Priority to adopt by the allies in post-war IraqRestore security [Archives:2003/633/Opinion]

April 27 2003

By Mohammed Khidr
[email protected]

The Anglo-American invasion forces have now almost come to the end of their military operations in Iraq and succeeded in the removal of Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, the main aim declared by the American-British alliance. Before the start of their military campaign on Iraq, though it lacks any international or legal authorization, the allies promised for months before that they would go to the war on the Iraqi regime for liberating its people and to help them get freedom and democracy. They promised to attack only the regime and would not inflict any harm on the people. What happened over more than three weeks of the most ferocious and brutal military strikes on Iraq have resulted in total destruction of almost everything in that country. The allies' bombardment did not spare hospitals, civilian residential quarters, and civilian infrastructure of economy, water supplies, electricity, communications and others. Military bombardment did not exclude edifices, such as universities, cultural centres and museums which subsequently came under an unprecedented looting and sabotage acts under the eyes of the occupying troops who did not bother themselves even to guard those edifices. Death toll among the Iraqi population exceeded hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and old people. The whole country is rendered into rubble, the reconstruction of which would take months and years and to cost hundreds of billions of dollars. All the Iraqi military, security and civilian institutions have been destroyed and disappeared, leaving behind a very dangerous political, security and social vacuum prevalent by chaos, embodied by organized acts of looting and hooliganism never experienced in this country which had always been the cradle of first human civilizations ever known in human history. All these tragic pictures are seen on world TV channels the world over and nobody can deny them. It has become clear that the '' shock and awe'' policy was really meant for the people of Iraq in the first place, rather than the Iraqi regime, a tangible impression expressed by huge segments of the Iraqi population.
Of course the Anglo-American ally strategists who have planned for this war have had in mind their own designs and goals of their aggression and occupation other than those declared with regard to interests of the Iraqi people. They are plans aimed to re-shape the political and social map stipulated in their strategy concerning the region, in accordance with the allies' interests and ambitions, mainly economic and political, and the protection of their forward colonialist base Israel.
The declared objectives of the allies' military campaign on Iraq claim an effort for providing “freedom and democracy'' for the people of Iraq. The allied forces in Iraq, especially the American marines and Special Forces, are now committing a very grave mistake. They have been behaving as an occupying, not liberating, force in the way they are treating the Iraqis with excessive violence and showing an indiscriminate skepticism towards Iraqi citizens. By this behaviour they would not be able to win the people confidence in them, especially after their indifferent attitude when the cities came under waves of looting of government, civil institutions, hospitals and even the cultural centres, particularly museums. This indifference resulted over many days in total destruction of those institutions and the burning of their contents of furniture, equipment and documents of high importance and sensitivity. Although keeping security and protection of the people life and property is the responsibility of the occupying forces under Geneva conventions, the Anglo-American forces adopted a negative stand in this respect and let chaos and crimes prevalent everywhere in the country. How then would the Anglo-American troops expect the people to welcome them? Another grave mistake made by the American administration officials is allowing some of the Iraqi exiled opposition elements, especially those who are pro the U.S. intelligence and the Pentagon, to enter the country with their own gunmen and to install themselves as leaders in the cities under alleged attempts to restore order and stability in the country and to speak and behave on behalf of all Iraqis. They even seized some public and private buildings and took them as headquarters for their organisations, an act resembling confiscation and occupation. It is to be perceived in the first place that those elements have no popular base inside the Iraqi political public opinion and many of them were part and parcel of the deposed regime. Some of them have been outside Iraq for decades and do not know what changes and suffering have been taking place on the ground. The people of Iraq bear special sensitivity and skepticism towards most of them and thus they refuse them to be their leaders, neither at present nor in the future.
The most urgent tasks the occupying forces must give priority to, are restoration of order and security throughout the country and providing water, electricity, health and other necessary services including re-opening the schools and universities where studies were interrupted because of the war. The war has left every walk of life in Iraq, especially the economic, in the worst chaotic condition and this requires urgent action and measures to return them to their normal condition as quick as possible, for otherwise the consequences will be detrimental to the Anglo-American forces in the first place.
