Iraq: The wolf is at the door

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Fallujah, Iraq Views: 4218
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With reports on Wednesday of United States warplanes and helicopter gunships firing machine-guns, rockets and cannons at gunmen in the besieged city of Fallujah, a brief truce is being strained to the limit. Reports from non-US sources describe that hundreds of Iraqis have died in Fallujah as a result of a week's intense fighting between Sunnis and the US troops. One Shi'ite member of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) has suspended his membership in that body, and four others have threatened to follow suit in protest against what they label as "collective punishment" of Fallujah residents by the occupation forces for the death and mutilation of the bodies of four American security workers. One member of the IGC has even described that operation as "genocide". If the discussions of a quagmire in Iraq were previously dismissed by the Bush administration as hyperbolic, this time all indications are that the wolf is, indeed, at the door.

One year ago on April 9 Iraqis were celebrating the toppling of a giant-sized statue of Saddam Hussein, an event that will forever be remembered as the defining moment of the end of a brutal era in Iraq. On the first anniversary of that event, on April 9, there was another defining - albeit not a heavily publicized - moment: a US Marine was tearing down the poster of the young Shi'ite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, from the same pedestal that had once carried the statue of the Iraqi dictator. Except, unlike Saddam, Muqtada has emerged as a leader whose popularity is perceptibly increasing. He has already declared his intention of becoming a "martyr" in the Iraqi quest for independence that still defies the besieged nation. Now, a growing number of Iraqis are fighting the awesome military might of the US, their erstwhile "liberator". The unfolding tragedy in Iraq promises to contain even more tragic chapters and gruesome events than before.

The outbreak of hostilities in Fallujah, and the holy Shi'ite city of Najaf, reported to be turning into a powerful basis for cooperation between the Sunnis and Shi'ites of Iraq, marks a development beyond the wildest imagination of fiction writers. That cooperation is based on a common perception that "enemies" in Iraq are Western occupation forces, especially its leader, the United States.

One wonders what motivated L Paul Bremer, America's viceroy in Iraq and head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), and the US military commanders to resort to tough actions in Fallujah and Najaf, and to declare Muqtada an "outlaw", or by threatening to use "overwhelming force" to punish those who mutilated the bodies of the American contractors. In the case of Fallujah, the perpetrators of the mutilation could have been extracted through negotiations with city elders or tribal leaders. In the case of Muqtada, the CPA's best option would have been to continue to ignore him as a minor irritation, instead of deciding to confront him through such actions as closing down his newspaper, arresting his aide, and going to the extent of threatening to kill him if he resisted arrest.

For the CPA, prior to the events that led to the escalation of violence in the northern and southern portions of Iraq, the supreme objective was to see that the symbolic transition of authority to the IGC was carried out as smoothly as possible. Fanning the flames of anger through threats of retribution in Fallujah, or heightening confrontation with Muqtada were not measures that would serve America's best interests in Iraq. The consequences for talking tough or reacting impulsively are too severe and serious for America's overall purpose.

Now the forces of moderation - members of the IGC and even Shi'ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani - will be constantly looking over their shoulders if they were to maintain their moderate modus operandi. Political moderation is likely to be seen as an "appeasement" of the occupiers and as "collaboration" more now than ever before. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the alleged al-Qaeda operative in Iraq - who is reported to be the mastermind of a number of terrorist attacks against American forces and Iraqis - could not have imagined a more friendly environment in which to accelerate the pace of his campaign of terror against forces of civility in Iraq, especially against those Iraqis who still dare to dream of a stable and democratic Iraq, and who still have half a mind of cooperating with the Americans.

The feelings of anger, anxiety and insecurity among the IGC were highlighted by the fact that one Shi'ite member, Abdul Karim Mohammedawi, has suspended his membership, and four other members - Salma Khafaji (Shi'ite woman), Ghazi Ajil Yawer (a Sunni from Mosul), Hassani (a representative of Iraqi Islamic Party) - are reportedly contemplating to follow suit.

More to the point, Adnan Pachachi, a senior Sunni member of IGC - and previously a vocal supporter of the occupation, and a person who was showcased by the Bush administration as a representative of the "new" Iraq - has publicly condemned US actions. He told al-Arabiyya television: "We consider the action carried out by US forces illegal and totally unacceptable. We denounce the military operations carried out by the American forces because, in effect, it is [inflicting] collective punishment on the residents of Fallujah." Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, a spokesman of the US military, responded: "Nothing can be further from the truth. We run extremely precise operations focused on people we have intelligence on for crimes of violence against the coalition and against the Iraqi people."

