“I felt extremely humiliated,” said Egyptian writer Sayyid Nassar, who interviewed Saddam three weeks before the US-led invasion of Iraq on 20 March. “I felt it was not only a humiliation of Arabs but of all humanity.
“By shaving his beard, a symbol of virility in Iraq and in the Arab world, the Americans committed an act that symbolizes humiliation in our region, where getting shaved by one’s enemy means robbing him of his will,” he said.
“It’s also a humiliation for all Arab leaders and a message telling them that he who does not enter the poultry yard of the Americans will experience the same fate,” he said.
Saddam’s arrest “will not destroy the Iraqi resistance against the US occupier,” and will encourage “feelings of Arab solidarity with the Iraqi fighters,” he predicted.
“On the contrary, the resistance will grow and change shape,” he warned.
“There will be a kind of creativity in acts of resistance, which will diversify and intensify to wash away their shame,” he said.
The Egyptian Islamist lawyer Muntasir al-Zayyat agreed that Saddam’s capture would “open the door wide to the resistance.”
“It is true that we all deplored the humiliating way Saddam was arrested and his capture added to the feelings of frustration. However, the positive side is that it will intensify the resistance,” he said.
“Suddenly, Arabs saw the true face of Saddam: a dwarf who did not have the courage to resist or even commit suicide as he had for so long claimed he would do”
“All opponents of Saddam, who refused to fight the American occupier for fear of being counted among the former president’s supporters, will no longer hesitate to join the resistance,” Zayyat said.
“The image that former president Saddam Hussein gave during his arrest by American occupation forces is a painful and shocking image,” said Ibrahim Nafie, the editor in chief of the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram. “It’s an image that no Arab wished for the president of one of the most important Arab states,” Nafie wrote.
The Iraqi political analyst Ali al-Dabbagh, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, said Arabs were shocked and humiliated because of the “collapse of a myth” which forced “Arabs to face their sad reality and impotence.
“Many were those who were shocked that this ‘hero’, whom the media covered with a halo and glorious titles like the ‘valorous’, did not resist” US forces coming to arrest him, Dabbagh said.
“Suddenly, Arabs saw the true face of Saddam: a dwarf who did not have the courage to resist or even commit suicide as he had for so long claimed he would do,” Dabbagh said.
“Such a confrontation with reality and the humiliation felt by his arrest by foreigners invites us to self-criticism and review ideas which force the Arab people to follow the propaganda (of their regimes) without examining things,” he said.
The dictator’s capture will cut his ties with his supporters and end their operations, “but will not wipe out the extremist groups which are pursuing their attacks,” Dabbagh said.
The editor in chief of the Iraqi newspaper Al-Nahda, Jalal Machta, shared his opinion. “Saddam Hussein was like these gods of the pre-Islamic era, when animists fashioned an idol with date paste, then ended up eating the statue they worshipped,” he said.