August 24, 2007

The Ice Man Cometh In From the Cold

Hatched by Dafydd

I don't know how much credence to accord this story, but Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri -- the King of Clubs in the "Deck of Death" (or is that the duck of death?); highest ranking Saddamite still free and sucking air; undisputed welterweight champion of the Baath Party; and oft known as "the Ice Man" -- purportedly wants to cut a deal... not the Iraqis, but with us:

The leader of Iraq's banned Baath party, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri [sic], has decided to join efforts by the Iraqi authorities to fight al-Qaeda, one of the party's former top officials, Abu Wisam al-Jashaami, told pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

"AlDouri has decided to sever ties with al-Qaeda and sign up to the programme of the national resistance, which includes routing Islamist terrorists and opening up dialogue with the Baghdad government and foreign forces," al-Jashaami said.

Al-Douri has decided to deal directly with US forces in Iraq, according to al-Jashaami.

Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri

Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri

(Am I the only person who thinks ad-Douri looks a little like a red-haired G. Gordon Liddy?)

It's quite obvious why he doesn't want to deal with the Iraqi government, though they would eventually have to agree to any deal: He is suspected of complicity in several of Saddam Hussein's war crimes, including the infamous gassing at Halabjah, which killed as many as 5,000 Kurds. The Kurds would likely object today to anyone involved in that attack (or any other genocidal attack on the Kurds) serving in the government or even reentering Iraq with a guarantee against arrest.

The provenance of the Halabja attack has always been foggy; at first, the American Defense Intelligence Agency attributed it to Iran, not Iraq, based (they said) on the type of VX nerve gas used. Later, however, the CIA reanalyzed the attack and concluded it was perpetrated by Iraq.

Testimony by Halabja residents indicates that the town was, at the time or shortly beforehand, occupied by Iranian troops. This raises the possibility that the VX was aimed at the Iranians, and the Kurds were just innocent bystanders... though I doubt Hussein shed many tears: He had just concluded the al-Anfal genocide against the Kurds, massacring between 50,000 and 100,000 civilians, including women and children -- an inhuman campaign carried out by "Chemical" Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti, then Secretary General of the Northern Bureau of the Ba'ath Party.

I don't believe either Chemical Ali or Hussein was ever formally charged with the Halabja massacre, which came a little after the al-Anfal genocide; Hussein was hanged for another offense, and Chemical Ali has received five death sentences for al-Anfal.

I don't know how much evidence there is tying ad-Douri to Halabja; but if it's substantial, this may prevent anyone cutting a deal with him. We're not going to forgive mass murder and genocide.

Why is ad-Douri trying to come in out of the cold? Two reasons, I think, one obvious and the other more subtle:

  • He and his men are being chewed up by the American forces on the Syrian border;
  • Even ad-Douri, a native Iraqi, has probably become sickened by the wanton slaughter of Iraqis -- Shia, Kurd, and even Sunni -- by the foreign terrorists who run al-Qaeda in Iraq, his erstwhile allies.

I suspect he has seen what has been done by the Anbar, Diyala, and Baghdad Salvation Councils; and he would like to join with them and even join the government, now that he knows it's not just going to be a Shiite state with the Sunnis relegated to second-class, almost "dhimmi" status (as the Shia were under Hussein, Chemical Ali, and ad-Douri).

There is some documentation for the first motivation:

In return, for cooperating in the fight against al-Qaeda, al-Douri has asked for guarantees over his men's safety and for an end to Iraqi army attacks on his militias.

Recent weeks have seen a first step in this direction, when Baathist fighters cooperated with Iraqi government forces in hunting down al-Qaeda operatives in the volatile Diyala province and in several districts of the capital, Baghadad.

I don't know whether we should or should not accept his offer. If he has just been a military man, fighting for his country (as evil as that country was) and resisting foreign invasion (that is, the United States and other Coalition countries), that's very, very different -- at least to me -- than if he were actively complicit in the crimes against humanity that the former Iraqi regime engaged in as a matter of course. It's akin to the distinction between Erwin Rommel, Kommander, Deutsches Afrika Korps, and Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer-Schutzstaffel (SS).

There is also the problem of his complicity with AQI: If he ordered, authorized, or aided in significant terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, he might have to accept some prison time in exchange for coming home. I don't know how involved he was, compared (e.g.) to the Sunni tribes in the Salvation Councils.

If ad-Douri was more like Rommel than Himmler, then I think we should accept the offer with alacrity, even if it requires a lot of cajoling of the Nouri al-Maliki government. Ad-Douri joining the government would go a long, long way towards anti-de-Baathification (which is necessary -- as was de-Baathification in 2003) and towards bringing the Sunni back into the fold.

But if ad-Douri is more like the SS leader, then we should tell him to go to hell... and do everything in our power to hasten the journey.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 24, 2007, at the time of 1:42 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Terrye

Ed Morrisey has a post up on this. I got the impression that Maliki himself had something to do with this. Where has this guy been all this time?

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2007 2:45 PM

The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH

One of the surest signs that you are winning in situation like Iraq is that you are suddenly inundated with offers to help. The last few weeks have seen a flurry of sideline kibitzers suddenly interested in lending a hand. The UN, the French, Saudi Arabia, the Baathists, and even some Democrats have suddenly decided that, without admitting that the US has done anything right, the situation might still be salvageable with their help.

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2007 3:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

Tonight on Special Report Charles Krauthammer was agitating for Maliki to be removed. He actually said we should work at undermining him. No offence to CK, I often agree with him, but I think that is insane right now. Just because a bunch of American pundits and politicians want the guy to go does not mean we can just go in there and kick him out. Until the security situation is better it might not matter who is in that position.

Besides, if I remember correctly Krauthammer was saying last summer that Olmert should go. And yet Olmert is still there.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2007 4:34 PM

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