The world press on Uday and Qusay

Guardian: Uday was a monster even by the standards of Saddam Hussein's Iraq.


Compiled by Mark Follman
July 25, 2003 12:13AM (UTC)

United Kingdom, Suzanne Goldenberg in the Guardian

He was a monster even by the standards of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a sadist with a taste for cruelty so extreme that even his father was forced to acknowledge that his first-born son would not be a worthy heir.

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And yet for all that Uday Saddam Hussein symbolised the brutality of the Iraqi regime, his powers were severely circumscribed. Although he retained the privileges of the much-indulged son of a dictator, he was shunted from the real centres of power in the military and security services by his quieter, younger brother Qusay.

Although Uday nominally had a role in politics -- following his election to parliament with 99% of the vote in 1999 -- he was studiously absent from Iraqi television during the dying days of the regime. It was clear controllers realised that showing too many pictures of the most hated man in Iraq was hardly going to spur resistance.

It was not the life that Uday had intended. Of Saddam's two sons, he was the flamboyant one -- towering well over 6ft, with a penchant for fast cars and loud and drunken parties, expensive suits and flowing robes, as well as murder, rape and torture...

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[Uday's] search for public approbation appears to have taken over in the mid-1980s when Uday first took a close interest in sport. Footballers say he never really understood or showed much interest in the game itself, but was desperate enough for a win that he would phone up the dressing room during half-time to threaten to cut off players' legs and throw them to ravenous dogs. As football overseer, Uday kept a private torture scorecard, with written instructions on how many times each player should be beaten on the soles of his feet after a particularly poor showing...

Uday's excesses carried over in his private life ... his private pleasure palace, a bad taste Arabian nights fantasy, was decorated with indoor fountains and erotic murals and was in the grounds of his father's presidential estate. A nearby chamber contained huge stashes of drugs as well as an HIV testing kit, according to US forces. He is also reported to have operated an even more private torture chamber on the banks of the Tigris.

Uday's marriages were a further source of embarrassment to his father. His two brief dynastic liaisons were dissolved after Uday beat up his brides...

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Israel, Zvi Bar'el in Haaretz

With the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons, the American forces can chalk up an important symbolic achievement. Uday and Qusay Hussein were not just senior commanders who carried out their father's policies before the war, but they also embodied the threat that his regime could return.

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It is unclear whether the two sons personally led some of the armed opposition against the American forces; the fact that they were found in a villa in Mosul without many security guards may be seen as an indication that they were in the process of escaping, not commanding guerilla forces.

Uday and Qusay were bad news for some of the Ba'ath leaders. They managed to make themselves hated among the party elite during Saddam's rule, as they circumvented the system that applied to everyone else, appointed and fired clerks and commanders at will and caused a rift within the family (the desertion by Saddam's in-laws to Jordan in 1995 is attributed to a dispute with Uday and Qusay). Ultimately, Qusay, who was responsible for defending the Baghdad area, was viewed as failing in his task and leading to the rapid fall of the capital.

The fact that former senior Ba'ath members will express no sorrow at their deaths, will, for most of Iraq's citizens, come as a big revelation. In fact, in the short term, the manner of their deaths could boost more resistance operations against U.S. troops: Unlike other Iraqi leaders who turned themselves in, Uday and Qusay fought until the bitter end against the enemy, which turned them into shahids (martyrs).

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In Iraq, several organizations are competing against each other to fill the post-war political void, among them the movement led by the young Shi'ite leader Muqatda a-Sadr, who declared the establishment of a private army in the city of Najaf. Other power-brokers are Sunni religious leaders in Baghdad who fear the new-found status of the Shi'ites, the Sunni public that rejects the structure of the new Iraqi government, terror organizations outside of Iraq who sent fighters into the country to attack American forces...

Furthermore, the question regarding Saddam's location has yet to be answered. As long as he appears to be still alive and still active, and his audio tapes continue to surface, the killing of his sons will not remove the threat of his shadow from over the Iraqi public.

Australia, Tony Parkinson in The Age

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It says something for the psychology of fear and intimidation in Iraq that Saddam Hussein's reign of terror has survived more than three months longer than his regime... But the deaths of the former dictator's sons and successors in a gunfight with U.S. forces in northern Iraq brings to a grisly end this mythology of invincibility: the legend that says Saddam's regime is so ruthless and resilient it is never vanquished, never beaten. Finally, the spell has been broken.

Potentially, the consequences will be profound, and perhaps more significant in terms of practical impact than the symbolism of Saddam's statues falling when U.S.-led forces took control of Baghdad back on April 9. Most crucially of all, the deaths of Qusay and Uday Hussein will greatly reduce the fear among Iraqis that Saddam is soon to return to power and take vengeance on those who co-operated with the Americans...

Each in their own way, Saddam's sons had come to encapsulate the worst excesses of [an] insane egotism: Uday, the eldest, a murderer, rapist and psychopath; Qusay, his father's anointed successor, more restrained as an individual, but no less callous and calculating in his ambition to make Iraq the most feared military power in the Arab world. Their elimination represents a crucial circuit-breaker for the Bush Administration, facing heavy criticism over its motives for war... the dramatic events of the past 48 hours will lift the morale of American troops in Iraq, as they begin to see an end to what has become a long, hot and nasty summer...

More than 20 years under Saddam's rule has inculcated in Iraqis a natural, life-preserving reluctance to speak, other than in whispers, about the dark secrets of the regime. The deaths of Saddam's sons does not mean there will be miracles overnight -- either in cracking the code on Iraq's weapons programs, or in ending in the short term the spate of attacks on US and British forces. But the raids that led to their deaths suggest that US intelligence is gradually closing the noose around the dictator and the last redoubts of his regime. This must begin to erode the militia groups' willingness to fight. That being so, it would seem the Baathists no longer pose a long-term threat...

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Saudi Arabia, editorial in Arab News

That Uday and Qusay Hussein are dead is a victory for the Americans and, far more important, a victory for the Iraqi people. Both needed the break.

Uday and Qusay may have been organizing the postwar resistance to the invaders and directing a campaign for which they had years to plan and recruit and store away men and materiel. But how they ran the chain of command to their units when U.S. electronic surveillance of the whole country is apparently so complete remains a mystery. It is possible that the resistance of diehard Baathists is being mounted by independent units, operating to a flexible plan. For the moment there appears to be no letup in the assault on American troops, two more of whom were killed within hours of the death of Uday and Qusay...

There is now an immense intelligence effort centered on the Mosul villa where Saddams sons were run to ground... For the ordinary American soldier in Iraq, yesterday was a heartening and morale-boosting day. The hunt for Saddam will be redoubled and there may indeed be valuable clues in the Mosul villa, yet the harsh truth remains that the only way that the Americans can fulfill their international legal obligations to the Iraqi people is to stem the rising tide of violence in the country: in Mosul, in Fallujah, in Baghdad. Until that stops Iraqis will not be able to focus on a future without Saddam and his brutal Baathist regime.

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By concentrating all their efforts on Saddam and the Baathists, moreover, the Americans may well be ignoring other sources of resistance and violence in Iraq. The disparate groups that make up the country are still finding their voices -- for too long they were silenced and supposedly subsumed into Saddams machine. Now that the regime is gone, these groups are clamoring to make their voices heard. Perhaps the resistance is rather a violent medley of messages, to the ordinary Iraqis as much as to the Americans, that these different groups exist and are a force to be reckoned with.

If that is so, the deaths of Saddams sons were in truth only a small step along the long and difficult road to a free, peaceful and united Iraq.


Compiled by Mark Follman

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Iraq Middle East

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