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Kathem’s regret on destroying Saddam’s statue

Iraq post-Saddam is like a countryside governed by beneficiaries

Turki Aldakhil

Published: Updated:

Kadhim Hassan al-Jabouri, the Iraqi who used a sledgehammer to attack the statue of Saddam Hussein when the late president’s regime was toppled, recently told the BBC of his deep regret over what he did considering what has happened to Iraq since. The significance here is the irony, as everyone knows how violent Saddam was. Before he was toppled, I wrote dozens of articles about his tyranny, which resulted in countless insults against me and my family.

Regarding Saddam’s successors, some well-informed people believe former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s “deep state” is stronger than that of current President Haidar al-Abadi, which has failed to protect people and their interests. Perhaps the recent Karada explosion is the biggest example of this. The world may have become more secure with Saddam’s departure, but it is more dangerous to ignore the number of men who resemble him and came after him.

During his era, we had one person to negotiate with, wage war against or ally with. However, we now have different versions of him, and they are more dangerous and harmful because they ally with bloody parties such as Tehran, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda. Popular nostalgia in Iraq is justified. The late poet Abu Tayyib al-Mutanabbi said: “Those who live long can see life change before them until they view truth as lies.”

I still think Saddam was a tyrant, but his tyranny was unfortunately not as bad as the current situation in Iraq

Turki Aldakhil

Foundations of the state

Under Saddam there was a state, and affairs were managed by institutions. However, Iraq post-Saddam is like a countryside governed by beneficiaries. The state was destroyed, and terrorism destroying whatever was left, resulting in isolated entities unfamiliar with one another.

The US-led invasion was not a liberation - it unleashed savagery, sectarianism, social defects and political infiltration. It is like Ahmad Saadawi’s story “Frankenstein in Baghdad,” about monsters roaming the streets and relentlessly destroying everything before them.

Iraq needs strong foundations, and the state’s task is to control the situation. In his book “The Concept of the State,” Abdullah Laroui wrote: “Since the beginning of history, the state has had an amount of rationality, whether plenty or a few. This is normal as long as the state means organization, and as long as the latter means discovering an easier way that’s closer to achieving an aim.

“Major events in the modern history of Europe, religious reform, the commercial and industrial revolutions, development of cities, patterning law and musical notation can be considered phases in the process of continuous rationalization. The state is always present in the meeting point of all these developments.”

Iraq’s past is bad, but its present is worse. When the country weakens and collapses, the Arab spirit constricts. Amal Donqol’s description in his poem “The Last Words of Spartacus” is apt:

“Do not dream of a happy world
After every emperor who dies
There is a new emperor.
And after every rebel who dies: Sorrows avail
And tears are shed in vain.”

I still think Saddam was a tyrant, but his tyranny was unfortunately not as bad as the current situation in Iraq.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 12, 2016.
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Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.