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. 

July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail