Damascus: Raghad Hussein, the eldest daughter of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, raised eyebrows last month with a recorded speech on the 14th anniversary of her father’s execution, sharply criticising Iran and the post-Saddam rulers of Iraq.
The audio clip was published on her official Twitter account and made no mention of the Americans who toppled her father in 2003, only of Iran and its Iraqi proxies whom she described as “enemies of justice, freedom, and humanity.”
“My father and brothers resisted the occupiers until the end, until achieving martyrdom” she said, in reference to Saddam and his two sons, Qusay and Uday. She described Saddam as the “legitimate president of Iraq,” then hinted at supporting the anti-government demonstrations in Baghdad, which broke out on October 1, 2019 and brought own then-Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mehdi. She praised the young Iraqis for resisting “humiliation and tyranny, while demanding rights, freedom, and a dignified life.”
Earlier, however, Raghad had denied coming out with a statement supporting the Iraqi protests back in October 2020. She described what had been attributed to her as “fake news and fraud.”
“Raghad’s words do not have any influence on the Iraqi street” said Laith Abdul Rahman, an Iraqi writer and political commentator. Speaking to Gulf News, he added: “On the contrary, they might have a negative affect on the October Revolution, whose members might now be accused of receiving support from Baathist elements.”
Demonstrations in Iraq have not ended despite the resignation of Abdul Mehdi and continue under his successor, the incumbent premier, Mustapha Al Kazemi.
As for her criticism of Iran, “this was only natural” added Abdul Rahman, explaining: “She believes that her father was executed due to Iranian tutelage over Iraq.”
Iran’s state-run Al Alam website snapped back with an editorial entitled: “To Raghad Saddam: Do you remember how your uncle presented your husband’s head to your father?”
The article was referring to Raghad’s husband Hussein Kamel Al Majid, who defected from Saddam’s regime, along with his wife, and went to Jordan, only to be lured back and assassinated by Saddam in February 1996.
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In recent months, Raghad has been in the news due to her Twitter activity, often denying statements attributed to her and Saddam’s family members. On August 30, 2020 she denied distributing money to Iraqis in need. On September 24, she tweeted a congratulatory statement to Saudi Arabia on its National Day and on October 1, a message of condolence to the people of Kuwait on the passing of Emir Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, a sworn enemy of her father.
Her latest Twitter message before New Year’s was on October 27, when she mourned the passing of her father’s deputy Izzat Ibrahim Al Douri, who led the so-called Sunni insurgency since 2003.
Raghad had also caused commotion in December 2016, when she praised incoming US President Donald Trump, saying that he enjoyed “a high level of political sensibility.”
Raghad has been living in Amman since the 2003 toppling of Saddam’s regime, as a guest of King Abdullah II. In 2006, then-Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwafak Al Rabeii issued an arrest warrant in her name and demanded her extradition, accusing her of financing the anti-government insurgency. Jordanian Prime Minister at the time, Maarouf Al Bakhit, responded that Raghad was “under the royal family’s protection.”