October 26, 2010
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The decision by Iraq’s high tribunal to pass a death sentence on Tariq Aziz, once the international face of dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, over “the persecution of Islamic parties”, has the feel of retribution about it. After all, this sentence follows from the 15-year sentence meted out to Aziz last year for his part in the killing of dozens of merchants in 1992 and a further seven years for his role in the forced displacement of Kurds from northern Iraq during Saddam’s rule – quite enough to ensure that he will never leave jail.
Aziz, now aged 74, is a Chaldean Christian, who along with the Assyrian Christians, have suffered largely unreported collateral damage from the war. Aziz’s presence as the only Christian in a secular Ba’athist dictatorship was a factor apparently exploited by Saddam, with veiled threats being made periodically to his family.
That is not to excuse Aziz on the grounds that he was only “following orders” (which hasn’t been a defence since the Nuremberg trials in the 1940s), but it may explain why the “Andrei Gromyko” of Iraqi politics stayed even when it was obvious to him, if not Saddam, that the US and Britain were deadly serious about invading.