Concerning restoration of public services functioning, Iraq is already well-organized institutionalized country and the occupying forces need not much effort to re-organize them, particularly the personnel who were running those institutions. The change could include only the senior heads of those institutions related to the former regime. They would have to send urgent calls to employees to go to their departments at various ministries and installations. The fact that the Americans and British have to understand is that the majority, if not all of the employees are not and were not really politically loyal to the regime but because of their needs and the regime's strict conditions they were obliged to pretend to be so. Even in the police and the army the majority are forced to declare their political allegiance to the ruling party. This is a very urgent task to be carried out by the allied forces in order to restore normality to the life of the Iraqis.
Regarding the political aspect both American and British administrations must understand that the Iraqis are not a society divided into conflicting religious sects and ethnic groups. It is a very homogeneous society. True the Iraqi society is comprised of Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans and other minorities but they are not living in secluded closed areas. Muslims; Sunnis and Shiites live together in every city and village in Iraq and they are inter-married. They, on many occasions, even perform prayers at the same mosques and other worshipping places. Sectarian divisions and incitements are sometimes performed by certain political factions for certain political purposes in application of the principle of divide and rule. Christians and other religions are not excluded for this state of harmony seen in Iraq.
Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans and other nationalities live everywhere in Iraq and many families are a mixture of these nationalities. That is why there no danger of a possibility of conflicts occurring between nationalities forming the Iraqi society's fabric. Only political organisations of those ethnic groups could for certain narrow interests excite such differences. This religious and ethnical harmony has been so for many centuries and will remain so for centuries to come. The Iraqis are proud of this situation in their society. Iraq is in fact a harmonious multi-religious and multi-national society. Therefore, maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity is a very essential task and obligation the allied forces should take into consideration if they want actually to maintain peace and stability in the region as a whole.
One of the most urgent tasks the American-British allies must hasten to do is to restore the normal political life in Iraq. They have to genuinely provide sincere opportunities for the Iraqis to re-organize their political life. The Americans and the British should comprehend fully that the inside opposition is the party that directly suffered from consequences of former regime's policies and they are more righteous to re-organize their political life in utter freedom without anything options imposed on them by external forces or by some political elements who have been living for long periods of time in America and Europe without directly suffering from imprisonment or suppression of the regime, but rather living in peace and leading stable life there. The inside opposition has certain sensitivity towards those elements, especially towards those who were for some time part of the regime. There is in Iraq a very strong and well-organized underground political opposition and due to fierce suppression it was not able express itself freely and loudly. It is a serious mistake and would result adversely if the Americans or the British try to impose or give support to the outside political elements or organisations at the expense of the inside political parties and organisations for such a stand would lead to political instability and conflict and the allies would be blamed for that and they will face strong resistance.
The U.S.-British alliance has to hasten in taking whatever necessary measures and arrangements to shorten the military presence in the country and help quick installation of an interim governance to undertake running the country as a prelude to preparing a permanent constitution and democratic legislative elections. And this should be at the same pace with introducing administrative and economic reforms touching directly life of the people. The longer the military presence of the allies stay in Iraq the more chances of resistance would arise against such a presence and the people will get convinced that the British and the Americans have really attacked their country, with all the devastation and chaos resulting from it, just to occupy and colonize it. Longer military occupation would create a struggle for ending it either peacefully or by force. So far the allied forces behaviour and measures have created an impression of suspect towards the real intentions of the allies among the Iraqi people and unless these suspicions are removed, the consequences would not be in favour of the Anglo-American campaign. Whatever they do and however capable they think are of, the American-British allies must not try to act alone in re-building the political and government system and re-construction in Iraq, and the United Nations and the Arab countries should not be excluded from participation in this task because Iraq is part of the international community as it is part of the Arab world and whatever changes take place in it would have their impact on both the international community and the Arab world and nation.