Saddam's final days: What did he eat?
Citizens of Arab world watch in amazement as ousted Iraqi tyrant hanged, most feeling sorrow, humiliation: 'Saddam isn't European, so he doesn't get a fair international trial. The Americans hate him and all Arabs.' In meantime, those of you wondering what Saddam's last meal was, prepare for a bit of irony: Hamburger and fries
"He will join the ranks of the martyrs," eulogized al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper editor Abdel Atwan in an article published just hours before the execution.
"We feel sadness and sorrow when we see an Arab leader approaching the noose alongside the silence and lack of attention form his colleagues, the Arab leaders, and from many of the 300 million Arabs spread out on five world continents," continued Atwan.
One must not be mislead by the ostentatious show of joy of the Iraqi Shiites. Many, especially in Iraq, feel deep sorrow and humiliation in the face of the images of the execution, just as they felt on the day Saddam was captured by the Americans.
Saddam Hussein during his execution (Photo: AP)
Though no one has forgotten the crimes Saddam committed in his country, the widespread sentiment, which Atwan expressed well, is that Saddam's fate was determined by the Americans with out any connection to his past transgressions.
"The American occupier handed him over to the hate-filled, death-cell-supporting ethnic government, whose entire policy is built on revenge. Therefore, one can expect the worst for the fate of this man, who preserved his country's unity and transformed it into a regional power. Hussein was sentenced to death already from the first day of the American occupation. The judicial processes that we saw were just a waste of time and desperate attempts to convince the rest of the Iraqis of the justice of the occupiers and their company of collaborators," wrote Atwan.
'The only Arab leader who fired missiles at Tel Aviv'
Atwan, who has stuck to his pro-Saddam line for years, didn't hide his emotions in the past few days about the fact that Saddam was to be executed by hanging.
According to him, "The Americans made a big mistake in Iraq, but Saddam's execution is likely to be the biggest mistake. It will result in an escalation of violence and will throw fuel on the fire of civil war.
"They could have treated this man as a leader of a country, and left him in to live out the rest of his life in suitable living quarters. But they didn't do this because they hate him and all the Arabs and Muslims. Saddam Hussein isn't European, and, therefore, didn't isn't eligible for a just international trial. Instead, he had to be thrown to bloodthirsty wolves to eat his flesh and drink his blood."
Atwan continued, "President Saddam will go to the gallows standing straight as a man who didn't betray his people, and who didn't cooperate with the foreign occupation. He always solved the problems of his nation and preserved its unity and original Arab identity.
"The Iraqi people will remember him as knight who fought off the invaders, as someone who built an unprecedented knowledge base and eliminated illiteracy, as someone who nationalized the oil industry turning it into the property of the homeland, and as someone who turned Iraq into an ascendant power in a blazing region.
"The Arab people will remember Saddam Hussein as the only Arab leader who fired 40 missiles at Tel Aviv, stood beside the Palestinian resistance, gave sponsorship to martyrs' families, and defended Damascus from Israeli tanks heading to occupy it."
Three years ago, Atwan was no less emotional. In an editorial he published on the same issue after Saddam's appeal was rejected, he wrote: "Saddam Hussein is likely to be executed tomorrow, two days from now, or in another few weeks. He requested from day one to be executed by a firing squad because he is the general commander of the armed Iraqi forces.
"However, he will go to the noose with his head held high, because he built a strong and unified Iraq. All the while, his jailers will stand with their heads hung low and ashamed because they can't hide their crimes against Iraq and its people."
Last supper: Hamburger and fries
Another topic that has been a fervent topic of discussion is the timing of Saddam's execution.
"Why on Eid al-Adha of all times?" many ask. His detractors, on the other hand, saw this as an additional reason for celebration on the holiday.
Abdel Rahman Rashad, who writes a liberal column in London-based newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, said: "The real question is why did the Iraqi regime along with the Americans, delay judging and executing former President Saddam Hussein?"
"Both sides, the defense and the prosecution, wanted to lengthen the trial, each one for his own reasons. This was until the regimes understood that leaving Saddam in jail built him a national force that didn't exist previously in the opposition.
"Saddam was never an icon or a hero, but controlled Iraq with an iron first, leaving behind him many opponents. It is no sorrow to be rid of him, but with time, perspectives were formed that Saddam was no worse than the other Iraqi criminals in the arena who are heading the death militias," he wrote.
In one way or another, December 30, 2006 will be remembered in the annals of Iraqi history. However, many ironic reports have emerged dealing with the lighter side of the execution.
For instance, British newspaper The Daily Mirror reported that the ousted president, who was so virulently opposed to American presence in the Middle East, spent his last days eating some of the foods most associated with the United States – hamburger and fries.
According to the same report which relied on one of Saddam's military aides, Saddam liked to eat hamburgers and fries and deliberately chose to eat Western fare during his last days.