The execution of Saddam Hussein marks the end of an era for Iraq and the Middle East.
On "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" on Saturday, a roundtable of experts on Iraq discussed the impact of Hussein's death.
Michael Newton, a Vanderbilt University professor who helped train the judges who tried Hussein, said that without fear of the former dictator looming in their minds, Iraqis can concentrate on repairing their country.
"The one thing that bound together all Iraqis, regardless of tribe or region, was this osmosis, climate of fear in which they lived," Newton said. "So they're now released from that and really can move to future in a society built on law rather than just sheer power."
Noah Feldman, a New York University professor who helped draft the Iraqi constitution, said that the timing of Hussein's execution -- on a holiday of significance to Sunni Muslims -- could widen the rift between Sunnis and Shiites.
"He was executed on a holiday, on a holiday that Sunnis in particular experience … that I think will be seen in the region broadly as a deepening of the Sunni-Shia tensions," Feldman said.
Turning Point for Iraqis, U.S. Troops
Martha Raddatz, the ABC News senior White House correspondent who has traveled to Iraq about a dozen times since the beginning of the war, believes the region is at a turning point.
"This is such a critical time in Iraq. You've heard so many people say it is sliding towards civil war. And if the Sunnis now feel more oppressed because Saddam Hussein has been executed, that's where your problem will lie," Raddatz said. "So it's moving forward here with the Shiite government. Will they now say, 'Look, it's time to move forward, time for national reconciliation' -- or will there be revenge on both sides?"
As for a U.S. soldier's comment about what will keep troops in Iraq now that Hussein is dead, Raddatz said the main source of tension in the country remains unresolved.
"I'm sure this marks a turning point for [U.S. troops] in some ways that Saddam is definitely behind them -- but they also know that this is not the root of the problem in Iraq," she said. "Right now, the root of the problem is the sectarian violence. There is still an insurgency. People are still targeting U.S. troops … and this could make this worse.
While there's concern that some Iraqis will deem Hussein a martyr and turn his grave into shrine, Feldman doesn't think many people will mourn the former dictator.
"I think only within the hard-core Sunni insurgent community and within his own extended family will he be seen in those actual terms," he said. "He killed Sunnis as well as Shia. Broadly speaking, there won't be people visiting his grave."