Monday, November 06, 2006

Iraq War Update: Masses Condemn Death Sentence Against President Saddam Hussein

Saddam supporters condemn sentence

by Maher Al-Jasem in Hiyt, Iraq
Monday 06 November 2006 8:49 PM GMT

Saddam supporters protest against the sentence

Throughout the provinces of Al-Anbar, Salahidin, Diyala, and Nineveh, thousands of Iraqis protested against the death sentence handed down to Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president.

In a phone interview with Al Jazeera, Salih al-Mutlaq, the head of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, blasted the trial proceedings as farcical and predicted that the government of Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, would be unseated soon.

He said: "The Maliki government diffused the security crisis in Iraq by adding oil to the fire."

He criticized the government for calling on people to celebrate before the verdict was announced.

He said: "The new government put the last nail in the bier of the Iraq amnesty project."

In Hiyt, 180 km west of Baghdad, hundreds of Iraqis fired their AK-47s in the air as a form of protest while others admitted to being shocked.

Worst day

Ammar Hameed, a Hiyt lawyer, said: "It's the worst day in all my life.

"I was hopping that there will be some postponement to the sentence against Saddam. I am so afraid that it's just the beginning of a new stage of violence in the country."

Hameed said that hopes for a unified Iraq had now been dashed.

But Jamal Jumaa, a teacher in Hiyt, believes Saddam should have stayed in the custody of US forces.

He said: "They [the US] have no death penalty against politicians inside the United States or more of the European states, as well as all the civilized world refused the punishment of death as they did in the European Union."

He believes there is little difference between Saddam's reign and the new post-war government which he says is on a killing spree.

In Ramadi, the capital of Anbar that is besieged by daily attacks on US and Iraqi government forces, Muimin Ahmed, a merchant, believes the sentence handed down is designed to end violence in Iraq but will ultimately fail.

He said: "They want to kill the role of the Iraq resistance by issuing this sentence."

Dark political period

Many Iraqis in Anbar believe the end of Saddam signals the end of a dark and disturbing period in Iraq's political history.

Others believe regional and world powers influenced the court's decision unfairly.

Khaled Ibraheem, a civil engineer from Hiyt, said: "The Iraqi government should have postponed this issue until the departure of the coalition forces from the country."

But all Iraqis interviewed believed that violence in the country would likely increase in the foreseeable future.

By Maher Al-Jasem in Hiyt, Iraq
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Curfew lifted after Saddam verdict

Monday 06 November 2006 7:42 AM GMT

The curfew began on Sunday before the trial verdict

Iraqi authorities have begun lifting a curfew in Baghdad as Saddam Hussein's appeal over his crimes against humanity conviction begins.

An interior ministry spokesman credited the round-the-clock restrictions with curbing violence after the announcement of the verdict on Sunday, despite street celebrations by Shias and demonstrations by Saddam supporters in his hometown of Tikrit.

An interior ministry official said a ban on pedestrians was lifted on Monday afternoon, while a vehicle ban would be lifted from Tuesday morning.

It was not clear whether Baghdad airport would be reopened after it was closed for two days.

There have been scattered celebrations on Monday in Shia-dominated parts of the country which are not covered by the curfew.

Street marches

In Hillah, 95km south of Baghdad, about 500 people marched in the streets carrying placards and shouting slogans denouncing the former president.

"Yes, yes for the verdict, which we have long been waiting for," chanted the crowd, largely made up of students and government workers.

In the mainly Sunni city of Baquba, about 250 pro-Saddam demonstrators took to the streets. They were dispersed by Iraqi soldiers for breaking the curfew in the province.

Another 400 protesters marched through Samarra denouncing the verdict.

The curfew was temporarily lifted in Tikrit to allow residents to shop and run errands. Angry crowds had gathered in the city on Sunday, holding aloft Saddam portraits, firing guns and chanting slogans pledging to avenge his execution.

Dujail deaths

Saddam was sentenced for "wilful killing", part of his indictment for crimes against humanity in ordering the death of 148 Shia residents of the town of Dujail after his 1982 assassination attempt.

Judges set Saddam Hussein's appeal - which is automatic under Iraqi law when the defendant has been sentenced to death - under way on Monday.

Raed al-Juhi, the spokesman for the tribunal which tried the former president, said the court has 10 days to submit its ruling justifying Saddam's execution to an appeals committee.

