Saddam Hussein was captured 10 years ago. What it means for today’s Iraq?

How strong  is and what kind of impact does Saddam’s shadow have on today’s Iraq? Read few comments.

Bilal Wahab, Lecturer, The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS), Research Fellow, The Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS)

Saddam may be gone, but his legacy still casts a long shadow over Iraqi politics. Post-Saddam politicians in Iraq have learned from him what works and what does not. The model he set is that of a strong man who is able to simultaneously hurt and privilege. Although many leaders here denounce him today, but they do imitate him at many levels. The lesson is: authoritarianism works in Iraq, but it’d better be less brutal and more benevolent. With everyone learning the same lesson, it has been rather difficult for cooperation and consensus building to emerge.

Despite the atrocities he perpetrated against his people throughout his tyrannical reign, Iraqis nostalgically remember the clarity that came with his rule–what are the taboos that could get one killed, and what are the paths to being showered with privileges. Contrast this with the complex landscape of a transitioning Iraq with many political, sectarian and interest groups. Nonetheless, ten years after Saddam Hussein and numerous elections, stomaching another Saddam by Iraqis would be unimaginable. No one can be Saddam, or repeat what he did. With many political actors affected by his legacy yet competing for power, the legacy of power grabbing in Iraq will evolve. Iraq cannot stop history and start a fresh, nor can it go back. Moving forward will be hard and arduous, nonetheless.

Jeffrey VanDenBergChair, Political Science & Geography Department, Professor of Political Science, Director of Middle East Studies, Drury University

The legacy of Saddam Hussein’s regime continues to curse Iraq ten years after its downfall.  While Saddam did not create sectarianism in Iraq, his brutal rule exacerbated and hardened the identity lines that continue to plague political life in Iraq today.  Kurdish demands for autonomy, and Shia determination to dominate the political system, can be understood partly as responses to their repression under Saddam’s Sunni Arab regime.  Furthermore, as is common for countries that suffer under long dictatorships, Saddam left a legacy of corruption, distrust of government, and a political culture inhospitable to democratic values such as power sharing, tolerance of dissent and respect for the rule of law.

James  Lutz, Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department of Political Science, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne

There seems to be little doubt that the lingering effects of the rule of Saddam Hussein and the Baathist Party in general has some effects on the population of Iraq.  I think that many in Iraq will be very careful to see that no one like him (or his sons) rise to such a position of power in the future.  The inhabitants of the Kurdish areas of the country would be particularly concerned about such outcomes in the future.

There will also be some effects for the country about those who were associated with the former regime in some capacity and what roles they may have played.  It will take a generation for this concern to fade, much as was the case with Germany in the aftermath of World War II.  Anyone involved in the atrocities of the Nazi regime are either dead or too old for their to be much concern, but only time resolves that issue.  Of course, with time comes forgetfulness as best evidenced by the Holocaust deniers who have gained somewhat more traction with the passage of time as those events are removed from direct memories.

Saddam will also have a legacy on neighboring states that will be cautious to observe the events in Iraq that might lead to a resurgence of a totalitarian regime that will once again threaten its neighbors.  Iraq is unlikely to build up any military capacity as it did in the past under Saddam for any time in the foreseeable future, but there is always that possibility in the more distant future.

I would conclude that ten years later the people of Iraq will remain suspicious of any government that is too strong, and the divisions within the society will guarantee that such an event is unlikely to occur, especially when outside pressure can be applied to prevent the more authoritarian motives to come to the fore.  Eventually, much of the legacy will pass, but by that time it will be a different Middle East

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