Another member of the IGC, Hachim Hassani, stated: "The coalition has opened too many fronts in Iraq, alienating a large swath of the population. The Iraqi people now equate democracy with bloodshed." A resident of Fallujah was even more poignant when he observed: "It is only 300,000 people living here, a small city, but the way the Americans are fighting it's as if they are fighting a whole continent. Is this the reconstruction and the freedom Bush is talking about? We prefer Saddam's repression."

The very survival of the IGC as a viable entity depends not only on the declaration of a meaningful ceasefire in Fallujah, but, more substantially, on the successful participation of its members to negotiate some sort of resolution.

There is little doubt that the American military power will be able to silence and subjugate the dissenters and protagonists in Iraq, at least for now. But the enormous resentment that its brutal use of force is creating in Iraq is likely to become a profound reason why a Christian superpower will fail in proselytizing Muslim Iraqis into believing in the inherent superiority of democracy. Unfortunately from the Bush administration's perspectives, as the Shi'ites and Sunnis continue to cooperate to oust the US from their country, conflict in Iraq is increasingly perceived along religious lines, not just by Iraqis, but also by most of the Arab Middle East.

If the purpose of the US's continued occupation of Iraq is to create democracy, that purpose is presently witnessing its darkest hour. When will the US bring an end to its occupation of Iraq? Currently, we only hear that it is there to stay for the long haul. How can democracy emerge as a viable form of government if, in the process of its creation, Washington continues to alienate a large number of Iraqis on a sustained basis? Even if the United Nations were to take charge of rebuilding Iraq - an option that is frequently mentioned as US forces continue to face stiffened resistance to their high profile presence and strong-armed maneuvering in that country - the world body has to operate on the basis of some sort of a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops, especially American ones.

However, there are no indications to date that the US is thinking about pulling out of Iraq. No one should view this proposition as a sole representative of the thinking and commitment of George W Bush. John Kerry, if he were to be elected as the next US president, is not likely to "cut and run" from Iraq, he has said on many occasions. If the preceding is not the description of Iraq turning into a quagmire for the United States, then no one knows what else it really is.

Ehsan Ahrari, PhD, is an Alexandria, Virginia, US-based independent strategic analyst.

Source: Asia Times


  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Fallujah, Iraq
Views: 4218

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Older Comments:
YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
Wassalam, Brother Hudd D'Alhamd. I apologize for my delay in responding to you. I did not come across your question until late last evening.

The quote was reportedly the last words video-recorded of the Italian hostage in Iraq, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, before he was shot in front of the camera. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un (verily to Allah we belong and verily to Him is our return).
2004-04-28

MICHAEL GILLESPIE FROM USA said:
Many people are wondering what Bremmer and the Generals in Iraq were thinking when they took the actions that incited the violence that erupted recently. And, let there be no doubt, it is now abundantly clear that U.S. actions did incite the violence. From the U.S. Marines' attacks on civilians in Fallujah prior to the killing and mutilation of the four Blackwater "security contractors" to shutting down Muqtada al-Sadr's newspaper, U.S. leaders acted provocatively, stupidly. They invited trouble--and trouble is what they got. But, really, this should not surprise anyone, including Americans. After all, the notion that the U.S. military could blast its way into a shocked and awed Iraq, killing untold thousands of civilians in the process, and then expect Iraqis and the on-looking Arab world to welcome a belligerant foreign army as liberators come to bestow democracy upon the unenlightened Arab and Muslim masses was, well, an insane, arrogant, and idiotic plan from the outset! And Americans should have known that. After all, what American would welcome an invading foreign army come to slaughter American civilians in the name of imposing a "better" political system? Since when did democracy flow from the barrel of an M-16 or the belly of a B-52 anyway? And where is the evidence that Western democratic traditions, now hopelessly enmeshed in the self-destructive contradictions of unprincipled, unbridled, and rapacious capitalism, are superior in any way to the traditions of the Arab and Muslim world? The blessings of Western cultural traditions must now be weighed against the fact that Western economists, mired in the notion that economic growth can and must continue regardless of global warming, potentially devastating climate change, the destruction of the natural environment, the depletion of limited but essential resources, the overproduction of goods, etc. Perhaps Western thinkers should instead consider the wisdom of prohibiting the taking of interest.
2004-04-19

