Mr Bush said yesterday the hangings showed the Shia-dominated government of prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, charged by many with compounding the sectarian violence in Baghdad, “has still got some maturation to do”.
He also admitted that he was “frustrated by progress” in Iraq. “A year ago, I felt pretty good about the situation. I felt like we were achieving our objective, which is a country that can govern, sustain, and defend itself. No question, 2006 was a lousy year for Iraq.”
George W Bush yesterday said that the execution of Saddam Hussein bore the hallmarks of a sectarian “revenge killing”, in his most critical assessment of the hanging of the former dictator.
The US President criticised the circumstances surrounding Saddam’s death and the recent execution of two top aides, including Saddam’s half brother, Barzan al-Tikriti, for their roles in the massacre of 148 Shia men in Dujail in 1982.
“I was disappointed and felt like they fumbled the – particularly the Saddam Hussein execution,” Mr Bush said in an interview by public broadcast television’s Jim Lehrer.
“The message is confusing. It basically says to people, ‘Look, you conducted a trial and gave Saddam justice that he didn’t give to others. But then, when it came to execute him, it looked like it was kind of a revenge killing.”‘
Bush at first welcomed the hanging of Saddam on December 30 for crimes against humanity as “an important milestone on Iraq’s course to becoming a democracy”, and declared “good riddance”. He later said, however, that the execution should have been carried out “in a more dignified way”.