• Syria's Assad meets Putin in Moscow on rare trip abroad

    21/Oct/2015 // 878 Viewers

     SANA, HO, AFP | A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on April 17, 2015 shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during an interview in Damascus

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flew into Moscow on Tuesday for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during which the two men discussed their joint military campaign against Islamist militants in Syria, a Kremlin spokesman said.

    "The president of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar Assad came on a working visit to Moscow yesterday evening and held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin," the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters.

    (REUTERS with DailyGlobeWatch)


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  • Netanyahu under fire over claim Palestinian inspired Holocaust

    21/Oct/2015 // 232 Viewers

     AFP | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses delegates at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, on October 20, 2015

     

    JERUSALEM (AFP) - 

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stirred controversy by suggesting the then head of the Muslim community in Jerusalem gave Hitler the idea to exterminate Jews -- a claim historians say is inaccurate.

    In a speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu said the then grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, a Palestinian nationalist, convinced Hitler to carry out the Holocaust.

    "Hitler didn?t want to exterminate the Jews at the time. He wanted to expel the Jews," Netanyahu told the World Zionist Congress.

    "And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said: 'If you expel them, they'll all come here.' 'So what should I do with them?' he asked. He said: 'Burn them.'"

    Israeli opposition politicians as well as Palestinian leaders have sharply criticised Netanyahu's comments, while historians say they are inaccurate.

    They came amid three weeks of Palestinian unrest and attacks threatening a full-scale uprising.

    The Israeli premier sought to tie his historical reference to current debates over the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, arguing that the mufti had also falsely claimed at the time that Jews were seeking to destroy it.

    Netanyahu has said in recent in weeks that such Palestinian incitement over the Al-Aqsa compound, which Jews call the Temple Mount, was helping feed the current unrest.

    "It is a sad day in history when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbour so much so that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history, Adolf Hitler, of the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust," Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general Saeb Erekat said in a statement.

    The leader of the Israeli opposition, Isaac Herzog, said on his Facebook page that "even the son of a historian must be precise when it comes to history," referring to the prime minister's late father, Benzion, who specialised in Jewish history.

    The chief historian at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and research centre said Netanyahu's comments were inaccurate.

    "Though he had very extreme anti-Jewish positions, it wasn't the mufti who gave Hitler the idea to exterminate the Jews," Dina Porat told AFP.

    "The idea far predates their meeting in November 1941. In a speech to the Reichstag on January 30, 1939, Hitler evoked 'an extermination of the Jewish race'," she said.


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  • Syria sees growing Russian involvement in war as game changer

    21/Sep/2015 // 158 Viewers

    Syria predicted Sunday that Russia's growing military role will prove a game changer in the fight against jihadists, as 75 rebels trained under a beleaguered US programme entered the fray.
     
    US Secretary of State John Kerry, by contrast, said Moscow's support for the regime in Damascus only risked sending more extremists to conflict-wracked Syria and could further hamper peace efforts to end the country's years-long civil war.
     
    "More important than the supply of arms to Syria is Russia's participation in the fight against Daesh and (Al-Qaeda franchise) Al-Nusra Front," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.
     
    Muallem, quoted by Syrian media in an interview with Russia Today television, said Moscow's increased role would "show up America's lack of a clear strategy" against the jihadists.
     
    Russian President Vladimir Putin has provided vital support to his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad throughout the armed revolt against the Damascus regime that erupted in 2011.
     
    Moscow argues that any military support is in line with existing defence contracts, but reports have surfaced this month of secret deployments to Syria, where Russia has a naval facility.
     
    Washington, which has led an international coalition carrying out air strikes against IS in both Syria and neighbouring Iraq over the past year, has repeatedly warned Moscow that bolstering Assad will only make the situation worse.
     
    'Division 30'
     
    A US-backed rebel faction and a monitoring group said Sunday that 75 Syrian rebels trained to fight jihadists under a beleaguered American programme have crossed into northern Syria from Turkey.
     
    "Seventy-five new fighters trained in a camp near the Turkish capital entered Aleppo province between Friday night and Saturday morning," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
     
    Hassan Mustafa, spokesman for the "Division 30" unit to which some of the rebels were deployed, confirmed to AFP that the group had entered Syria.
     
