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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 December 2006, 22:22 GMT
Subdued mood on Jordan's streets
By Jon Leyne
BBC News, Amman

A portrait of Saddam Hussein displayed at the Jordanian Baath Party office in Amman
Jordan fears it could suffer badly from Saddam Hussein's demise

There are hundreds of thousands of Iraqi exiles here in neighbouring Jordan. Many have suffered terribly at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime.

But there were no celebrations on the streets of the Jordanian capital, Amman, at the news of his execution.

Take Lutfi al-Bosi, an Iraqi doctor who fled the violence in his home country just a few months ago.

He was held by Saddam in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison for eight years and tortured mercilessly, he says.

But he was not celebrating today.

"The action today of executing Saddam, to my mind he was already dead," explained Lutfi. "To me he was finished when the coalition forces came to Iraq."

For him, Saddam had already become an irrelevance.

'Wrong reasons'

Or take Khalid Jarrar, an engineering student and blogger. He also hated Saddam Hussein and opposed his rule. But he believes the execution was at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons.

Saddam Hussein on the gallows in a frame form al-Iraqiya TV
Saddam Hussein was facing trial for alleged genocide against Kurds
He would like to have seen Saddam Hussein stand trial for what Khalid believes were his many crimes against all sections of Iraqi society, especially the Kurds, not just the massacre at Dujail, for which he was convicted.

Not all Iraqi exiles share their views. Some I spoke to welcome his execution and still cling to the faint hope that Saddam's demise could enable Iraq to have a new beginning.

But above all here in Jordan, almost all Iraqi exiles share a deep disillusionment with the US-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.

Lutfi al-Bosi is one of thousands of doctors who have fled Iraq as the violence and threats have increased in recent months, just at a time when Iraq's hospitals and clinics desperately need their experience.

'Shia crescent'

In Jordan few have the papers allowing them to work. There is little to do but hang around in cafes and shopping malls, and try not talk about the war.

Ordinary Jordanians, also, will tell you that whatever Saddam did wrong, the Americans have done worse in Iraq since the invasion.

They have seen the Sunni Muslim minority in Iraq, with close ties to mainly Sunni Muslim Jordan, lose power, and Jordan has suffered as well.

Now Jordan fears what King Abdullah has described as a "Shia crescent" as Iran extends its influence over Iraq, and strengthens its alliance with Syria to the north.

Jordan found a way to live with its aggressive neighbour when Saddam Hussein was in charge. The Iraqi leader gave Jordan cheap or free oil, despite UN sanctions. He even handed a patch of Iraqi territory over to Jordan.

Now Jordan fears it could suffer badly from his demise.

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