While there’s celebration on Baghdad’s streets, here’s the reaction among Palestinians:
For many ordinary Palestinians, the TV footage of a disheveled Saddam obediently submitting to a medical exam by his U.S. captors was painful to watch: it sealed the defeat of the one Arab leader they felt always stood by them.
Saddam should have put up a fight or committed suicide, they said, and his surrender is a stain on Arab honor. “It is a big defeat for all Arabs and Muslims,” said Raji Hassan, 29, watching TV with friends in a Gaza City coffee shop.
The Palestinian Authority declined to comment on the arrest of Saddam, but a senior PA official in Ramallah said Yasser Arafat was “saddened” by the news from Baghdad. “President Arafat was sad to see an Arab leader in an humiliating position,” said the official.
Especially one Arafat’s been quite close with:
Reuters reports “Palestinians Mark ‘Black Day’ of Saddam’s Capture”:
Disbelief and gloom seized many Palestinians on Sunday at news of Saddam Hussein’s capture while Israel, which came under Iraqi Scud missile attack in the 1991 Gulf War, hailed the United States for capturing Saddam.
The former Iraqi ruler was a hero to many Palestinians for his stand against Israel and its U.S. ally, as well as for giving financial aid to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers and others who died in a three-year-old uprising…
“It’s a black day in history,” said Sadiq Husam, 33, a taxi driver in Ramallah, West Bank seat of the Palestinian Authority.
AFP reports from Jenin:
PALESTINIANS today accused former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein of cowardice after the long-time hero to many in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was captured without a struggle by US troops near his hometown.
Saddam’s support and financial aid to the tune of thousands of dollars for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers during the three-year intifada made the former Iraqi strongman a popular figure in the occupied territories.
Palestinians celebrated during the 1991 Gulf War when Saddam’s forces fired dozens of Scud missiles at Israel.
But today many were quick to draw a contrast between Saddam’s meek surrender and their own leader Yasser Arafat, who has been confined to his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah by the Israeli army for more than two years.
And then there’s this comment from one bitter (and clear-seeing) Palestinian woman:
A nurse from the West Bank town of Bethlehem said Saddam’s behaviour was reminiscent of the leaders of hardline Palestinian groups who dispatched young men and women to their death in suicide bombing missions, but were not prepared to sacrifice themselves…
“I expected that he would kill himself, but he is similar to the recruiters of the suicide bombers in our country, sending people to their martyrdom, but whenever the army comes to arrest them they give themselves up easily because these people are not prepared to die.”
Caroline Glick comments on this very point:
The psychological impact on Saddam’s loyalists and on terrorists around the world of the picture of the tyrant’s dirty, mired face and meek complicity during his medical examination by a US army doctor is immeasurable. Today they are forced to ask the question, “Why should we die when Saddam surrendered so abjectly?”