    "Their training in Turkey lasted two months and they went directly to the front lines with Daesh. They are now in the town of Tal Rifaat," Mustafa said.
     
    According to Abdel Rahman, the group entered in a convoy of a dozen cars with light weapons and ammunition, under air cover from the US-led coalition.
     
    Before the fresh batch of fighters, the US-led train-and-equip programme had only managed to vet and train some 60 rebels to fight IS jihadists on the ground.
     
    The $500 million programme run out of Turkey has been fraught with problems.
     
    Shortly after the 54 fighters embedded with Division 30 in July, they suffered a devastating assault by Al-Nusra Front.
     
    More than a dozen of Division 30's fighters were either killed or kidnapped by Al-Nusra, which accused them of being "agents of American interests".
     
    The United States has since used its air power to help Division 30 push back other Nusra attacks and has said Syrian troops could be targeted if they attacked the US-backed forces.
     
    US officials have also expressed fears Russia may strike the Western-backed rebels fighting Assad and ultimately risk a confrontation with forces fighting IS.
     
    US-Russia talks
     
    Moscow has been pushing for a broader coalition of forces to take on the jihadists.
     
    On a visit to Berlin, Kerry said that "continued military support for the regime by Russia or any other country risks the possibility of attracting more extremists and entrenching Assad and hinders the way for resolution".
     
    But despite its reservations, the United States on Friday launched military talks with Russia on the four-year-old conflict that has cost more than 240,000 lives.
     
    French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, meanwhile, arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, days after he said France would also launch air strikes against IS in Syria "in the coming weeks".
     
    On the ground, a new ceasefire went into effect on Sunday between pro-government forces and Islamist rebels in three battleground districts, a local official and the Britain-based Observatory said.
     
    The truce covers the two remaining villages in Idlib province in the northwest still in government hands and the rebels' last stronghold near the Lebanese border, the town of Zabadani.
     
    "The truce in Zabadani, Fuaa and Kafraya which began at noon (0900 GMT) has held except for some sporadic fire on Fuaa in the afternoon," said Abdel Rahman.
     
    Sunday's ceasefire is the third attempt to halt fighting in the three areas. A ceasefire last month lasted only 48 hours.
     
    (AFP)


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  • For refugees eyeing Europe, a website separates fact from fiction

    22/Mar/2016 // 226 Viewers

     

    NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Desperately seeking new lives, migrants traveling to Europe often hear lies and rumors such as promises of an escort across a forbidden border or offers of steady work that can steer them in the wrong direction and even endanger their lives.

    Quashing such falsities is the goal of a nonprofit website that has given itself the task of assisting the waves of migrants traveling the Balkan route to Europe, fleeing war and poverty in their homelands.

    The site http://newsthatmoves.org was developed by Internews, an international media development organization, to combat misinformation, particularly that used by smugglers to dupe bewildered or confused migrants.

    More than a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond have flooded into the European Union since early last year. Most make a perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece, then head north through the Balkans to Germany.

    Although several aid agencies and the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees share essential information, Internews' unique approach tracks and verifies rumors with immediacy.

    Inaccurate rumors are collected through conversations with refugees, online and through social media, and a weekly rumor-busting bulletin has been published on the website since earlier this year.

    Translated in English, Arabic, Farsi and Greek, its content is at times recorded and broadcast on megaphones in refugee camps or played on transport buses.

    Refugees hear such lies from smugglers as "I'm going to drop you in Athens and then once you get there, it's all going to be free. You don't need any money," said Alison Campbell, an Internews spokeswoman, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday.

    "People were even told that they could get a taxi from Lesbos to Macedonia, even though Lesbos is an island," she said.

    While refugees often depend on relatives having done the journey before them for guidance, social media means inaccurate information can spread like wildfire, she said.

    "People don't know who to believe," she said.

    Smugglers bent on taking people's money "tell them whatever they want to hear," she said.

    With the political landscape ever changing, plenty of unreliable information is likely to lie ahead for migrants, said R. Daniel Kelemen, a political science professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

    A new agreement between the European Union and Turkey designed to close the migration route to Greece could force migrants to have to decipher what is changing for real and what is not, Kelemen said.

    "That is going to feed a lot of rumors," he said.



