Earlier today, Saddam Hussein was handed over from US custody to the Iraqi government and hanged. What will this mean for the situation on the ground in Iraq?
Saddam ceased to be relevant to the war on the ground the day he was driven out of power by invading US forces. When he was captured hiding in a spider-hole, he had as much to fear from being captured by many of his own countrymen as by the American forces. Since Saddam's capture, anyone with half a brain should have anticipated today's execution as the eventual outcome of the legal process Saddam was facing: even if Saddam was acquitted of one charge, or given a lenient punishment in another, there were so many charges facing Saddam that at least one was likely to result in a death sentence - and all it needed was one death sentence to have him hanged.
The Dujail killings, which Saddam was convicted and sentenced to die for, were not chosen because they were Saddam's worst crime - they were chosen because they were the easiest to prove: written execution orders bearing Saddam's own signature are hard to deny.
Many Iraqis loathed Saddam - even the Sunnis the American news media often paint as his supporters. I know more than one Iraqi Sunni who used to join the crowd in the streets shouting with the crowd, "With our spirit, with our blood, we will sacrifice for you, Saddam," while secretly hating Saddam all the while. Just because a show-dog will jump through a flaming hoop on command doesn't mean the dog likes doing it.
Saddam will undoubtely have some Iraqis mourning for him, and a few insurgent groups may launch attacks to coincide with Saddam's execution. But, will these attacks be any worse than the horrid situation Iraq is already embroiled in? Not likely.
Unfortunately, Saddam's death is not likely to make things any better in Iraq either - he ceased to be relevant there long ago.