The challenges facing Iraq

The Western media chooses terrorism as main challenge. But isn’t this a shallow, infantile and hypocritical approach?

The international community can only rejoice at the fact that Iraq has chosen a new cabinet and that the most sensitive posts have wisely been divided among Shia, Sunni and Kurds, albeit on an interim basis.

However, a closer look at the new Cabinet of Ministers spells a tell-tale story of how western powers continue to back-slap each other after drawing lines on maps. Neo-imperialism and neo-colonialism rule OK in the third millennium AD.

Out of a total of 37 Ministers, the Shias have 20, the Kurds 8, the Sunni 8 and a token 1 for Christians. While this apparent imbalance owes a lot to personal skills and while the apparent overkill in favour of the Shia is not necessarily translated into sectarian resentment on the ground, it is also true that the new Cabinet is Shia-dominated in a formerly Sunni-dominated country. How long will this hold?

While it is encouraging that the US-UK alliance makes positive soundbites about Iraq moving towards self-governance and while the dream of Iraq being a truly democratic and free society sounds wonderful after years of dictatorship, the truth remains that this is still a chimera three years after the invasion. Three years on, this is only a dream; three years on, this is not reality and three years on, this seems less and less likely, in a land where such a notion would seem impossible. After all, how many western-backed governments in the region are dictatorships?

The insurgency is increasing, instead of decreasing its attacks, the increased violence in formerly peaceful British-held Basra being a barometer of what is happening at grass roots level.

Basically, the ill-planned and ill-conceived invasion plan has turned out to be the human rights and public relations disaster that was predicted in this column those three and a half years ago.

Yet at the time, despite the warnings, despite the private letters, despite the public and open letters, not even an answer was received.

The perpetrators of this travesty of justice were warned that international law was about to be broken. Those who derided the UNO as a “league of nations” were warned about the dangers of scorning an institution that had taken almost six decades to be built. They were warned about the necessity of a separate resolution to go to war under the UN Charter, they were warned about the consequences of launching an illegal war against a sovereign nation without an iota of proof because the UNMOVIC teams on the ground had not found any (because it didn’t exist).

But they pressed ahead. Three years on, we have a Government which represents precisely the faction in power when the chaos that ensued put Saddam Hussein on the throne in Baghdad with the help of the USA (few people know that he is deferential to the Americans and always has been. He knows why).

The Shia have been placed in power in a country which was forged originally with the blood, sweat and tears of the Sunni. Sectarian violence is rising, instead of falling. The authority of the British and American invasion force is increasingly being challenged.

The people of Iraq are no longer free to go shopping, as they were under the Baath Govwernment of Saddam Hussein. The women of Iraq are no longer able to walk in public without a veil. The children of Iraq have no longer a future in which they know what is going to happen tomorrow.

Freedom? It sounds more like a nightmare, it seems the citizens of Iraq have never been fuirther away from freedom, it seems those on the fringes of society have never been nearer to the sources of power they always coveted and which Saddam Hgussein kept from them for a good reason.

Chalabi is a wonderful example of the ineptitude of the US-led illegal invasion. He was hailed as a hero just because he was exiled by Saddam Hussein. After a few weeks, everyone knew why. The United States of America put together a band of common criminals, dreamers, loony-tunes and wannabes as a future government, alienating each and every sector of Iraqi society in the process, which is the reason why it took three years to build half a government, and which is the reason why it will take another three years to reach the utter chaos which saw Saddam Hussein rise to power.

Three years from now, if Saddam Hussein is still alive, one can be sure that an increasing number of Iraqis will be in favour of him reassuming the Presidency, as much as we can rest assured that our warnings and statements of three years ago were one hundred percent right.

The history book will show that Iraq needed to be left alone. What happened is the death knoll of the self-righteousness of the USA and UK, who made a monumental mistake. And they know it, the difference being that Tony Blair is intelligent enough to recognise the facts while the Bush regime is sufficiently greedy to not care less.



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey