Palestinian General in Saddam’s Army

The LA Times today has a profile of a Palestinian, Ahmed Rahal, who rose to a prominent position in Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army and is now a totally crushed man:

He cast his lot with a ruthless dictator, and did his bidding. He followed Hussein because he was the only leader who fostered the hope that a pan-Arab movement would create a Palestinian state and welcomed Palestinians to Iraq while they awaited his grand plan’s fulfillment.

Now that plan lies in ruins.

These days, Rahal, bitter and without remorse, sits alone in his darkened Baghdad house — the generator turned on as little as possible to save money….

Even now he refuses to admit Hussein did anything wrong.

“He never stole anything — the palaces were open to the people. They could line up one day a week and visit them,” he said.

It’s a long piece, but worth it, for it illustrates the “Saddam dimension” of Palestinian identity. The former Iraqi dictator threw his stature, influence and cash behind the most horrific and ultimately self-defeating expressions of Palestinian nationalism: terrorist efforts to destroy Israel.

We would hope Rahal’s personal story represents a bookend to a dark period of Palestinian history. But just today another young Palestinian who went to Iraq to fight the U.S. was reported dead- the 18-year old perpetrated a Dec. 11 suicide bombing against a U.S. military base outside of Baghdad.