This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Withholding Haven

"During his career he was asked to join Saddam Hussein's Baath party, but refused. At a time when non-Baathist members were being purged from the military, Mr. Al-Ani was forced to retire or was temporarily released."
"[He fled Iraq] because he feared persecution as a Sunni Muslim with a past association to the former military of Saddam Hussein [making a refugee claim in Canada in February 2014."
Justice Simon Fothergill, Federal Court of Canada

Former high-ranking Sunni Iraqi military leaders under the Saddam government were summarily dismissed when the Bush administration mounted its invasion of Iraq along with the "coalition of the willing" western countries that signed on to the invasion. The invasion was meant to release Iraqis from the iron-fisted totalitarian government of Saddam Hussein, popularly referred to as the "butcher of Baghdad" for his violent attacks against minority ethnics in Iraq.

He was popularly viewed in the West as a threatening destabilizer in the Middle East, not least because of his butchery of the Marsh Arabs in Iraq, his long and bloody war with Iran, and his invasion of Kuwait. It was his reputation as a tyrant searching for ever more powerful weapons of war that presumably sealed his fate, as a potential threat to the West and Western interests and the unsubstantiated rumours that he was in possession of weapons of mass destruction.

The man who arrived in Canada fleeing the conflict in Iraq could very well have done what other Sunni Iraqs of his rank did; allied themselves with Islamic State as organizers and leaders. Faisal Abdulhaleem Ali Al-Ani did not, arriving in Canada in 2013. The Immigration and Refugee Board saw fit to reject his refugee claim on the basis that he had been a brigadier-general in Saddam's military, deemed inadmissible on the grounds that he was a senior manager in a human-rights violating government.

Canada's war crimes program has it that senior members of regimes engaging in gross human-rights violations be barred from Canada, and the government of Iraq was designated such a regime between 1968 and 2003. This man is now 82 years old. He became a member of the Iraqi armed forces in 1954, before the military coup overthrowing the monarchy that put Saddam Hussein in power. Once the Baathist took power in 1968, he remained in the military. It was his profession, after all, and Iraq was his country.

The year that Saddam took the presidency Mr. Al-Ani was promoted to brigadier. Somehow, punishing this aged man looking for haven in his waning years of life under these circumstances does not seem quite humane. Unless it could be shown that he was involved, of course, in the human rights abuses orchestrated by Saddam. That doesn't seem likely given that he had refused to join the Baathist party.

That was an act of courageous defiance when non-Baathists were purged from the military.

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