Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Burning Sails of Baghdad

The United States with the support of the UN Security Council has pushed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein into a corner. Even his Arab brothers are now calling on the President of Iraq to give up his defiance of American demands to disarm. By all accounts, the Iraqi leader is quickly reaching a point from which there is no escape. Arab history is full of heroics and romantic events. And if Saddam Hussein is true to his people and to his Arab ancestry, he still has an opportunity to become a hero. The Iraqi leader has reached a point from which there is no escape.

The annals of Arab history tell us that in the year 711, the Arabs in North Africa were about to make history by expanding their conquest into a third continent. They were preparing to invade the Iberian Peninsula. The Arab military genius Tariq ibn Ziyad crossed the straight now named after him as the straight of Jabal Tariq, the Straight of Gibraltar, with a modest invasion force of 300 cavalry and 7,000 infantry. As he and his forces landed on the Iberian shores, Tariq gave the order to empty the ships and set their sails ablaze. With his own fleet completely burned, Tariq addressed his stranded troops. “The sea is behind you, and the enemy is ahead of you,” he told them “and you have no escape but the truth and patience.” This was their moment of truth, on a shore they had never been on before, doing what no Arab force had ever done, invade Europe. Tariq ibn Ziyad and his troops went on to defeat 30,000 Visigoths, a force three times their size, at Wadi Laqqa in the battle of the Transductine Promontories. And thus began the almost 800 years of Arab rule on the Iberian Peninsula.

Saddam Hussein has not proven to be the hero or the genius that Tariq ibn Ziyad was, although some in the Arab world would believe otherwise. On the eve of a major battle for the survival of his regime, the Iraqi leader imagines the sails of his ships on fire. But, unlike Tariq and his invasion force, Saddam Hussein does have a choice. He can continue defying the West but he will only be delaying the inevitable. He can continue to whine, moan and complain to Arab leaders around him, but none will listen. He can continue with his attempts to rally the Moslem world to his defense, but he will be ignored. He can sit and wait for his destiny to be borne out, but a mighty invasion force will eliminate him and, in the process, only bring death and destruction to the Iraqi people, humiliate the Arab world, and further polarize the Moslem world against the West. Saddam Hussein is under the delusion that he can scorch the earth under the feet of the American invaders, but in the process he will also scorch his own people. The Iraqi leader is faced with “the truth and patience” that Tariq ibn Ziyad spoke of thirteen centuries ago, but the Iraqi leader can take a more honorable route, securing his place in history as an Arab hero like Tariq.

Saddam Hussein can, and should, abdicate his rule to spare the Iraqi people the agony of defeat at the hands of a mighty military power. He can spare the Arab world the humiliation of standing idly by in the face of a Western invasion. In doing so, Saddam Hussein will be taking the Arab world into a new age where no Arab leader has been before. Before he abdicates, he can appoint a provisional Iraqi government, with true representation of the Iraqi people, including all of its minorities. The provisional government, with no ties to Iraq’s current ruling clique, would truly disarm. It can arrange for the drafting of a democratic constitution, build free democratic institutions and hold free elections. The provisional Iraqi government would invite international monitors to observe the drafting of the new constitution and monitor the free and democratic elections. This is the only true course that would defeat the imperialistic intentions of the United States and its neo-colonial allies.

The Iraqi leader is going anyway. The sails of his ships are burning. He faces the truth and patience, but he does have an option. So why not go out as a hero?

MICHAEL S. LADAH is an Arab American who lived and worked in various parts of the Middle East. He is the author of “Quicksand, Oil and Dreams: The Story of One of Five Million Dispossessed Palestinians.” He can be reached at: mikeladah@hotmail.com

 

More articles by:
October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s “Psychological Obstacles to Peace”
Brian Platt – Brynn Roth
Black-Eyed Kids and Other Nightmares From the Suburbs
John W. Whitehead
You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again
Zhivko Illeieff
Why Can’t the Democrats Reach the Millennials?
Steve Kelly
Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild
Manuel García, Jr.
The Inner Dimensions of Socialist Revolution
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ Over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Adam Parsons
A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Crash
Binoy Kampmark
The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy
Dean Baker
How Big is Big? Trump, the NYT and Foreign Aid
Vern Loomis
The Boofing of America
October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail