Monday, February 17, 2003

Two British newspapers, two comments on Iraq:

Point, from a sometime traveller there:

This war is literally the only hope for extending this democracy to the rest of Iraq. The policy of keeping the UN inspectors circling a country the size of France in search of weapons that could be contained in a small bungalow is a recipe for keeping Iraqi people under dictatorship and Iraqi democrats in torture chambers, exile or freshly dug graves. ...

The Iraqi people are in a terrible condition right now, whatever we do (40 per cent of Iraqi children, according to a recent report by the charity Warchild, do not think life is worth living). Our choice is between acting now to bring the humanitarian crisis to a head so we can solve it, or to leave it in the hands of Saddam to rot somewhere below the news agenda, where there will be no exciting marches and no light at the end of the tunnel for the Iraqi people.

Counterpoint, from Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi exile recognized by Dubya's administration as a leader of the opposition:

The United States is on the verge of committing itself to a post-Saddam plan for a military government in Baghdad with Americans appointed to head Iraqi ministries, and American soldiers to patrol the streets of Iraqi cities.

The plan, as dictated to the Iraqi opposition in Ankara last week by a United States-led delegation, further envisages the appointment by the US of an unknown number of Iraqi quislings palatable to the Arab countries of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia as a council of advisers to this military government. ...

Its driving force is appeasement of the existing bankrupt Arab order, and ultimately the retention under a different guise of the repressive institutions of the Baath and the army. Hence its point of departure is, and has got to be, use of direct military rule to deny Iraqis their legitimate right to self-determine their future. In particular it is a plan designed to humiliate the Kurdish people of Iraq and their experiment of self-rule in northern Iraq of the last 10 years, an experiment made possible by the protection granted to the Kurds by the United States itself. That protection is about to be lifted with the entry into northern Iraq of much-feared Turkish troops (apparently not under American command), infamous throughout the region for their decades-long hostility to Kurdish aspirations.

All of this is very likely to turn into an unmitigated disaster for a healthy long-term and necessarily special relationship between the United States and post-Saddam Iraq, something that virtually every Iraqi not complicit in the existing Baathist order wants.

Update: Newsweek has more on the selling out of the Kurds --- a subject that Jim Henley has been posting on for a while now. They report that Turkey has been promised a "security zone" in the presently autonomous Kurdish north of Iraq which goes halfway to Baghdad. Given the friction between Turks and Kurds generally, there is the clear prospect of open warfare if that goes forward.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering how close the "security zone" would be to the oil fields...


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