An Iraqi special tribunal yesterday sentenced Saddam Hussein’s cousin, known as ”Chemical Ali” to death for the destruction of thousands of Kurdish villages and the murder of tens of thousands of their inhabitants during the 1988 ”Anfal campaign”.
What was Anfal about??
The al-Anfal Campaign (Kurdish: Sallawî Enfal) was an anti-Kurdish campaign led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein between 1986 and 1989 (during and just after the Iran-Iraq war). The campaign takes its name from Surat Al-Anfal in the Qur'an, which was used as a code name by the former Iraqi Baathist regime for a series of military campaigns against the peshmerga rebels as well as the mostly Kurdish civilian population of southern Kurdistan. Kurds have always referred to these attacks as the genocide. In December 2005 a court in The Hague ruled that the killing of thousands of Kurds in Iraq in the 1980s was an act of genocide.
This was another occasion when the entire Islamic worlds looked the other way like in the case of atrocities in today’s Darfur. Islamic despotic rulers rarely ever mind if perpetrator of crime against another Muslim is one of their own. Chemical Ali and Saddam were one of their own. The life of fellow Muslims loses all significance if a strong man who has raised a slogan against infidels can go on rampage and eliminate dissent in any which way he can. The jihad against infidel undertaken than by Saddam was far more important than lives of thousand of peshmergas. The jihad by the way than was against Shiite orthodoxy, it was a destructive self proclaimed war against Iran, where the two countries tried to eradicate each other with a ferocity that would put even worst of tyrannies to shame. The western powers remained silent as they saw Saddam as an enormous tool and effective balance against the Shiite increasing orthodoxy.
In March 1987, Saddam Hussein's cousin from his hometown of Tikrit, Ali Hassan al-Majid, was appointed secretary-general of the Ba'ath Party's Northern Region, which included Iraqi Kurdistan. Under al-Majid, who 'even by the standards of the Ba'ath security apparatus ... had a particular reputation for brutality,' control of policies against the Kurdish insurgents passed from the Iraqi Army to the Ba'ath Party itself.
On June 20, 1987, directive SF/4008 was issued under al-Majid's signature. Of greatest significance is clause 5. Referring to those areas designated 'prohibited zones,' al-Majid ordered that 'all persons captured in those villages shall be detained and interrogated by the security services and those between the ages of 15 and 70 shall be executed after any useful information has been obtained from them, of which we should be duly notified.' However, it seems clear from the application of this policy that this referred only to males 'between the ages of 15 and 70.' HRW/ME takes this as given, writing that clause 5's 'order [was] to kill all adult males,' and later: 'Under the terms of al-Majid's June 1987 directives, death was the automatic penalty for any male of an age to bear arms who was found in an Anfal area.' (Iraq's Crime of Genocide, pp. 11, 14.) A subsequent directive on September 6, 1987, supports this conclusion: it calls for 'the deportation of ... families to the areas where there saboteur relatives are ..., except for the male [members], between the ages of 12 inclusive and 50 inclusive, who must be detained.' (Cited in Iraq's Crime of Genocide, p. 298.)This was the prelude to the intended 'final solution' to the Kurdish problem undertaken within months of al-Majid's arrival in his post. It would be known as 'al-Anfal' ('The Spoils'), in a reference to the eighth sura of the Qur'an. Anfal was overseen by Ali Hassan al-Majeed in his capacity as the ruling Baath party’s northern head. Iraqi Kurds say that as many as 180,000 of their compatriots died during this and other campaigns in the late 1980s.
In the Anfal campaign the descendents of Saladin Ayubi the great chivalrous warrior faced the final solution. Saddam use to ride a white stallion and presented himself as the great chivalrous leader of Islam in the footsteps of Saladin, little did the Islamic knew that he designed the final solution for the descendents of this warrior. Not single voice of condemnation ever appeared as this genocide went on in the name of a Quranic Surrah titled as ‘The Spoils.’ The conscience of the world slept as did the conscience of the 1.2 billion faithful, on this great day when perpetrators of this crime faces the ultimate capital sentence it is nice to see justice being served to criminals who seemingly escaped it than.
In its book Iraq's Crime of Genocide (ISBN 0-300-06427-6), HRW/ME writes: 'Throughout Iraqi Kurdistan, although women and children vanished in certain clearly defined areas, adult males who were captured disappeared en masse ... It is apparent that a principal purpose of Anfal was to exterminate all adult males of military service age captured in rural Iraqi Kurdistan.' (pp. 96, 170). Only a handful survived the execution squads.
'Arabization,' another major element of Al-Anfal, was a tactic used by Hussein's regime to drive Kurdish families out of their homes in cities like Kirkuk, which are in the valuable oil field areas. The campaign utilized heavy population redistribution, most notably in Kirkuk, the results of which now plague negotiations between Iraq's Shi'a United Iraqi Alliance and Kurdish Democratic Alliance. Hussein's Ba'athist regime built several public housing facilities in Kirkuk as part of his 'Arabization,' shifting poor Arabs from Iraq's southern regions to Kirkuk with the lure of inexpensive housing.
Iraq's Kurds now strongly resent Arabs still residing in Ba'ath-era Kirkuk housing, and view them as a barrier to Kirkuk's recognition as a Kurdish city (and regional seat) in an increasingly sovereign Kurdish Autonomous Region. Many Kurds believe that since Hussein's 'Arabization' was a form of ethnic cleansing, they should be allowed to 'undo' its campaign in post-Saddam Iraq, ie expelling those Arabs who came north as a result of Hussein's programs.
Former defence minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, a former deputy director of operations for the Iraqi armed forces, were also sentenced to hang at the end of the ten month trial. Saddam Hussein had been a defendant prior to his hanging in December for a campaign of collective punishment carried out against the Shia village of Dujeil.
As a part time writer I have been involved in my own little way to keep reminding the conscience of populace in my part of world on the atrocities committed by Chemical Ali. For me this day is a day when justice is served to the main perpetrator of this crime. I thank every one involved and expect that this 'act of justice' will go down in history like the lessons of Nuremberg trials, the message is clear i.e. the crimes against humanity cannot be overlooked, the perpetrators can hide, run but never escape from the long hands of justice.