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  • Western powers call for UN action over ‘banned’ Iran missile

    22/Oct/2015 // 142 Viewers

    The United States, Britain, France and Germany called on Wednesday for the United Nations Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee to take action over a missile test by Tehran that they said violated a UN ban.

    In a letter containing details on the launch, they said the ballistic missile was “inherently capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.”

    The letter, seen by Reuters, was sent to the committee after the United States raised the issue in the 15-member Security Council.

    “We trust that this information will assist the Committee in its responsibility to examine and take appropriate action in response to violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions,” they wrote.

    Iran said earlier this month that it had tested a new precision-guided ballistic missile.

    Diplomats have said it was possible for the sanctions committee to blacklist additional Iranian individuals or entities if it determined that the missile launch had breached the U.N. ban.

    However, they said Russia and China, which have opposed the sanctions on Iran’s missile program, might block any such moves.

    “The United States will continue to press the Security Council to respond effectively to any future violations ... Full and robust enforcement of all relevant U.N. measures is and will remain critical,” U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said in a statement on Wednesday.

    Iran has disputed the Western assessment that the missile was capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. “None of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s missiles has been designed for a nuclear capability,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.

    Ballistic missile tests by Iran are banned under a 2010 Security Council resolution that remains valid until a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers is implemented.

    Under that deal, reached on July 14, most sanctions on Iran will be lifted in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Once it takes effect, Iran will still be “called upon” to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.

    U.S. and European officials have said it is unlikely the deal will be fully implemented before next year. The deal allows for supply of ballistic missile technology to Tehran with Security Council approval, but the United States has pledged to veto any such requests.

    The missile test is not a violation of the nuclear deal, U.S. officials have said.

    Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday conditionally approved the nuclear deal but warned it would be violated if any of the six world powers imposed any sanctions on any level and under any pretext.

    (REUTERS with DAILYGLOBEWATCH)


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  • UNESCO criticises Israeli handling of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque

    22/Oct/2015 // 272 Viewers

    Ahmad Gharabli, AFP | The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem in June 2014

    Amid a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence, the United Nations cultural heritage body UNESCO adopted a resolution on Wednesday condemning Israeli handling of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque.

    After last-minute changes, however, the resolution approved by UNESCO’s executive board dropped a potentially more controversial clause laying claim to Jerusalem’s Western Wall as a holy site for Muslims only, Israeli diplomats said.

    That clause, which was proposed by several Muslim countries and would have stated that the Western Wall was an integral part of the al-Aqsa mosque compound, vanished after it was condemned by the Israeli government and Jews worldwide, and disowned as dangerous by UNESCO’s own director general, Irina Bokova.

    On Tuesday, Bokova said she “deplored” the presence of the clause and had called on UNESCO’s executive board "to take decisions that do not further inflame tensions on the ground and that encourage respect for the sanctity of the Holy Sites”. Israel called the clause an attempt to "distort history".

    In its place, the resolution adopted on Wednesday said UNESCO condemned restrictions of freedom of worship at the al Aqsa mosque and reaffirmed other complaints about Israeli management of holy sites.

    UNESCO did not immediately provide a copy of the resolution adopted following protracted negotiations but Palestinian and Israeli diplomats provided matching accounts to reporters.

    The news from UNESCO headquarters coincided with international endeavours to calm violence in which at least 42 Palestinians and eight Israelis have died. The turmoil has been triggered in part by what Palestinians regard as increased Jewish encroachment on the al-Aqsa compound.

    The resolution was adopted with 26 votes in favour and six against, including the United States, Britain and Germany against. There were 25 abstentions including France, diplomats said.

    Jerusalem’s old city and walls are on a list of world heritage sites whose protection is one of the jobs entrusted to UNESCO.

    Israel regards all Jerusalem, including the predominantly Arab east captured and annexed in 1967, as its “indivisible capital” - a claim not recognised internationally - and its right-wing government is wary of being portrayed as dividing the city.

    Palestinians want the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a future state, with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital.

    The UNESCO text, diplomats said, also reaffirmed that two holy sites, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, “are an integral part of Palestine”.

    The Palestinians won full membership of UNESCO in October 2011 in what was seen a major step forward for their efforts to achieve recognition as an independent state, despite intense opposition from both the Israeli government and Washington.


