The decision to execute Saddam on the Eid has swamped pretty much every other aspect of the Arab discussion of Saddam's fate. Anger over the timing has probably overwhelmed any other sentiment (with "it doesn't change anything, Iraq is still a mess" coming a close second). Just a very quick roundup: Tareq al-Homayed, editor of the Saudi al-Sharq al-Awsat, and Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed, former editor of al-Sharq al-Awsat and current director of the Saudi al-Arabiya TV, turn in virtually identical columns today expressing delight over Saddam's execution and shock and outrage over the timing. Ghassan Cherbel, editor of the more Arab nationalist paper al-Hayat, also focuses on the Eid issue. Officials from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan have all expressed surprise and anger over the Eid timing. This reaction was entirely predictable, which makes it hard to explain as anything other than intentional. Maliki did it this way for a reason - maybe not a good reason, or a smart one, but a reason nonetheless.
But here's something else to chew on. Whereas I'd reckon that much of the anger among Iraqi Sunnis and the Arab public is genuine, I would also point out that this outrage over the Eid issue is very convenient for Arab regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan (precisely the ones which have spoken up most loudly): it lets them spout public - pleasing rhetoric over a side-issue without saying much of anything about the their unpopular positions on the deeper issues. Easy for them to score some cheap points by being on the "right" side of the Eid issue so that nobody pays attention to where they stand on the bigger Iraq or Iran or Palestinian or other issues. (Next thing you know, they'll find some tasteless cartoons about the execution published in an obscure European newspaper to get upset about.) And at the same time, by directing popular anger at the Shia-dominated Iraqi government, it also helps them fan the sectarian (anti-Shia) flames which many of these governments seem determined to ignite.
None of this is to say that the Iraqi government and/or the United States didn't choose the timing and nature of Saddam's execution for their own reasons. Nor is it to say that the timing of the execution, and the spectacle of what appeared to be Shia militiamen executing Saddam, aren''t having a real impact on Arab public opinion and on Iraq's internal dynamics. It's just to add that there may be more (or less) to the outcry in certain sectors of the Arab media than meets the eye.