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Dear colleagues, As an Iraqi by birth, a Kurd by ethnicity and British by residence, I am very much interested in the issue. So much so, that I have written a long article on the analysis of it to help others making an informed opinion. I attach copy for your perusal, use and comments. Regards, Muhamad IRAQ: WAR OR DICTATORSHIP By: M TAli It is said that war is simply diplomacy by other means. Dictatorship is the highest form of the absence of democracyIraq is the manifestation of both war and dictatorship, unless and until one defeats the other. Saddam Hussein's dictatorship unleashed internal wars on the Iraqi people first, then waged external wars on the neighbouring countries,Iranfirst and then Kuwait, theGulf War. Is a third such war inevitable and if so, will it be the finale that topples the dictatorship that caused all these wars? Is there an alternative means to achieve this? Or, will the dictatorship prevail and prolong its life span. These are the sixty-four thousand-Dollar questions! War and sanctions Like the other emotive topic of sanctions, war divides the world public opinion, peoples, organizations and governments, into two opposing camps, each of which contains many strange bedfellows,whilst former comrades-in-arms split their ranks, ending up in different camps. Western imperialism, its agents and warmongers champion the pro-sanctions and pro-war camp.But it must be stressed; not everyone in this camp is necessarily an agent of imperialism or a warmonger. As there are contingents of the international solidarity with the Iraqi people, such as CARDRI : (Committee Against Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq-) and INDICT (the campaign to indict Iraqi war criminals) in the UK, post-Kuwait Iraqi opposition and the Iraqi masses themselves. There is agreement that the end justifies the means, whilst they harbourdiffering intentions, agendas and expectations. : On the other hand, world peace movements, humanitarian organizations and apologists of the Iraqi regime as infiltrators champion the anti-sanctions and anti-war camp. But, it must be stressed her that not everyone in this camp is necessarily an apologist of the Iraqi regimethere are contingents of the international solidarity with the Iraqi people, such as Liberation in the UK, the historical Iraqi opposition and Iraqi communities in theDiaspora. Generic Iraq What complicates the already complex Iraqi issue in debates is the cryptic use of the words 'Iraq, 'sanctions' and 'war' without any further qualification or modification. The Iraqi peopleand Iraqi regime are not synonymous, rather they are antonymous. Economic sanctions on the Iraqi people are vastly different from non-economic, i.e. military, political and diplomatic sanctions.This simple distinction has enabled the formulation of the appropriate slogan" lift the economic sanctions on the Iraqi people, but maintain, or rather strengthen the non-economic sanctions on the Iraqi regime". This is now adopted by consensus, if not unanimously, by the Iraqi people, their patriotic opposition and world solidarity with its cause. So much for sanctions.As for war, it must be identified as on whom. War on the unarmed Iraqi civilians, victims of the regime? No. War on the Iraqi army conscripts, who>were subjected to the '>Turkeyshoot' when retreating from Kuwait to Basra? Ney. War on the remaining Iraqi infrastructure, as was the case inAfghanistan last year?,Never. No, Ney, Never. No, Ney, Never, No more ! <Even within the Iraqi armed forces, we must differentiate between the regular army on the one hand, and the Republican Guards, Special Forces and Military Intelligence, on the other. Similarly, between the popular militia and Saddam's fidaiyean, and so on and so forth. It must be stressed here that this analysis is intended for helping to make an informed opinion aboutthe Iraqi issue.It is not an invitation or justification for invading. Our preferable option, if we have any say in the matter that is, up to the last minute, is the peaceful diplomatic resolution. To this end, there is a consensus of world public opinion, peoples, organizations and governments, that : Any external involvement, political or otherwise, in the affairs of a country, such as Iraq currently, must comply with international law. That is to say, the United Nations is the only world organisation, which has the legitimate authority to pass such a resolution, implement it and subsequently monitor it. In the case of, sooner or later, there will be the need for UN involvement, if only to avert the outbreak of chaos and even civil war in the aftermath of the downfall of the repressive regime. EmbarrassmentEmbarrassment is the reason behind the anti-war and anti-sanctions stance of the Iraqi and world left movements. On principle, it opposes any measure, initiative or campaign by American imperialism because of its history of foreign policy adventures, evoking the memory of Vietnam But, this school of thought ignores the basic facts that Iraqis not