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  • US serviceman killed in hostage rescue mission in Iraq

    22/Oct/2015 // 838 Viewers

    One member of a U.S. special operations team was killed during an operation to rescue hostages held by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, the first American killed in ground combat with the militant group, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

    Hostages were successfully rescued during the operation, a U.S. official told Reuters. CNN said about 70 Kurdish hostages were freed.

    A U.S. official confirmed to Reuters that one American was killed. No further information was available on the mission, which local residents and a Kurdish military commander said was carried out in the Hawija area in northern Iraq.

    It was the first U.S. serviceman killed in ground combat operations against Islamic State, which has been the target of daily air strikes in Iraq and Syria by a U.S.-led coalition for more than a year.

    One source in the Hawija area said the operation involved helicopters and targeted a makeshift prison where Islamic State was holding a number of hostages.

    NBC News, citing unidentified sources, said the operation was requested by the Iraqi government and those rescued were Kurdish fighters. It said the U.S. forces suffered casualties but the number of injuries was unclear.

    Another Reuters source in the Hawija area said the special forces raided a house where Islamic State commanders were gathering, triggering gun battles and blasts that lasted several hours.

    Sheikh Jaafar Mustafa, a senior commander of the Kurdish peshmerga forces, confirmed an operation had taken place but said he had no further information about it.

    In May, American special operations forces killed senior Islamic State leader Abu Sayyaf from Tunisia in a raid in Syria.

    Hawija is a stronghold of Islamic State militants who have captured Kurdish peshmerga fighters in battles.

    (REUTERS)


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  • Saudi must halt the execution of Arab spring protester: UN experts

    22/Sep/2015 // 163 Viewers

    AFP/File | Demonstrators gather in Qatif, in the Shiite-populated east of Saudi Arabia, on July 8, 2012

     

    GENEVA (AFP) - 

    Saudi Arabia must not execute a man who was convicted of joining a criminal group after participating in Arab Spring protests when he was 17, UN rights experts said Tuesday.

    Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was in high school in 2012 when he joined reform protests in Qatif in the eastern part of the kingdom.

    In a statement, the UN experts said he was reportedly tortured, coerced into a confession and denied adequate access to a lawyer before and during a trial that did not meet international standards.

    His appeal was also handled "with a complete disregard for international standards," according to the statement.

    "Any judgement imposing the death penalty upon persons who were children at the time of the offence, and their execution, are incompatible with Saudi Arabia?s international obligations," the experts said.

    Al-Nimr "may be executed at any time," the statement added.

    Aside from joining a criminal group, the teenager was also convicted of attacking the police.

    The panel said it had received reports that two other people, both minors during the time of their alleged offences, are facing imminent execution after joining the protests in Qatif.

    Amnesty international said in August that at least 2,208 people were executed between January 1985 and June 2015 in Saudi Arabia, nearly half of them foreigners, adding that juvenile offenders and people with mental disabilities were among them.

    The UN panel said 134 people have been executed in the kingdom this year, 44 more than last year's total.

    "We urge the Saudi authorities to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, halt executions of persons convicted who were children at the time of the offence, and ensure a prompt and impartial investigation into all alleged acts of torture,? the UN experts said.

    ? 2015 AFP


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  • Trouble in paradise

    23/Dec/2015 // 222 Viewers

    By Ted Lapkin

     

    Over recent weeks I’ve focused on keeping readers apprised of relevant and interesting stories that might be a bit off the beaten path of Australian media. And in this vein I’ll begin with the brewing revolt within British Labor over Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the 13 November terrorist atrocity in France.

    As you might recall, Corbyn is an unreconstructed Leftwing radical with a serious track record of hostility towards Israel who recently (and incongruously) won election to the leadership of the British Labour Party. His initial response to the slaughter in Paris was so outrageously tune-deaf that it triggered a furious backlash amongst his own shadow ministry.

    The Independent, a British newspaper not noted for its hawkish sympathies (to put it mildly) ran a front-page article under the headline “Jeremy Corbyn is a ‘f***ing disgrace’, Labour shadow minister tells journalists after angry meeting”.

    It turns out that Corbyn expressed misgivings about the ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy adopted by British police in the event of a terrorist attack on British soil. According to media reports, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition considered this to be a “quite dangerous” and “counterproductive” policy that might lead to “war in the streets.”

