Mideast governments appeal for Saddam's life to be spared

By The Associated Press


Tevet 9, 5767

The Yemeni and Libyan governments on Friday made 11th hour appeals to spare Saddam Hussein's life.

Yemeni Prime Minister Abdul-Kader Bajammal wrote to the U.S. and Iraqi
presidents, urging them to save Saddam, according to the official Yemeni news agency Saba.

Bajammal wrote to President George W. Bush that Saddam's execution would
"increase the sectarian violence" in Iraq, Saba reported.

In a letter to President Jalal Talabani, Bajammal urged the Iraqi leader to halt the execution and employ his "wisdom and political prudence to create a climate that helps heal the wounds" in the country.

It was not clear why Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh did not write the letters. Saleh maintained close ties with Saddam and was among the few Arab leaders who supported Saddam during the 1991 Gulf crisis.
Yemen is believed to host thousands of Baath Party members and exiled
officials of Saddam's regime.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi made an indirect appeal for Saddam's life,
telling Al-Jazeera television that his trial was illegal and that he should be retried by an international court.

Saddam was a prisoner of war, and "those who arrested should try him," Gadhafi said, referring to the American troops who captured Saddam in December 2003.

Leaders in one of the United States' largest Arab-American communities said Saddam Hussein's execution will increase violence overseas and
will not help the Iraqi people.

Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News, said Saddam's death
sentence is one more casualty in a war that has killed thousands, and it will not solve the power struggle among Iraqi religious groups.

"The execution might bring some amusement and accomplishment to the Bush
administration, but it will not help the Iraqi people," said Siblani, who is also affiliated with the Congress of Arab American Organizations and the Arab American Political Action Committee. "The problem we're facing in Iraq is going to multiply."

The Detroit area contains one of the United States' largest concentrations of people with roots in the Middle East, including an Iraqi community of Arabs, Kurds and Chaldeans, who are Catholic. Many fled their homeland during Saddam's rule.

Joseph Kassab, executive director of the Chaldean Federation of America, said his humanitarian organization is against the taking of human life. But he noted there are lessons to be learned.
"His execution should become an occasion upon which the world must reflect and remember so we never again relinquish our destiny to tyrants like him," Kassab said.

Imad Hamad, director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in nearby Dearborn, said Saddam's victims were celebrating his impending death, but many Iraqi people are fearful of what lies ahead, he said.

"There is a unique joy when any dictator is being brought to justice, and
those who have been direct victims of Saddam, they cannot help but celebrate," said Hamad, who is originally a Palestinian from Lebanon. "The joy would have been complete if we were to see the healthy Iraq, the united Iraq, the safe Iraq. Then everybody would be jumping up and down, celebrating."

Hamad said it does not matter whether Saddam remains a captive or is killed. The future of the Iraqi people should be the main focus, he said.
"We captured him, we took down his regime, now we execute him," he said. "Does that change Iraq? Does that bring peace and security to Iraq? I don't think so."