The nine-judge panel will then invite input from the prosecution.

Defence lawyers have said they will also submit their arguments.

Final judgement

Twenty days after that, the case will be sealed and the panel will retire to consider its verdict. No date has been set for their final judgement, which is binding.

If the verdict is upheld, Saddam will be hanged within 30 days of its ruling.

Bassam Ridha, a senior adviser to the prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, said: "We strongly feel that every day he lives is not good for the Iraqi people. We need to put an end to him, to this dictator.

"I hope this issue comes to an end quickly. Hopefully, in the next few months - before next summer - he will be dead," he said, adding that he was giving his personal view and not seeking to influence the verdict.

Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother and former intelligence chief, was also sentenced to die, as was Awad Ahmed al-Bandar, chairman of the so-called Revolutionary Court that ordered the Dujail executions.

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Move to reinstate Saddam supporters

Monday 06 November 2006 6:35 PM GMT

Saddam's death sentence has divided Iraqis

Iraq's Shia-dominated government has announced a major concession for the Sunni Muslim backers of Saddam Hussein, a day after the former president was sentenced to hang.

The Supreme National Commission for de-Baathification said on Monday that a draft law has been prepared which could see thousands of purged Baath Party members reinstated to their jobs.

Ali al-Lami, executive director the de-Baathification commission told the Associated Press the draft law will be sent to the parliament for ratification.

The amendments are in harmony with a 24-point national reconciliation plan that was announced in June by Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister, in which he called for reviewing the de-Baathification programme, al-Lami said.

Before the amendments were drawn up, the de-Baathification commission listed names of 10,302 senior Baath Party members who were to be fired but the new proposed law includes only 1,500 names, al-Lami said.

Those who will lose their jobs will get retirement pensions, he said.

He said that 7,688 have been fired since the organisation was established in January 2004.

Failed assassination

Many Sunni Arabs say that the de-Baathification process was aimed to remove members of their sect, that ruled Iraq for decades until the fall of Saddam, from state institutions.

But al-Lami strongly denied such accusations, saying that more Baathists from the predominantly Shia southern Iraq lost their jobs than in Sunni areas in the centre.

The United States dissolved and banned the formerly ruling Baath party in May 2003, a month after toppling Saddam, but later softened its stance, inviting former high-level officers from the disbanded military to join the security forces.

A court sentenced Saddam to death on Sunday for his role in the killings of 148 Shia residents of the town of Dujail after a failed assassination bid on him in 1982.

Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother and former intelligence chief, was also sentenced to die, as was Awad Ahmed al-Bandar, chairman of the so-called Revolutionary Court that ordered the Dujail executions.

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US rejects Saddam death penalty criticism

Monday 06 November 2006 11:32 PM GMT

Condoleezza Rice said Iraqis should decide Saddam's fate

The US has rejected European criticism of the death sentence given by an Iraqi court to Saddam Hussein, the former president.

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, insisted that it was up to Iraqis to decide the fate of the former Ba'ath Party leader.

She said during a television interview on Monday: "This is not something for Americans or, frankly, Europeans to comment on. I think this is something for Iraqis to decide."

The Iraqi High Tribunal, funded and advised by the US government, found Saddam guilty of crimes against humanity for the killing of 148 Shia civilians in revenge for a 1982 attempt on Saddam's life.

Rice spoke after Tony Blair, the British prime minister, reaffirmed his opposition to the death penalty for "Saddam or anybody else".

Massimo D'Alema, the Italian foreign minister, described the sentence as unacceptable.

D'Alema said his government, along with the rest of the European Union, opposed the death penalty in principle and feared that executing Saddam would plunge an already deeply divided Iraq "into a veritable civil war".


Saddam's death sentence was also condemned by the European Union presidency, the Vatican, Russia and human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Rice said Europe's stance against capital punishment was "long-standing" and irrelevant to Saddam's case.

She said on Fox News television: "This is an Iraqi process, not an American process or an international process."

In a unanimous decision by the tribunal's five judges, Saddam and two co-defendants were sentenced to death by hanging.

Another defendant was sentenced to life in prison and three others to 15-year jail terms.

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Pan-African News Wire said...

