Saddam and the Arabs: The Devil in the Hero

Iraq's leader may be a blood-drenched tyrant, but for many he is nonetheless a symbol of dignity, unity and self-reliance

The figure of Satan flickers through the rhetoric of the Middle East. The Arabic language likes to inflate politics with supernatural meanings: a mere mortal enemy -- George Bush, for example, or the West -- may be transformed into the Great Satan. The phrase has moral and dramatic clarity. It is a bright blade of denunciation flashing on a battlefield of absolutes. But it is difficult for Arabs to use such a weapon against a mortal friend -- against a brother.

What are Arabs to do with Saddam Hussein? What are they to think if they see the devil in the...

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