    Never mind precisely that war in the streets is what was happening 10 days ago in Paris when jihadi terrorists slaughtered 130 innocent people and wounded another 300. I’ve written before about the dangerously delusional myopia that afflicts Jeremy Corbyn’s view of the world. Just because you pull down the blinds and doesn’t mean the ravening wolves have gone away. And Corbyn’s reaction to the atrocity in Paris brings to mind a paraphrase of that famous Trotsky quote: just because you’re not interested in the jihad doesn’t mean the jihad isn’t interested in you.

    But there is enough residual sanity within British Labour to ensure that many of Corbyn’s parliamentary colleagues were less-than-impressed with the Neville Chamberlain-esque instincts of their Leader. At a closed-door meeting the demand was raised that Corbyn should withdraw from his planned appearance at a ‘Stop the War Coalition” fundraiser in London.

    This cascade of criticism – both within Labour and amongst the public – soon caused Corbyn to rethink his position, and he ended up telling the party’s executive committee “strictly necessary force” was acceptable – whatever that means.

    Corbyn has led Britain Labour Party so far down garden path to electoral oblivion that some are theorizing that he truly never wanted to be Leader in the first place. As the Business Spectator points out:

    “Westminster is largely hostile territory for Corbyn. Only 14 of the 232 Labour MPs he now leads voted for him. He was elected with more than 250,000 votes from ordinary party members outside Westminster, from the length and breadth of the country.”

    Whether this theory is true or not, Corbyn’s trials and tribulations are something to watch because his leadership is an issue of substantial significance to pro-Israel persons everywhere.

    Meanwhile the other side of the Atlantic was the scene of a serious defeat on the BDS front when the American Anthropological Association (AAA) voted to boycott Israeli universities. The ballot took place at the Association’s annual conference in Denver and the BDS motion passed by a depressingly large margin of 1,040 in favour with only 36 opposed.

    The lopsidedness of the boycotters’ victory is all the stranger in light of the diametric opposite result that occurred at last year’s AAA conference in Washington DC. In December 2014 a similar pro-BDS motion crashed and burned with only 52 votes in favour out of 700 attendees. It appears our adversaries have had a very busy 12 months to engineer a reversal of fortune of that magnitude.

    On a happier note, last week Intel introduced its new 6th generation computer processors, and per usual, the company’s Israeli R&D team played a central role in their development. Going by the name ‘Skylake’, these new chips are 2.5 times faster and have much lower power consumption than those in use five years ago. According to some estimates this should allow some devices to triple their battery life.

    In a statement to the Jerusalem Post, Intel marketing manager Ilan Hochman said:

    “We are very proud that a significant part of the development happened here in Israel, in our Haifa lab”.

    We also feel the urge to kvell.

    But back to the less edifying side of the news, last week Israeli authorities made a decision to outlaw a branch of the Islamic Movement on the grounds of collaboration with Hamas and incitement of violence. The group’s leader, Sheikh Raed Salah was found several years ago by a British court to have propagated anti-Semitic rhetoric that includes blood libel allegations against Israel. Britain several years ago because of his firebrand anti-Semitic rhetoric. And six Israeli Arabs were also arrested on charges of seeking to join the Islamic State.

    I assume many readers saw the op-ed last week in The Australian by noted author and Islamic reformer Aayan Hirsi Ali advocating the wide adoption of Israeli security tactics and procedures. But while she was very good in print, she’s even better on TV, as this Fox News video clip will attest.

    Hirsi Ali made so much sense that even the head of Germany’s internal security service agreed that Israel is the model to emulate. During an interview on German TV, Hans-Georg Maassen, chief of the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution –  noted that in Israel, soccer matches and concerts go on despite threats of terrorism. Maassen was speaking one day after a soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled due to a suspected bomb.

    So there you have it, the civilized nations of the world need to unite in a common struggle against the barbarians who seek our common destruction. But unfortunately far too many Europeans, Americans and even Australians – largely on the left – insist on continuing their strange-bedfellows alliance with ultra-conservative Islamic radicals.

     

    Source: Zionist Federation of Australia

     

     


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  • SADDAM HUSSEIN's daughter praises TRUMP, says US President-elect has 'political sensibility' - CNN reports

    23/Dec/2016 // 1846 Viewers

     

    (CNN)On the morning of Eid al-Adha in December 2006, Raghad Saddam Hussein, her sister and their children squeezed together in front of the television in Raghad's home in Amman and wept as they watched footage of her father being hurtled by masked men to the gallows where he would be hanged.
     
