Haitham Rashid Wihaib, former head of protocol for Saddam Hussein, spoke about life under Saddam’s regime and the prospects for the new Iraq in Gaston Hall yesterday.

Following a film that presented eyewitness accounts and footage of the brutality that persisted under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, Wihaib took the stage to discuss his personal involvement with Saddam.

Wihaib explained how he did not choose to work under Saddam. “Nobody chose to work for Saddam, he chose you,” he said. If people resisted, they not only faced imprisonment, but their families would often be tortured, imprisoned or killed.

“I don’t know how many times I have been imprisoned, and I don’t know why I was,” Wihaib said.

Because Wihaib tried to resist Saddam, his 80-year old mother was also incarcerated but was released after the fall of Saddam’s regime, he said.

Wihaib commented on Saddam’s support of terrorism, namely Osama bin Laden’s movement.

“Saddam was the only person who was happy with bin Laden after Sept. 11. He delivered a message to the Iraqi people that this was the punishment of God on America,” Wihaib said. “Saddam thought that by supporting international terrorism he would weaken his enemies and strengthen himself.”

Wihaib is currently the chairman of the New Iraqi Green Party. His party strongly supports the recent elections and also focuses on environmental restoration in light of so much destruction.

Wihaib went on to express gratitude to the United States for its intervention in Iraq.

“I came with a message from the Iraqi people to thank the American people for the support and help they have given us to hold our first election in modern Iraq,” Wihaib said.

Wihaib explained that voting under the old regime was virtually ineffective.

“If you refused to vote for Saddam, you would be tortured and killed,” he said. At one time, he said, the regime had over one million informers throughout Iraq.

Responding to a student’s query about those critical of the United States’ involvement in Iraq, Wihaib said: “See what he left after 35 years – he left us with nothing.”

Wihaib described his hopes of seeing universities and hospitals develop in the newly liberated Iraqi state. “With the help of a lot of countries, we will rebuild Iraq,” he said.

He mentioned changes that were already taking place: “for the first time the children are reading books that suit their minds and their spirits, not books of hatred and violence that Saddam had produced.”

Wihaib presented an Iraq that was grateful for liberation. “Iraqis are very happy with those who have come to help. Iraqi people will never accept a dictator again. They have now felt democracy and they will not let it go,” he said.

The event was sponsored by the Lecture Fund.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.