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March 20, 2006
Saddam Personally Ordered Chemical Attack On Kurds

The Scotsman reports on a key piece of evidence that ties Saddam Hussein directly to the disgusting genocide of Kurds in Halabja almost twenty years ago. Memos from his personal secretary to military leaders make clear that Saddam wanted to use chemical weapons on Kurdish positions in 1987:

SADDAM Hussein ordered plans to be drawn up for a chemical weapons attack on Kurdish guerrilla bases in northern Iraq in 1987, according to a letter signed by his personal secretary. ...

The planned attack appears to have been part of the 1987-88 campaign that left more than 180,000 Kurds dead and demolished hundreds of Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. In the most notorious incident, the town of Halabja was bombed with mustard and nerve gas in 1988, killing 5,000 residents.

In the papers released by the US, a report from Iraq's military intelligence details the bases of Kurdish rebels, led by Ibrahim Barzani, and Iranian troops.

Saddam's secretary replies, saying, "The leader Mr President has ordered that your department study with experts a surprise attack with special ammunition in the areas of Barzani's gangs and the [former Iranian leader Ayatollah] Khomeini Guards."

"Special ammunition" is the phrase used throughout Saddam's regime for chemical weapons. Later documents mention specifically the nerve agent sarin and mustard gas.

One wonders how Saddam would respond to this. Regarding Dujail, he has claimed that the processes used to massacre the residents of the small town as a reprisal for an assassination attempt were legal under Iraqi law, a claim that has done little to slow his prosecution. For Halabja, observers widely predicted that his defense would claim ignorance of the attack until after it had already taken place -- a sort of reverse Nazi defense of "I didn't give the orders". This new evidence clearly shows that he gave those orders before, and probably on many other occasions, against the Iranians during their eight-year war as well as against his own people.

It's fashionable these days to claim that the Iraqis were better off under Saddam than after his liberation, given the civilian death toll from the fight against the insurgents. Some claim that over 100,000 Iraqis have died since the invasion, although the methodology for those calculations has been highly suspect. In two years, Saddam killed over 180,000 Kurds just for being Kurds, and destroyed their homes, forcing them to live in the hills to survive -- and that doesn't count the hundreds of thousands of Marsh Arabs, Shi'a, and even Sunnis who died either in droves in reprisals for suspected disloyalty or individually as Saddam and his henchmen desired. This letter reminds us that Iraqis and the world have all benefitted from the removal of this sick, twisted dictator.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 20, 2006 6:49 AM

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