When Kurdish emissaries spoke to him in 1991 of killing 180,000 Kurds he bridled at the allegation and said the real figure was closer to 100,000.
Ali Hassan al-Majid was the Heinrich Himmler of Iraq. After Saddam Hussein appointed him the all-powerful overlord of northern Iraq in March 1987 he oversaw the murder of more than 180,000 Kurds in just over a year. “The armed forces must kill any human being or animal present,” he decreed.
It was for this crime of genocide against the Kurds that Majid, also known as “Chemical Ali”, and two other defendants were yesterday sentenced to death by hanging by a court in Baghdad.
Britain expressed anxiety and grave concern about allegations over the use of chemical weapons but promptly doubled the export credit facility available to Iraq. The US sought to implicate Iran in the use of poison gas. Kurdish claims that they were the victims of genocide were dismissed as exaggerated or politically inconvenient by Western governments.
Because 100,000 is fine? Maybe there are rules of etiquette for war criminals that I just don’t know about, perhaps by them the 3/4-1 million Iraqis we have killed are ok because the period includes a leap year?