ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 18
Front Page Columns
Issue of the week

The unwelcome guest won’t leave Iraq

By Ameen Izzadeen

The message is loud and clear: The United States is not welcome in Iraq. But the Bush administration relying largely on the sheer power of its superior military and armaments shows little interest in heeding the message.

A recent poll released on Wednesday shows more than 70 percent of the Iraqis, want US and other occupation troops to leave Iraq within a year - with more than half of them calling for a withdrawal within six months.

The poll conducted by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) shows that Iraqis, especially the Shiites (87 %) and the Sunnis (97%), are increasingly impatient for an early US withdrawal. Quite contrary to what US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair constantly and adamantly claim, the Iraqis do not believe that their country will fall apart along sectarian lines or will be plunged into an all-out civil war once the occupation troops leave.

An Iraqi Shiite boy reads Quran at a mosque in Baghdad's poor neighbourhood of Sadr City country. AFP

If this is not compelling enough for Bush to call back US troops and wind up the illegitimate military occupation of Iraq, then here are more findings of the poll:

  • About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on US-led forces.
  • Almost four in five Iraqis say the US military force in Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents.
  • About 61 percent approved of the attacks - up from 47 percent in January. A solid majority of Shiite and Sunni Arabs approved of the attacks. The increase came mostly among Shiite Iraqis.
  • An overwhelmingly negative opinion of terror chief bin Laden and more than half, 57 percent, disapproving of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
  • Three-fourths say they think the United States plans to keep military bases in Iraq permanently.

A majority of Iraqis, 72 percent, say they think Iraq will be one state five years from now. Shiite Iraqis were most likely to feel that way, though a majority of Sunnis and Kurds also believed that would be the case.

The PIPA poll more or less endorses a periodical State Department survey, according to which two-thirds of Iraqis in Baghdad favour an immediate withdrawal of US forces.

However, the PIPA poll shows that a majority of Kurds welcome US occupation.

The Kurds wants the United States presence in Iraq for obvious reasons. Under a Shiite-Arab majority government, they will not be able to realise all their political aspirations, especially the return of the oil rich Kirkuk region to the autonomous Kurdistan province. It could be achieved, the Kurds believe, only with US help. Besides, the Kurds also believe the presence of US troops in Iraq is a shield against Turkish military incursions into Iraq's Kurdistan. Little surprise then, when Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, himself a Kurd, told the United Nations last week that coalition forces should remain in Iraq until Iraqi security forces are capable of putting an end to terrorism and maintaining stability and security.

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in a recent interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel said that he told the Americans that they would win the war in Iraq, but would soon sink into a quagmire. "What has now happened is worse than I expected," he said.

It does not need an expert's analysis or a report of a top intelligence outfit to conclude that the problem of terrorism has increased after the United States invaded Iraq.

The evidence is literally on the ground - with scores of bodies of tortured victims being found almost every day and with no signs of letting up in attacks on US forces. Bob Woodward, the award winning US journalists, claims in his latest book which has already shaken the White House that at least 800 anti-US attacks take place every week in Iraq.

A US intelligence report declassified on the orders of President Bush shows how flawed the decision making power of the US president is. The war in Iraq was sold by the Bush administration to the American public as part of the war on terror. More than 60 percent of the Americans believed then that Saddam Hussein had a hand in the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the Iraqi dictator was hand in glove with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. But the fact was Saddam Hussein was a sworn enemy of the Islamists, including bin Laden. Islamists in Iraq, whether they are Sunnis or Shiites, were persecuted and most of them lived in exile.

The report prepared by analysts from 16 intelligence agencies reveals that the war in Iraq is "cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement."

"The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight,'' the report read.

Isn't it proof enough that it was the policies and actions of the West, especially the United States, that breed terrorism?

Yet British Prime Minister Tony Blair failed to see this when he addressed his last Labour Party convention as prime minister. He stuck on to the discredited argument that terrorists go after the West because they hated its values and rejected claims from critics that his government's foreign policy was to blame for terror attacks.

"This terrorism is not our fault. We did not cause it. It's not the consequence of our foreign policy. It is an attack on our way of life," he said.

Blair's position is not different from that of a person who lives in a fool's paradise. The so-called Islamic terrorism is essentially a reaction to state terrorism practised by the West and Western allies. In effect, there is provocation in the Bush-Blair policies on West Asia.

The Afghan Mujahid's did not take up arms against the Soviet Union until their country was invaded. Palestinians did not take up arms against Israelis until their land was grabbed. Iraqis did not take up arms against the United States and its lackeys until their country was attacked and occupied.

If terrorism is to be dealt with effectively, then all these problems need to be solved in such a way the affected people will get justice. But the problem is it is the United States which decides what these oppressed and subjugated people want, be they Afghanis, Palestinians or Iraqis.

Last month, some 100 Iraqi parliamentarians presented a motion in the national legislature calling on the United States to leave immediately. The matter is now on the order book. Whether it will ever be taken up is anybody's guess. But the people's verdict is the stranger must go. The Bush administration, in the meantime, doesn't care two hoots about opinion polls, especially if it involves Iraq or its people.

Top to the page

Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.