likeVietnam, the Iraqi regime is not the former Allende government of Chile and Saddam Hussein is not a popular leader, like Fidel Castro of Cuba.Also, it does not recall the history preceding the liberation of many peoples of the East. During the Second World War, the Soviet Union was in alliance with world imperialism, fighting fascism. Was that a strategic error? Definitely, no. Imagine what the alternative scenarios would have ended up in. But no sooner had the war ended with the victory of the allies over fascism than the Cold War started between the capitalist and socialist camps. And the rest is history until the self-destruction of the latter elevated the former, which attributes it to the superiority of its economic, political and cultural philosophy. Thus, the United States of America has imposed itself as the unrivalled world superpower accountable to no other. If the American current stance on the Iraqi regime, which so happens to coincide with our permanent stance, is embarrassing to us, then coincidence with that of the regime is even more embarrassing. That is if we regard the state of human rights of the people concerned as our yardstick. Furthermore, it would completely contradict the stance from armed struggle by the historical Iraqi opposition, which has been resorting to it for the past four decades. The same cannot be said for the recent Iraqi opposition. Interestingly, the instances of the adoption of this ideological stance and feeling of embarrassment are directly proportional to their distance from the epicentre of the event, Baghdad. Accordingly, it is higher among Western than Eastern organisations and among Iraqi communities abroad than those at home, and higher among those in liberated Kurdistan than those under government control. This phenomenon may be attributed to the differences in the lifestyles of an ivory tower abroad and that of humiliation inside the country. Ironically, when it comes to the likelihood of the Iraqi people rising to topple the regime single-handed, the expectations of those living thousands of miles away are much higher than of those stuck at home. A Kurdish proverb states that those away from the battlefield boast about their swords. In English, something like the phrase armchair generals comes to mind. Objectivity Yet another objective factor missing from the left's stance on American foreign policy is that of the internationalisation of the state of human rights in the countries concerned. Whereas America plays the role of defender of human rights because it coincides with its economic interests, the left sticks to its principles of opposing America even to the detriment of the aspirations of the people concerned. Recent examples are the republics of former federal Yugoslavia, Kosovo, East Timor (Indonesia) and Afghanistan. And may be Iraq subsequently !. External American interventions in these countries were crowned with the collapse of their dictatorships and bringing them to justice, such as Slobodan Milosovich of Serbia now in The Hague. Is it likely to substitute Kurdistan for Kosovo, Iraq for Yugoslavia and Saddam Hussein for Slobodan Milosovich? Just a thought ! The Iraqi issue has already been internationalised ever since the Iraqi regime's invasion of the state of Kuwait on 2nd August,1990. The collapse of the socialist camp during the last decade of the twentieth century was the gravest event in world politics since the Second World War. That is until 11th September 2001, when it polarised around the foreign policy of America as the biggest victim of international terrorism to date. There was also a qualitative change in the priorities of American foreign policy. Whereas it created and supported Islamic fundamentalist militias to fight the Soviet-backed Afghan government, it then swapped sides by fighting its former friend with the help of its former foe. Obviously, its priority now is fighting world terrorism and not former or current socialist states. The Afghan experience is the most highly embarrassing event to the international left movement. Whereas the Soviet Red Army was perceived as the occupying army, the American Green Berets are perceived as the liberating army. That is in contrast to the historical experiences of other countries of the world, such as Vietnam. Who is responsible for this embarrassment? The world left movement conveniently forgets this fact - instead it puts another valid argument forward. That is the double standards of American foreign policy towards these countries as opposed to Israel, its client state, which ignores many UN resolutions. Furthermore, it takes the opportunity to suppress the Arab people in Occupied Palestine under the pretext of fighting terrorism. States, including Israel, have been the biggest terrorists in human history. Regionally, only the governments of Iraq and Turkey in their mistreatment of their respective citizens compare with Israel. As well as ignoring the external objective factor referred to earlier, some peace campaigners even disregard the internal objective factor. This