Iraq takes on a new unpredictable turn? [Archives:2003/695/Opinion]

December 18 2003

After thirty-five years of Iraq with Saddam, there is no question that with his recent “capture”, Iraq has taken a totally different turn. How different? It is really anybody's guess. For sure, there will not be any significant modifications to the overall situation, as for all practical purposes, the fall of Saddam came with the fall of Baghdad. The capture of Saddam Hussein raises even more serious questions to the allegations by the United States that he represented the major stumbling block to a smooth invasion turned to occupation and that his capture will represent a major turning point both to the ability of the Iraqis to exercise their freedom and sovereignty and for the US to instill the democratic regime it has visualized for Iraq. For one thing, there is no doubt that the physical attributes of the occupation will remain for a long time. Judging from the way Saddam Hussein was captured, the observer finds it difficult to believe that the resistance to the invasion was either managed or coordinated by the seemingly sluggish leader, who was far too contained by the sheer drive for survival, it seems, rather than the complicated effort to resist a well equipped occupation force of over 150,000 troops. Thus the White House was really playing games with our minds again, since May 2003, trying to convince us that Saddam was keeping all this massive force in constant fear. The observer is also inclined to believe very strongly that the White House joy ride in Iraq is far from over. On the contrary, one might even conclude, as Abdul-Bari Atwan of Al-Quds newspaper did, for all practical purposes, with Saddam out of the way, the resistance against the occupation is bound to take on a stronger turn for the worse, as far as the Americans are concerned. Saddam may have represented an embarrassing association for many people who might be inclined to take part in the resistance, as they are anti-Saddam by tradition and rightly see no reason of grandeur to be associated with one they have fought against for so long. On the other hand, many Iraqis were even suspicious of Saddam as part of the long term American scenario (it was the CIA that initially recruited and helped to prop up Saddam as he gradually tightened his hold on his people) for the region. He was more important to them than the much more democratic regime that Ayatollah Khomeini set up in Teheran. The ease of Saddam's capture may have added strength to this supposition, as he apparently put up little or no resistance, and allowed his children to prove themselves more “courageous” and steadfast even to the Third in line. Whatever the case may be, Iraq will continue to present a clear headache for George W. Bush and his neo-con clique, notwithstanding the fact that Halliburton can go on charging whatever it likes for the services it renders to the occupier and presumably to Iraq.
Even with Saddam “out of the way”, most Arabs still regard the American occupation as no more than fulfillment of Zionist wishes, since the occupation of Iraq creates a wedge between the more feared regime in Teheran than Saddam ever symbolized for Israel. The Washington Post on Friday December 4, 2003 cited a report from a former Israeli intelligence official that claims Israel was a “full partner” in US and British intelligence failures that exaggerated Saddam Hussein's weapons programs before the war. The article pointed out that the Israeli intelligence services and political leaders provided “an exaggerated assessment of Iraqi capabilities,” raising the possibility that the intelligence picture was manipulated”, as the report says. The item can be found stuffed inside the WP of the same date, which was “stuffed”, as Slate Magazine Today's Papers, aptly puts it, to avoid too much of an outcry from Zionist lobby groups in the USA. Nevertheless, it was brave of the WP to point this out at all, even if it has to be dug out with an effort.
Thus, it is safe to assume that US troubles in Iraq are far from over, even with Saddam in US custody. The question, however, does arise as to which institutional or organizational shape the anti US invasion resistance will take over the next couple of months, and it is an open field. One should not rule out that the resistance will now extend beyond the “Sunni Triangle” as the stigma of being associated with a resistance run by the shadow of Saddam Hussein, was just unbearable for the Shia'as to be associated with, and the same may even hold true for Kurdish resistance as well. On another note, the political ramifications of the capture (or probably voluntary surrender) of Saddam Hussein may be a short-lived PR triumph in the domestic politics of the United States, but for most of the grass roots Arabs, whether in Amman or in Sana'a there is a strong feeling that the ordeal of an American invasion is bound to face insurmountable resistance by the Iraqi people, with probable repercussions in the rest of the Arab World as well. The “ACE IN THE HOLE”, may still turn out to be a “JOKER” Card for the US in the region. Only time will tell.