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News, 12-19/4/02 (1) IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow .asp ?art_id=6782010 * Oman signs free-trade pact with Iraq Times of India (from AFP), 13th April MUSCAT: Oman signed a free-trade agreement with Iraq on Saturday, becoming the ninth Arab state to sign such an accord with the sanctions-hit country. Oman’s Trade Minister Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan signed the deal with Iraqi counterpart Mohammad Mehdi Saleh in Muscat during a meeting of the two countries’ joint trade committee. The accord “crowns brotherly relations” between Iraq and Oman, Saleh said, stressing the “balanced positions” of the sultanate on regional and international policies. Sultan welcomed the “important” text, which will be applied in “coming weeks” to stimulate Omani exports to Iraq under the UN-supervised oil-for- food programme that aims to ease Iraqi suffering from the embargo imposed on Baghdad since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. “67 per cent of Omani exports go to Arab countries and Iraq is our leading Arab client,” Sultan said. Iraq has signed free-trade agreements with Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Oman, which maintained good relations with Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf conflict and held a trade fair in Iraq in 2000, has repeatedly demanded a lifting of the embargo. http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=di splaynews&doc_id=NR20020414670.2_fee0 0000fcd17ff5 * IRAN: 220 IRANIAN COMPANIES PARTICIPATE IN RECONSTRUCTING IRAQ Financial Times/Hoover’s, 14th April According to Al-Wefaq newspaper (April 3, 2002), Iraqi television recently reported that Iran will participate, along with several other Industrialized states, in rebuilding Iraq. The Iraqi building and reconstructing scheme will start in 2002 and 220 Iranian companies and 23 countries from all over the world participated in Baghdad Fair, where they displayed their latest innovations in the areas of water, energy, agriculture and computers. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp? ArticleID=47666 * Call to raise voice for Iraqi children by Mohammed Almezel Gulf News, 15th April Samira Rajab: A group of Bahraini advocates and businessmen have decided it is time that ‘the silent majority’ of people in the world raised their voices in support of Iraqi children. The group, the Bahraini Association to Defend Iraqi Children (BADIC), has established a new humanitarian organisation of which the main aim would be to expose the tragic conditions in the besieged Iraq. The new organisation has been founded by 23 personalities including academics, doctors and businessmen. “The voice of Iraqi children must be heard all over the world. Our mission is to expose, through extensive media campaigns, the misery of the Iraqi children and to galvanise support for them,” Samira Rajab, a rights advocate and one of the leading founders of the new organisation, told Gulf News yesterday. It will not be a politics-oriented association, she said, neither will it attempt to raise funds for aid supplies. “We believe that Iraqis do not need fund-raising campaigns. They probably have sufficient resources to meet at least the minimum basic food and medical demands. But the real issue in fact is lifting the sanctions,” she explained. Experts say that the sanctions, imposed on Iraq in the wake of its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, have taken the oil-rich Iraq back to the middle ages. “But most affected segment of the society is the children who represent the future. Our main objective thus is to help the children of Iraq in any way possible,” said Samira. One of the founding members, Dr. Akbar Mohsin Mohammed, had led a team that visited Iraq in 1995 to investigate first hand the situation there. A report on the findings was submitted to the Bahrain Red Crescent Society, the UN Human Rights Commission and other international organisations, Samira noted, adding that the association should have been established then. “Looking back at the tense political circumstances in the 1990s, I believe any request to establish an organisation with such objectives would have been denied. Now, obviously, things have changed,” she said. There has been a significant break-through in the GCC-Iraqi relations in recent years. Bahrain in particular has also announced major procedural concessions to Iraqi traders and investors, while an embrace between the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and Ezzat Ibrahim, Vice-Chairman of the Central Revolutionary Command Council in Iraq, at last month’s Beirut Arab Summit ultimately signaled Baghdad’s return to the Arab politics. Those developments have encouraged us to come forward in order to galvanise support for the just demand of lifting the sanctions,” said Samira. The founders, she added, are waiting for the final approval of the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry. “I hope the ministry will speed the process as we know Bahrain has been always a pioneering nation in humanitarian fields,” she said. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/27163054. htm * 52 killed, 122 injured while defusing Iraqi mines: Official Ahvaz, April 16, IRNA — Fifty-two Iranian army deminers have been killed and 122 others injured while clearing contaminated areas from landmines and explosives, left from the 1980-1988 Iraqi-imposed war, a senior army general Kiumars Heydari said here Tuesday. The fatalities are related to demining operations since the end of the war in southern province of Khuzestan and part of the western Ilam province, which were on the fronts of the destructive war, he said, adding 1.851 million mines were cleared in the period. “This number of mines have been cleared from 327,595 hectares of lands,” Heydari said. They included 970,000 anti-personnel mines, 453,000 anti-tank mines and 428,000 anti-vehicle mines. An army commander, Brigadier Mohammad Nabizadeh, said recently that 3.217 million anti-personnel mines, 914,000 anti-tank mines as well as 4.236 munition rounds had been defused in total since the end of the war. The cleared lands have gone either under cultivation or turned into residential areas for local villagers or citizens, he said. According to UN sources, an estimated 16 million landmines and tens of millions of unexploded objects, left over from the imposed war, contaminate four million hectares of land in southern and western Iran, bordering Iraq. Scores of Iranian shepherds and local people are killed or maimed each year after tripping on the mines. Nabizadeh said dislocation of landmines and lack of maps have slowed down clearance efforts in the contaminated regions. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/29164524. htm * Daily comments on Saddam's blunder Tehran, April 18, IRNA -- The Thursday edition of Iran Daily, quoting the Persian daily Azad, under its Media Monitor column, suggested that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's decision to unilaterally suspend oil exports in protest at Israeli brutalities in the occupied lands seems more like political jockeying, rather than a show of solidarity with the Palestinian struggles. By raising sympathy among Arab nations, specially at a time when the Zionist regime's atrocities against defenseless Palestinians have reached their climax, Saddam is hoping for fresh Arab backing in case of a future US military attack to overthrow his regime. The daily added that his plan is likely to flop because the idea of an oil embargo has so far failed to draw any support from Arab governments. Both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have openly opposed oil sanctions with Saudi foreign minister saying that Riyadh does not intend to use oil as a weapon. In fact, if Muslim countries are truly resolved to stand up against Israel, they must promote their status by assuming full control of the market. Instead of forging further unity among Muslims, the Iraqi move has provided competitiveness among petroleum exporting countries, which are trying to get OPEC's green light for raising their output quota to compensate for the loss. According to the daily, following the 1979 victory of the Islamic Revolution, the government decided to substantially cut oil exports. Meanwhile, OPEC sliced Iraq's quota after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Both these factors helped Saudi Arabia strengthen its position and earn billions of dollars due to an increase in its output. Developments following the post-September attacks have provided the US with a pretext to expand its military and political influence all over the world. Even a slight miscalculation at this sensitive juncture could cause discord among Islamic states and more the Americans closer to their goals. Saddam has, knowingly or unknowingly, committed a grave mistake. It said, "Presently, Iran sells oil neither to the US nor to Israel. The US purchases its oil requirements from Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. >From a realistic viewpoint, an oil embargo to protest Israeli crimes in Palestine will only undermine our international status and irritate our European partners. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow .asp?art_id=7309685 * Egyptian trade fair opens in Baghdad Times of India (from AFP), 19th April BAGHDAD: Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan opened an Egyptian trade fair, with 100 exhibitors, on Thursday. "Iraq welcomes favourably the organisation of Arab fairs in Baghdad," Ramadan said, particularly those promoting Arab industries. The head of Egypt's industries union, Abdul Monem Al-Saudi, arrived in Baghdad Wednesday to look at ways to "widen bilateral cooparation" between Iraq and Egypt. PROSPECTS FOR WAR http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt- steyn14.html * War is best road to peace BY MARK STEYN Sun-Times [Chicago?], 14th April Another week, another high-level mission to the Middle East. This time, Colin Powell’s been zipping around the region endeavoring to bring peace; last time, Dick Cheney was zipping around the region to whip up war fever. It seems a lifetime ago, but it’s just the other day that the vice president was released from his ‘’secure location’’ and dispatched to Araby to shore up support for toppling Saddam from our ‘’friends’’ in the region. As it happens, the axis of evil—Iraq, Iran—is causing far less trouble at the moment than the axis of pals—Saudi Arabia, Egypt—but such are the mysterious ways of the Orient and, indeed, of