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re:[casi] Iraqi opposition delegation in Baghdad...

Dear List,

Ahmed's message needs some comments:

1. The Iraqi National Coalition did not appear "suddenly". It has existed
since 1990, long before the INC and the Accord group, or the officers' groups. In
fact they existed while Wafiq al-Samarrai was Iraq's deputy director of military
intelligence, Nizar al-Khazraji was chief of staff of the Iraqi army, Najib
al-Salihi a commander in the republican guards, and Tawfiq al-Yassiri still a top
general in Iraq's army. Now all of those are opposition leaders..
If the group has not been talked about a lot, it is because it does not enjoy
the support of the CIA, MI5 or Iran. And the fact that Ahmed hasn't heard of them
does not make them a "new" group, nor that we should dismiss them…

2. I didn't hear the Coalition claiming to represent the Iraqi opposition.
They have categorically distanced themselves from the Iraqi opposition. So to
accuse them of something they didn't say is not right.

3. This group (and some leftists, nationalists and independent figures) have
been in dialogue with the government of Iraq since 1992. So it is wrong to state
that "the first thing that this coalition does is to visit Iraq..." It seems, from
their statements, that the visit is the outcome of years of dialogue and contacts.
It is the first time that it has been reported.

4. I don't think that it is correct to label this group "Saddam's puppets"
simply because they chose dialogue with the regime instead of supporting an
American attack on their people and land. I believe they are exactly the "third
way" that Ahmed is looking for: not sponsored by the CIA, MI5 or Iran, nor by any
of the Gulf countries... They also have different political backgrounds, thus an
excellent example of a multilateral Iraq; not based on party, religious or
sectarian  "proportionality" as has been advocated by some groups. The reality is
that members of this group have suffered from the Iraqi regime more than many of
those leaders of the opposition groups. They were not part of the regime's machine
like some of those other leaders…

5. Finally I would hope that Ahmed and his friends stop attacking anyone who
does not agree with them or label anyone who looks for a peaceful solution for
Iraq's crisis as "Saddam's puppet".

Those of us who oppose a US military aggression on Iraq are not by necessity
puppets of the regime. We would also oppose a military attack on Iran or Syria or
Palestine. Would we then be Iran's or Syria's or Arafat's puppets?

Demanding democracy in Iraq also means learning that a difference in opinion
is acceptable not scorned. Otherwise, we would not be different from the man who
said "opponents to the regime are subject to torture and execution."!!

Furthermore, I would like to remind Ahmed that he himself opposed the use of
force against Iraq and called himself "peace-loving".
In a letter to The Times on March 18, 2002, Ahmed wrote:
".. Establishing democracy inside Iraq should be a priority for every
peace-loving human being, and the West, with its involvement in Iraq for the
last ten or 11 years, bears a major responsibility. The Western airstrikes on Iraq
after the liberation of Kuwait benefited Saddam by attracting support for him from
other Arab nations. We need a new approach towards tackling the humanitarian (and
political) problems we are facing in Iraq."

Yet the same person writes to the BBC's Panorama the following:

"Saddam had started 2 wars and is one of the few people who have used WMDs.
Opposing his removal is naive and irresposible. It is simply anti-americanism".

Since when has anti-Americanism been a bad thing? I thought the US was the
"Great Satan"...

Ahmed suggests there is a third way. I would like him to explain that to us.


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