August 22, 2005

Saddam Husayn - Martyr for Palestine?

Capture of Saddam Husayn - DOD Photos

This week, a letter from Saddam Husayn surfaced in Jordan. Here is the translated text of the letter:

My greetings to the Arab people of brotherly Jordan and to whoever asks about us in our dignified and glorified nation; my soul and my existence is to be sacrificed for our precious Palestine and our beloved, patient and suffering Iraq.

Life is meaningless without the considerations of faith, love and inherited history in our nation. It is not much for a man to support his nation with his soul and all he commands because it deserves it since it has given us life in the name of God and allowed us to inherit the best.

My brother, love your people, love Palestine, love your nation, long live Palestine.

Saddam Husayn attempting to invoke the name of God and the Palestinian cause is laughable. Saddam Husayn is the antithesis of religion, despite his repeated attempts to wrap himself in the mantle of Islam. This is not new, nor is his attempt to tie his fate to that of the Palestinians.

Soon after the American response to his invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, he changed the Iraqi national flag to include the words "God is Great" (Allahu Akbar). This was a blatant attempt to portray secular, socialist Iraq - a country ruled by the Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'th) Party - as an Islamic state. Saddam hoped to rally the Arab and larger Muslim world to his cause. With the exception of Jordan, Yemen and Sudan, it did not work.

Likewise, his commitment to the Palestinian cause is also somewhat suspect. Prior to his invasion of Kuwait, his only commitment to Palestine was a half-hearted and virtually unnoticed contribution to the war effort against Israel. Faced with the American deployment after his invasion of Kuwait, he threatened to launch missile against Israel if he was attacked in Kuwait or Iraq. This he said he would do for the Palestinians. Again, this was an attempt to appeal to the Arab world for support against the American-led coalition.

This attempt, however, it was marginally effective. Jordanians and Palestinians supported Saddam. T-shirts in Jordan showed images of King Husayn, Yasir 'Arafat and Saddam superimposed over an image of the Dome of the Rock, near the site of Islam's third-holiest site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Other T-shirts were emblazoned with the words, "I am an Arab - my birthday is August 2, 1990." August 2 was the date of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

True to his word, one day after the beginning of air campaign of Operation Desert Storm, Iraqi missiles were launched at Israel. By the end of the war, Saddam had ordered the launch of about 40 missiles at Israel.

Saddam Husayn is committed to the survival of Saddam Husayn. Failing that, he is committed to the legacy of Saddam Husayn. Committed to God and Palestine? Hardly.