On December 13, 2003, US soldiers caught Saddam Hussein in a small underground hiding place outside of Tikrit. Immediately, speculations erupted on whether Saddam would face justice for the numerous crimes he had committed against the peoples of the region, or whether an open trial against the dictator would be too politically sensitive for Washington.
So far, the skeptics have been proven wrong – Saddam was indeed put on trial earlier this month by the new Iraqi interim government.
But on one crucial point, justice remains selective. Amongst the seven charges made against Saddam, including his short-lived invasion of Kuwait, none included any of his crimes against Iran and Iranian civilians throughout the bloody eight year Iran-Iraq War.
An estimated 100,000 Iranians were affected by Saddam's chemical weapons, and the CIA concludes that 20,000 Iranians were killed by these weapons of mass destruction. Saddam's chemical warfare against Iran has been recognized by both the UN and the US government, and in 1990, the UN established Iraq as the aggressor in the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-88.
Nonetheless, these crimes seem to have been unimportant to the new Iraqi Government. Thus far, the US government has not commented on the subject, even though the US's involvement in the trial has been intimate.
Not surprisingly, this rather peculiar twist in the Saddam saga has raised eyebrows both abroad and in Washington . Afshin Molavi of the New America Foundation writes in the Washington Post (July 11, 2004,) “The trial of Saddam Hussein will not be morally complete unless he is forced to confront the chemical atrocities he committed against Iranian soldiers…
All over the world, too many people think of Washington's human rights approach as selective, based on national interest, not moral imperative. Here's an opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong and do what is morally right.”
NIAC has prepared a letter urging President Bush to strongly urge the Iraqi interim government to include Iranian victims in the criminal docket in Hussein's trial. We strongly urge you to personalize the letter in order to maximize its impact.
If you have relatives or loved ones who have been affected by Saddam's chemical warfare, do mention this in your letter. A personal perspective has a far greater impact than a letter with only abstract arguments.
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Trita Parsi is President of the . He is pursuing his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies under Professor Francis Fukuyama, while working part-time as a policy advisor to Chairman Robert Ney (R-OH) on the Middle East and Iran. This article first appeared on NIAC's website..
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