HUDD D'ALHAMD FROM CANADA said:
Salam, br. Yahyah Bergum, forgive my ignorance, to what are you referring when you gave that quote about how an Italian dies?
Maasalamah!
2004-04-19

YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
Yes, mebrocky, according the translation found at www.islamicity.com/mosque/arabicscript/Ayat/2/2_156.htm the meaning you have submitted for, "Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un," is correct. Incidentally, in a number of other popular translations (of Quran 2:156) the "W" in "We" is presented in lower-case. Also, according to Quran 2:156-157 those who say, "To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return," when afflicted with calamity are the ones that receive guidance.

May peace, blessings and Allah's mercy be upon you and all those of whom you would entrust to Allah.
2004-04-16

ZINEDINE FROM MOROCCO said:
Jazaka Allahu khairan Mustapha Ali for your understanding.
Hasbia Allahu wa ni'ma alwakeel!

"Allah does not change the situation of a people until they change from within" Allah spoke the Truth!
2004-04-16

MOHAMMAD KHAN FROM INDIA said:
May Allah bring peace in Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Kosova, Chechenya. Ya Rabbul A'aleem , we strive for your justice and we submit our soul to the right path and may Allah grant the right tau'feeq to all Muslims of world.
Allah Hafiz,
--- Mohammad Khan
2004-04-16

MUSTAPHA ALI FROM USA said:
Zinedine makes the point very clear as to why violence should never be allowed. Humans' cannot resist revenge murder. Murder destroys the soul. No man who has ever killed another man is a good man.
2004-04-16

MEBROCKY FROM USA said:
Yahya Bergum - I place my hope and prayers for men like Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as it seems you do as well. The quote from the Qu'ran, is this the right meaning? :
"To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return"
2004-04-16

SAYF UDEEN HUSAYN FROM U.S.A. said:
Stated by: Shaykh Usama Bin Laden,
"If the Americans' aims behind these wars
are religious and economic, the aim is to serve
the Jews' petty state and divert attention from
its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims
there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to
destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state,
and their endeavor to fragment all the staes of the
region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan
into paper statelets and through their disunion and
weakness guarantee Israel's survival and the continuation
of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula."

"Words of truth that may awaken the blind."
www.shareeah.org www.boycottisrael.org
2004-04-15

SAYF UDEEN HUSAYN FROM U.S.A. said:
Allahuakbar! It is again great to see us Sunni and the Shia working together for te common cause which is to rid a Muslim country of the presence of the Zionist backed U.S. troops, in which whose president Bush only desires to establish a "puppet government" in Iraq which is influenced and run by the U.S. and the false state of Israel. I pray Allah brings death and destruction to all those who wish to blind the Ummah through puppet leaders such as Musharraf, King Abdullah, the apostate Saudi government, Mubarrakk etc. So appause is given to the Mujahideen in Iraq both Sunni and Shia, long live Imam Moqtada Sadr and his Mahdi Army! And any Muslims who join sides with disbelievers against their fellow Muslims is nothing but an apostate, a traitor as stated in the Holy Qur'an. The U.S. and the Zionist fear the re-establihment of the much needed Khilafah, which many Muslims are not blind as others and they see that such is needed. The disbelievers have had their way with the Muslim Ummah due to our division, our nationalism, our tribalism our ignorance to what we must again embrace, Islam, and stop seeking and trying to please the disbelievers, trying to be like them, live like them, adopt their un-Islamic forms of governance such as Secularism, Democracy etc, these forms of governance adhere to the separation of "religion & state" Prophet Muhammad(SAW) said after me there will be the Khilafah, then it would be destroyed, and the "proud kingdoms" would appear, they would be destroyed and again the Khilafah would be re-established. The Messenger of Allah(SAW) spoke nothing of adapting to the ways and customs of the kafirs, he did not approve of it nor accept it, he forbade it. So it is only a matter of time before the Khilafah is re-established, and Islam will triumph in the world inshallah.
2004-04-15

YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
I'm going to show you how an Italian dies. --Fabrizio Quattrocchi

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un.
2004-04-15

NICK CAMERON FROM UNITED STATES said:
mebrocky:

While I acknowledge your frustrations (indeed, I share them), you should understand that for cultural reasons it is much easier for many in the Muslim world to blame outsiders than to look inward with a self-critical eye. In my own experience, I remember how often Muslims in Indonesia would often blame their troubles with ethnic strife on either non-Muslim Chinese Indonesians or on Australia and America. And when the Asian currency bubble burst in the late 1990s, Prime Minister Mahatir of Malaysia blamed none other than the Jews for his country's misfortune. Ironic, since it was his economic spendthrift policies of continuous construction projects that exacerbated the impact of the crisis in Malaysia.

More on point, I point out to you that after the bombing during a Shiite festival honoring Imam Hussein, a lot of people placed blame on either the American troops or on the Jews. Of course, they had to disregard that the bombing hurt America much more than it could have ever conceivably helped it, but that was just not an important detail for many of them.

Bottom line is that many Muslims seem to have an aversion to self-critique. I believe that it is this penchant for scapegoating in the Muslim world is something that America will have to accept as a political reality for the foreseeable future.
2004-04-15

MEBROCKY FROM USA said:
This is by far the worst kind of foolishness. The author talks about Muqtader Sadr as if he is some kind of hero. He is endangering many innocent Iraqis in his effort to gain support. If the person who murdered my father were being brought to justice, I would give the people who are doing this a little more patience. I have been totally against the way this war was started and handled from the beginning. However, anyone who thinks Saddam was going to leave without military action is dreaming. In any case, stop and think what could be the real reasons for this kind of "insurrection". One year is a miniscule amount of time to rebuild and bring security to a country that was in such terrible shape. Remember this: "A car bomb ripped through a crowd of worshippers leaving Iraq's holiest Shiite shrine after Friday prayers, killing at least 85 people - including a top cleric - in the deadliest attack since the fall of Saddam Hussein... wounded more than 140... While many here blamed the attack on the Sunni Muslim followers of Saddam Hussein, there has been inter-Shiite violence recently in Iraq. Najaf is the headquarters of Iraq's most powerful Shiite rivals, including followers of Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Ishaq al-Fayyad, Ayatollah Ali Hussein al-Sistani and Moqtada al-Sadr. Shiites make up about 60 percent of Iraq's population." Here's one just in: "
An Iranian envoy headed to Najaf on Thursday to try to resolve the U.S. standoff with a radical Shiite cleric, an intervention by a nation Washington has tried to keep out of Iraqi affairs and a sign of the eagerness to avert a U.S. attack on the holy city. Hours after the announcement, gunmen killed a high-ranking diplomat from the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad". What about the UN? Remember, they were there until someone blew up their offices killing 22 people. Be mad at the Bush people - I am too - but let's get smart about how to help the Iraqi people. Mercy is far greater than pride.
2004-04-15

ZINEDINE FROM MOROCCO said:
Salaamu alaikum,

The author misses the point, Iraqis do not want or need democracy. It will be business as usual with elite democracy. Mass democracy which is better for this world exists only in philosophers minds & hearts but has never existed & had never been practised on earth to this day. That leaves us with two choices:
1-Jihad to death until we manage to start a system of Shuracracy by which Islamic scholars & elites will choose a decent leader. We call it Ameer. Every Muslim nation-state should have its own Ameer & they should form a union similar to the European Union. Let's call it Khilafah Ala Minhaji Nubuwa. The prophet of Allah Muhammad (pbuh) said: "There will khilafa prophethood style for a specific time but Allah will take it away whenever he wishes to do so then it will become (Mulkan a'addan) a dicatatorship, monarchy style for a specific amount of time then Allah will take it away when he wishes to do so then it will become (Mulkan jabrian) a dictatorship oligarchy style then Allah will take it away when he wishes to do so then it will become Khilafa ala minhaji nubuwa then the messenger of Allah became silent" Hadith saheeh=authentic hadith.
2-Remain subjugated & oppressed religiously, culturally, politically, militarilly & economically until the project of our Indianisation is complete & we are no more. If Muslims want to protect themselves from becoming the equivalent of America's native Indians in the Middle East & elsewhere prevent little Isreal from becoming Greater Israel they need to lend at least some mental support to our Islamic extremists & radicals to strike hard through martyrdom bombing in the US & Israel until the American government gets the message. The means justify the end style that is exactly what made the West powerful. If not then Isreal will eventually (say three hundred years from now)stretch its borders east to the land of Ibrahim aka Ibraham that is Iraq & west to the land of Musa aka Moses that is Egypt.
2004-04-15

