Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 18:25 UK

'Saddam's jail diaries' published

By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC's Arab Affairs analyst

Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein allegedly feared catching HIV in captivity

An Arab newspaper has published what it says are excerpts from diaries written by the ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein while in captivity.

The extracts printed in Al-Hayat portray a man who never seems to have stopped believing in himself as a historic leader.

Al-Hayat said it had obtained extracts from the handwritten memoirs, which the paper said ran to five big volumes.

Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003 and executed three years later.

No remorse

Some of the entries were signed "Saddam Hussein, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces".

The language he uses often suggests a leader addressing the nation, and frequently he urges the Iraqis - as he did during his trial - to unite and resist the US-led occupation.

He quotes from the Koran a great deal and describes the Iranians as a greater danger to Iraq and the Gulf Arabs than Israel.

On the other hand, his love poems - addressed to an anonymous woman - show a mawkish sentimentality not uncommon among adolescents suffering the first pangs of unrequited love.

There are a few mundane details about his health checks and what he says is his fear of catching HIV if his clothes were hung to dry next to those of his American guards.

But nowhere to be seen in the extracts is any sense of remorse or self-examination.

This leaves the reader of Saddam's diaries with a strong impression that may perhaps be aptly summed up in the words of US novelist F Scott Fitzgerald: "The secret griefs of wild unknown men... or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions."

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