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Friday, May 14, 2004

They Won Phase One

April 10, 2003, a day I will never forget. A day after the fall of Saddam’s statue in Baghdad, I went to my work with a lot of eagerness to know the reaction of my colleagues. The reaction I was greeted with could be summarized in those 2 words: shame and unbelief. “I am ashamed to be an Arab” one girl told me. My fellow colleagues didn’t feel shame because Baghdad fell so quickly but because they saw Iraqis greeting US forces with a huge grin on their faces. They saw a young man carrying a Kalashnikov in front of a camera saying “no Saddam, no Saddam, Bush is good”. They watched as Iraqis cooperated with US forces in pulling the statue of Saddam down. “Iraqis were always known to be traitors” one man told me. “Most of them are Shias and the Shias are known to be the worst Muslims on earth” another added. Even my housekeeper commented to me how she felt so angry when she saw an old Iraqi woman gently tapping the chest of an American soldier.

The sudden love affair between a sizable majority of Iraqis and US forces annoyed my fellow colleagues; it also annoyed the Arab media, the Bathists, and the Islamists in Iraq. This poisonous group started to fight phase one in the war against the coalition which is to end the honeymoon between this sizable majority and the coalition forces. With the full backing of the Arab media, the Bathists and Islamists have done everything from bombing oil pipelines, the UN, the Red Cross, and police stations just to create chaos and insecurity in the country and create a rift between Iraqis and their liberators. From what I’m seeing so far, I believe the dividers have done an awesome job. They have won phase one in the war. With the recent Abu Ghreib pictures and the continuous fighting in Najaf and Karbala, I can comfortably say that the last nail in the “Iraqi hearts and minds” coffin had just been hit.

Nevertheless, I do not blame just the dividers for ending the honeymoon but also the coalition’s fatal mistakes in Iraq, the Shia and Sunni religious authorities, uncontrollable circumstances, and the unmeet expectations of Iraqis. Today there is no doubt that the Kurds are American’s only “heart to heart friends” in Iraq. I hope and pray that the USA will not squander these newly discovered lovers. I also hope and pray that the dividers won’t win phase two of the war either by convincing this sizable majority that killing coalition forces is the only way out. If the US did not do everything to end the fighting in Najaf and Karbala, if it insists that the new interim government should relinquish some sovereignty to the coalition, then we can all kiss winning phase two goodbye.

Watch out for future OP-ED on:

• Why are the Kurds different from the Shias and Sunnis in their reaction towards the USA?
• What are the coalition’s fatal mistakes?
• The difference between Iraqis and Iranians
• Why I am so skeptical regarding any goodwill between overall Islam and America in the coming years or even the coming 1 million years.

Another Stupid Decision

This has just been through. Paul Bremer refused the deal forged by a massive number of tribal and religious leaders to resolve the Sadr standoff, another stupid mistake from Bremer. He lost the hearts of Baghdad, now he’s loosing Najaf and Karbala. Phase 2 is on its way unless he starts thinking before he speaks. No deal leads to fighting that leads to civilian deaths among shias in najaf and karbala that leads to loosing hearts and minds that leads to unarmed resentment that leads to phase two in the war. As simple as that.


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