- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2003

It was about 9:30 a.m. (U.S. Eastern time), when Arab television aired the gruesome videos of Uday and Qusai’s dead bodies. A few seconds later, international networks followed suit, from Warsaw to New York. The corpses of Saddam’s sons were displayed at Baghdad’s International Airport in front of a first wave of 15 journalists, more than a dozen of whom were from the Arab world. The battle of the dead bodies was triggered the day before, with the killing of the most ferocious killers of Mesopotamia. But death didn’t close the file.

Iraq’s populations were unsure: For some, it was suicidal to accept; for most, it was too much to believe; for others, the time to inherit was on; and for many, the lesson was too real. Finally, across the Atlantic, real agendas re-emerged. While America’s public had to absorb a harsh vision for a higher cause, the European elite decried the “outrage,” but forgot the root causes. The developments were surreal.

As soon as U.S. forces stormed the Ba’athist villa in Mosul, reactions exploded. Leading the intifada against American action, al-Jazeera introduced the concept of “excessive force.” For the jihadist-inspired television, “too much hardware was used by the attackers.” Very little was said about the “types” of force used by the bloody brothers against their own people. Fundamentalist sophistication ignored “excessive force” when it was implemented in Halabjah the Kurdish town gassed by Saddam, or in the Arab marshes, site of the massacre of the Shi’ites in the south.

Mass killing is an internal Arab matter. It should be treated within the family, i.e. never addressed. But when “infidels” throw 12 rockets on the so-called Butchers of Iraq, the question becomes civilizational. In a matter of hours, probably less, the Qatar-based TV outlet videotaped “Ba’athist and Jihadist fighters” vowing revenge. An armed militant screamed: “They killed them, we will burn America from side to side.” Al-Jazeera’s correspondent in Mosul went on to detail the “procedure of revenge” among Arabs. “We can wait 40 years,” he kept repeating, forgetting for a moment that he was supposed to represent the so-called “balanced CNN of the Arabs.” In sum, Ba’athists and Islamists seemed to have admitted that the still pictures were of Saddam’s sons. Al-Jazeera and its Wahhabi sisters went even further. By the evening, anchors and analysts provided their viewers with the “party” guidelines: Uday and Qusai were said not to be in control of the “resistance,” and therefore this was not a defeat. Jihad continues.

Ironically, Western reporters kept panicking about the Arab and Iraqi refusal to believe. The matter got somewhat grotesque. If the coalition’s enemies — diehard Ba’athists and Islamists — were minimizing the killings, who was not satisfied with the pictures? The politics of Iraq provided the answer. The Shi’ite majority was skeptical, because of the dramatic 1991 experiment, and the Kurdish minority was not fully buying the news before it saw the evidence. Many Sunnis who spent their lives in prison, or in exile, could not believe they were saved from the beasts. In sum, the people of Iraq had to be provided with the human remains. Such psychological drama was not the prime nature of the good Iraqi people, rather, it was the unnatural consequence of the sons’ bestiality.

The masses that lost 1 million people to Uday and Qusai’s brigades had to see these two bodies. In Iraqi minds, the world could debate necro-morality till the end of time, because it didn’t matter to 23 million mourners. This so-called civilized world and its selective international ethics, didn’t lift a finger when the father of the two beasts organized the Iraqi holocaust. Just the opposite, many of the “sensitive voices” of today were busy shouting against liberation, which in the Iraqi dictionary meant in support of the two mass murderers. These are Iraq’s harsh realities. One can ignore them, but cannot bypass them.

Washington had to show the corpses, so that Iraq frees its soul from the Ba’athist phantom and marches toward life. The choice was difficult but had to be made. It could have been calibrated differently, but the dice rolled regardless. The devil may be in the details, but a greater devil resided in abstinence. By the second day of the Mosul operation, the sanitized bodies were offered to the public eye.

Uday and Qusai are gone, but post-mortem jihad is still alive and well. An Arab activist in the United States said on national TV: “Those who do not want to believe in these deaths won’t believe, no matter what bodies you’d show.” He was right. Except the equation is different. Day after day, the Iraqis are liberating themselves. The world will have to believe they are. Those who won’t believe in the free Iraqis can continue their post-mortem jihad till the end of time. Reality is reality. Saddam and sons are no more.

Walid Phares is a professor of Middle East Studies at Florida Atlantic Universityandananalyston MSNBC.

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