00:59 GMT, 3/20/03

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I knew that if I looked hard enough, I would find it. I was right.

There, on BBC’s website, I finally found what I had been looking for. Dated October 10 of the year 2001, I bitterly read the statements of the Arab officials. Amr Moussa, the Arab League Secretary General, told reporters that “launching a strike against any Arab country under any pretence would lead to severe complications”. He said the Arab position would be “fierce” if Arab countries were to be attacked under the pretext of the so-called war on terror. He declared that they would “never accept strikes against any Arab country”. His friend, the Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, as quoted in the BBC article, added that the “Arab League will not accept any move that might target an Arab country”.

Fast forward to February 16, 2003. I read the Chairman of the Arab League Mahmoud Hammoud’s speech with disgust. He said that “Arab countries might not be able to stop this war” against Iraq. The pathetic statements of Arab and Muslim leaders didn’t just stop there. There were summits, meetings and conferences; there were harsh verbal exchanges between the leaders of the Arabs and much silence among those of the rest of Muslims. Day after day, you would hear them reprimanding Saddam, criticizing Iraq, but not a word could they boldly articulate against Bush or his disciple Blair. What little they were able to utter, with wobbly knees nonetheless, was only because they had France, Germany and Russia opposing USA.

Today, we are nearing the end of Bush’s ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, which at first was: leave Iraq with your sons or we will invade. Then, it seems as if there was an amendment to that; the US seemed to have second thoughts; it said, well, Saddam, even if you do leave, we’ll march right in anyway.. to ensure disarmament of course. What better a situation to be described with the phrase é ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’?

On this day, we are told by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, that it is a ‘sad day’ for the United Nations and the world. The US, UK and Spain openly defy the UN and he can only say that is sad? Those three countries advance towards a bombing and colonialist campaign and he is just sad? That axis of three states eager for war is set to cause disturbance to the whole Arab region, flout international law and cause humanitarian work to be suspended is merely causing a bit of sadness to him? It is awkward to say this, but perhaps I can agree with Bush on one thing é this was and is a testing time for the UN; it has failed to meet one of its supposed objectives, that of preventing one country from turning into an empire, forcing its will on the rest of the world. The UN does, very well, risk irrelevance; in fact, the moment the US dares to drops its first bomb in Iraq, the UN will surely be a thing of the past.

Does anyone not get the feeling that the whole UN inspections process was nothing but a sham, after all? It gave the US time to prepare; time to amass over 250,000 troops in the Middle East; time to destroy most of Iraq’s Al-Samoud II missiles; time to discover exactly which weapons it does possess. Iraq, as stated by the weapons inspectors, were forthcoming in their co-operation; yet, the US says no they weren’t and many countries silently agree; the US says we will attack and some in the world simply say that will be ‘sad’.

It’s just moments away till the deadline. What will happen next and how? We do not know. Will it be another Operation ‘Desert Storm’ or ‘Enduring Freedom’? How many Iraqis will again be dismissed as inevitable casualties of war? How many innocent children will again be collateral damage? How many homes will again be devastated and then rebuilt by the world, at the command of the US? How much of infrastructure will once again be ruined and the damage blamed on the Iraqi regime? How many resources will once more be seized by the ‘superpower’, who will then falsely claim that it is holding it for the citizens of Iraq? How many more of nations will be ‘liberated’, only to be plunged into civil war, poverty, hunger with a pro-US government ruling them?

On the brink of another Gulf War, I wonder: where are the Arabs and Muslims? What happened to the “fierce” reaction? What about the “we will never accept” chants? What is going on? Are Arabs, and Muslims I must add, that weak and powerless today? Don’t we have armies and weaponry? Is all that we can do, just talk, talk and talk some more? Can we only sit around our living rooms or hotel auditoriums, nodding our heads at the painfully evident hypocrisy of America and her allies? Is all that we are able of thinking about current events for a second and then going back to our everyday routines, living comfortably? Are we ready to let another populace of our Ummah be annihilated and happily accept that America is sincere in bringing ‘democracy’ to the Middle East?

It was obvious, after 9/11/01, that Muslims would now be openly targeted. And even worse, forget the other countries, so-called Muslim countries will, themselves help in that effort. When the US swore to go after the ‘terrorists’, wherever they were, it became clear that it will attack any country it wished (i.e., ‘pre-emptive’ action) and demand of Muslims, more and more.

Why did people doubt that the only one targeted will be Afghanistan? From that same article, I quote Mr. Sabri, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, who, in 2001, said that he had “no reason to believe” that his country will be the next target. Muslims have suffered at the hands of US and, in most cases, the UK as well, for years; is it not possible to understand their tactics and schemes, once and for all?

On this night, with people bracing for bombs, missiles, deaths and terror wrought by the USA and UK, the Muslim nation finds itself in a shameful and humiliating position. We have not been able to avert this disaster from taking place. In fact, some have even openly lobbied for it; but do we know who America will turn against after it is done with Iraq? Let not the Muslim rulers think that by backing the US today, they will escape America’s desire for war tomorrow. Remember that Saddam was once a very close ally of US, and yes, at the precise time when he gassed the Kurds in Halabja. These Muslim leaders are not letting any chance to condemn Saddam slip by, even at such critical moments, such as the statement made by one of them recently declaring that Iraq is to blame for this new conflict as it invaded Kuwait in 1990.

The clock is ticking by and the moments are slipping away. What the future holds for us, a pitiable Ummah away from its religion and its principles of brotherhood, is unknown. But one thing is certain: today, we turn our back to the urgent issues confronting us and let another of our countries be attacked by an imperialist power. We stand responsible before God for our ignorance and indifference to what imperils us and our Ummah as a whole; for what happens in Chechnya, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq and many, many other states.

This Operation ‘Iraqi Freedom’ is nothing more than ‘liberation’ from a head of state that America once staunchly supported; it is nothing other than ‘freedom’ from 12 years of sanctions, costing the life of a million Iraqis, which were originally imposed by the US and UK, under the umbrella of the UN; it is not anything else than removal of weapons that America and her European allies sold to Iraq in the first place.

It is all a lie.. another deception.. another chance happily exploited by the USA to further its interests in the region.. another incident proving the Muslim Ummah’s dismal condition.

Ms. S. A. A. is a 16 year old Muslim, who has graduated from senior high school.

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