Vanity Fair Exclusive: Now They Tell Us

Neo Culpa

As Iraq slips further into chaos, the war's neoconservative boosters have turned sharply on the Bush administration, charging that their grand designs have been undermined by White House incompetence. In a series of exclusive interviews, Richard Perle, Kenneth Adelman, David Frum, and others play the blame game with shocking frankness.

Target No. 1: the president himself.

by David Rose VF.COM November 3, 2006

I remember sitting with Richard Perle in his suite at London's Grosvenor House hotel and receiving a private lecture on the importance of securing victory in Iraq. "Iraq is a very good candidate for democratic reform," he said. "It won't be Westminster overnight, but the great democracies of the world didn't achieve the full, rich structure of democratic governance overnight. The Iraqis have a decent chance of succeeding." Perle seemed to exude the scent of liberation, as well as a whiff of gunpowder. It was February 2003, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the culmination of his long campaign on behalf of regime change in Iraq, was less than a month away.

Three years later, Perle and I meet again at his home outside Washington, D.C. It is October, the worst month for U.S. casualties in Iraq in almost two years, and Republicans are bracing for losses in the upcoming midterm elections. As he looks into my eyes, speaking slowly and with obvious deliberation, Perle is unrecognizable as the confident hawk who, as chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, had invited the exiled Iraqi dissident Ahmad Chalabi to its first meeting after 9/11. "The levels of brutality that we've seen are truly horrifying, and I have to say, I underestimated the depravity," Perle says now, adding that total defeat—an American withdrawal that leaves Iraq as an anarchic "failed state"—is not yet inevitable but is becoming more likely. "And then," says Perle, "you'll get all the mayhem that the world is capable of creating."

According to Perle, who left the Defense Policy Board in 2004, this unfolding catastrophe has a central cause: devastating dysfunction within the administration of President George W. Bush. Perle says, "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.… At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible.… I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."

Perle goes so far as to say that, if he had his time over, he would not have advocated an invasion of Iraq: "I think if I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said,
'Should we go into Iraq?,' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.' … I don't say that because I no longer believe that Saddam had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction, or that he was not in contact with terrorists. I believe those two premises were both correct. Could we have managed that threat by means other than a direct military intervention? Well, maybe we could have."

Having spoken with Perle, I wonder: What do the rest of the pro-war neoconservatives think? If the much caricatured "Prince of Darkness" is now plagued with doubt, how do his comrades-in-arms feel? I am particularly interested in finding out because I interviewed many neocons before the invasion and, like many people, found much to admire in their vision of spreading democracy in the Middle East.

I expect to encounter disappointment. What I find instead is despair, and fury at the incompetence of the Bush administration the neoconservatives once saw as their brightest hope.

To David Frum, the former White House speechwriter who co-wrote Bush's 2002 State of the Union address that accused Iraq of being part of an "axis of evil," it now looks as if defeat may be inescapable, because "the insurgency has proven it can kill anyone who cooperates, and the United States and its friends have failed to prove that it can protect them." This situation, he says, must ultimately be blamed on "failure at the center"—starting with President Bush.

Kenneth Adelman, a lifelong neocon activist and Pentagon insider who served on the Defense Policy Board until 2005, wrote a famous op-ed article in The Washington Post in February 2002, arguing: "I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk." Now he says, "I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."

Fearing that worse is still to come, Adelman believes that neoconservatism itself—what he defines as "the idea of a tough foreign policy on behalf of morality, the idea of using our power for moral good in the world"—is dead, at least for a generation. After Iraq, he says, "it's not going to sell." And if he, too, had his time over, Adelman says, "I would write an article that would be skeptical over whether there would be a performance that would be good enough to implement our policy. The policy can be absolutely right, and noble, beneficial, but if you can't execute it, it's useless, just useless. I guess that's what I would have said: that Bush's arguments are absolutely right, but you know what, you just have to put them in the drawer marked can't do. And that's very different from let's go."

I spend the better part of two weeks in conversations with some of the most respected voices among the neoconservative elite. What I discover is that none of them is optimistic. All of them have regrets, not only about what has happened but also, in many cases, about the roles they played. Their dismay extends beyond the tactical issues of whether America did right or wrong, to the underlying question of whether exporting democracy is something America knows how to do.

I will present my findings in full in the January issue of Vanity Fair, which will reach newsstands in New York and L.A. on December 6 and nationally by December 12. In the meantime, here is a brief survey of some of what I heard from the war's remorseful proponents.

