FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraq Deja Vu

By all US media accounts, Saddam Hussein’s days are numbered. Moreover, Pentagon pundits predict a massive US victory over Saddam’s rusty military machine.

Will Bush’s Iraq policy bring a real victory to crown America’s hegemony in the Middle East and elsewhere? Could history be our guidance.

Bush’s Iraq policy is reminiscent to the 1930s British “re-occupation” of Iraq. By March 1921, almost four years after they invaded Mesopotamia, the British created Iraq as a new entity managed by “a suitable Arab” who was a member of the Hashemite clan, King Faisal I. In addition, the British supported and promoted narrowly based groups–such as tribal leaders–over the growing, urban-based nationalist movement.

In pursuing this policy, the British were attempting to achieve their military objectives of securing their route to India and controlling strategic oil sources. By the mid-1930s, Iraq exported oil via a pipeline to refineries in Haifa, Palestine.

Palestine, at that time, was in turmoil. Palestinian Arabs were rioting against the Zionist-promoted Jewish immigration to Palestine. Faisal was alarmed about Jewish immigration and expected that “bloodshed would certainly result” from such a demographic change. However, his concern was mostly centered on the negative effect of any bloodshed in Palestine on Iraqi-British relations as confirmed by the August 1936 British Foreign Office’s “Report on the Repercussions in Iraq of the Creation of a National Home for the Jews in Palestine.”

Although public sentiment supported Arab Palestinians against such foreign encroachment, Iraqi governments were careful not to shatter Iraqi-British relations while repeatedly warning Britain about the destabilizing effect of Iraqi public opinion’s pro-Palestinian sentiments. Their official policy on Jewish immigration to Palestine resembled walking a tight rope: it avoided offending British sensibilities without inflaming public opinion.

To mollify public sentiments, Iraqi governments fostered unofficial support for the Arab cause in Palestine. As a result, Iraq became the center of pan-Arab anti-British activities and a mecca for Egyptian, Syrian and Palestinian nationalists.

Despite these strong nationalistic anti-British public sentiments, the British managed to coerce the Iraqi government into entering WWII in support of Britain. The immediate effect of this British political pressure was riots in Baghdad and the killing of several hundred people, mostly Jewish Iraqis.

Perceived as a threat to their interest, the riots were countered by British military intervention and the resignation of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Rashid Ali, in favor of a new “suitable Arab”. With British blessing, martial law was established and the new government started to act against the “subversive” nationalist forces that dominated Iraqi public life.

Thus started what the nationalists described as the “second British occupation of Iraq,” which also included efforts of “re-structuring” Iraq with complete British and American supervision as reported by The New York Times. The British resumed full control of the education system while the Americans dominated the media. All nationalist and militaristic materials were banned and deleted from textbooks. In addition, the army was purged or neglected.

Clearly, there is nothing new in the current U.S. military scenarios to invade Iraq especially what Administration officials allude to in their post Saddam plans. Such policies confirm the Administration’s intention to conquer and occupy Iraq. They also call for disarming Iraq and “downsizing” its armed forces while getting Iraq ready for a “democratic transition” and the removal of senior officials of the governing Ba’ath Party. “Much of the bureaucracy would carry on under new management,” a US official added.

These officials were silent about their quest for a “suitable Arab” to implement their post Saddam plans; perhaps another member of the Hashemite clan currently ruling Jordan. They also concealed their intention to pull Iraq from its Arab roots and make it a NATO member by altering nationalist and religious forces in Iraqi society.

Iraqi opposition groups have signed on to the Administration’s plans and are fully cooperating with their Washington handlers to create a “federal, non-Arab demilitarized Iraq” as Kanan Makiya, the group’s ideologist, envisioned post Saddam Iraq in his speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) symposium two weeks ago.

Makiya further detailed the thinking of “some Iraqi circles” that are “working closely with some agencies of the [US] government” in planning for post Saddam rule. He argued for a “federal” Iraqi government, which “cannot be thought of any longer, in any politically meaningful sense of the word, as an Arab entity.” He went on to say that a democratic Iraq has to be “a non-Arab Iraq.”

That is the Iraq that “can bring Western civilization” and “values” into the Middle East added Serif Egali, of the Turkish-USA Business Council, another participant of the AEI symposium.

For President Bush, who has not conveyed any convincing argument to justify waging war against Iraq, the success of his Iraqi adventure must be more than eliminating Saddam and his cronies. It is nothing less than crafting a new Iraq that is divorced form any Arab concern, especially the Palestinian cause. For him and his hard-line advisors, removing Saddam presents the US “with a historic opportunity” that is “as large as anything that has happened in the Middle East since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the entry of British troops into Iraq in 1917,” expounded Makiya.

It is an opportunity to create Middle East realities where newly re-constructed “entities” will have neither basis for shared political culture, unity of emotions and aims; nor shared sufferings and hopes.

If history is our guide, the Iraqi people will defy this plan just as they resisted the British 1930s plans that failed to maintain a “suitable Arab regime” because the original British sin, creating the Palestine problem, is still with us.

Issam Nashashibi, an Arab-American political activist, is a US-based Director of Deir Yassin Remembered. He can be reached at inashashibi@hotmail.com.

Abdelatif Rayan is a Washington-based Middle East consultant and journalist. he can be reached at rayan22124@yahoo.com.

 

April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail