Thursday, July 15, 2004
I got 3 questions in the column section and was asked to answer them.
GM, as you might have read on Sarmad's site, (and on other blogs over time), there seem to be a number of Iraqis who believe that Saddam was a US "puppet," or at the very least that we put him in power.
Do you think this view has any effect on the attempt to democratize Iraq? If so, what do you think can be done about it?
Do you think other Arabs believe this?
What is your belief on the subject?
Yes, it is a known fact that the US had a mutual beneficiary relationship with Saddam when he was fighting Iran. The US choose the lesser "evil" and had to help its "son of a b--ch" fight Iran which was considered much more hostile to the US. Arabs, including many Iraqis, know this very well and several commentators just cannot buy the "liberation" thing because of the US' past history of supporting "lesser evils". When the US announced that Saddam is a prisoner of war, a Kurdish leader who turned sour towards the US said "well, of course he is a prisoner of war to them, he's their old friend".
What those people fail to understand is the whole world was on Saddam's side, from the Soviet Union, to France (that built his nuclear reactor), to little Kuwait. The only country in the region that covertly helped Iran was Israel! Israel was helping its own "son of a b--ch" for 2 main reasons. First, Israel considered Saddam to be much more dangerous to its security. Second, it wanted to buy the protection of the small Jewish community in Iran. The Reagan administration's sale of weapons to Iran was via Israel (the Iran-Contra scandal).
What do I think about all this? Well, I simply don't care. As I said before, if the US and the rest of the Western world supported dictators in the Middle East within the cold war context, I believe they don't have this option anymore in our post 911 world. As I said before, Bush was born on September 11, 2001.
Just like bacteria in stagnant water, terrorism feeds on the frustration felt by many in the Muslim world. Creating a decent functioning state in the midst of the Middle East will render a severe blow to the terrorists' "food store".
This is the reason why Iraq is so crucial. I don't believe the US past relationship with Saddam will affect the democratization of Iraq because the vast majority of Iraqis are looking forward and not backward. We, the Arab people, are busy cursing America and calling Saddam's trial court as "illegitimate", but we're also secretly watching Iraq from under our eye glasses. Let's pray Iraq becomes much better than all of us. If Iraq succeeded, the US will succeed.
N.B I will break up a little bit from world affairs and concentrate the upcoming one or two posts on Egypt in general.