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1) A voice of sanity amid Iraq's chaos 2) Turks, Kurds and the US-Turkish relationship ------------ 1) http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EG29Ak02.html Jul 29, 2003 A voice of sanity amid Iraq's chaos By Syed Saleem Shahzad SULAIMANIYA, Northern Iran - Violence continues in most parts of the central Iraq, with sloganeering against the US presence the daily business in the south, and anxiety over the right of determination for the Kurds in the north. Yet a slow and steady political process is very gradually evolving. Side by side with the daily casualties of US soldiers, a well-thought out and enduring package of policies is very much in the focus of the indigenous political forces of the post-Saddam era, although it remains to be seen how long it will take for the present anarchy and political vacuum to be replaced by a stable political system. Under Saddam Hussein, all political forces opposed to his self-hatched, so-called Arab socialist nationalism were crushed. As a result, southern Iraq seems to be devoid of any political force and the half -literate clerics are exploiting the chaos. A similar situation exists in central Iraq. However, the situation in the northern region of Kurdistan is different. After the Gulf War of 1991, the Kurds began to establish democratic norms and civil society, and these endeavors are now bearing fruit. In the present chaotic circumstances, the Kurds have a team, unified theories for the future of Iraq, and a decisive role to play. And unlike the other regions, the Kurds are playing their cards very cleverly and making sure of a powerful role in any future government. One man, Dr Faud Masum, has emerged nationally in the post-Saddam period as a powerful political personality. He is also the most prominent figure in Kurdistan right now and is tipped as the president of its next joint parliament. (He was the first prime minister of the joint parliament, but resigned immediately because the Kurdish factions could not develop consensus on issues). Currently he is a member of a committee in Baghdad which is pondering a constitution for Iraq. Masum, 65, has had a dynamic career. A PhD in Islamic Philosphy from Cairo University, he wrote his thesis on Iqwan-u-Sifa (a group of sufis in 10th century Iraq who believed in secularism). He was a teacher at Basra University but later he chose to be a peshmerga , a member of a Kurdish volunteer force and which means "a person who faces death" in the Kurdish struggle. He says that he fought for Kurdistan and carries many old wounds, but he never wounded anybody. This correspondent had a chance to speak to Masum at his modest house in a middle-class district of Sulaimaniya, in Iraqi Kurdistan, where he outlined his political perspective on post-Saddam Iraq. ATol: Iraq is situated in the heart of the Arab world. How do you see the present developments and their impact on neigboring countries, especially the presence of US troops? Masum: Let me clarify. Iraq is not an Arab country. It is a multi-ethnic country comprising Assyrians, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, etc. But we are a member of the Arab League and we would retain that membership. In my opinion, an "Iraq first" policy is in our interest, but we would not be part of any plan against our neighbors, nor would we support it. ATol: The US' aims in the Middle East seem to be obvious. It plans to change the dynamics of Middle Eastern society and wants broad democratic and economic reforms in the region. How do you see these developments? Masum: Of cource, the situation in Iraq will have a direct impact on neighboring countries, and that is why these countries are afraid. Interestingly, they already have US troops on their land, but they are afraid of US designs for political and economic reforms in the region. The US has a clear line of interest behind these policies, but we too have our interests. Let's see what happens in the future. ATol: There is an impression that the US would not allow a big local army and it would continue to dominate the region through its presence. Do you think this is part of its colonial thinking on Iraq? Masum: I do not think so. Colonialism is history now. The US cannot directly rule in Iraq. I think they will keep their presence through some of their bases in Iraq. As far as an Iraqi army is concerned, it would number 130,000 to 140,000, not including the border guards. Since the Ba'athist regime developed its own military doctrine, we aim to purge that trend and develop an army on a new theme. ATol: How do you see the present political trends in Iraq, with so-called Islamic fundamentalism taking root after the prolonged secular rule of the Ba'athist regime? Masum: The southern Iraqi region used to be a nest of leftist and nationalist movements before Ba'athist rule. However, during Saddam's period several factors combined to weaken the real political forces. For instance, Shi'ites were suppressed. Similarly, the Iranian revolution took place, which helped the Islamic parties in the south to follow a model like the one communists used to have for the USSR. But I think that once elections are held, these Islamic parties will not hold a majority. They are only more organized now because of the political fractures caused by the Saddam government's victimization. Islamist parties are also playing skillfully with some temporary problems like civic unrest, and they are painting the present US invasion as a fight between Islam and infidels. You see, there is a person named Muktadarus Sadr emerging as a leader in the south. He is not a cleric qualified to issue any