Washington that it was deemed a priority to kiss up to the “good” guys and attempt to bring them on our side. Saddam had nothing to do with Sept. 11, the House of Saud had everything to do with it. But for some reason the administration thought it would appeal to that famous Saudi sense of humor if the old Butcher of Baghdad got stiffed for their mess. In order to establish his bona fides with these “moderate” regimes, President Bush slapped Israel around a little and declared military action against Palestinian terrorists “not helpful,” while the vice president talked up Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah’s “peace plan” for the region and made sympathetic murmurings about the “desperation” of the suicide bombers. And what happened? The “moderates” told Cheney to get lost, and went off to the Arab League summit to shower the Iraqi delegation in more kisses than Halle Berry got on Oscar night. Prince Abdullah himself planted a smackeroo on the lips of the Iraqi vice president, the first between the two parties since the Gulf War. Speaking of which, Baghdad promised not to invade Kuwait for the foreseeable future. And the League as a whole signed on to some NATOesque collective security deal, declaring that an attack on Iraq would be regarded as an attack on them all. Meanwhile, Ariel Sharon did as he was told, exercised “restraint” and put away his stick, and the carrot of a meeting with Cheney was dangled in front of Chairman Arafat, Israel’s eternal “partner for peace.” The upshot was an explosion of multiple suicide bombings culminating in the Passover massacre at a ballroom in Netanya. So much for “interventionist diplomacy.” Cheney’s now back in his “secure location,” and they seem to have thrown away the key. Aside from the grim body count, these missions are a deranged exercise in unrealpolitik, with all parties negotiating fictions. The vice president wanted Saudi Arabia to pretend to be his friend, the Arab League to pretend the peace plan is for real, Ariel Sharon to pretend that Yasser Arafat is cracking down on terrorism, and Arafat to pretend that he wants to crack down on terrorism. Fortunately, none of this matters. The cynic’s view of the Cheney mission was that the administration needed peace in the Middle East in order to have a war against Iraq. The opposite is more to the point: You need a war against Iraq in order to bring peace to the Middle East. And on that, if little else, Bush shows no signs of going “wobbly.” Indeed, interviewing the president on Britain’s ITV network a week ago, Trevor McDonald seemed to have difficulty taking yes for an answer. “Have you made up your mind that Iraq must be attacked?” he asked. “I made up my mind that Saddam needs to go,” said the president. “And, of course, if the logic of the war on terror means anything,” continued Sir Trevor, “then Saddam must go?” “That’s what I just said,” confirmed the president. “The policy of my government is that he goes.” “So you’re going to go after him?” “As I told you, the policy of my government is that Saddam Hussein not be in power.” The stability junkies in the EU, UN and elsewhere have, as usual, missed the point. The Middle East is too stable. In Africa and Latin America and Eastern Europe, rare is the dictator who dies in harness. But, in the Arab world, they get to pass their diseased crowns on to their designated heirs: old Assad bequeathed Syria to his son, Saddam hopes to do the same with Iraq. There has been “stability” for three decades, longer than anywhere else in the non-democratic world. But, when a dysfunctional regime stays in power, that’s not stability, but a cesspit. So if you were Washington and you wanted to destabilize the Middle East, where would you start? In the Gulf two weeks ago, I listened as a British diplomat bemoaned the coming war with Iraq: lot of nonsense; until the Yanks buggered everything up, Saddam was a sound fellow, indifferent to Islam, pro-Western, a bit rough on the Kurds but our man through and through. “Good heavens, he wears a trilby!” said my British chum, in admiration of the dictator’s Anglophile headgear, as if the fact that he likes dressing up as the queen mother’s bookie settled the matter. London invented the country and gave it its name—Iraq, “the well-rooted land”—and, as this quintessential British Arabist noted with pride, the Iraqi people are secular, tolerant, literate, the antithesis of those wacky fundamentalists in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Their deputy prime minister is Christian—admittedly a Kurd-gassing, Scud-lobbing, terror-funding Saddamite Christian, but nevertheless this is what passes for progress in the Middle East. I agreed entirely with the Brit guy’s analysis, disagreeing only with his conclusion. As far as he was concerned, these were all reasons for not invading Iraq; to me, they’re all reasons for pressing ahead. If you had to pick only one regime to topple, this is the one. Once you’ve got rid of the ruling gang, it’s the West’s best shot at incubating a reasonably non-insane polity. In Iraq and Iran, there’s a sporting chance regime change would bring about improvement. In Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia, it’s far more problematic. The best way to destabilize the Islamist regimes is by destabilizing the non-Islamist one first. Sorry, Saddam. Them’s the breaks. In the end, the Middle East has to be fixed, and the place to start is not the West Bank but Baghdad. At the moment, all that prevents Islamofascism being a truly global threat is its practitioners’ stupidity and inefficiency. Say what you like about Saddam but, by Middle Eastern standards, he’s a very smart and efficient genocidal maniac. All the more reason to be rid of him sooner rather than later. Yes, it’s a stylish trilby, but it’s time to say here’s your hat and what’s your hurry. Mark Steyn is senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/comme ntary/la- 000026642apr14.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2D comment% 2Dopinions * Iraq War: The Coming Disaster by IMMANUEL WALLERSTEIN, Los Angeles Times, 14th April Immanuel Wallerstein is senior research scholar at Yale University and the author of “The End of the World as We Know It.” NEW HAVEN — George W. Bush is a geopolitical incompetent. He has allowed a clique of hawks to induce him to take a position on invading Iraq from which he cannot extract himself, one which will have nothing but negative consequences for the United States—and the rest of the world. He will find himself badly hurt politically, perhaps fatally. And he will rapidly diminish the already declining power of the United States in the world. A war against Iraq will destroy many lives immediately, both Iraqi and American, because it seems clear that high-altitude, surgical-strike air attacks will not suffice in military terms. Invading Iraq will lead to a degree of turmoil in the Arab-Islamic world hitherto unimagined. Other Arab leaders don’t like Saddam Hussein one bit, but their populations won’t stand for what they will inevitably feel is an unprovoked attack on an Arab state, leaving leaders with little choice but to be swept along in the turmoil or drown. And an attack on Iraq might ultimately spark the use of nuclear weapons, which, if unleashed now, will be hard to again make illegitimate. Iraq may not have such weapons yet, but we can’t be sure. Even if it doesn’t, might it not attack Israel with conventional missiles that would prompt Israel to respond with the nuclear weapons we know it has? For that matter, are we really sure that, if the fighting gets tough, the U.S. is not ready to use tactical nuclear weapons? How have we gotten into such a disastrous cul-de- sac? It seems probable that U.S. military action against Iraq is now not a question of whether but of when. The U.S. government insists action is necessary because Iraq has been defying United Nations resolutions and represents an imminent danger to the world in general, and to the U.S. in particular. This explanation of the expected military action is so thin that it cannot be taken seriously. Defying U.N. resolutions or other international enjoinders has been commonplace for the last 50 years. I need hardly remind anyone that the U.S. refused to defer to a 1986 World Court decision condemning U.S. actions in Nicaragua. And President Bush has made it amply clear that he will not honor any treaty should he think it dangerous to U.S. interests. Israel has, of course, been defying U.N. resolutions for more than 30 years, and is doing so again as I write this commentary. And the record of other U.N. members is not much better. So Hussein has been defying quite explicit U.N. resolutions. What else is new? Is Hussein an imminent threat to anyone? In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. That action, at least, did pose an imminent threat. The U.S. response was the Persian Gulf War, in which we pushed the Iraqis out of Kuwait and then decided to stop there—for good military and political reasons. But that left Hussein in power. The U.N. passed various resolutions requiring Iraq to abandon nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons and mandated inspection teams to verify that it had done so. The U.N. also put in place a variety of embargoes against Iraq. As we know, over the decade since then, the system of constraints on Iraq put in place by these U.N. resolutions has weakened considerably, but not totally by any means. Several weeks ago, Iraq and Kuwait signed an agreement in which Iraq agreed to respect the sovereignty of Kuwait. The foreign minister of Kuwait, Sheik Sabah al Ahmed al Jabbar al Sabah said his country is now “100% satisfied,” adding that he had written the agreement himself. A spokesperson for the United States nonetheless exhibited skepticism. The U.S. is not about to be deterred simply because Kuwait is “satisfied.” What is Kuwait, that it should participate in such a decision? U.S. hawks believe that only the use of force— very significant force—will restore our unquestioned hegemony in the world. It is no doubt true that the use of overwhelming force can establish hegemony, as happened with the United States in 1945. But U.S. hegemony is not what it once was. The country’s economic superiority in the world between 1945 and 1965 has been replaced with a situation in which the U.S. economic position is not significantly better than that of the European Union or Japan. This relative economic decline has cost the U.S. the unquestioned political deference of its close allies. All that is left is military superiority. And, as Machiavelli taught us all centuries ago, force is not enough: If that’s all you have, then its use is a sign of weakness rather than of strength and weakens the user. It is clear that, at this point, almost no one supports a U.S. invasion of Iraq: not a single Arab state, not Turkey or Iran or Pakistan, not Russia or the great bulk of Europe. There are, to be sure, two notable exceptions: Israel, which is cheering Bush on, and Great Britain—or rather its prime minister, Tony Blair, who declared last weekend in Texas that “doing nothing ... is not an option” with regard to Iraq. Yet an article in The Observer last month reported that “Britain’s military leaders issued a stark warning to Tony Blair last night that any war against Iraq is doomed to fail and would lead to the loss of lives for little political gain.” I cannot believe that U.S. military leaders have drawn a different conclusion, although they may be more wary of stating that unpleasant truth to President Bush. Kenneth M. Pollack, formerly of the CIA and the Iraq specialist on Clinton’s National Security Council, says military action in Iraq would require sending in 200,000 to 300,000 U.S. troops, presumably from bases in either Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, as well as additional troops to defend the Kurds in northern Iraq. The U.S. seems to be counting on intimidating its allies into going along. But after Israel’s occupation of West Bank cities, the remote hope that Saudi (or even Kuwaiti) bases would be made available to U.S. troops has almost surely disappeared. Turkey clearly has no interest in defending Iraqi Kurds, since such action would certainly strengthen the Kurdish movement in Turkey, against which the Turkish government fights with all its energy. As for Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon—with Bush’s strong support- -is in the process of destroying as rapidly as possible the Palestinian Authority, which certainly won’t help Bush build his anti-Iraq coalition. Still, there will be an invasion, which will be difficult if not impossible to win. The action could well become another Vietnam. Just as in Vietnam, the war will drag on and will cost many U.S. lives. And the political effects will be so negative for the U.S. that eventually Bush (or his successor) will pull out. A renewed and amplified Vietnam syndrome will be the result at home. Can no one in the Bush administration see this? A few, no doubt, but they are being ignored, because Bush is in a self-imposed dilemma. If he goes ahead with the Iraq invasion, he risks bringing himself down, like Lyndon Johnson. And a U.S. failure would finally give the Europeans the courage to be European and not Atlantic. But those negative consequences to Bush would be in the future, whereas the negatives of not invading are immediate. Bush promised the U.S. people a “war on terrorism” that “we will certainly win.” So far, all he’s produced is the downfall of the weak and impoverished Taliban. He hasn’t captured Bin Laden. Pakistan is shaky. Saudi Arabia is pulling away. If he doesn’t invade Iraq, he will look foolish where it matters to him most—in the eyes of American voters. And he is being told this, in no uncertain terms, by his advisors on internal U.S. politics. Bush’s incredibly high approval ratings reflect his being a “war president.” The minute he becomes a peace-time president, he will be in grave trouble—all the more so because of failed wartime promises. So, Bush has no choice. He will invade Iraq. He has made clear that the current Middle East crisis will not deter him from this. Quite the opposite. Sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region is a way of trying to ensure the operation. And we shall all live with the consequences. http://observer.co.uk/worldview/story/0,11581,6 842 16,00.html * Our enemy’s enemies by Nick Cohen The Observer, 14th April London has provided what I hope will be a temporary home for an inspiring resistance group. Its headquarters has the sights and smells of the standard exile office: chairs you eye warily before accepting the invitation to sit; a suggestion in the stale air that the drains have been left unattended for too long. The shabby gentility of the office is balanced by the enormous ambition of its staff. The revolutionaries want to replace minority rule with a multiracial, devolved democracy which stands up for human rights and all the ideals which mean so much to Observer readers. Unlike the African National Congress, however, the Iraqi National Congress hasn’t become the toast of Left-liberals. Its claim for committed support is at least as good because, in fairness to mass-murdering white supremacists, the old South Africa drew the line at dropping chemical weapons on neighbouring states and rioting Soweto schoolchildren. Nearly all South African whites - 16 per cent of the population - enjoyed wealth and partial freedom under apartheid. While it is true that Saddam Hussein and his lieutenants are Sunni Arabs, who make up 20 per cent of the Iraqi population, most Sunnis suffer as much as everyone else. The shunning of the INC by right-thinking, Left- leaning people is best explained by their shambolic response to American power. As Ariel Sharon pushes Zionism towards fascism, in its modern ethnic-cleansing form, the same voices which condemn intervention in Iraq as the imperialism of the global bully demand that the US imposes sanctions on Israel. To point out the double standard on the Left isn’t to deny Bush’s hypocrisy.The switch of emphasis from fighting al- Qaeda to eliminating the old enemy in Baghdad made a nonsense of the screaming after 11 September that everything must be dropped until Islamic fundamentalism was defeated. Unfortunately for lovers of consistency, the INC’s spokesmen don’t care about Bush’s motives. They will accept freedom under whatever messy circumstances history offers. If you oppose a war against Saddam, you are asked if you believe democracy isn’t too good for Arabs and Kurds. If you mumble that, of course, your principles aren’t limited by race, colour or creed, you are invited to explain how they can topple a tyrant without foreign help. You are saved from further humiliation by the welcome news that Washington and London can match your bad faith. The INC is yet another CIA invention which has spooked its creators. It was formed in 1992 after the US insisted that all the Iraqi opposition factions established a united front. The US provided money, but as one INC leader said, wanted ‘it to be a talking shop which would produce propaganda and give cover to America’ as it arranged the installation of a more compliant version of Saddam. What was required was a Sunni hard man who would repress the Kurds in the north and the Shia Muslims in the south, but leave Kuwait and Israel alone. The INC wouldn’t accept puppet status. In 1995, it thought it had American backing to seize three cities. The Clinton administration sent mixed messages, then called off the revolution at the last minute. The Kurds abandoned their comrades and fought among themselves. But INC forces decided to attack. On the one front where they engaged the Iraqi army they performed creditably, mainly because Saddam’s conscripts were eager to surrender to anyone who looked as if they could get rid of him. The American and British refusal to support the rebellion ensured its defeat. (From now on, by the way, whenever I write ‘American’ could you take ‘and British’ as read? It will save time and space.) Bureaucracies being what they are, the CIA blamed the victims for its inability to seize the moment. Resent ment grew in 1996 when Ahmed Chalabi, the INC president, warned the CIA that its plot to install a new military dictator had been blown. If the INC knew about it, he explained, the agency could be certain that Saddam was as well-informed. The CIA didn’t listen. The compromised coup attempt went ahead and the few plotters who weren’t double agents were murdered. Many in the INC believe that what truly infuriates the CIA is that Chalabi is a cultured businessman, who speaks English better than most Western politicians. He argues with style and force against the INC’s detractors on the US networks and in Congress and the Washington think-tanks. George Tenet, who, incredibly, remains the CIA director after his failure to protect his country on 11 September, is the leader of the faction in Washington which loathes the INC. A democratic Iraq, the thinking runs, would be dominated by Shia Muslims who would look to Iran for leadership. The Kurds in the north would infuriate our Turkish ally by breaking away. Better to maintain ‘stability’ in the Middle East by installing a military ruler. The INC says Western fears are illusory. Both the main Kurdish parties have settled for devolved government in northern Iraq because they know that Turkey and Iran would invade an independent Kurdistan. The Shia wouldn’t break up a democratic Iraq and join Iran. Why should they when they are the majority? As for ‘stability’, Latif Rashid, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and a founder of the INC, exploded when I mentioned the word. ‘Stability! Stability! Stability!’ he bellowed. ‘Where is stability in the Middle East? You can’t have stability without democracy.’ The INC left me in no doubt that its guerrillas will carry on fighting if Saddam is replaced with another dictator. In Washington, the State Department, which has stopped funding the INC after disputed accusations of fraud, and the CIA take no notice of the threat and support the ‘nicer Sunni tyrant’ option. Paradoxically, the greatest supporters of the civilian movement are the military in the Pentagon. The struggle between the departments is underway, but the balance of forces is against the INC. A democratic Iraq would give the subject peoples of the Gulf monarchies ideas above their station. (The Saudi royal family’s secret service offered to throw money at the INC if it promised to stop talking about democracy and human rights.) Turkey doesn’t want its abused Kurds to see devolved government in northern Iraq. Washington and Whitehall are infested with Arabists who adore Arab monarchs but have little time for Arabs. Meanwhile, the Left must hope that the INC loses its battle to win the backing of the Bush administration. If America went to war to support a multiracial democratic movement, where would that leave us? Would we dare open our mouths? ------------------------------------------------- This mail sent through UK Online webmail _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk