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Archive of past mailings
Iraq Was Better Off Under Saddam?
"Unfortunately, governmental cowardice and opportunism have stymied past attempts to indict Saddam, as Human Rights Watch learned during its intensive efforts to bring him to justice in the 1990s. At the top of any indictment should be Saddam's 1988 genocidal Anfal campaign against Iraqi Kurds, described by Jeffrey Goldberg in this week's New Yorker. Named after a Koranic verse justifying pillage of the property of infidels, the Anfal campaign unfolded as the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war was winding down. Iraqi Kurds had taken advantage of Saddam's preoccupation with Iran to seize control of parts of mountainous northern Iraq. But as soon as Iraqi troops could be withdrawn from the Iranian front, Saddam shifted them to the north.
Several thousand Kurdish villages were destroyed, forcing residents to live in appalling camps. In at least 40 cases, Iraqi forces under Saddam's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, used chemical weapons to kill and chase Kurds from their villages. Then, during the Anfal campaign from February to September 1988, Iraqi troops swept through the highlands of Iraqi Kurdistan rounding up everyone who remained in government-declared "prohibited zones." Some 100,000 Kurds, mostly men and boys, were trucked to remote sites and executed. Only seven are known to have escaped." By Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch
Published in The Wall Street Journal
March 22, 2002