"Chemical Ali" and two other Saddam helpers are facing a death sentence: Hussein's Defense Minister, Sultan Hashim al-Tai; and Saddam's Iraqi armed forces deputy operations director, Rashid Mohammed.
As usual, it's a complicated situation. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani opposes the death penalty, and says he won't sign off on the execution of "Chemical Ali," at least. (The Associated Press (AP) story I'm getting this information from focused almost exclusively on al-Majid.)
Kurds, as a group, would like to see "Chemical Ali" dead. I can't say that I blame them. On the other hand, President Jalal Talabani is a Kurd.
Here's where it gets howling-at-the-moon crazy.President Talabani is also a Sunni Muslim, but not, I trust, one of the "Sunni leaders" the AP was talking about: "Sunni leaders pressed to delay the hangings, saying they could incite violence and cripple already fragile bids to improve ties between Iraq's rival groups."
You see, the Sunnis in central Iraq (obviously not the Kurdish Sunnis in the north) apparently just loved Saddam Hussein. He was their good buddy, and sent lots of money and favors their way. Great guy, from a Sunni point of view.
At least, that's what we seem to be expected to believe.
Maybe it's true. Maybe the Sunni Muslims - at least the ones in central Iraq - are so greedy, so ignorant, and so short-sighted that they don't realize that
- Uncle Saddam is no longer around
- Their ride on the gravy train is over
- That they've got a chance at having a piece of the action in post-Saddam Iraq -
IF they don't act like a bunch of fools
I also hope that most of the hold-up in the disposition of "Chemical Ali" and the other detritus left over from Hussein's rule is more a matter of thrashing out correct procedures by a very new government that's under intense pressure.