    Saddam Hussein, who ruled Iraq from 1979 until his overthrow and capture by a US-led coalition in 2003, declined to wear the hood and shed no tears as the noose was put around his neck. The Iraqiya TV broadcast ended there, but a second video -- shot on a cell phone by an onlooker below the scaffold -- emerged a few hours later showing the moment of death.
    "I never saw that moment and I refuse to see it," Raghad, Saddam Hussein's eldest daughter, told CNN in her first interview since her father's death ten years ago.
    The footage also showed witnesses hurling insults at the deposed leader, convicted of crimes against humanity for the murder of 148 Iraqi Shias in 1982; they chanted "Moktada! Moktada! Moktada!" in reference to militant Shia cleric Moktada al-Sadr. Saddam Hussein shot back, "Is this how real men behave?" before the trap sprang and the noose tightened on a man who remained defiant to the end.
    "The details of his death are ugly and painful -- but it's an honorable death," Raghad said by phone from the Jordanian capital, where she sought refuge after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
     
    Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as he receives his guilty verdict during his trial in the fortified "green zone," on November 5, 2006 in Baghdad, Iraq.
     
    Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as he receives his guilty verdict during his trial in the fortified "green zone," on November 5, 2006 in Baghdad, Iraq.
     
    "I don't think he would have gone in a death smaller than this. It was a death that brought pride to me, my children, my sisters and their children, to all those who love him and have a place for him in their heart."
     
    The then US president George W. Bush, who ordered the invasion of Iraq, said just after Saddam Hussein's death that the execution "would not have been possible without the Iraqi people's determination to create a society governed by the rule of law." But the sectarian subtext heard in the video of his last moments seemed to denote an ensuing era of more sectarianism and violence that would remain 10 years on.
    Raghad, who blames the US for the chaos that unraveled in her country, hopes that President-elect Donald Trump will be different from his predecessors.
    "This man has just arrived to the leadership ... But from what is apparent, this man has a high level of political sensibility, that is vastly different than the one who preceded him," she told CNN. "He exposed the mistakes of the others, specifically in terms of Iraq, which means he is very aware of the mistakes made in Iraq and what happened to my father."
    During his presidential campaign, Trump said he opposed the war on Iraq, however he was publicly supportive of the invasion in interviews before and after the war. And while saying that Saddam Hussein "was a bad guy," Trump has praised the former Iraqi leader's efficient killing of "terrorists".
     
    Raghad said she has not been involved in politics and supports no groups or parties on the ground, however, the current Iraqi government has accused the 48-year-old of supporting her father's Baath party, now outlawed, and has called on Jordan to repatriate her.
    More recently it has accused her of supporting ISIS and cheer leading the militants' takeover of Mosul, allegations that she vehemently denies.
    "Of course I don't have any relations to this group [ISIS] and other extremist groups," she told CNN. "Moreover, the family's ideology has no similarities to that of extremist groups."
    "As a proof to this, these groups only became powerful in Iraq after we left the country and our rule ended."
    Self-declared jihadist groups sprung up in Iraq under the banner of fighting US army "infidels," and the country became a magnet for foreign fighters. ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, started as the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006 -- the year of Saddam Hussein's death -- and expanded to Syria in 2014, three years after the eruption of violence there.
    An undated photo of Saddam Hussein helping his daughter, Raghad, during a visit with family friends near Baghdad, Iraq.
     
    An undated photo of Saddam Hussein helping his daughter, Raghad, during a visit with family friends near Baghdad, Iraq.
     
    The regime's brutality
    Raghad praised her father's rule for the stability she believes it offered Iraq, saying ISIS and other groups would not have been able to enter had her father still been alive.
    But for many, the execution of Saddam Hussein ended the life of a brutal dictator who oppressed the people of Iraq for three decades, unleashed devastating regional wars and reduced his once flourishing oil-rich nation to a police state.
     
