Iraq and Its Neighbors: An Unfolding Episode of Betrayal
Maintaining the sanctions on Iraq or dismissing them wasn't, isn't and will never be an action that was based on an sensible logic. Instead, the dominating factor in the approval and disapproval of the sanctions is whether those who are interested in installing them are more effective than those who oppose them and vise versa. Naturally one would assume that Iraq's neighbors have greater interests in lifting the sanctions than other nations, for after all, Iraq has much more in common with it's neighbors than it has with Italy, for example. But the sad fact is, those bordering Iraq appear to be little interested in saving it from the claws of the lion, a disturbing fact that can hardly be disputed.
As an Arab and a Muslim student learning the ABC'S of the Arabic alphabet, I was taught like tens of millions of Arab and Muslim students across the massive body of land and water in Asia, Africa and elsewhere, that despite the borders separating us we are one inseparable nation. We were asked to memorize songs that praise our common and prosperous history, rich culture and lively religion. Songs that emphasized time and again that the blood running in our veins is the same, and that our blood will never be water. Although those who used to fail to memorize their homework tasks were severally punished, me and my classmates were motivated by our eagerness to stand before the class and chant, "The countries of the Arab people are my homeland, from Syria to Iraq, from Egypt to Morocco ..."
Now, I learn about the Jordanian arrest of European humanitarians who flew to Iraq through the no-fly-zone, I read about the Iranian detainment of an Iraqi oil tanker, I watch the Gulf States blaming Iraq for violating UN resolutions and I wonder whether my refugee camp school in Gaza is still teaching the same songs and rhetoric? The current situation goes indeed much further than implementing or violating UN resolutions, just or unjust, but it truly jeopardizes the basis which caused Arab and Muslim nations to identify with one another.
For the United States, sanctioning Iraq is a continuation of its Containment Policy which has and continues to be imposed on other nations. Yet what makes the carrying out of such a policy in Iraq much tougher and deadlier is the fact that Iraq neighbors two vital territories, which American policy makers consider top priorities: Gulf oil and Israel. It is evident that the Iraqi military can no longer pose a threat to its neighbors, not only for its lack of weapons, and even food to supply its imaginary invading troops, but also because of the truth that the last impression Iraq is willing to give about itself is attacking any sovereign or not so sovereign entity. While security council members are debating with enthusiasm Iraq's capabilities to inflict harm on its neighbors, they overlook the invasion of the Iraqi sovereignty which takes place sometimes daily. The latest news reported 14 Iraqi deaths resulting from American raids. That is in addition to Turkey's repeated invasion of areas in northern Iraq aimed at eliminating the Kurdish resistance. But when Iraq's territories are being converted into a weapon-testing ground for the US, Britain and others, Arab and Muslims next-door do not only stand aside in silence, which is disturbing enough, but they actually prove loyal and obedient to unethical standards forced on the United Nations by the United States.
It is interesting and thought-provoking that when Italian businessman, Nicola Grauso, who made an unprecedented statement by violating the US-Britain no-fly-zone, stood before a Jordanian judge while his airplane was confiscated, three Japanese Red Army members where receiving their indictment verdict in Japan. The old Japanese fighters who fought for Arab causes since 1971 were flown to Tokyo in a scheme of betrayal orchestrated by Middle Eastern governments. In the days to follow, Iran received a hearty round of applause from State Department Spokesman, James Rubin for detaining an Iraqi tanker with only 2500 tons of curd oil. And at a time when the US dares to openly declare that its policy's ultimate goal is to replace (overthrow) the Iraqi government, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) declares in a joint statement on April 9, "Iraq is continuing to delay implementation of essential aspects of resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council."
What needs to be made clear at this point is that Iraq and its people aren't the only ones being betrayed. Our history as Arabs and Muslims, our present and our future aspirations are betrayed as well. To bravely protect the interests of the West in the Middle East, regional governments are desecrating their own people's most sacred beliefs, beliefs that they all belong together in unity, beliefs that they all must fend for each other, especially when their rights are violated, and the belief that their innocents are enduring the constant fear of death and bombardment, late at night. It is likely that young Arab and Muslim students still chant the same songs and rhetoric, and I hope that they always will, for the loss of hope is worse than defeat, by far.
Topics: Foreign Policy, Iraq