is the improbability of toppling the Iraqi regime by the Iraqis themselves without outside help. Therefore, the external factor is imperative and decisive, but it does not guarantee the replacement of the dictatorship with the democratic alternative, as aspired by the Iraqi people. So much for objective factors. Subjectivity As for subjective factors, the imperative and decisive one is the popular mood of the Iraqi people, which is being ignored in the considerations of the impending regime change in their own country. This mood is a direct result of the internal objective factor. It places its wish, the toppling of the regime, above all other considerations, including war and peace. In other words, the end justifies the means. The intensity of this mood is directly proportional to the distance from the epicentre, Baghdad. By the time it reaches the Diaspora, the picture is inverted as avoiding the war prevails over all other considerations, including the need for regime change. Geopolitics have changed so much since 11th September 2001 that the world public opinion's perception of it is that it is dictated by a few despots and mad mullas in the mystic east and a few crazy cowboys in the wild west. Human and material losses Advocates of the latter, the anti-war campaign, justify their stance by citing the recent experience in Afghanistan. As a consequence of the aerial, sea and land bombardment, the remaining infrastructure of Iraq will be pulverised. Moreover, thousands of innocent civilians will perish during a short period of time. These concerns and anxieties are justifiable and indisputable. Equally justifiable is the other view that a similar number of casualties will be suffered gradually if the dictatorship is let off the hook. But if you consider the mood of the Iraqi people at home, they would much prefer a quick death as collateral damage to a slow death under torture by the regime's infamous security agents. This view is shared even by the Iraqi exiles, who oppose the war. At least, they can verify it through conversations with their friends and relations, who have recently travelled to liberated Iraqi Kurdistan or outside Iraq altogether. Some of them, be it anonymously, have expressed their views to foreign journalists and organisations during interviews conducted inside Iraq. Intentions v Outcomes In its analysis of international external involvement, the left recalls the history of world imperialism. It cites that America's ulterior motives are purely economic control of Iraq's oil reserves, the second largest in the world behind Saudi Arabia, and not its declared concerns about human rights, democracy in Iraq and world peace by fighting international terrorism. If oil and economic interests were the real motives, how come imperialist powers and NATO allies intervened in Kosovo, other former Yugoslavia republics, East Timor (Indonesia) and Afghanistan? Even assuming the validity of the left's argument, does that necessarily mean that the outcomes in these countries were accordingly bad for their respective peoples? Assuming they were, will it necessarily be bad for the Iraqi people? Will the toppling of the ruling dictatorship, regardless of its replacement, adversely affect the Iraqi people's aspirations to peace, stability and democracy? Assuming the replacement will also be bad, can it realistically be worse? Will it be any harder to oppose than the existing regime? No. In the event of foreign occupation, the state of the human rights of the Iraqi people cannot get worse, only better. The degree of improvement is directly proportional to the distance of the source of the occupier from the epicentre, Baghdad, as is the ease of expelling them, should they overstay their welcome. As for the intentions of some contingents of the Iraqi opposition, the international solidarity with the Iraqi people and the anti-imperialist, anti-war campaigners, they are undoubtedly honourable. But will the outcome necessarily be beneficial to the Iraqi people? Averting war may be necessary, but it is not sufficient for the interests of the Iraqi people, which are in ending dictatorship. Ending dictatorship is. Averting war on Iraq prolongs the life span of the regime, which has long passed its sell-by-date. It will eventually lead to its rehabilitation and the lifting of all sanctions. In due course, it will be in a position to buy the services of individuals, organisations and governments, including some who are currently shedding crocodile's tears for the Iraqi victims of the impending war. The campaigns opposing American imperialism, war and sanctions, whether we like it or not, are offering a free service to the ruling Iraqi regime's propaganda. Therefore, the outcomes of the opposing camps on the Iraqi issue are not directly proportional to their respective intentions. Rather, they are inversely proportional. Weapons of mass destruction The United Nations Security Council passed a series of resolutions on Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait on 2nd August 1990. On military