religious ruling. He is too young to be the top scholar of the Shi'ites. He has started raising slogans against the US and many of the former Ba'athists [those who are Shi'ites] have joined him. This is now the order of the day in the south. I see these developments as a temporary phase and once the country gets on a political track, they will fizzle out. ATol: The Sunni Arabs ruled Iraq from the beginning. Now they have a sense of deprivation. Many believe this is the main propelling force behind the resistance against US troops. What is your opinion? Masum: Saddam has already explioted Arab nationalism. He has used Sunnis against Shi'ites. We Kurds are Sunnis but he destroyed us. Shi'ites are Arabs but they were suppressed. What we here call the "triangle of resistance" mostly comprises the remnants of the Ba'athist regime. They have nothing to do with Sunni Arabs. The resistance movement has no political manifestation; it is just a fight for vested interests of the former Ba'athists. Saddam was equally bad for everybody, and anybody can see the bodies of Arab Sunnis in the recently found mass graves besides those of Shi'ites and Kurds. However, there is a group of Sunni clerics who are preaching that power should be in the hands of Sunni Arabs. These clerics mostly belong to the Ba'ath Party. Sunni Arabs ruled this region during the Ottoman Empire, during King Faisal's reign, after the 1958 revolution, and after the Ba'ath revolution. There was no room in the past for non-Sunni Arabs in any sensitive or important positions. Even the governors of the Kurd and Shi'ite regions were Sunni Arabs. But in my opinion this injustice should not continue in the future. A federal system, not like in the West, but like in many Eastern countries, should be implimented in which all three parts of Iraq should have greater autonomy for their decisions. ATol: The US failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and failed to find a link between the Saddam regime and al-Qaeda. Is there any justification for the US invasion? Masum: I saw mass graves and suppression under Saddam Hussein, and I think that it is the moral duty of any nation to help another nation out from these circumtances. ------------------ 2) http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EG29Ak03.html Jul 29, 2003 Turks, Kurds and the US-Turkish relationship By Robert M Cutler The recent detention of Turkish soldiers by US troops in northern Iraq is only a symptom of the divergence of interests between erstwhile Cold War allies. The vote of the Turkish Grand National Assembly this year against allowing the United States to use Turkey's territory for transit of military forces in the run-up to Gulf War II is likewise only a symptom of that divergence of interests. At the origin of that divergence is the response of US foreign policy to the events around September 11, 2001. Look for those divergences to continue to manifest, despite Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's recently concluded visit to Washington. The naming of the trinity of Iraq, North Korea and Iran as the "axis of evil" covers over the "deterritorialization" of US security and defense policy. What does this mean? It means that geography no longer has fundamental strategic, but only tactical, significance. The term "deterritorialization" arose among political scientists in the late 20th century to refer to the emergence of non-traditional security issues and the significance of the psychological aspect of social mobilization. Under conditions of contemporary US security and defense policy, it has been given a new connotation. Euro-American international political studies drew attention during the 1980s to the new emergence of security issues, from the danger of "nuclear winter" to that of global warming, which required international cooperation to be resolved and so were no longer based in zero-sum notions of traditional military-strategic calculations. They were therefore called "non-traditional" security issues. (Mikhail Gorbachev and his ideologues in fact drew upon that Western academic work when they reformulated Soviet foreign-policy doctrine so as to place the common interests of mankind above even those of the Soviet state.) As for social mobilization, Western social scientists in the 1990s, caught up short by the eruption of ethnic conflict throughout Central Eurasia, had recourse to so-called "constructivist" theories of "identity politics". These theories were often divorced from systematic consideration of the social bases for the emergence of those identities or, indeed, the role of (indigenous) intellectuals in creating them and so fomenting ethnic conflict. The Wars of the Yugoslav Succession illustrate this process, and Valerii Tishkov, head of the Ethnography Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is one of the few scholars who has attentively examined its significance in the former Soviet areas. But because identity is a wonderful concept about which to speculate, these "constructivist" Western theories frequently tended to slight the importance of geography and other tangible resources that condition the actual outbreak and course of ethnic conflicts. If we look back on the evolution of US Cold War doctrine over the years, it becomes clear that the collapse of the Soviet bloc, including that of the Soviet Union (a process distinct from the former), signaled a late victory for the earlier Cold War doctrine of "rollback" over the later Cold War doctrine of "deterrence". Deterrence doctrine (along with its concomitant war-fighting strategy of "escalation dominance") was fundamentally a psychological artifact. It was really