    Human rights organizations reported rampant government-approved executions, acts of torture and massacres from his rise to power until his fall. His two sons, Uday and Qusay -- who died in a gun battle with US troops in 2003 -- were accused of ordering many of the atrocities.
    "People (who consider him a dictator) are free to use whatever labels they want," Raghad said.
    For her, he was "a hero, courageous, nationalistic, a symbol to millions of people."
    "He was a struggler and he knew that his ending was not going to be easy."
    Raghad said much of what the media says about her family is made up.
    "Yes, there was brutality, sometimes a lot of it and I can't support brutality. But Iraq is a country that is difficult to rule and it's only now that people are realizing it," she said.
    Raghad said she, her two sisters and her mother were not involved in the decisions the men made.
    "The women of the family were not allowed to contribute. They only answered when they were asked -- and they were never asked."
     
    An undated photo showing Saddam Hussein with his family in Baghdad, Iraq.
     
    An undated photo showing Saddam Hussein with his family in Baghdad, Iraq.
    During two of the biggest massacres committed in Iraq during her father's rule -- the Dujeil massacre in 1982 and the Halabja gas attack to quell a Kurdish uprising in the late 1980s -- Raghad said she was still a teenager with very little awareness of what was happening in the country.
    By the time she was in her twenties, she had five children to raise and university classes for her degree in English translation to attend.
    "I was a very studious. Studying is how I spent most of my time," Raghad said.
    Given that satellite dishes were banned in the country during her father's rule, she said that she herself also did not have access to information about what was happening at the time.
     
    Relationship with father
     
    At 15, Raghad was married to Hussein Kamel, a high-ranking military official who oversaw Iraq's buildup of missiles, the country's nuclear research program, and its chemical and biological weapons. Her sister, Rana, married Kamel's brother, another senior official. In 1995, the brothers defected with their wives to Amman.
    Less than a year later, Saddam Hussein convinced them to return to Iraq, promising them amnesty. But upon their arrival, he ordered the men to divorce his daughters. They were killed three days later by her father's men.
     
    Raghad Hussein with her husband, Hussein Kamel. He was killed in 1996.
     
    Raghad Hussein with her husband, Hussein Kamel. He was killed in 1996.
    Many theories emerged as to why the Kamel brothers defected. Jordanian King Abdullah in his book cited a clash with Saddam Hussein's eldest son Uday, adding that he speculated that Kamel wrongly thought the West would embrace him, and that the US would help make him the leader of Iraq.
    "It was a very difficult time for me. I found myself stuck between two families, my father and brothers on one side, and my husband and children on the other," recalled Raghad who is putting her own version of the story across in a book she is currently writing.
    She said her children hold no grudges whatsoever against her family for their role in their father's death.
    "I know this is hard for a normal family to understand. But all families of rulers are not average people and sometimes it's hard to understand the complexity of their lives," she said, adding that her daughter, 30-year-old Harir Hussein Kamel, has written a yet unpublished book that delves into those complex family relations.
     
    In this undated photo, Saddam Hussein, his daughters Ragad and Rana, and first wife Sajida during a visit with family friends on the outskirts of Baghdad.
     
    In this undated photo, Saddam Hussein, his daughters Ragad and Rana, and first wife Sajida during a visit with family friends on the outskirts of Baghdad.
    After the defection and the death of Kamel, the relationship between Raghad and her father lost its "luster".
    It was around the time of the invasion that their ties were strengthened as the family united to defend their rule.
    "And till the last moment, my father remained satisfied, grateful and proud of me," she said.
    Returning home
    The setting where Raghad last saw her father was a family gathering in his living room a few days before the invasion. He was sitting across from her asking the family to stay strong and to be prepared if their homes got bombed.
    The first airstrike that the US launched in Iraq in 2003 hit Raghad's farmhouse, she said.
    Shortly afterwards, she fled to Jordan, where she received sanctuary from the royal family. She never returned home, adapting to her new reality slowly and becoming preoccupied with the chores of daily life.
     
    Raghad lives a comfortable life in Jordan, spending a lot of time with her children and her friends, but said she longs for her home. She would want to return if Iraq entered "a stage that is moderate and away from the obsession with hatred and revenge".
    "This Iraq is mine, my family's, my ancestors' -- It's everyone's Iraq. Why wouldn't I imagine returning? It would be very normal for me to return one day."
    And despite the seemingly never-ending cycle of violence, Raghad is hopeful about the future.
    "What is happening is just a momentary state, a state of invasion and confusion. But this is not the fate of Iraq," she said.
    "The war is not infinite. Of course, there is hope."


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