sanctions, UNSCR 687 was being implemented most vigorously in contrast with others, such as UNSCR 688, which is about upholding the human rights of the Iraqi people. The former was complemented by UNSCR 1441 in 2002, specifically to deal with Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD). America regards these weapons in the hands of Saddam as threatening its national security and its interests in the region. The world left, on the other hand, regards these resolutions as unfair on Iraq, selective in implementation and as yet another example of the double standards of both America and the UN Security Council. It evokes indisputable statements of facts about similar resolutions passed by the same world organisation on Israel in Palestine and Turkey in Cyprus, which it has conveniently ignored. But these same people at other times criticise America and the United Nations for not mediating between Israel and the Palestinian administration and between Turkey and its satellite in the north of Cyprus on the one hand and the Greek Cypriot government and Greece on the other. Thus, double standards, selectivity and hypocrisy in politics are not the distinguishing marks of some governments, organisations and individuals but rather vice features of all those engaged in it. As for the Iraqi opposition and international solidarity with the Iraqi people, their stance is that the source of threat is not so much the type of weapons as who has them. The Iraqi regime did not use WMD when it invaded Kuwait in August 1990 although it obviously possessed them. when it invaded Iran in September 1980, it did not have them at the time. But as soon as it acquired them, it used them against Iranian soldiers in the battlefield and against the Iraqi partisans in Kurdistan, such as in the town of Helebje in March 1988. In other words, Even conventional heavy weapons in the hands of Saddam pose a danger to regional countries. Even conventional light weapons in the hands of Saddam pose a danger to the Iraqi partisans. Even knives, needles and matches in the hands of Saddam pose a danger to the Iraqi people. Double standards During our discourse so far, I referred to several examples of double standards used in the implementation of international politics, which the world left movement cites in its opposition to war and sanctions on Iraq. Being statements of well-known facts, there is no point in arguing against them. On the contrary, we can supplement them with further instances, such as the lack of enthusiasm by the UNSC in the implementation of its resolution No 688, which deals with respecting the human rights of the Iraqi people, compared with No 687, which deals with eliminating WMD, as superseded by No 1441. On the other hand, we can rebut the left's citing of America's refusal to sign up to international treaties, which are to the benefit of humankind. For instance, the Kyoto Agreement on the Environment and the International Criminal Court and so on. We can counter argue with the question: And what will your stance be if America signed up to these international agreements? Will you condemn it? Will you suggest withdrawal from them? Or What ? Opponents of international interventions in Iraq invoke the universal principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity and the Iraqi regime's right to defend itself against outside aggression. Once more, these are indisputable statements of noble principles but their implementation is selective, subject to the individuals' opinions and that country's national interests, varying with time and place. Why did not they invoke these noble principles when the Iraqi regime was the outside aggressor in Kuwait in 1990 and in Iran in 1980? Why did not they oppose American imperialism that vigorously when it was supporting the Iraqi regime in its external war against Iran and internal war on the Kurdish people, using chemical weapons? Dogmatism v pragmatism The world left's stance emanates from its dogmatic support for the socialist movement in its struggle against imperialist powers. Accordingly, it supports the struggle of the peoples, states and governments in former colonies against the hegemony of world imperialism. Some of them believe that these governments are patriotic, defending the interests of their countries and would not conceivably violate the human rights of its own citizens. And even if they did, they justify ignoring them during critical political stages of confronting external enemies, such as in Iraq now. In the past and hitherto, each people side with their own state and government in the event of political or military clash with another, regardless of the justice or otherwise of its cause. Lately, the left movement in the capitalist countries has taken principled stances in solidarity with the former colonies of their own countries, whose foreign policy they defy. Thereby, the political scene is inverted. The Western leftist, raising the banner of 'no war on Iraq' appears to be defending Saddam's regime. The Iraqi opposition, holding the banner of 'no to dictatorship', appears to be defending the American administration. Whilst these two different stances do not contradict one another, they do cause political confusion among many sections of the respective peoples. As for pragmatism, it acknowledges the actual balance of powers and regards the state of the human rights in the respective countries as the yardstick above all other considerations, including political embarrassment, noble principles and good intentions. We thank the world left for their anxiety about the fate of the Iraqi people and acknowledge the role being played by their governments to realise our people's lifelong wish. But, we have justifiable concerns about the way it is being conducted, the means to the end and the replacement subsequently. Conclusion The Iraqi issue is so complex, sensitive and emotive that it requires careful diplomatic management of international relations and not taking dogmatic positions in advance. At last, Saddam Hussein has met his come-uppance. Or, as they say in classical Arabic, every Pharaoh meets his Moses. There are also many appropriate slogans in colloquial Arabic of Iraq, which express the feelings of the Iraqi people. It is not in the interests of the Iraqi people to be perceived as "Anti-American", "Anti-British" or "Anti-Anybody". They are only "Anti-Saddam" and that is not by choice as, ironically, they are historically very patriotic and anti-occupiers. But their sufferings at the hands of Saadam far exceed that of all occupiers of their homeland, Mesopotamia, throughout the centuries. Neither an agent of nor an anti-American be on the Iraq issue. Be pro-Iraqi people, anti-war and anti-dictatorship in equal measure. What the Iraqi people need desperately are some semblance of a civil society, a helping of liberalism, a modicum of human rights and a dose of democracy. The prerequisite for all these is the removal of the dictatorship, lock, stock and barrel, which trampled on their dignity. A once proud and industrious people of the cradle of civilisation have been reduced by their rulers to paupers with the cap in one hand and the begging bowl in the other. Let u s restore dignity to the Iraqi people The Iraqi people are chronic patients of an epidemic of Saddamitis. War may be a bitter pill to swallow, but will cure them of the dictatorship. The threat of war will ease their pain and may cure them of the dictatorship. The latter should prevail over the former and in turn should give way to diplomacy to resolve the issue once and for all in the interests of the Iraqi people, regional stability and world peace. It can be done. January 2003. >>> H Sutter <email@example.com> 03/12 10:54 pm >>> Dear Hazim, Yasser, and List, Thank you to those who shared 'Dr B Khalaf's' opinion. Sama and Yasser posted it just recently and someone else posted it a few weeks back. I agree, Hazim, it would be unethical for a medical doctor to "so strongly support the killing of possibly hundred of thousands of innocent Iraqis just to change a regime". It would also be out of character. Besides, 'Dr. Khalaf' seems to cherish the illusion that this would be a "war against Saddam Hussein" - leaving everyone else untouched (?). Yet he has supposedly experienced the carnage of war: Iran-Irak and the Gulf massacre where hundreds of thousands of conscripts and civilians were killed. (By sheer coincidence, IPO also talk about the "war on Saddam". So of course does the media.) There are other things too, e.g. style and tenor: From someone with 'Dr. Khalaf's' professional background and maturity one would expect a little more finesse in getting a point across. Actually, to me there seems so much out of character in this piece that I can't really believe in 'Dr. Khalaf's' credentials. Still, I can see why a pro-war opinion given by health professional might be assumed to carry more weight. > Locum consultant neurologist, London Yes... But just as an idea, this piece could have been concocted by anyone, couldn't it? :) Sorry if I sound paranoid. That's what all this propaganda is doing to me. Regards, Elga Sutter ------------Original Message------------ From: "hazim awbi" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: [casi] ... And why I will not Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2003 14:24:41 +0000 > This guy has no knowledge of politics and he is totally out of touch. > Besides, he is anethical regarding his profession. How would a doctor of > all people so strongly support the killing of possibly hundred of thousands > of innocent Iraqis just to change a regime? HA >>From: "Yasser Alaskary" <email@example.com> >>To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> >>Subject: [casi] ... And why I will not >>Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2003 23:40:37 -0000 >> >> http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,895397,00.html >> >>... And why I will not >> >>Dr B Khalaf >>Friday February 14, 2003 >>The Guardian [....] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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