- Who was the first high government official to authorize
use of mustard gas against rebellious Kurdish tribesmen in Iraq?
- If your answer was Saddam Hussein's cousin, the notorious
"Chemical Ali" -- aka Ali Hassan al-Majid -- you're wrong.
- The correct answer: Sainted Winston Churchill. As colonial
secretary and secretary for war and air, he authorized the RAF in the 1920s
to routinely use mustard gas against rebellious Kurdish tribesmen in Iraq
and against Pashtun tribes on British India's northwest frontier.
- Iraq's U.S.-installed regime has just announced al-Majid,
one of Saddam's most brutal henchmen, will stand trial next week for war
- Al-Majid is accused of ordering the 1988 gassing of Kurds
at Halabja that killed over 5,000 civilians. He led the bloody suppression
of Iraq's Shias, killing tens of thousands. These were the same Shias whom
former U.S. president George Bush called to rebel against Saddam's regime,
then sat back and did nothing while they were crushed.
- The Halabja atrocity remains murky. The CIA's former
Iraq desk chief claims Kurds who died at Halabja were killed by cyanide
gas, not nerve gas, as is generally believed.
- At the time, Iraq and Iran were locked in the ferocious
last battles of their eight-year war. Halabja was caught between the two
armies that were exchanging salvos of regular and chemical munitions. Only
Iran had cyanide gas. If the CIA official is correct, the Kurds were accidentally
killed by Iran, not Iraq.
- But it's also possible al-Majid ordered an attack. Kurds
in that region had rebelled against Iraq and opened the way for invading
- What's the difference between the U.S. destroying the
rebellious Iraqi city of Fallujah and Saddam destroying rebellious Halabja?
What difference does it make if you're killed by poison gas, artillery
or 2,000-pound bombs?
- "Chemical Ali" was a brute of the worst kind
in a regime filled with sadists. I personally experienced the terror of
Saddam's sinister regime over 25 years, culminating in threats to hang
me as a spy.
- Saddam Hussein and his entourage should face justice.
But not in political show trials just before U.S.-"guided" Iraqi
elections nor in Iraqi kangaroo courts. They should be sent to the UN's
war crimes tribunal in The Hague, where Saddam should be charged with the
greatest crime he committed -- the invasion of Iran, which caused one million
- Britain, the U.S., Kuwait and Saudi Arabia convinced
Iraq to invade Iran, then covertly supplied Saddam with money, arms, intelligence,
and advisers. Meanwhile, Israel secretly supplied Iran with $5 billion
US in American arms and spare parts while publicly denouncing Iran for
- Up to their ears
- Who supplied "Chemical Ali" with his mustard
and nerve gas? Why, the West, of course. In late 1990, I discovered four
British technicians in Baghdad who told me they had been "seconded"
to Iraq by Britain's ministry of defence and MI6 intelligence to make chemical
and biological weapons, including anthrax, Q-fever and plague, at a secret
laboratory at Salman Pak.
- The Reagan administration and Thatcher government were
up to their ears in backing Iraq's aggression, apparently with the intention
to overthrow Iran's Islamic government and seize its oil. Italy, Germany,
France, South Africa, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Brazil, Chile and the USSR all
aided Saddam's war effort against Iran, which was even more a victim of
naked aggression than was Kuwait in 1991.
- I'd argue senior officials of those nations that abetted
Saddam's aggression against Iran and supplied him with chemicals and gas
should also stand trial with Ali and Saddam.
- What an irony it is to see U.S. forces in Iraq now behaving
with much the same punitive ferocity as Saddam's army and police -- bombing
rebellious cities, arresting thousands, terrorizing innocent civilians,
torturing captives and sending in tanks to crush resistance.
- In other words, Saddamism without Saddam. A decade ago,
this column predicted that when the U.S. finally overthrew Saddam, it would
need to find a new Saddam.
- Finally, let's not forget that when Saddam's regime committed
many of its worst atrocities against rebellious Kurds and Shiites, it was
still a close ally of Washington and London. The West paid for and supplied
Saddam's bullets, tanks, gas and germs. He was our regional SOB.
- Our hands are very far from clean.