Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Saddam's regime so friendly and welcoming of dissent.

One widely believed story dates from the height of the war that Saddam launched against Iran, when things were going badly wrong for Iraqi forces and the Iranians were demanding that he resign the presidency.

"One of his cabinet ministers said, ‘Sir, why don’t you pretend to have resigned, and then after a peace treaty with the Iranians you can take over again?’," said the Middle East writer Hazhir Teimourian. "Saddam said, ‘I want a word with you outside’. Everybody heard the shots ring out." Ministers will look for signs of Saddam’s mood, and are terrified of being asked questions. One later recalled the fear that a buzzing fly would land on his head, singling him out.

In 1995, Hussein Kamel, an Iraqi hard-liner who oversaw the country’s programme to develop weapons of mass destruction, and Saddam’s cousin and son-in-law, fled with several relatives to Jordan. He told Time magazine back then: "If there is a conversation between two people in which one of them criticises any subject related to the regime, the fate of both of them is execution. "Anybody who criticises the regime, even in the slightest way, faces execution." Asked whether other members of the government ever criticise the regime, he answered: "It never happened."

"I don’t think he takes advice from anybody," says one retired diplomat, who spent 30 years of his working life in the Gulf region. "He doesn’t take advice, he makes up his mind. If they give him advice, he suspects them and ruthlessly knocks them off. "They are all too scared of him, though some are as big blackguards as he is. He is a strong, ruthless man and he has a protection apparatus second to none, in the way everybody informs on everybody else."

< email | 9/17/2002 10:16:00 PM | link

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