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Re: [casi] ... And why I will not

Dear List,

As an Iraqi Arab by birth, I read the message of M T
Ali very carefully. I fully agree with him on one
point and one only: "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."

It is unfortunate that Muhamad does not practice what
he preaches...

To begin with, the title of the article is misleading:
"WAR OR DICTATORSHIP" assumes that if we oppose war we
support dictatorship. This is a faulty conclusion that
continues to be reflected throughout the whole
article. This kind of "analysis" would definitely not
help anyone to make "an informed opinion" since it is
riddled with mistakes and contradictions. If it would
help anything, it would help misinformation... I would
rather that Muhamad had written: WAR OR PEACE…

Since Muhamad asked for comments, I am offering mine.
I must admit that I hesitated long before posting my
comments, because I didn't want the issue to become
more complex than what it is, and because I didn't
want it to be seen as a personal one. But the need to
clarify things was compelling..

Muhamad starts by making a statement that has no
basis: that the only way to defeat dictatorship is
through war. We don't know of any such example in
history where war ended dictatorship. But we do know
of cases where war created dictatorships … We are
always reminded by the ignoramuses who rule the US
that the US built democracy to Germany. This is a
baseless claim, because Germany was a democracy before
the war, and Hitler rose to power through a democratic
process of election. But the history of US involvement
in the world is one of destabilizing democratic
And so Muhamad's argument is clear from the first
lines: he is trying to sell us the US/UK idea that the
only solution to the Iraq crisis is through war. By
doing this, Muhamad attacks all opposing opinions,
contradicts himself and distorts facts...

It is true that Iraq under Saddam attacked Iran. But
any other government under any other ruler would have
done the same… Looking at that war as if it was Iraq
alone that is to blame is to distort history. While a
popular uprising culminated into a revolution that
overthrew the Shah and ended his rule, it failed to
stop at that and concentrate on building its internal
front. Instead, internal conflicts erupted immediately
and elements within the regime started talking of
"exporting the Islamic Revolution", hinting at a
threat to Iraq's stability. That scared all the states
in the area, especially Iraq with its majority of
Shi'i Muslims. The Gulf Sates supported Iraq in its
attack to stop Iran, financed the war, while the
superpowers (East and West) supplied weapons and
intelligence. Iraq's concerns were real. Seen from
this perspective, Iraq was part of a large coalition
of "concerned" states. That remained unmentioned in
Muhamad's article.

Iraq DID NOT start the Gulf war following the Kuwait
crisis. The way Iraq was encouraged to invade Kuwait
(Kuwaiti defiance and refusal to settle issues;
Glaspie's meeting with Saddam…) has become widely
known and needs no more elaboration. After the
invasion, the speed with which the US moved in the UN
to condemn Iraq and impose sanctions has never been
seen before or after. All efforts to find a peaceful
solution were rejected and torpedoed by the US, whose
aim right from the beginning was the destruction of
Iraq. The US started sending its army to Saudi one day
after Iraq agreed to Arab mediation efforts and
started withdrawing its army units from Kuwait. The US
presented fabricated aerial pictures to Saudi about a
non-existing concentration of Iraqi troops ready to
attack Saudi… These facts have also since been clearly
exposed. It is again unfortunate that Muhamad's
article neglects even to mention those, and
concentrate's instead on blaming Iraq alone...

Muhamad presents CARDRI and INDICT as organizations
which are not necessarily agents of imperialism or
warmongers. That is indeed an understatement, and
Muhamad either does not know what he is talking about
or he assumes ignorance from our side..
Being himself involved with CARDRI, one would get the
impression that CARDRI is pro-war, and that he
represents CARDRI's views. Yet, a quick search would
tell us that his opinions are not shared by others in
Seumas Milne wrote in THE GUARDIAN  on Tuesday, Feb
04, 2003,Page 8 "US attack unlikely to 'liberate'
Iraq" the following:

"Laith Hayali -- an Iraqi opposition activist who
helped found the British-based solidarity group Cardri
in the late 1970s and later fought against Saddam
Hussein's forces in Kurdistan -- is one of many
independent voices who insist that a large majority of
Iraqi exiles are opposed to war. Anecdotal evidence
from those coming in and out of Iraq itself tell a
similar story, which is perhaps hardly surprising
given the expected scale of casualties and

