On April 24 of the same year (2003), however, he willingly surrendered to occupying US forces, four days before his 67th birthday. On Tuesday, after seven years in solitary confinement, the 74-year-old former diplomat was sentenced to death by the Iraqi Supreme Court, over the persecution of Islamic parties during his long years in power with Saddam Hussein.
One of those parties, Da’wa, was indeed severely persecuted by Saddam’s men after it tried to kill Aziz while he visited Baghdad University, in April 1980. Aziz barely survived the grenade attack and he sent his men hunting left and right for Da’wa members. Many were executed in revenge; others were sent either to long-term imprisonment or into exile.
Today, Dawa’s top man, Nuri al-Maliki, is at the helm of power in Iraq while the judge who handed down Aziz’s sentence, Mahmud Saleh al-Hasan, is a member of Maliki’s State of Law Coalition.
Middle Eastern politics are unyieldingly tough, have been for thousands of years, long before the coming of Islam. Neither the Bush Administration nor the peace activists who opposed him (especially the Christian ones who should have known better) nor the Wikileaks people who cry “war crimes” understand this. That’s the message of this event, and whether the Pope can change things remains to be seen. I’m not holding my breath.