The “Thieves of Baghdad”


Baghdad. Its historical splendour, grandeur, brilliance and nobility has existed almost since the beginning of recorded history. It is a city of perpetual glory, myth, fables and reality. Area, which now constitutes Iraq, was created by the British in 1921 by lumping together the provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra carved out of the Ottoman Empire. No consideration was shown regarding the future integrity of the new state as groups of people marked by deep religious and ethnic divisions were declared to be a state by royal decree. Iraq is the cradle of civilization. It is the land of great historical empires of Babylon, Assyria and Mesopotamia. Baghdad in the glorious days of the Islamic empire was the centre of learning, culture, trade and industry. The cities of Baghdad and Basra are fabled. Baghdad and Basra have been children of the world’s dream cities. The stories of a ‘Thousand and one Nights’ have enchanted, enlivened, bewitched, enraptured and mesmerized both children and grown-ups all over the globe for generations. One of the greatest of all children’s stories is The Thief of Baghdad.

The unilateral, unjust, arbitrary military intervention in Iraq is one of the most disgraceful, barbaric and bloodthirsty episodes in history.  This is stark  manifestation of the ultimate US objectives of world domination by controlling the world’s energy resources by placing its troops strategically at crucial areas of the globe. Selection of Afghanistan and Iraq are clear indicators for its greed for the oil-rich region, its agenda for regime changes under garb of democracy and also its internal compulsion of providing protection, security and strength to Israel so that it too can implement its vision of greater Israel by introducing this new doctrine of pre-emptive action against weak states, can lead to disastrous consequences that can lead to geopolitical upheavals of monstrous magnitude and gravity. This action will certainly sow the seeds for further disruptive turbulence throughout the world, especially the Middle East. It will provide aggressive nations with justification to do what they will based on the concept that might is right. The rule of the jungle has returned and will prevail.

This was not a war in any recognized military or political sense/concept. This adventure was naked, illegal, amoral and illegitimate aggression by coalition of greedy superpowers supported by almost all surrounding and regional Muslim states except Iran and Syria unleashed against a political party (Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime) with an   aim to conquer and occupy a sovereign state and  subjugate its people. The Iraqi nation was not a contestant. Had the war been fought against an Iraqi regular army and a nation at arms and had the masses been involved in the war effort the result would have been different.

Saddam and his dictatorial regime, which was undoubtedly one of the most brutal, tyrannical cruel and  in the world, had alienated, sidelined, terrified, improvised and imprisoned the masses. This cruel and barbaric policy had eaten into the very vitals of Iraqi nationhood and completely destroyed it. So much so that when the coalition aggression came 20% of the population (the Kurds) supported the coalition and fought against their own countrymen. Over 65% of the population (the Shias) sidelined, suppressed and marginalized by 30 years of vicitimization, suppression, torture and oppression were neither incorporated in defence nor did so, Saddam, his generals, his ministers/advisors, the ruling elite and all people enjoying all positions in power, the leaders and  hardcore Baath Party organization, the  Fidayeen and the dreaded  squads were  mostly recruited from  15% Sunnis  living in central Iraq  who because they had everything to lose as they had enjoyed all power, wealth and privileges for decades were expected to fight but they along with their dictator ran and  did not fight after putting  up  little  resistance initially in the south. The brave and devastated population, already looted, ravaged oppressed and suppressed by the anti-Islamic secular tyrant and his Baath Party for last three decades was caught in the middle and for no fault of theirs are being further brutalized, bombed, butchered, maimed and ravaged by the coalition of the invading forces.

The years of repression and tyrannical governance aided by the most unjust and murderous system imposed by the United Nations since 1990 had reduced one of the richest nations to a nihilist state with 60% of population wholly dependent and rest of population as partially dependent on oil for food handouts as beggars. The United States has disturbed a hornet’s nest.  The USA and its coalition is indulging in inhuman, illegal and grave violations of international law and morality in its actions in Iraq and will one day be held accountable. Justice is often delayed but it cannot be denied. The political, social, infrastructural and economic devastation unleashed on Iraq has made its reconstruction a most daunting task requiring billions of dollars and long US presence. It will not be easy to exploit the Iraqi oil resources in the prevailing politically volatile ambience marked by tensions and antagonism between the regional, ethnic, religious, global and other conflicting issues. No victory can ever justify a war. All the justifications and rhetoric about reconstruction and actions of the occupation forces are further adding to the evil. The stated reasons for the war have all turned out to be fabrications and downright lies. Leave alone weapons of mass destruction, hardly any normal conventional weapons in working condition has been found. Even if USA plants them and “discovers” them, no one is going to be taken in. Charges of links with terrorism have also proven to be a flop. Out of whole of Iraq they have managed to arrest one terrorist. Poor Mr Abbas who retired 15 years ago and was openly living a life of a highly respected family man. As for the third reason that of liberating the Iraqi people the only people liberated so far are the looters and gangsters. Majority of the populace has categorically told  them that they don’t want  foreigners on their soil.

There are many reasons for the pathetic resistance by the Armed Forces and government of Iraq.  Iraqi army had no generals or senior officers in command. All were paper generals. Sycophants of Saddam, who did not allow them command of troops, as he feared coup  and/or assassination.

There was no command and control and communications between leaders and armed forces. So when time came even the famed six Republican Guard divisions and two Special Republican Guard divisions all made up of Tikritis or from his tribe and clans melted away without firing a shot. Other twenty odd divisions were rag tag, underpaid, underfed and  ill-disciplined outfits. Some not even  allowed by Saddam to keep weapons etc for fear of coup.  All deserted without a fight. Weapons were outdated and not maintained. Most of the troops were not issued weapons or ammunition because he feared a coup.

Army long under political control of Baath Party and had been extensively used to suppress, torture and terrorize the masses. It was neither organized, trained, equipped. or motivated to fight. When the time came, it had no will or reason to fight. It just deserted en masse and melted away.

US  on the other hand fought a media war. The media version for the consumption of the world especially the west. They claimed actions were far removed from  reality. There were no great intense battles or stiff resistance as reported. All battles  and actions were made up and fabricated. If such actions took place where were the casualties? Where were the dead and wounded on both sides and where were the prisoners? Figures do not match the media version of the war. In actual fact the US troops performance was pathetic. The US plan was faulty. Had there been a proper army or even guerrilla/Urban warfare conducted by Iraq the coalition forces would have been cut to pieces. The USA had far too few troops for the task. Over one hundred thousand troops had to be brought into theatre although there was no proper resistance. If Iraqi army and guerrillas had fought coherently and had the support of the masses it would invariably have been destroyed/ captured before arrival of coalition reinforcements. The coalition troops were so scared and cautious that even though they had no army against them they took 27 days to occupy Iraq. Killing half of total casualties sustained themselves due to friendly fire.

This naked aggression and occupation is not against Islam. This is about oil, control of oil distribution, strengthening of Israel and its security and role in the region, strategic control of mid-eastern resources and positioning of US troops to   police the region including the new Islamic republics (the hinterland) of old Soviet Union. It is about revival of the fledgling US economy, new contracts, employment, and construction and arms and weapon sales. Most of all it is to ensure and facilitate Bush’s second term and take revenge for father Bush’s rejection of second term. All benefiting USA, with crumbs for Tony (UK). The  UN, EU, Europeans and Japan now jumping  on the bandwagon to share the loot.