The Scottish Trades Union Congress, a sponsor and
supporter of the Campaign Against the Repression of
Democratic Rights in Iraq (CARDRI), also opposes war,
as does George Galloway MP who was a founder member of

A look at the homepage of INDICT tell us the

" INDICT was established in late 1997 to campaign for
the creation of an ad hoc International Criminal
Tribunal ….. The campaign was launched in the House of
Commons and in the US Senate and remained dependent on
voluntary donations and assistance until it was
awarded a financial grant through the Iraq Liberation
Act, passed by the US Congress in December 1998, which
allocated funds to various Iraqi opposition groups and
specifically allocated money for war crimes issues."
Ms Ann Clwyd (who chairs INDICT) told MPs on February
26, 2003: "I believe in regime change, and I say that
without any hesitation at all, and I will support the
government tonight because I think it's doing a brave

I don't suppose any intelligent person would then
claim that INDICT is not "an agent of imperialism or a
warmonger" !!

As to post-Kuwait Iraqi opposition, then most of it is
sponsored by the CIA and receives its funding from the
same sources that INDICT receives its. The Iraqi
masses themselves are certainly NOT represented by
CARDRI nor by those opposition groups. I believe the
latest article by Dr. Adnan al-Pachachi supports this

If there is agreement that the end justifies the
means, then it remains in the minds of those in the
opposition, who want to justify siding with the US and
UK against their own people and country. This concept
is contrary to all moral norms and standards, and
certainly against Islamic teachings. A crime can not
be solved by committing another crime, and the Iraqi
people can not be solved from death and oppression by
more death and oppression.

And while trying to show that supporters of war are
NOT agents of imperialism, opponents of war according
to Muhamad include "apologists of the Iraqi regime as
infiltrators"... We are not told what those alleged
apologists have infiltrated!!

Having divided the world into a pro-sanctions, pro-war
and anti-sanctions, anti-war camps, Muhamad clearly
identifies himself as belonging to the group of people
who support sanctions... To him there is no third way
... How that would sit with his worry for the human
rights of Iraqis, remains a mystery!

Whereas Muhamad explains how the Iraqi people and
Iraqi regime are not synonymous, rather antonymous, he
doesn't explain how supporting sanctions, which have
hurt the Iraqi people and not the regime, conforms to
this belief... Playing with words about economic and
non-economic sanctions remains merely that, because
the sanctions have killed people, have been identified
as genocide and those who support it should be tried
for their crimes against the people of Iraq...

One can not help noticing the contradictions and the
evasive way the argument for war is presented. While
Muhamad (talking in the plural as WE) assures us that
his analysis is not an invitation or justification for
invading, he nevertheless welcomes the involvement of
the UN "in the aftermath of the downfall of the
repressive regime." Such "downfall" is of course going
to happen through an "invasion" which the article
suggests is the only way, despite the "consensus of
world public opinion" ...

Muhamad then moves into making baseless generalized
conclusions. He assumes that he is talking on behalf
of the majority of the Iraqi people; a mandate that
neither he nor his friends in the post-Kuwait
opposition enjoy. We have opinions of people from
CARDRI and the traditional opposition who disagree
with Muhamad's conclusion. And so when he talks about
the "the American current stance on the Iraqi regime"
coinciding with what he calls "our permanent stance",
we need to know who he is referring to and who is this

It is up to Muhamad and his friends (whoever they are)
to feel embarrassment for colluding with the US. But
to assume that our stance of opposition to sanctions
and war is "coincidence with that of the regime" and
is "even more embarrassing" shows lack of
understanding and naiveté. Because he colludes with
the US does not mean we all collude with the regime in
Baghdad. That also contradicts his first statement
that not all opponents of war are supporters of
Saddam. But because his stance coincides with that of
the US, he wants to be more Catholic than the Pope,
and so "if- you- are- not- with- us- then- you- are-
with-our-enemy" principle is acceptable to him. The
ends justify the means indeed!

If our yardstick is the state of human rights of the
people concerned, then we should attack sanctions
first because they are the kind of things the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva
Conventions were meant to prevent…. We should expose
the crimes committed by Kurds themselves in the
"liberated Kurdistan" against each other, where since
1991 thousands have died and more have been displaced
because of internal fighting. If the state in
"liberated Kurdistan" which is ruled by Kurds
themselves with the protection of the US/UK is so much
better than the rest of Iraq, why are thousands of
Kurds still leaving to the West as refugees?
Shouldn't we talk about how someone like Talbani
switches alliances from Iran to Iraq to Turkey at the
expense of his own people? Should we ask why is it
that Barzani asked Saddam to help his group against
that of Talbani in 1996 if Saddam was that bad and the
Kurds want to get rid of him?
Should we ask the Kurds why do they help Turkey
massacre Turkey's Kurds inside Iraq?

If we are to talk about the "internationalisation of
the state of human rights", we should include all
those factors, and ask Talbani why his party killed
Iraqis captured in the 1991 fighting while they were
prisoners? We should ask him what he is doing to
assist the Kurds in Turkey, Iran, Syria and Georgia?
How about the human rights of the Palestinians, or the
Chechens or the Native Americans? How about the human
rights of the Iraqis, or are the human rights of the
Kurds the only issue here??
Words are cheap, but people are judged by their
actions not by their words.

Muhamad of course accuses the left for the world's
problems. He seemingly still lives the era of the cold
war, forgetting that the world has changed since. A
lot of those on the left are supporters of war against
Iraq, while conservatives are anti-war. Just look at
France. Or better still, look at Ms Ann Clwyd MP, who
is considered to be a leftist within the Labour Party.
The division is not anymore left or right, but who
gains most from what. Thus all the members of the
Warsaw Pact (who are still ruled by leftist or
communist parties) support war and are now NATO

Criticism of Israeli policies and support for
Palestine, coming from the Kurdish movement, sounds
hypocritical. The Kurdish parties in Iraq have for
decades cooperated with the Israelis, receiving
weapons, support and training, in clear disregard for
the feelings of the Arab people. Now we are asked to
stand by the US, the biggest supporter of Israel,
which Muhamd calls "the biggest terrorists in human
history", because the US wants to get rid of Saddam,
just like the Kurds want. This has nothing to do with
objectivity of or the internationalization of human
rights. But it has everything to do with opportunism
and narrow interests..

No one is ignoring what Muhamad calls "the internal
objective factor" or in his words the improbability of
toppling the Iraqi regime by the Iraqis themselves
without outside help. But if a group of people are not
able to effect change within their country, asking an
outside bully to come and change things for them is
not an objective way of looking at things. A solution
imposed from outside is a recipe for disaster, as
history has shown us on numerous occasions… If the
Iranians were able to overthrow the Shah, so can
Iraqis overthrow Saddam if they have the will and
courage. But that is not possible while sitting in
London or Los Angeles…
Nor do I personally believe that the Iraqi people
place their wish of the toppling of the regime above
all other considerations, including war and peace. We
don't have any proof to substantiate that claim, apart
from the statements of the "armchair generals". What
we know for certain is that the Iraqis do not want war
or sanctions. They want to live a decent life, not
manipulated by foreign powers or by leaders of
political groups each with its own agenda that does
not always serve the interests of those people.. And
so it seems that the picture changes when it reaches
the Diaspora in an opposite way to what Muhamad
states: those on the outside are the strongest
supporters of sanctions and war because they don't
experience them and wouldn't know what they felt..

Muhamad makes further conclusions that are not based
on morality or logic. It sounds amazing that someone
would justify war because "a similar number of
casualties will be suffered gradually if the
dictatorship is let off the hook"... The ends again
justify the means! It doesn't matter how many die, as
long as we get rid of Saddam… What logic and what care
for human rights..

In a series of questions, Muhamd wants us to believe
his view of things, concluding that even if the aim of
the US is control of oil, it would still be better
than the current situation... He also makes the
fantastic conclusion that in the case of an occupation
(which he seemingly supports wholeheartedly), the
state of the human rights of the Iraqi people cannot
get worse, only better... I suppose he is basing that
on US past history in Vietnam, or Korea or Panama or
elsewhere in the world, or on Israel's experience in
Palestine. Perhaps he is telling us how the US imposed
regimes in all over the world have been good to the
human rights of the people...

No nation wants dictatorship. But are Iraqis prepared
to accept a foreign occupation by the world's worst
bully in order to get rid of that dictatorship? That
should be the major question, to which Muhamad can not
present proof, nor can anyone in the pro-US opposition
groups. It is concern for the lives of Iraqi that
makes us, in the anti-sanctions anti-war camp, do our
best to avert war and stop the killing of Iraqis by
sanctions, which have already killed 1.7 million. It
is unfortunate that Muhamad, in his zeal and efforts
to justify an aggression against Iraq, ignores that
issue. Yet he talks about Human Rights!!

