FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Ghosts of Uday and Qusay

 

The Americans have stripped the Iraqi flags from the graves of Uday and Qusay Hussein. The red, white and black banners were laid on the mounds of clay above their bodies at their funeral on Saturday, alongside the grave of Mustafa Hussein, Qusay’s 14-year-old son, who also died when 200 American troops attacked the Mosul villa in which they were hiding two weeks ago. But the Americans have allowed only the child’s remains to be honoured with his country’s flag. Uday and Qusay have no memorial save for the footprints of US Army boots.

Even 34-year-old Felah Shemari who dug the graves was shocked, and he has no reason to love the brothers; he spent 10 years in prison on the orders of Saddam’s half-brother for a murder he says he did not commit.

“When we dug the graves, we were told they were just for the brothers,” he says. “But when the two ambulances arrived escorted by American Humvees, they took young Mustafa’s body out of the second ambulance and we had to dig another grave in a hurry. Of course, we put our Iraqi flags over all three. This is a sign that they were martyred.” But the Americans thought differently.

“At sunset, when all the people had gone, the soldiers came back and took the two flags off the graves of Saddam’s sons. Then they stayed on to watch anyone who came here afterwards. They only allowed 20 cars at a time, and only if they were members of the family. No one else. Now they watch this place all the time. They think Saddam will come here to see his sons and they can capture him, but Saddam is more clever than this.”

The last resting place of Saddam’s notorious sons is a glade of burnt grass, rustling bushes and silver birch trees, an ironically tranquil passage into the afterlife for two young men who caused so much pain and anguish and grief.

“They are the sons of the president, and this is his land and so we are sad for them,” Mr Shemari says. “They died fighting so they were martyrs. Qusay was not so bad, I think, people respected him. Uday, maybe not. After 40 days, it is the tradition to cover the grave with stones and put the gravestone in place, but we do not know what the family will do.”

Mr Shemari’s explanation for the vicious state run by Saddam’s family was grotesquely mundane. “When I was in prison, I met diplomats, educated people, academics, even the Minister of Agriculture. If Saddam had known all this, he would never have allowed it.” So Uday and Qusay and their father get a clean bill of health.

Even without the graves of Uday and Qusay, the family cemetery provides a bleak enough footnote to the violent history of modern Iraq. A few metres to the west is the tomb of Saddam’s mother, Subha al-Tulfah, who lived for years with a second husband – Saddam’s stepfather – who treated the family with great cruelty.

And then, a little further away, lies the evidence of another slaughter of the innocents during the Anglo-American invasion; two local families, most of them children, 21 in all, blasted to pieces in the village of Awja when the Americans bombed their homes on 2 April in the hope of killing Saddam. They were supposedly distant cousins of the dictator.

We never heard of this bloodbath during the war, of course. Nor was it reported afterwards. But here are the victims. The child martyr Reem Mohamed Abdullah, aged five; Lawza, her two-month-old sister; their mother, Fatma; her brother, Faez; their father, Mohamed, and Jassim Mohamed Turki and his family, two of them babies.

Mr Shemari says: “All their graves are covered with the Iraqi flag because they too were martyrs. I think each martyr will go to paradise. For what did this child do to suffer a fate like this?”

And what of Uday, I asked? Will he go to heaven or hell? “Yes, Uday will also go to paradise,” Mr Shemari replies. “For Muslims in general, each hero who confronts the occupation forces, he will be given respect and will be a hero for a long time. I am a schoolmaster and I tell my children that this is like the war between the early Muslims and those who worshipped idols.

“Now the future of Iraq is in the hands of foreigners. They promised us freedom. Where is that freedom? They said they would liberate us. Where is that liberation?”

And where, I asked him, were the Americans? “They will find you,” he replied. And they did. Four hundred metres from the graves, a squad of US soldiers holding automatic weapons and bent double came running from ambush positions behind bushes and trees.

My floppy hat and English accent – cheerily calling out “Good morning, gentlemen” is always an enjoyable experience though they had The Independent’s driver standing by his car with his hands on his head – had the soldiers slowing to a walk before they even had a chance to see if I was Saddam.

But for the soldiers of the 22/4th Infantry Division, it was a serious matter. What was the purpose of my visit? What was my identification? Hidden behind the trees was a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and another unit of troops. “Did you know we were here?” a sergeant asked.

I kind of guessed, I replied. Because the bodies of Uday and Qusay never seem to lose their fascination for the Americans.

ROBERT FISK is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s forthcoming book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

 

More articles by:

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail