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Friday, July 20, 2018

Decade after arrest,Saddam Hussein’s legacy looms over Iraq

Former members of Saddam's now-banned Baath Party are still regularly barred from public office.

Written by PTI | Baghdad | Published: December 11, 2013 2:06:18 pm

A decade after Saddam Hussein’s arrest,the now-executed Iraqi dictator’s legacy of conflicts,sanctions and repression still exact a heavy toll on the country.

And as oil-rich Iraq grows increasingly important to the global economy and regional diplomacy,his legacy of a slow-moving,hierarchical bureaucracy and corrupt decision-making processes have hamstrung a country looking to rebuild.

Former members of Saddam’s now-banned Baath Party are still regularly barred from public office,politicians tar opponents as “Baathists”,and surging violence is typically blamed on some combination of Saddam supporters and Sunni militants.

At the same time,public services that fell into disrepair during the years of conflict have yet to be fully upgraded,unemployment remains high,corruption and nepotism are rampant and analysts say members of Saddam’s Sunni Arab minority have yet to fully reconcile to losing power to Iraq’s Shiite majority.

“What is the new social contract going to be?” asked Ayham Kamel,a London-based Middle East analyst at the Eurasia Group consultancy.

“A lot of Sunnis believe that there needs to be a shift … putting the Saddam legacy and the participation of Sunnis in his regime aside.”

“We need to get more power-sharing,and really send signals that the conflict,and some of the tensions that existed between Sunnis and Shiites during the Saddam era,is over,that there is a new path forward.”

“That is a very long-term issue.”

Saddam was arrested on December 13,2003 outside the town of Dawr,where US soldiers found him hiding in a specially-constructed hole in the ground.

Hundreds of thousands,most of them Shiites and Kurds,died at the hands of his government.

Countless others suffered immeasurably as a result of the wars he waged against Iran and Kuwait,the latter of which led to punishing sanctions that crippled Iraq’s economy.

At the time,US and Iraqi officials hailed his capture as a turning point in the war,and voiced optimism that by nabbing him,they had dealt a critical blow to the insurgency.

But in fact,violence only worsened as time went on,peaking in 2006 and 2007,when tens of thousands were killed in nationwide sectarian bloodletting,and only falling off somewhat from 2008 onwards.

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