Iraq's Crime of Genocide: The Anfal Campaign against the Kurds
by Human Rights Watch
New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1995. 373 pp. $37.
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Is there any crime Saddam Husayn has not committed? The most serious of all may have been the genocidal war on the rural Kurds of Iraq that took place in 1988, leading to the death of at least fifty thousand persons. Thanks to the more than eighteen metric tons of official Iraqi documents, some four million in all, that the Kurds captured and had sent to the United States in the aftermath of the Kuwait war, we know in great detail about this effort. In terms of documentation of a totalitarian state, this cache may surpass the Nazi documents captured in 1945. We know the eight stages of the Anfal campaign, details of practically every assault, and the identity of many war criminals.
The Nazi analogy also comes to mind in terms of details. The same numbingly bureaucratic procedures; the same structure of euphemism, the same three-part process of definition, concentration, and annihilation of the victims; and the same disregard of foreign opinion. On this last point: `Ali Hasan al-Majid, Saddam's relative who oversaw the operation, announced in May 1988: "I will kill them all with chemical weapons! Who is going to say anything? The international community? Fuck them! The international community, and those who listen to them!"
Iraq's Crime of Genocide offers a detailed, sober, and water-tight case against the Baghdad regime by reconstructing the history of the Anfal campaign and placing it in the context of Iraqi politics. All those associated with this exemplary project, including Peter Galbraith and Kanan Makiya, deserve the gratitude of a saddened humanity.
Related Topics: Daniel Pipes | June 1996 MEQ
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