In the words of BBC Middle East analyst Gerald Butt (2001), "…his (Saddam's) opponents have not been able to nominate anyone else who might hold Iraq together -- with its Kurds in the north, Sunni Muslims in the centre [sic], and Shi'a in the south. What the outside world calls terror, Saddam calls expediency." Interestingly, Butt's analysis took into consideration the fact that despite the atrocities that Saddam had and has purportedly done to Iraqis and Iraq's neighbors, world leaders, particularly Western leaders like the U.S. And Britain, are still actually taking an active role in Saddam's political decision-making, albeit the latter has chosen to contain himself within Iraq's borders. Prior to 9/11, U.S. leadership continued to tolerate Saddam's regime, only until the point that it is able to find a 'suitable' replacement for the dictator (Dickey and Thomas, 2002).
In addition to "covert actions" taken to secure that Iraq would have a suitable leader in the event that Saddam is overthrown or ousted by opposing group/s, an active propaganda campaign against Saddam has been ongoing ever since U.S. explicitly and militarily opposed Iraq through the Gulf War. A dossier released by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London (2002) provided specific details about the "crimes and human rights abuses" Saddam has committed against his fellow Iraqis. This report was an integration of self-reports and interviews of Iraqi refugees, asylum seekers and defectors, as well as retrieved/salvaged documents from Saddam's regime. Among the cited crimes and abuses Saddam has purportedly committed are the following: torture, abuse of women (specifically rape and harassment), inhumane prison conditions, arbitrary and summary killings, persecution of the Shia community and Kurds, and harassment of Iraqi defectors.
This report provides a reinforcement through which Saddam is finally 'demystified' for the whole world to witness, reiterating that indeed, the U.S. government was right in portraying Saddam as also being responsible for the 9/11 attacks. In a study of media coverage on Saddam by researchers Paz and Aviles (2009) found that media has a significant role in the 'demonization' of Saddam as a totalitarian and 'anti-U.S.' leader in the Middle Eastern region. The study argued that through propaganda and slanted media coverage of Saddam as a dictator, there had been "excessive revisioning" that portrayed him as "[t]he enemy, rendered absolute and thusly isolated" (72).
Thus, what sustained Saddam's leadership was the 'isolation' he enforced upon his country and regime, therefore making himself vulnerable to propaganda organized outside of Iraq, and coursed primarily through mass media. These elements contributed Saddam's continued reign as the president of Iraq, but ultimately determined his fate when U.S. conducted its offensive attack against his government in 2003.
Evidence supporting committed crimes and abuses under the Saddam regime
The dossier from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London showed evidence coming from interviews and documents collected over the years when Saddam enforced the containment policy in his country (Tompkins, 2008). Verifying the truth in these interviews are critical most especially to the Bush administration, primarily to use these evidence and testimonies to justify the offensive attack it conducted against Iran, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2003.
Reports from the mass media and personal accounts of these crimes and abuses have been verified through different methodologies. For an investigator, the discovery of one case of verified crime or abuse committed by Saddam and his government carries an equal weight to two or more cases of these crimes and/or abuses. The researcher for this paper has personally interviewed an Iraqi refugee named Sohalia, who sought asylum with her family in Australia in 1998. Sohalia attested to the self-reports and interviews of fellow Iraqis who sought help and asylum from the international community, disclosing that her family experienced the terror that the dossier and her fellow Iraqis have claimed to have been committed against them by Saddam and his government. Sohalia's two brothers and sister, in fact, were taken by members of Saddam's Ba'ath Party in 1996, without informing the family the reason why they are being arrested. No information was given to them even after that incident, and it was only after her family paid large amounts of money and were already deep in debt that they found out that her siblings are in Abu Ghraib. Before the year ended, in November 1996, they just found the bodies of her sister and brother, already black and unrecognizable because of all the torture and bruises that they suffered. Sohalia's other brother remained unfound, and it was only after her family migrated to Australia that they found out her brother was executed by hanging in 1997, his body buried in a mass grave (Interview with Sohalia, 2009).
Witness accounts and interviews like Sohalia's experience, as well as retrieved or salvaged documents in Saddam's government offices make up a substantial part of these new discoveries about the terror within Iraq under Saddam's totalitarian regime. Inasmuch as Saddam and his government were responsible for these atrocities committed against civil society, Saddam's case also provides a good argument by which the international community looks at the 'goodness' and 'deviltry' of the actions and behaviors of world leaders. Saddam's case, in fact, brings into fore the issue of how he was supported and eventually 'snuffed' by the same political forces -- political forces who deemed a leader's actions as 'good' as long as this leader's actions and decisions will benefit them. Otherwise, means to end the leader's reign will be orchestrated and implemented, to the detriment, ultimately, of the civil society.
Butt, G. (January 2001). "Saddam Hussein profile." BBC News World Edition website. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1100529.stm
Dickey, C. And E. Thomas. (September 2002). "How the U.S. helped create Saddam Hussein." Global Policy Forum website. Available at: http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/167/34978.html
O'Reilly, B. (2004). "Document connects Saddam Hussein to 9/11 terrorists." Fort Worth Business Press.
Paz, M. And J. Aviles. (2009). "Demonizing the tyrant: Saddam Hussein's image in Spanish news programs during the Second Persian Gulf War." International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1.
"Saddam Hussein: crimes and human rights abuses." (November 2002). A report on the human cost of Saddam's policies by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. London.
Sanders, R. (October 2002). "Regime change: how the CIA put Saddam's party in power." Hartford Web Publishing. Available at: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/51/217.html
Tompkins, a. (2008). "Gathering evidence against the regime of Saddam Hussein." Litigation, Vol. 34, Issue 3.
Interview with "Sohalia." Conducted September 2009.