For President Bush, who has not conveyed any convincing argument to justify waging war against Iraq, the success of his adventure in Iraq is more than getting red of a Saddam and his cronies. It is no less than managing into existence a new Iraq that does not labor for any Arab cause, especially the Palestinian issue.
For the White House and the hard line group of advisors, the removal of Saddam presents the United States “with a historic opportunity” that is “as large as anything that has happened in the Middle East since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the entry of British troops into Iraq in 1917”, (see Kanaan Makiya speech at the AEI symposium on Iraq last week). It is an opportunity to create new Middle East conducive to Israeli security needs as Hannan Ashrawi rightfully put it last week in Al-Ahram Weekly. The administration motives to crush Iraq as a “strategic threat” to Israel, Ahrawi confirmed that the “motives include the weakening of the Arab world, maintaining Israel’s strategic superiority in the region, imposing a solution more favorable to Israel on a defeated Arab nation, plus the further debilitation of the captive Palestinians and their leadership”.
The past of Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict has a historical “dialectical relationship” which goes back to the early days of the creation of the Kingdom of Iraq by the British on March of 1921. For the British, the new entity managed by “a suitable Arab” would secure a protective shield for the British route to India and would control the strategic oil producing areas and the pipeline, which became operational in pumping oil to refineries in Haifa by the mid-1930s, and as ” a suitable Arab” King Faysal’s interest in the affairs of Palestine was limited to matters that overlapped with Arab unity, though he was concerned about the Jewish immigration and expected ” a bloodshed would certainly result” because of the movement . Not only was he concerned about the possibility of Arab-Jewish strife, but Faysal stressed his concern over the future of Iraq-British relations if the immigration movement would not stop, as was mentioned in the British Foreign Office “Report on the Repercussions in Iraq of the Creation of a National Home for the Jews in Palestine” of August 1936.
Throughout the 1930s, while the governments of Iraq walked a fine line on official policy concerning Palestine in order to avoid treading on British sensibilities, they simultaneously fostered unofficial support for the Arab cause in Palestine, and repeatedly warned Britain of Iraqi pro-Palestinian sentiments, but were careful not to take any action to rupture Anglo-Iraqi relations. And because of the Palestine question, during that period, Iraq became, the center for the pan-Arab anti-British activity and encouraged the interchange among Egyptians, Syrians and Palestinian nationalists. Most significant in this period was the chaotic situation in Iraq and the “callous” British maneuvers and “pressures” on the Iraqi government forcing Iraq into the full thrust of the World War II against the Germans. The immediate effect of the British tactics was riots in Baghdad and the killing of of several hundred people, mostly Jews in the Jewish quarter of Baghdad. As a result, Rashid Ali was forced to relinquish power to a new “suitable Arab”. With the blessing of the British, a martial law was established and the new government started to act against the “detrimental” forces that dominated Iraq political life during the 1930s: “intense anti-British propaganda, a political education and military system, and the work of the Jerusalem Mufti”. As a result a “second British occupation of Iraq”, as the nationalists called it, had begun and the efforts of “re-structuring” Iraq started in a full swing under a full British and American supervision (New York Times, 3 Feb. 1942). The British resumed a full control of the education system and the Americans controlled the media. All nationalist and militaristic materials were banned and deleted from the text books and the army was purged or neglected.
At present, the U.S. published military scenarios to invade Iraq and the day after they all have a precedent of the past as I have mentioned earlier. Let us look carefully to what the administration officials elude to when they talk about their plans the day after Saddam. After they leave no doubt about the administration intention of conquest and occupation of Iraq and to do what needs to be done to achieve the disarmament mission, according to a senior official, there plan is to get Iraq ready for a “democratic transition” and over time, “Iraqis, perhaps through a consultative council, would assist an American-led military and, later, a civilian administration, only after this transition would the American-led government hand power to Iraqis. He continued to say that the Iraqi armed forces would be “downsized,” and that senior Baath Party officials who control government ministries would be removed. “Much of the bureaucracy would carry on under new management,” he added.
What those officials failed to mention so far is their education and media plans to help in creating the ” suitable Arab” generation in Iraq after Saddam, and their programs of enhancing the mix of nationalism, patriotism, tribalism and religious texture of the Iraqi society if they want Iraq to debacle from its Middle Eastern roots and become a NATO member. That is what the Iraqi opposition groups are working on along with their American handlers in Washington, “a federal, non-Arab, demilitarized Iraq” as Kanan Makiya, the group’s ideology master, envisioned Iraq post Saddam Hussein in his speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) symposium “The Day After: Planning for Post Saddam Iraq” tow weeks ago. Makiya shared the kind of thinking that is going on in “some Iraqi circles” who are ” working closely “with some agencies of the government” of the United States on planning for the day after Saddam. In his argument, Makiya laid his case for the need of a “federal” government in Iraq which “cannot be thought of any longer in any politically meaningful sense of the word as an Arab entity”, and he went on to say that a democratic Iraq has to be “a non-Arab Iraq” That is the type of Iraq that “can bring the Western civilization” and “values” into the Middle East as it was described by Serif Egali, from the Turkish- USA Business Council, in his discussion with Bernard Lewis, of Harvard University, about the future of Iraq’s foreign policy after Saddam panel of the AEI symposium.
The White House policy on Iraq is nothing but an opportunity to create new realities in the Middle East where newly re-constructed “entities” will have no basis for unity of emotions and aims, have no shared sufferings and hopes, a political culture that can never be exercised, and a Middle East which succumbs to Israel’s “final solution” to the Palestinian problem.
Abdellatif Rayan, a Journalist and Consultant, contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN).