Monday, January 25, 2010

Problems in Iraq solved! Chemical Ali goes to the gallows

Well, now that Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, has been hanged, it figures to be just a few more hours before the 140,000 U.S. soldiers still stationed in Iraq come home -- right? Wrong. The execution of Saddam Hussein's 68-year-old cousin, perhaps most notorious for ordering a poison gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja that killed more than 5,000, was a foregone conclusion after his fourth trial ended, as expected, in his eighth death sentence. But many Iraqis probably wondered what was going to happen to him, since previous dates with the executioner were put off by the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad for political reasons. Yet there he was Monday, shown on Iraqi state television from Baghdad, standing on a scaffold with a rope around his neck, according to the New York Times. “His execution turns the page on another black chapter of repression, genocide and crimes against humanity that Saddam and his men practiced for 35 years,” Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a prepared statement. “His execution is great news for all Iraqis,” said Fakhri Karim, an adviser to Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd. “He was the killing machine of the former regime.” Majid also was known for leading the Anfal campaign after the Iran-Iraq war that killed at least 180,000 Kurds, and for killing thousands of Shiites in southern Iraq after they revolted following the first Gulf war in 1991. The execution of Majid occurred just after three hotels catering to tourists were bombed in Baghdad, no doubt bringing back memories of the years of insurgent attacks after the 1993 invasion by U.S. forces that ousted Hussein's regime. Hussein was hanged in 2006.

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