was signed - by the Iraqi "government", but on behalf of the Americans - on the very eve of the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, the moment of greatest forgiveness in the Arab world.
But history will record that the Arabs and other Muslims and, indeed, many millions in the West, will ask another question this weekend, a question that will not be posed in other Western newspapers because it is not the narrative laid down for us by our presidents and prime ministers - what about the other guilty men?

No, Tony Blair is not Saddam. We don't gas our enemies. George W Bush is not Saddam. He didn't invade Iran or Kuwait. He only invaded Iraq. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead - and thousands of Western troops are dead - because Messrs Bush and Blair and the Spanish Prime Minister and the Italian Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister went to war in 2003 on a potage of lies and mendacity and, given the weapons we used, with great brutality.

In the aftermath of the international crimes against humanity of 2001 we have tortured, we have murdered, we have brutalised and killed the innocent - we have even added our shame at Abu Ghraib to Saddam's shame at Abu Ghraib - and yet we are supposed to forget these terrible crimes as we applaud the swinging corpse of the dictator we created.

Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam's weird trial, forbad any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.

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http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article2112555.ece
by UK Independent (reposted)
Saturday Dec 30th, 2006 6:46 PM
How the West armed Saddam, fed him intelligence on his 'enemies', equipped him for atrocities - and then made sure he wouldn't squeal
Published: 31 December 2006

We've shut him up. The moment Saddam's hooded executioner pulled the lever of the trapdoor in Baghdad yesterday morning, Washington's secrets were safe. The shameless, outrageous, covert military support which the United States - and Britain - gave to Saddam for more than a decade remains the one terrible story which our presidents and prime ministers do not want the world to remember. And now Saddam, who knew the full extent of that Western support - given to him while he was perpetrating some of the worst atrocities since the Second World War - is dead.

Gone is the man who personally received the CIA's help in destroying the Iraqi communist party. After Saddam seized power, US intelligence gave his minions the home addresses of communists in Baghdad and other cities in an effort to destroy the Soviet Union's influence in Iraq. Saddam's mukhabarat visited every home, arrested the occupants and their families, and butchered the lot. Public hanging was for plotters; the communists, their wives and children, were given special treatment - extreme torture before execution at Abu Ghraib.

There is growing evidence across the Arab world that Saddam held a series of meetings with senior American officials prior to his invasion of Iran in 1980 - both he and the US administration believed that the Islamic Republic would collapse if Saddam sent his legions across the border - and the Pentagon was instructed to assist Iraq's military machine by providing intelligence on the Iranian order of battle. One frosty day in 1987, not far from Cologne, I met the German arms dealer who initiated those first direct contacts between Washington and Baghdad - at America's request.

"Mr Fisk... at the very beginning of the war, in September of 1980, I was invited to go to the Pentagon," he said. "There I was handed the very latest US satellite photographs of the Iranian front lines. You could see everything on the pictures. There were the Iranian gun emplacements in Abadan and behind Khorramshahr, the lines of trenches on the eastern side of the Karun river, the tank revetments - thousands of them - all the way up the Iranian side of the border towards Kurdistan. No army could want more than this. And I travelled with these maps from Washington by air to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt on Iraqi Airways straight to Baghdad. The Iraqis were very, very grateful!"

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http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article2114403.ece
by UK Independent (reposted)
Saturday Dec 30th, 2006 6:54 PM
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
Published: 31 December 2006

When they hanged him, he was America's vanquished foe, likened to Hitler and Stalin for the murderous evil of his ways. What is forgotten is that once, for more than a decade, Saddam Hussein was staunchly supported by the US.

Indeed, it was Washington that supplied him with many of the weapons of mass destruction the dictator used against his foes - weapons that one day would serve as a pretext for the US-led invasion that toppled him.

The dealings between the US and Saddam's Iraq over the quarter of a century before 2003 are a story of deceit, miscalculation and strategic blunders by both sides. And they began, as they would end, in the shadow of a common enemy: Iran.

Saddam seized complete power in 1978. Two years later he attacked Iran, in what he called an "Arab war against the Persians", to overthrow the Islamic revolutionary regime.

Washington was under no illusions about the brutality of Saddam's regime. But as Tehran gained the upper hand in the fighting, he came to be seen as the lesser of two evils - a vital bulwark against domination by a radical, anti-Western Iran of the strategically vital Gulf region, with its colossal oil reserves.

Quietly, the US delivered the technology, weapons and logistical support to prevent Iraq's defeat. Its policy was symbolised by the cordial meeting in Baghdad in December 1983 between Saddam and a certain Donald Rumsfeld, then President Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East. Two decades later, as Secretary of Defence, he would plan the invasion that toppled Saddam.

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http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2114494.ece