In an interview due to air on the English-language channel Al-Arabiya on Thursday, Traiq Aziz, the foreign minister and later deputy prime minister who served under Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, claimed that the deceased leader of a bygone Iraq was “mentally ill” when he gave the order to invade Kuwait in 1990, the incident that sparked the First Gulf War.
In the same interview, Aziz reportedly will elaborate on accusations dealing with Germany and Spain selling chemical weapons to Hussein.
Aziz surrendered to U.S. troops on April 24, 2003, and has been in prison since, first in American and then Iraqi custody. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in March 2009 for the execution of 42 merchants who had been convicted of profiteering. Aziz was already in poor health at the time of his trial and has since deteriorated. In October 2010, he was sentenced to death by the Iraqi High Tribunal, a move that was widely denounced by everyone from the Vatican to Amnesty International. The outcry was so great that a month later Iraqi President Jalal Talabani announced he would not sign Aziz’s execution order.
Aziz has been languishing in jail since then. Earlier in April, the Brussels Tribunal, an activist website focused on Iraq, accused the Iraqi government of “inhumane treatment” of Aziz and of slowly assassinating him, due to his ailing health and continued captivity.
The First Gulf War, also known as Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm to Americans, lasted six months and cost the U.S. $60 billion, with almost 500 coalition soliders killed. Between 20,000 and 35,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed.