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Hi, I think Ali al-Hilli’s post needs some comment. I appreciate that he is an Iraqi and is therefore an expert on Iraq, and I have no problem with that. But so am I. And because I believe there were some historical mistakes, I wanted to make a contribution, hoping that my remarks could throw some light on issues he tackled. Ali wrote:”.. the capitalist government of US has been there for so long and with many different leaders, in addition to the support of many Americans and a fit economy, its virtually impossible to change the government, and if it was possible, change it to what?” There is a very importance issue there. Is the criteria for overthrowing the Iraqi regime, advocated by a few on this list, that it hasn’t been there for so long, or that there haven’t been many leaders, or that the economy is not fit? If that is the case, then practically every Arab regime would qualify: monarchies and republics alike. And is the other criteria the fact that it is easier to change the regime in Iraq, than the US? And if the regime in Iraq is changed, then to what? One led by Baqir al-Hakim and his group of sectarian zealots, whose understanding of justice is killing family members and cutting tongues of those who praised SH? Who would lead Iraq? Al-Hakim who issued a Fatwa, allowing cooperation with the US to overthrow the regime in Iraq? Ahmad al-Chalabi who was convicted by Jordan for embezzling money from his own bank, and is publicly on the pay list of the CIA? Wafiq al-Sammari, the ex chief of Iraq’s military intelligence who only “defected” in 1995? Nizar Al-Khazraji, who was responsibel for the Anfal Campaign? Or Iyad Allawi, who himself was a devout member of the Ba’th party and a product of its principles? Or Saad Salih Jabr, the son of the Prime Minster who signed the Portsmouth agreement with Britain, causing the death of hundreds of Iraqis? The issue of the legality of US intervention, and the morality of the act doesn’t seem to be of importance. And that is strange, if not dangerous. Ali then says:” Iraq, 35 years ago was a prosperous country, its political position was stable, economy was fit and people were reasonably wealthy.” I am afraid this statement is not correct. 35 years ago, Iraq was under the rule of Abdul-Rahman Arif. His brother and predecessor, Abdul-Salaam Arif, died in a Helicopter crash in April 1967, which most Iraqis think was arranged by a foreign power, namely the British. Iraq then wasn’t a prosperous country, unless you consider the measly money given by the American and British oil companies as prosperity. Abdul-Rahman was an army officer, and chief of staff. He had no knowledge of politics, nor was ever a politician. He was outside Iraq when his brother got killed, and returned to be told he had become President. He was only the front for the US/British forces struggling over Iraq. And he was the first person to inherit a republic from his brother… During Abdul-Rahman’s time, the police stormed colleges for the first time in Iraq’s history, violating the “sanctity” of those colleges. Students were attacked and arrested, simply because they went on strike. I was a student in a college in Baghdad, and we had to escape by climbing over the back fence to avoid being caught and interrogated by the police. Anyone who left the college campus was taken by the police; some were roughed up, some were questioned. Iraq had suffered a budget deficit since 1955. The reason was perhaps huge investments in projects, but also because it had no control of its wealth; all went to US and British oil companies. The government was at war with the Kurdish north, and the situation in the centre and south was not exactly great. There was a sense of discontent, because of the weak and corrupt government. Thus when the coup of 1968 came, it was no surprise to anyone. Ali al-Hilli goes on to say:”In came the Baath party of Saddam. What Iraq saw since then was war after war, continuous murder and executions of the Iraqi opposition by the regime, poverty, sanctions on the Iraqi people (not Saddam) and political instability.” That statement carries more faults than truths. The Ba’ath part is not “of Saddam”. He wasn’t even the top man in 1968, though among the leadership. One of the most important achievements of the regime was the nationalisation of Iraq’s oil, which restored the wealth to its people. That certainly is a great achievement, regardless of what we may think of the Ba’th regime. War with Iran started only in 1980, and Iraq is not to blame alone. With a strong neighbour next to you, who has been a dangerous enemy for decades, and who threatens to export its revolution to you, it would seem natural that that would lead to tension in the area. The Kurds never put down their arms; they have been fighting every Iraqi government since 1920, changing alliances with the wind... Once pro US, once pro Iran, once pro Soviet Union, and cooperating even with Israel. I am sure that if the Native Americans would now take up arms against the central government, demand autonomy or independence, and receive arms and funding from Cuba or China, the US would wipe them out in the “democratic” residential areas, called “reservations”... Northern Ireland is a good example. Why do the British governments have the right to crush Northern Ireland’s demands for independence? Until 1991, Iraq did not suffer from poverty. On the contrary, Iraq was an affluent society, suffering from over consumption… The markets were so flooded with goods, even Kuwaitis used to come to Iraq to buy subsidised goods. Government employees paid no income tax, and health and education services were the best in the area. I am repeating information that has been said many times before, but it seems necessary. Women were given a fully paid one year maternity leave, which no other country in the area gave… I lived those times, and I know what I am talking about. The reference to the “popular uprising” is very misleading. Whenever it is mentioned, it is presented in such a way as to give the impression that the “people” rose out of their will. No one tells themthe readers that Iran and Baqir al-Hakim group were involved, with thousands of “volunteers” brought into Iraq. In fact, the last group of Iranians captured in 1991 in southern Iraq was released only last March by Iraq… The havoc this “uprising” created is matched only by the destruction done by the US and its allies. Would a person who loved his country go around destroying schools and burning their contents? As to killings and executions of political opponents, then I must admit that I have always been against them. I have no understanding for that, and I have always condemned these acts. But if we look at the US itself, we can not forget that the same things happen there too. Let’s read the following:” "We must mark [Martin Luther King, Jr.] now, if we have not before, as the most dangerous Negro in the future of this Nation..." Assistant Director of the FBI, Wiliam C. Sullivan, 1963. It is no secret who was behind Mr. King’s assassination… Blaming the death because of sanctions on Saddam is something not even the US does. We all remember Madeleine Albright’s famous statement, "...we think the price is worth it." - 60 Minutes, May 12, 1996. Sanctions were imposed on August 6, 1990, with two conditions only: Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait, and negotiations between the two countries to solve their conflict. The Kuwaiti ruling family refused any negotiations. Iraq’s withdrawal was achieved, one way or another, on February 28, 1991. The conditions for the UN resolution were thus met. The US did not lift sanctions, but imposed them again with a new set of conditions, that continue to change and be interpreted all the time. The sanctions against Iraq, like the “military actions”, were to destroy Iraq and prevent it from posing any threat to Israel. This has been explained a million times, and the limitations on the range of Iraqi missiles is one good proof of that. And to show that the Kuwaiti invasion had nothing to do with sanctions, see the following: "We do not agree that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted." --Madeleine Albright from an essay by John Pilger (The Guardian 03/04/2000) Ali asks: ”Is this what the Americans are going through? Don't get me wrong, I'm not a supporter of the US, but I think you cannot logically compare the atrocities in Iraq and US, mainly because of its different political history, society and religion.” I suppose that by reading the history of the US, we can have quite a good picture of what has happened there. Slaves being uprooted from their lands, and taken by force to serve the white settler, forcing them even to adopt another religion.. The original inhabitants of the land killed and displaced, and their lands taken by the white settler by force. Those people were moved by force into “reservations”, where they continue to be in the 21st century. The oppression of minorities in the country. Discrimination and racism. The US refuses to sign the International agreement for the rights of Women and the International agreement for the rights of the child.. The US accuses Iraq of “killing its own citizens”. Let’s look at the following: “Having defined Utahns as a ‘low-use segment of the population’ the Atomic Energy Commission only tested bombs in the Nevada desert when the wind was blowing in the ‘right direction’ – over Utah. As the population developed cancers they were used for research.” American Ground Zero, Carole Gallagher. Can’t we compare those atrocities? Was it alright for the US to use nuclear bombs against Japan? Was it alright for the US to attack Vietnam? The US has invaded Grenada and Panama, killing thousands of people for no reason. The US has used depleted uranium in Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. General Norman Schwarzkopf has said "I want every Iraqi soldier bleeding from every orifice." . Shouldn’t we compare those atrocities? And in all honesty, I do not see what the “different political history, society and religion” has to do with comparing atrocities as such. Freedom of expression was mentioned. American citizens were imprisoned simply because they were Communists. Vietnamese were killed just because they were communists. Cuba has been under siege simply because it believes in communism. People loose their jobs now simply because they question the legality or morality of the US war. People have been in prison in the US for months without trial and without charge just because they are Muslims or Arabs, suspected of terrorism… And so, things are always relative. Everything depends on how you see things and how you interpret happenings. But whatever, the history we have lived through can not be changed nor invented. What I saw and heard myself can not be eradicated by any expert. Finally, I leave you with an excellent comparison. "Surely the extermination of Jews in gas chambers is not comparable to the slow death inflicted in Iraqi children by deprivation. But from another angle the latter is even more despicable. The genocide against Jews was perpetrated in the greatest secret and without the blessing of the "civilized world". The crimes against Iraqi civilians are committed in full day-light, with the blessing of the ruling "civilized nations" and with the tacit support of the educated classes in these nations. Those who keep silent and are legally able to speak up, are morally accomplices to this crime." -- Elias Davidsson, Musician and a Palestinian Jew, 4/16/1999 posted in the open forum of www.arabamerican.com Regards to all.. Hassan _________________________________________________________ Only at Maktoob. Send your Arabic email without a need for an Arabic Operating System. http://www.maktoob.com/ _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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