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Predict rough justice ahead from Iraqi to Iraqi


As I review the press coverage of the end of the American Raj, I was struck by one, Quiet handover, secret ceremony, which spoke to the Iraqi's desire to deal with its insurgents and the restoration of order.  This section from a Shiite who spent three years in Abu Ghraib (under Hussein) indicates rough justice ahead, far rougher than US forces meted out and of a scale that would bring howls of injustice from Arabs were it to come from US hands:

""We're in the middle of a cultural and moral revolution," says schoolteacher Munir al-Khafaji, sitting in a cafe in Baghdad's largely Shiite Karrada neighborhood. He spent three years in Abu Ghraib prison for dissident activity under Hussein. "American soldiers can't tell friends from enemies here. We can. So I'm hoping we're going to be safer. But a lot of domestic political circumstances need to be settled - real change will come after elections."

Mr. Khafaji's circle of friends, most in ankle-length dishdasha shirts, said their principal criticism of the US occupation was that the US hasn't been brutal enough with insurgents and criminals. They predicted that Allawi will get tough. "These murderers are supposed to have their throats slit and be thrown into the river,'' says Kassem Fadel Hassan, the cafe owner. "Hopefully, we'll start to see that."

That's a popular sentiment inside a country increasingly frustrated that Hussein, a deeply reviled figure here, has been removed - but replaced by a power vacuum in which more Iraqis now fear for the safety of their families.

Allawi has pledged to take a hard line against insurgents, and his aides say they'll bring in old Iraqi intelligence and military officials who they expect will be more effective at unraveling insurgent networks than the US military."

One then wonders what justice awaits Hussein himself as he passes from an American POW to Iraqi custody. Iraq Takes Legal Custody of Hussein Wednesday indicates that he will be accorded traditional US legal protections such "the right to counsel and the right to remain silent," things all quite new, and possibly tiresomely lengthy, to Iraqis.

I wonder how that deliberate process will track with the desire for retribution from so many Iraqis who suffered under his regime, not to mention the efforts of Feydayeen and insurgents to free him from the US physical custody that underpins the Iraqi "legal custody."

Quiet handover, secret ceremony
By Dan Murphy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the June 29, 2004 edition

Iraq Takes Legal Custody of Hussein Wednesday
Prime Minister Allawi: Deposed Ruler to Be Charged on Thursday
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Fred Barbash
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 29, 2004; 9:57 AM

Gordon Housworth

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