Tariq Aziz Execution May Cause Backlash in Iraq

Former Iraqi diplomat Tariq Aziz, who served under the Saddam Hussein regime, will be executed and at least two sources close to Aziz think a significant backlash from the decision is in store.

Aziz will be executed after the remaining U.S. troops leave the country, which will occur by the end of December.

Aziz served as Iraq’s deputy prime minister from 1981 until 2003. He gave himself up to U.S. forces in 2003 and was sentenced to death in 2010 for his role in ethnic violence toward Shia political groups during the 1999 election.

Aziz’s lawyer Badi Arif told CNN that the decision and timing of the execution would weaken bonds between Western governments and a fragile Iraq.

"I did not expect the government would be that stupid, by doing this they will drag this country to the edge of the abyss," Arif said.

"What about the national reconciliation that this government has been calling for?” Arif added. “The government's position will be even weaker if they carry out the execution after the American troops leave the country and this will lead to more conflict among Iraqi factions.”

Aziz’s daughter, Zainab Aziz, issued a statement that claimed the judgment was unfair and that prosecutors weren’t looking at her father’s transgressions in the right context.

“My father served his country for more than 22 years. He delivered himself to the U.S. Army (after the fall of Hussein) because he wasn’t afraid. He didn’t do anything wrong. He served his country,” Aziz said.

“He has been wronged,” she added.

Aziz’s supporters say he was just following orders and that the deaths of several politically affiliated people were, given context, not illegal. Aziz was convicted of executing 42 political profiteers and relocating masses of Kurds.

Indeed, Aziz has other supporters including the European Union, United Nations, Iraqi Bishops and Amnesty International, each of whom condemned the Iraqi government for their death penalty decision.

These groups do not contend that Aziz is innocent of the charges for which he was found guilty, but that Iraq is disobeying international anti-death penalty standards.

The time and place of Aziz’s execution has not been determined.

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