Richard Perle: "In the administration that I served [Perle was an assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan], there was a one-sentence description of the decision-making process when consensus could not be reached among disputatious departments: 'The president makes the decision.' [Bush] did not make decisions, in part because the machinery of government that he nominally ran was actually running him. The National Security Council was not serving [Bush] properly. He regarded [then National-Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice] as part of the family."

Michael Ledeen, American Enterprise Institute freedom scholar: "Ask yourself who the most powerful people in the White House are. They are women who are in love with the president: Laura [Bush], Condi, Harriet Miers, and Karen Hughes."

Frank Gaffney, an assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan and founder of the Center for Security Policy: "[Bush] doesn't in fact seem to be a man of principle who's steadfastly pursuing what he thinks is the right course. He talks about it, but the policy doesn't track with the rhetoric, and that's what creates the incoherence that causes us problems around the world and at home. It also creates the sense that you can take him on with impunity."

Kenneth Adelman: "The most dispiriting and awful moment of the whole administration was the day that Bush gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to [former C.I.A. director] George Tenet, General Tommy Franks, and [Coalition Provisional Authority chief] Jerry [Paul] Bremer—three of the most incompetent people who've ever served in such key spots. And they get the highest civilian honor a president can bestow on anyone! That was the day I checked out of this administration. It was then I thought, There's no seriousness here, these are not serious people. If he had been serious, the president would have realized that those three are each directly responsible for the disaster of Iraq."

David Frum: "I always believed as a speechwriter that if you could persuade the president to commit himself to certain words, he would feel himself committed to the ideas that underlay those words. And the big shock to me has been that although the president said the words, he just did not absorb the ideas. And that is the root of, maybe, everything."

Michael Rubin, former Pentagon Office of Special Plans and Coalition Provisional Authority staffer: "Where I most blame George Bush is that through his rhetoric people trusted him, people believed him. Reformists came out of the woodwork and exposed themselves." By failing to match his rhetoric with action, Rubin adds, Bush has betrayed Iraqi reformers in a way that is "not much different from what his father did on February 15, 1991, when he called the Iraqi people to rise up, and then had second thoughts and didn't do anything once they did."

Richard Perle: "Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad. I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, 'Go design the campaign to do that.' I had no responsibility for that."

Kenneth Adelman: "The problem here is not a selling job. The problem is a performance job.… Rumsfeld has said that the war could never be lost in Iraq, it could only be lost in Washington. I don't think that's true at all. We're losing in Iraq.… I've worked with [Rumsfeld] three times in my life. I've been to each of his houses, in Chicago, Taos, Santa Fe, Santo Domingo, and Las Vegas. I'm very, very fond of him, but I'm crushed by his performance. Did he change, or were we wrong in the past? Or is it that he was never really challenged before? I don't know. He certainly fooled me."

Eliot Cohen, director of the strategic-studies program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and member of the Defense Policy Board: "I wouldn't be surprised if what we end up drifting toward is some sort of withdrawal on some sort of timetable and leaving the place in a pretty ghastly mess.… I do think it's going to end up encouraging various strands of Islamism, both Shia and Sunni, and probably will bring de-stabilization of some regimes of a more traditional kind, which already have their problems.… The best news is that the United States remains a healthy, vibrant, vigorous society. So in a real pinch, we can still pull ourselves together. Unfortunately, it will probably take another big hit. And a very different quality of leadership. Maybe we'll get it."

David Rose is a Vanity Fair contributing editor.

Pan-African News Wire said...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Taken Kabobfest Blog.

Vanity Fair on the Neo-Con Blame Game

David Rose, an editor at Vanity Fair, released a pre-election preview of an article profiling leading Neo-Cons and their regrets about the abject failure in Iraq. The web preview teases the palate by offering some quips from exclusive interviews to be featured in an article in next month's edition.

The masochist in me found delight in the new found Neo-Con reserve. The once hyper-aggressive chicken-hawks are now licking the wounds of discredibility. Like any ego-attacked individual, they waver between denial, self-criticism and blaming others -- namely, Bush and pals. Some hold on to the notion that the plan to invade Iraq was good in theory, but hard to actually do -- including Neo-Con mastermind Richard Perle. Maybe, he asks, they should have thought of alternatives. That's funny, I think millions of American protestors hit the streets to suggest such alternatives in the lead-up to the invasion.

