The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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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 states. 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 CARDRI. 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 destruction." 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 CARDRI. A look at the homepage of INDICT tell us the following: " 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 thing." 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 view. 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 WE... 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 members.. 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 is. 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 government? 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 Muhamad! 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... Hassan __________________________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Platinum - Watch CBS' NCAA March Madness, live on your desktop! http://platinum.yahoo.com _______________________________________________ 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