Saddam handed blame for Iraq's eight-year war with Iran

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The Independent Online

Seventeen years after the eight-year conflict that killed one and a half million young men, it turns out that Iran won the war. Throughout that biblical struggle between Saddam Hussein's invading Iraqi forces - egged on by the United States - and the Iranian Revolution's desperate and suicidal attempts to defend its country, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini insisted that the world must acknowledge that Saddam was the aggressor. And now Iraq itself has at last done so.

Seventeen years after the eight-year conflict that killed one and a half million young men, it turns out that Iran won the war. Throughout that biblical struggle between Saddam Hussein's invading Iraqi forces - egged on by the United States - and the Iranian Revolution's desperate and suicidal attempts to defend its country, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini insisted that the world must acknowledge that Saddam was the aggressor. And now Iraq itself has at last done so.

Its new Shia-led government - thank you America, here, of course - has happily admitted that, yes, Iraq was the aggressor, Saddam was to blame. Iraqis were the bad guys, Iranians the good guys. It was a war of mirrors.

Throughout the 1980-88 war, in which Saddam used poison gas on a large scale for the first time since the First World War, we supported Saddam. We supplied him with guns, aerial pictures, gas - principally the Germans, but also the Americans - all paid for by that famous Gulf democracy and friend of the United States, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

I remember how, at the start of the war, Saddam called his aggression the "Whirlwind War".

It was going to pulverise the newly born, naive, expansionist Islamic Republic - which is why we supported Saddam - and blast Khomeini from power, perhaps even reinstalling the dying Shah on his throne.

The Iranians, with a strict sense of reality, called it the "Imposed War", which is what it was. They pleaded with the United Nations to condemn Saddam.

What they got were calls for restraint, the same kind that the State Department uses in other "sensitive" areas where key US allies are at risk: Israel/Palestine and Uzbekistan.

That the chief aggressor of all - Saddam Hussein Tikriti - is now treated with truly Arab scorn and mirth is only part of the irony. For him to be pictured on the front page of The Sun in his Y-fronts is surely less degrading than for his erstwhile people to be piled up naked on the floor of the Abu Ghraib prison by Americans or forced to wear women's underwear or bitten by dogs or just plain gunned down at checkpoints by US troops or torn to pieces by suicide bombers.

To use the mumbo-jumbo of psychobabble, the Iraqis have "moved on". They don't need "closure". They don't, most of them, care whether Saddam lives or dies. They want electricity, security, a real state. And they still haven't got it.

It's typical of us - the Westerners - to believe that Saddam is still our real enemy, at a moment when Iraq can produce an endless supply of suicide bombers and an army - probably the original Iraqi army of Saddam - to assault US and British soldiers.

Yes, Saddam was to blame. He was the reason we illegally invaded Iraq. Wasn't he?

It gets so tiresome now. Weapons of mass destruction. Links to 11 September 2001. Forty-five minute warnings. Maybe not. But now we can say what we've never said before: we illegally invaded Iraq because - this will soon be the new leitmotif - Saddam illegally invaded Iran. Could it get better than that?

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