Kenneth Adelman, a lifelong Neo-Con and Pentagon insider who served on the Defense Policy Board until 2005, had some of the harshest words for the Bush administration: The most dispiriting and awful moment of the whole administration was the day that Bush gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to [former C.I.A. director] George Tenet, General Tommy Franks, and [Coalition Provisional Authority chief] Jerry [Paul] Bremer—three of the most incompetent people who've ever served in such key spots. And they get the highest civilian honor a president can bestow on anyone! That was the day I checked out of this administration. It was then I thought, There's no seriousness here, these are not serious people. If he had been serious, the president would have realized that those three are each directly responsible for the disaster of Iraq.

This came from a guy who wrote in a Washington Post 2002 op-ed: "I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk." Now that's a serious piece of cake, and one serious walk in the park. This theoretical flop has left Neo-Conservatism done for in this generation. Does that mean we'll have to wait 20 years for another band of high-brow cavemen to promote militarism for the sake of uninvited "good" in some far-off corner of the earth? In theory, everyone wants what is good. That doesn't mean they want the United States to invade them.

posted by Will at 12:47 PM

Pan-African News Wire said...

November 7, 2006

Third Guilty Plea in Killing of Iraqi by a Marine Patrol

New York Times

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Nov. 6 — A marine corporal pleaded guilty on Monday in the shooting death of an unarmed Iraqi in April, the third person charged in the case to do so.

As part of a plea agreement, the marine, Lance Cpl. Tyler A. Jackson, received reduced charges of aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Corporal Jackson said Monday at his court-martial here that he knew that the killing was unlawful when it occurred. Initially charged with seven others with kidnapping and premeditated murder, he avoided the more serious charges as part of a plea agreement to testify against fellow squad members.

A military judge set sentencing for Nov. 16.

Corporal Jackson, 23, accepted the deal last week, after months of proclaiming his innocence as he remained in the brig.

Seven marines and a Navy corpsman were charged with kidnapping and killing the Iraqi, Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, who died of multiple gunshot wounds on April 26, and with covering up the crime.

Another marine, Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr., has also been negotiating a plea, defense lawyers said.

At the court-martial on Monday, Corporal Jackson gave testimony about the killing that closely tracked testimony by the two others who have pleaded guilty.

He said the men were on patrol near Hamdaniya searching for Saleh Gowad, an insurgent who repeatedly planted bombs, including one that was thought to have killed four members of a platoon in his company.

The corporal testified that the men kidnapped and killed a man they believed to be Mr. Gowad, but who was Mr. Awad, staging the scene to make it appear as if there had been a gunfight.

“Everyone told the story that it was a good shoot and a lawful engagement,” Corporal Jackson said.

Plea bargains are common in cases with multiple defendants. But experts in military law say the number of deals in the Hamdaniya case and the rapid legal proceedings are somewhat unusual.

“In my view, one deal is sufficient when you have statements” admitting guilt, said Gary D. Solis, a former military judge and Marine prosecutor who teaches the law of war at Georgetown University.

“Two deals make you sleep well,” Mr. Solis said. “But three is gilding the lily. At some point, a prosecutor has to prosecute.“

Aside from the testimony by those who reached plea bargains and a summary of the individual charges, prosecutors have divulged little information about their case.

The government’s case is considered strong because statements describing the killing were signed by members of the squad, part of the Second Platoon of Kilo Company in the Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, which is based here.

In addition to Corporal Jackson, deals were reached with the Navy hospital corpsman, Petty Officer Third Class Melson J. Bacos, 21, who was sentenced to one year in prison after pleading guilty to modified charges of conspiracy and kidnapping, and Pfc. John J. Jodka III, 20, the youngest and least experienced of the marines, who faces sentencing on Nov. 15.

The terms of the agreement with Private Jodka will be made public at the hearing next week when the defense intends to call additional witnesses, his civilian lawyer, Jane Siegel, said.

Under military law, the defendants who have accepted pretrial agreements retain the right to go to trial until their sentencing hearings, said Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice.

“You can still try to beat the deal,“ Mr. Fidell said. “A defendant can, and not infrequently does, do better at trial than the outcome for which he bargained at pretrial.“

Others who have been ordered to trial are Cpl. Marshall Magincalda, Lance Cpl. Robert B. Pennington and Cpl. Trent D. Thomas. The squad leader, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, has not been ordered to trial.

