Sunday, March 16, 2008

Why Didn't Saddam Hussein Admit That He Worked for the CIA?

By now everyone has a very good idea how quickly conspiracy theories are created, disseminated, and embraced by many in the Middle East. Among the Iraqi bloggers, Iraq Pundit has been the most tireless in debunking the myriad myths that have been passed around in the region. A year ago, he wrote about a Arabic-language book called Saddam Was Not Executed by Anis Al-Daghidi. "[Al-Daghidi] argues that not only was Saddam not executed; he was never even captured," writes Iraq Pundit. "Indeed, Saddam is alive and well in a safe place, and so are his sons Uday and Qusay. Maybe you think you saw documentary footage of the sons' corpses, but that, claims journalist Al-Daghidi, was just easy American fakery." One would think that Waleed Rabiaa, whom I have written about before ("Whatever Happened to Waleed Rabia"), would not be as vulnerable to conspiracy theories as Al-Daghidi, but you would be wrong.

Waleed Rabiaa, many of you will recall, was one of the young Iraqis featured in the Bridges to Baghdad series, I and II. In Bridges to Baghdad I, filmed before the outbreak of war, Iraqi and American high-school-age students talked to each other over a video satellite feed, a kind of video conference about their lives in the two countries. Included in the program were video profiles of each of the participants. Waleed, the lanky rocker, was an immensely appealing figure, with his laugh and slangy English. Later, Waleed admitted that, during the taping of Bridges to Baghdad I, Houda Saleh Amash, from the 55-most-wanted deck of cards, was sitting next to him and listening to every word coming out of his mouth -- telling the truth was not an option. In Bridges to Baghdad II, filmed in Baghdad shortly after April 9, 2003, Waleed performed on top of a building in Baghdad with Acrassicauda ("Black Scorpion"), a heavy metal band of which he was the lead singer. In one of their songs, Waleed screamed into the microphone, "FUCK SADDAM!!!"

In this photograph, Waleed Rabiaa is sitting in the center of the first row along with the other Bridges to Baghdad Iraqis.

After Saddam's ouster, Waleed began working with Majid Jarrar on Al-Muajaha ("The Witness"), an online news outlet funded by Chicago-based IndyMedia. Within the first couple months, the reporters for Al-Muajaha started to receive death-threats, and many of them decided to leave the country. Waleed, like Majid Jarrar, ended up in Canada via Jordon, arriving on the west coast of Canada near Vancouver in October, 2004. He's been in school there ever since (as far as I know), and last summer, on July 25, 2007, he gave an interview to Fernwood Community Association, a local radio station, about his experiences in Iraq (scroll down and click on the mp3 link, if you're interested in listening to the entire interview). Here Waleed talks about Saddam Hussein's relationship with the United States:
For me, everything Saddam did in Iraq was completely serving the American plan, and preparation to this war, to this invasion, to what's happening at the moment.
Asked by the interviewer how Saddam, if he represented America's presence in Iraq, got "cut out of the deal," Waleed explains:
The more I read, the more I talk about it and think about it, it doesn't make any sense to me. There is a very big missing piece. What I know is, the guy was fully supported by the CIA. The coup in 1963 was funded by the CIA. Those people were trained in Egypt. ... Actually George Bush Senior was head of the CIA during that time. So they came to Iraq and the US kept helping him. ... George H.W. Bush, the senior one, a day before Saddam invaded Kuwait ... signed a directive of issuing $350 million dollars of agricultural materials in credits, only to Saddam Hussein, knowing that he is going to use it as chemical and biogogical weapons because that was the advice that Saddam was given during the Iran-Iraq war to use against the Iranians because they were more effective and cheaper to use.
One aspect of the trial baffled Waleed. Why didn't Saddam tell the world that he was working for the CIA?
If this was Saddam that was executed and that was on trial, why did he not talk about the US involvement in all those times, when he was actually leading the country? Why none of that came out?
"Any ray of hope?" the interviewer asks Waleed.
The only hope that I could see, which is actually impossible, the Americans to completely withdraw from Iraq and after two months that -- and this is a word I'm responsible for -- two months after that a mass revolution is going to take place in Iraq, the government's going to be massacred -- the Iraqi government -- and people will actually state a government that is for the people, from the people, for the people. Only in this case in this case, Iraq might -- might -- go back to its feet.
Waleed goes on to say that the West itself needs a revolution. I don't agree with him, of course, but I would nonetheless like to sit down over a tea, coffee, or beer and talk. Even with his odd ideas, he'd probably be an engaging interlocutor. But, like others before him, Waleed Rabiaa sees more death as the only way forward. If you listen to the entire interview, you will find that he represents many troubled, confused Iraqis who are unable to view their recent history with objectivity. Conspiracy theories -- like the one where Saddam Hussein is a CIA agent -- are the balm they apply to their wounds.


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