Monday, August 20, 2007

This would have been easier in 1991

Read The Ghosts of 1991 before or after reading this, and also watch the related 1994 C-SPAN interview with Dick Cheney at the bottom.

By Mike Wooldridge
BBC News, Baghdad

Ali Hassan al-Majid (file)
Majid is already facing execution for crimes against the Kurdish people
Fifteen former associates of executed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein are facing trial for allegedly suppressing a Shia uprising as the 1991 Gulf War ended.

It is the third trial held by the Iraq High Tribunal. Among those in the dock is Saddam Hussein's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali".

It is widely estimated that tens of thousands of people were killed when the short-lived uprising was crushed.

In recent years, many mass graves have been uncovered.

Controversies revived

The uprising started days after the US-led alliance had driven Saddam's forces out of Kuwait.

Across the predominantly Shia provinces of southern Iraq there were apparently spontaneous rebellions.

The trial will deal with crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Iraqi military leaders and leaders of the ruling Baath Party in putting down these rebellions and in the punishment of suspected supporters of the uprising.

Majid has already been sentenced to death in an earlier trial for crimes against the Kurdish population, as have two more of the defendants.

US President George Bush Senior's decision not to press on to Baghdad after defeating Saddam Hussein's forces in Kuwait long remained contentious among Shia who believed they had a green light to stage an uprising.

The fact that Saddam Hussein's forces were able to use helicopters as gunships against those who took part also caused concern.

The trial could revive these controversies.

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