SHUJA FROM TORONTO, CANADA said:
We should condemn the government of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for their continuous cooperation with U.S. despite such atrocities committed in Iraq. Shame on Mushrraf. Shame on Fahd. Shame on those Saudi Ulema who refuse to condemn their governments.

Shuja
2004-04-15

ADAM IBRAHIM MUHAMMAD FROM NIGERIA said:
..Summum bukmun 'ummyun fahum la ya'kilun Allah has spoken the truth. This was suppose to apply to the unbelievers, but unfortunately the world of the muslims of today could not be spared. This is the reality. Most of us have change our ways of thinking and we know the warning of the almighty "..Innallaha la yu gaiyir bi qawmin hatta..."

The author could not get the point! Just like the Arab league led by Saudi Arabia and this is the trend all over most of the muslim world. What a tragedy?

Before Bush entered Iraq, to commence the expansion of the "EMPIRE" what was his adage "..CAPTURE OR KILL SADDAM" now it is "..CAPTURE OR KILL AL SADR" Allah knows who will be next. The fact is that the annexation of the Islamic world by the infidels has just taken a new dimension and ANY opposition to it, will be met with the might of the only "super power"(?) on earth and its cohorts, or so it seems.

What do we do? Did'nt Allah ask us to be watchful, stay prepared so as "..to fight them with what they fight us with.."? But our riches from oil and agriculture is meant for only beautification of self and the environment. In other words we prefer this world than the hereafter. So He is taking the oil and giving it to our fores. And still the author is not seeing it but wondering why they should go after al-Sadr. Open your eyes and mind brother and reflect. WE ARE IN TROUBLE. May Allah save us, ameen.
2004-04-15

YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
If Coalition forces think they cannot afford to delay in confronting hostile insurgents in Iraq, I would imagine that Coalition forces should immediately begin to solicit general but formal instructions from the same Iraqis towards whom the majority of Iraq's people look for guidance. And why wait, in soliciting formal instructions? In the absence of such instructions, attacking groups of people who clearly belong in Iraq is equivalent to madness, in my opinion. Perhaps someone could start with asking at what point America might potentially have finished paying for betraying so many of Saddam's opponents in the years following the previous invasion of Iraq.

In the absence of WMD, what justification would Coalition forces have for remaining in Iraq, beyond suppressing the unjust suppression of Iraq's citizens - who would include Baathists, residents of Falluja, supporters of Muqtader Sadr and so on? Without formal instructions from a sovereign Iraqi government, what business would it be of Coalition forces if some number of Iraq's citizens chose to host foreigners who might well be expected to act with hostility towards Coalition forces - who had already acted with hostility towards the (other) foreigners' Iraqi hosts?

I think Coalition forces should not engage in "forward action" anywhere within Iraq, unless the national government of unoccupied Iraq announces that a state of civil war exists within their country. Also, in my estimation, Iraq is unlikely to become another Vietnam for the members of America's armed forces. That is, unless the pro-American forces of Vietnam had believed that jihad was a pillar of their religion.

Assalamu alaikum (peace be unto you).
2004-04-15

AKBAR KHAN FROM CANADA said:
This is the best part of the article which says it all:

"The coalition has opened too many fronts in Iraq, alienating a large swath of the population. The Iraqi people now equate democracy with bloodshed." A resident of Fallujah was even more poignant when he observed: "It is only 300,000 people living here, a small city, but the way the Americans are fighting it's as if they are fighting a whole continent. Is this the reconstruction and the freedom Bush is talking about? We prefer Saddam's repression."
2004-04-15

NICK CAMERON FROM UNITED STATES OF AMERICA said:
It is times like this we Americans should pray for the safety of our men and women in Iraq. My heat breaks for the families of those who gave their lives to serve their country overseas. We can only hope that our officials can help to bring about stability in the region before things get worse.
2004-04-15