Saddam Hussein and two other defendants were condemned to death Saturday for their involvement in reprisals against a 1982 assassination attempt that resulted in the death of 148 people in the village of Dujail. The verdict in the yearlong case was greeted with mixed reactions around the world.
The most immediate questions surround the verdicts’ effects on Iraq’s ethnic strife. As the United States and the Iraqi government struggle to prevent the nation from splintering further, many believe that the verdicts will heighten the sectarian tensions that fuel the conflict. The White House and its allies have argued the reverse. They suggest that the trial and conviction of Saddam and his henchmen will provide closure for the Iraqi people and help to convince his former supporters in the insurgency to lay down their weapons.
Some questioned the timing, suggesting that the rulings were pushed back to give an electoral boost to a struggling Republican party before the elections. However, many observers disagree that any real gain can be drawn from these death sentences, coming as they do amidst the unrelenting chaos that has engulfed Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion.
There seems to be few, if any, who truly believe that Saddam is innocent of the charges. But some have argued against the death penalty, suggesting that it simply represents a return to the strong arm politics that served him so well during his own rule. Will Iraq be better off if the former dictator is executed?
What, if any effect will the verdict have on the sectarian rift that is tearing the nation apart? With public support of the war in the U.S. at an all time low, will the death sentence yield any tangible gain for the President and his party?
Come to a Café Society near you to discuss these and other questions.
- Saddam Is Sentenced to Death, and Iraq Shrugs
- World Opinion Divided on Saddam Sentence
- Justice Served
- Fighting erupts in Baghdad after verdict
- Don’t Hang Saddam
For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.