Saturday, June 05, 2004

Saddam Hussein -- 100% Thumbs Up!

John Burns, writing for the New York Times on October 18, 2002, describes the scene at Saddam Hussein's inaugural ceremony of his new seven-year term as Iraq's president.

Nothing at the ceremony in the National Assembly, Iraq's rubber-stamp Parliament, would have done anything to undermine the Iraqi leader's sense of himself as a man divinely entrusted to lead his nation's 22 million people.

His arrival at the hall, the formal inauguration, during which he unsheathed a ceremonial sword, and his speech itself were interrupted by men and women in the audience leaping to their feet and shouting hoarse choruses and verses in his praise.

Mr. Hussein, looking heavier than in years past, with gray flecking his mustache, watched impassively as the encomiums flowed, gesturing now and then to still the praises.

On several occasions the television cameras focused on a younger man in his early 30's, stone-faced, who would be the favored candidate to succeed Mr. Hussein if he died: his younger son, Qusay, who holds key posts in the state security system.

The praises for Mr. Hussein followed the patterns set by voters across the country at the polls on Tuesday. "With our blood, with our souls, we sacrifice ourselves to you, Saddam," the audience chanted rhythmically, again and again.

A man in Bedouin clothes, his voice breaking and hoarse, shouted, "Saddam, with your towering strength you have shaken America to a standstill."

A man who identified himself as a Kurd — a member of an ethnic group that has been a target of violent crackdowns under Mr. Hussein — shouted: "We will remain the sword in your hands. You are our leader, and the leader of the Arab nation."

Saddam Hussein then spoke to the Iraqi people.

"If Allah Almighty, in his great wisdom and for reasons beyond our comprehension, decides to put you again to the test of fighting on a large scale, then the Almighty, the nation and history will expect you to deliver an effective stand," Mr. Hussein said, according to an official translation of his Arabic text.

"Afterward," he continued, "the enemy will fall on his face, despised, condemned and defeated, while your banner, the banner of God Is Great, will continue to fly high on its nest, dignified and honorable."

That the Iraqi leadership took its lead from Mr. Hussein seemed clear when he said in his speech today that the referendum result was "visual and tangible" evidence of "the road of free expression" in Iraq.

"The people have also shown the level of closeness reached in the relationship between them and their leadership," Mr. Hussein said.




UPDATE: Here is a little history from the staff at Iraqi Bloggers Central:

Salam Pax (Where is Raed?) Dec. 17, 2002 -- last blogged April 10, 2004
Gaith A Ahad / Gaith (Gee in Baghdad ) June 10, 2003 -- September 20, 2003)
Riverbend (Riverbend) August 17, 2003 -- current
Zeyad (Healing Iraq) October 17, 2003 -- current
Alaa (Mesopotamian) November 4, 2003 -- current
Sam (Hammorabi) November 7, 2003 -- current
A.Y.S. (Iraq at a Glance) November 8, 2003 -- current
Omar, Ali, Mohammed (Iraq the Model) November 14, 2003 -- current
Firas Georges (Iraq & Iraqis) November 23, 2003 -- current
Faiza Jarrar(A Family in Baghdad) December 3, 2003 -- current
Khalid Jarrar (Tell Me a Secret) December 9, 2003 -- current
Sarmad (Road of a Nation) December 26, 2003 -- current
Kurdo (Kurdo's World) (Oct 14 - 19, 2003 in Arabic) January 19, 2004 -- current (in English)
Majid Jarrar (Me vs. Myself) February 21, 2004 -- current
Raed Jarrar (Raed in the Middle) March 22, 2004 -- current
Raed Jarrar / Niki "the letter N" (Raed and the Irani) April 18, 2004 -- current

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