The testimony of fellow troops in such cases can make the defense difficult. It leaves little alternative but to argue that a killing was somehow mitigated by extenuating circumstances. Because the witnesses know one another well, there is the risk of information coming out that undermines a witness’s credibility, legal experts say.

Some defense lawyers have suggested another reason for the multiple plea agreements. “I think it is a matter of expediting the process and saving the command a lot of money,“ Ms. Siegel said.

Pan-African News Wire said...

November 7, 2006

Many Oppose Death Penalty for Hussein

New York Times

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Nov. 6 — European politicians on Monday spoke out against the death sentence for Saddam Hussein. Arab officials and commentators derided what they said was a flawed and politicized trial, while for the first time broadly acknowledging Mr. Hussein’s crimes.

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, speaking to reporters on Monday, said he opposed the death penalty for Mr. Hussein, joining several other European leaders and European Union officials who announced their opposition to the sentence. When pressed by reporters, Mr. Blair spoke of his longstanding opposition to capital punishment. He said he did not intend to protest the sentence, and condemned Mr. Hussein’s brutality.

European leaders insisted that the viciousness of the actions of which Mr. Hussein was found guilty had not changed their view that state-sponsored killing was wrong. Some warned that executing Mr. Hussein would only worsen the sectarian bloodshed in Iraq.

The Associated Press quoted Terry Davis, secretary general of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, as saying: “A country ravaged by violence and death does not need more violence, and especially not a state-orchestrated execution. Saddam Hussein is a criminal and should not be allowed to become a martyr.”

Amnesty International said Sunday that it “deplored” Mr. Hussein’s sentence, describing the proceedings as “deeply flawed and unfair.”

In the Arab world, many dismissed the verdict as a product of an unfair trial, decrying the lack of control of the proceedings by the judges, the seeming contradictions in procedures and the generally politicized nature of the proceedings. Most of those who commented on the subject said the decision to impose the death penalty would not stem the wave of violence gripping Iraq.

“You’ll hear a lot of moderates say it’s great Saddam got what he deserves, but unfortunately it was through a trial that was regrettable,” said Ayman Safadi, the editor of the Jordanian daily newspaper Al Ghad. “People see Saddam himself as irrelevant. This trial was not about Saddam; it was about Iraq itself.”

Analysts said the timing of the verdict, just two days before the United States midterm elections, underscored the politically charged nature of the proceedings.

“His sentencing now is a deliberate attempt to boost the Republicans in the U.S.,” said Imad Shueibi, president of the Data and Strategic Studies Center, a privately financed research organization in Damascus, Syria. “They’re expecting big losses in the upcoming elections, and they figure maybe this sentence might give an illusion of some success. But of course only the na├»ve will believe that.”

But for many, the trial missed an opportunity to send messages to other dictators and to teach valuable lessons.

“There’s no way to celebrate,” said Muhammed al-Ameer, the political editor at the Saudi daily newspaper Al Riyadh. “No one doubts that Saddam committed human rights abuses, but the trial was so flawed that it put things in question. It just keeps sounding like a step taken by the Republicans to help them.”

Perhaps the most dramatic shift was in how many viewed Mr. Hussein. Previously, few in the region had been willing to address directly the issue of whether he might be guilty of crimes against his people, with many people lionizing the former dictator. Most of those interviewed on Sunday and Monday said they believed he was guilty, but they also said that the flaws in his trial offset his guilt.

“People used to see Saddam as a fearless, defiant leader, but then he appeared in handcuffs and his image was shattered,” said Saleh Qallab, a columnist with the Jordanian government-backed newspaper Al Rai. “Nobody can sympathize with a weak figure; that change is not political, but psychological.”

Makram Mohamed Ahmed, a columnist with the Egyptian government-backed Al Ahram newspaper, said, “He was a burden to his nation and a burden to the entire Arab world and he might have truly deserved this fate, if only the court’s legitimacy was not in question.”

Most of all, Mr. Ahmed said, the verdict has failed to send a message to other Arab leaders to loosen their grip and make needed changes. “I don’t think any of the Arab leaders will come to think that this can happen again,” he said. “The Bush’s administration is losing its popularity and the Democrats may get a majority in the Congressional elections.”

Suha Maayeh contributed reporting from Amman, Jordan.