Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Demand for Hussein's Release

A coalition of 300 Iraqi tribal leaders on Saturday demanded the release of Saddam Hussein so he could reclaim the presidency and also called for armed resistance against U.S.-led forces.






The clan chieftains, most of them Sunni Arabs, included the head of the 1.5 million-member al-Obeidi tribe, said they planned to hold rallies in Sunni cities throughout the country to insist that Hussein be freed and that the charges against him and his co-defendants be dropped.

Hussein is being tried on charges of genocide and other alleged crimes arising from the Iraqi government's killing and forced relocation of ethnic Kurds in 1988, and he is awaiting a verdict in a trial that concluded in late July in the mass killings of Shiites after an assassination attempt against him in 1982.

During Hussein's dictatorship, positions of power in the military and the ruling Baath Party were held overwhelmingly by Sunni Arabs, a minority that formed the backbone of the Iraqi insurgency after Hussein was toppled in 2003.

"If the demand is not carried out, we will lead a general, sweeping and popular uprising," said Sheik Wassfy al-Assy, brother of the chief of the Obeidi tribe, which hosted a meeting of the clan leaders on Monday in Ramal, a village 55 miles southwest of Kirkuk. "As for whether [Hussein] will be reinstated in his post as president after his release, that will be up to him."

The leaders announced their demands on Saturday, as Shiite-Sunni sectarian violence and a move asserting Kurdish independence heightened fears that the country is sliding toward full-scale civil war.

Source

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