All logic and actions of the US forces and administration clearly proves their real intentions and agenda in Iraq. The occupation forces most obviously have entered Iraq to plunder its national resources. They have displayed such callous, indiscriminate, cruel and barbaric devastation, destruction, loot and plunder on the poor already suffering Iraqi nation that the only parallel being quoted worldwide is that of the Mongol hordes under Haluku Khan in 1258. All the oilfields of Iraq and the oil ministry buildings in Baghdad kept safe and guarded while hospitals, schools, mosques, residential areas, civilians, women and children indiscriminately bombed, looting and lawlessness allowed. The wounded and sick were left without life-saving drugs and medical care. The people have been left with no water, electricity, garbage collection, safety, security and law and order.  Looting and lawlessness has been obviously encouraged by the forces standing idly by while all government buildings except the Oil Ministry buildings have been systemically bombed destroyed and ransacked by the much heralded coalition precision munitions. Most unforgivable of all the priceless historical and cultural treasures, antiquities, national archives and even rarest Quranic manuscripts of   the jewel of Islamic World and the cradle of all civilization was allowed by the Coalition forces to be destroyed and plundered by looters of the two National Museums in Baghdad and Mosal. Unprecedented courage shown by the people of Iraq, especially the Shia majority in rallies and by confronting the occupation and occupying aggressors in the streets demanding them  to quit Iraq and refusing to join US-sponsored talks or government deserves to be openly supported and lauded.

Our religio-political, fundamentalists and obscurantist leaders have as usual  resorted to cheap popularity. By appealing to the religious sentiments of the people  they have true to habit of resorting to drawing Islamic analogies, putting supernatural Islamic gloss and drawing parallels with glorious victories and most holy and revered personalities of our glorious early history and thereby have gravely misled and confused our masses on the Iraq crisis. Saddam has even been hailed by these misguided people as an Islamic hero and Shaheed. Saddam Hussein was a non-practicing  Muslim who because of his secularist beliefs, tyrannical and barbaric nature and great lust for power was responsible for killing of over 3 million Muslims (Iranians, Kurds and Iraqi Shias  and  dissidents of any faith),  for forcing  4 million of his people into exile, for aggression on Iran and Kuwait, for unprecedented suppression, repression, torture and devastation of  his own people. A drunkard, a womanizer and murderer of two of his own sons-in-law. Hero and Shaheed! Have a heart.

Need is for Muslims and in fact all weak and oppressed people to join universal peace movement against war rather than resorting to quintessential outpouring of sentimentality, grief and empty rhetoric. Our religious zealots and fundamentalists in their attempt to gain cheap popularity turned this naked aggression into an Islamic matter without raising even a small finger to help the Iraqis in any manner whatsoever. The MMA were the last in the world to bring out rallies against US aggression. They did not even condemn Coalition in NA or Senate resolutions. The MMA has adopted a most irrational and dangerous stance by advocating ‘Jihad’ against the west. Bearing in mind the existing ground realities of the huge disparity that exists in all aspects of state power é economic, military, nuclear, technological, industry, natural resources, men and material and the tremendous gap in education and knowledge that exists between the West and Muslim world along with the disunity, mistrust and reliance on the west that is prevalent amongst the Islamic nations the fundamentalists are advocating mass suicide. It is high time that the religio-political parties stop playing with the sentiments of people and putting the sovereignty  and safety of Pakistan at stake for political expediency. National defence and international relations must be determined by reason and not emotionalism. Resort to violence without proper strength and preparation is always a losing proposition. It is always better to preserve national interests through peace and negotiation rather than resorting to confrontation.   

Afghanistan and Iraq must stand in history as grim reminders to the unpopular dictatorial and repressive rulers of Muslim states that only countries that have national cohesion, integration and popular governments can survive military aggression. Only states where the real and active participation of the masses is enshrined in governance can fight and sustain attacks on their sovereignty and territorial integrity. The fists and sinews of war must merge and intermingle with active support and public participation to guarantee in any war effort.  Repression, suppression, tyranny and the denial of political, social and ideological aspirations of the masses invariably leads to devastation, defeat, shame and dishonour.

Unprecedented courage shown by the people of Iraq, especially the Shia majority in rallies and by confronting the occupying aggressors in the streets demanding them to quit Iraq and refusing to join US sponsored talks or government deserves to be openly supported and lauded.