And why is Muhamad against rehabilitation of the
regime and the lifting of all sanctions? Doesn't he
want sanctions to be lifted? Doesn't he care for the
Iraqi people?
I think it is insulting to accuse those who oppose war
of "shedding crocodile's tears for the Iraqi victims
of the impending war". At least we are shedding tears,
not calling for the genocide of Iraqis or for the
killing of our people... What is evident here is that
Muhamad is only interested in the Kurds, not the whole
of the population of Iraq…

While venturing to analyze the stand of what he calls
"the world left" and its criticism of the US and its
double standards, he misses main issues.
The accusations of double standards are because the
resolutions against Iraq are being implemented TO THE
LETTER, while those against Israel or Turkey are not
implemented at all. That is where the double standard
As to resolution 688, then I suggest Muhamad go read
it in detail and understand the history behind its
drafting and adoption. It was adopted because of a
letter from the then wife of the French President,
Mrs. Mitternad, and another from the Turkish
government, regarding the situation of the refugees.
The resolution was adopted NOT under Chapter VII of
the Charter, and therefore the use of force to
implement is not automatic.
How the US sees that WMDs in Saddam's hand is a threat
to its national security and its interests in the
region is incomprehensible, when Iraq and other states
in the area are not allowed to consider WMDs in
Israel's hands in the same perspective.

And so, to the majority of the world, double
standards, selectivity and hypocrisy in politics have
become distinguishing marks of the US and British
governments, who have now decided to disregard the UN
and act in defiance of the UN Charter and
international law. Iraq has been punished for 12 years
for defying the Charter of the UN by the same
countries who are now defying the same Charter. That
is double standard…

How is invading Iraq different from invading Kuwait?
Can Iraq claim it wants to protect the human rights of
the thousands of Kuwaitis whom the government refuses
to consider citizens (the Bidooon, or without
citizenship) and invade Kuwait and impose a new
Is it alright for Iraq to attack Turkey to protect the
PKK and other Kurds?

But Muhamad goes further than WMDs. He wants Iraq to
be rid of even knives and needles…

On the issue of double standards, Muhamad tries
desperately to defend the US and its record of
disregard for world opinion. It is childish to think
that the "left" opposes the US simply because it is
the US. Opposition to the US is because of its double
standards, for its disregard for international law,
for its interference in the affairs of states and
nations, for its oppression of liberation movements,
for its support for dictators, and for its
aggressions. The list is too long to be listed here….
The "left" wants the US to behave like a civilized
state, to which international law applies, not like
the bully which everyone hates.

But it seems MUhamad is ignorant of the world
opposition to the war against Iran and the invasion of
Kuwait. Perhaps he was too young to know that, or
perhaps he didn't care then. But whatever, the "left"
can not be accused of not doing anything. Those noble
principles were invoked and have been invoked all the
time. In fact the strongest supporters of the right to
self-determination of the Kurdish people are those on
the left, not the right. And it was the left which
opposed American imperialism when it was supporting
the Iraqi regime. Muhamad's knowledge of history is
seemingly very limited...

In his conclusion, Muhamad expresses lack of knowledge
of the history of Iraq. That land was NEVER called
Mesopotamia by its inhabitants or by those in
neighboring lands. It has been called Iraq since time
immemorial, at least for 1500 years. If the West
chooses to call it Mesopotamia, that is their problem…

I fully agree that what the Iraqi people need
desperately is "some semblance of a civil society, a
helping of liberalism, a modicum of human rights and a
dose of democracy". But I do not agree that that will
happen through an invasion by the same bully who only
a short while ago helped the same regime, and might
tomorrow change its mind again… Democracy is a
process, not a merchandise..

Muhamad finally concludes by stating that "War may be
a bitter pill to swallow, but will cure them of the
dictatorship." This is like saying that the best way
to cure your headache is to cut your head… Bravo

I apologize for writing such along letter, but the
issue is very complex and I am personally and
emotionally involved in it. I hope I am forgiven…
Yesterday, I called my family in Iraq to wish them
well and perhaps bid them farewell. If they get killed
in the US coming aggression, I will hold M T Ali and
his friends personally responsible as accessories
before the fact...


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