grounded more in presumed cognitive processes of Soviet decision-makers than in any immutable facts of geography. By contract, rollback at least suggested the relevance of geography: rolling "back" was a spatial rather than psychological concept. In a particularly striking manner, however, we have since September 2001 watched, following the validation of a geographically based Cold War doctrine, the progressive deterritorialization of US security and defense doctrine. This means that geography no longer matters from the standpoint of defining US national interests. The "war against terrorism" is an all-subsuming rubric under which the doctrine of "preemptive war" is asserted without respect to military theater. The current US administration brings the "war against terrorism" home through such legislation as the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001. US security and defense policy has been "deterritorialized" not because it is has become without reference to territory, but because it does not distinguish among territories. That fact establishes the parameter within which Turkey has lost its relative geopolitical significance to the United States as a regional power allied against a territorially defined enemy (the erstwhile Soviet Union). Turkey has, since September 2001, been transformed in practice from a strategic regional ally into a tactical facilitator of the deterritorialized "war against terrorism". Thus when the Turkish Grand National Assembly failed to approve the US deployment into Iraq through the country, the Americans simply made other plans. The war on Iraq was not really fought against an enemy capable of inflicting fundamental harm upon the United States; the US reply to the events of September 2001 illustrates the country's resilience. The war on Iraq was, rather, a means to an end: it is intended as a demonstration of Washington's capacity to assert US prerogative without restriction, anywhere, any time: when reach is ubiquitous, territory ceases to have meaning. One unintended consequence has been, as a conservative Eastern European diplomat has put it, that former anti-anti-Americans in his region have found themselves turned today, against their will, into anti-Americans. This is the dynamic that threatens to play itself out also in Turkey, but with much greater violence and unpredictability. Why will this happen so? To be sure, Turkish public opinion was overwhelmingly opposed to the US deployment. Yet as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz recognized during a visit to Ankara in late May, the Turkish government allowed a parliamentary "free vote" (ie, not subject to party discipline) because "the military [did not] say it was in Turkey's interest to support the United States ... with the kind of strength that would have made a difference". And this was because the Turkish military, still thinking itself a strategic rather than tactical player in Washington's eyes, miscalculated and sought to impose upon the US its own conditions for acquiescing in a war that it did not really need on its own border. These conditions included the deployment of tens of thousands of Turkish troops in northern Iraq and, by implication, Turkey's policy toward the Kurdish people within Turkish borders. Thus Gul's visit to Washington occurred in the context of the creation of a high-level US-Turkish military committee to investigate the detention of Turkish soldiers by US forces in northern Iraq this month. News reports from Ankara indicate that discussions in the joint committee included exploration of possibilities to create an "international protection force" for northern Iraq. With the refusal of India, France and Germany to supply forces to backstop the US occupation of Iraq, and with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan's invitation to Washington to supply a timetable for withdrawal of US forces unlikely to be accepted, an international aegis for such a force is unlikely. Press reports from Ankara state that the United States has accepted the principle that Turkey will take command of any region in northern Iraq where Turkish soldiers may be deployed. In the absence of UN authorization, then, it seems increasingly likely that the US will come to rely at least in part upon Turkish troops to be sent into northern Iraq. How far "mission creep" will go remains undetermined. The quid pro quo for this could likely be US acquiescence, if not assistance, in suppression of Kurds in Turkey. That would be an ominous development in light of a recent statement by the presidency of Turkey's Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK), the political and social organization into which the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) transformed itself in the late 1990s, during and after PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan's arrest and trial. KADEK has stated that if the Turkish state does not reciprocate its own policy of compromise (in effect since the late 1990s at Ocalan's suggestion and insistence), then it will resume armed combat. With the Kurdish ethnos spread across the map from Syria into Iran, and with a political and territorial foothold in northern Iraq - where the main Iraqi Kurdish parties wholly support US policy and seek to establish a degree of relative autonomy from Baghdad within a federal state - the stage would be set for further "unintended consequences" of the US invasion: just what Washington doesn't need. Robert M Cutler (www.robertcutler.org) is research fellow, Institute of European and Russian Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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