الواجهـة العربيـة

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Iraqi Voices


January 8, 2003

Government in a muddle as Straw clutches at hope
Kirsty Milne

...BUT the real debate in the White House concerns a post-war Iraqi government. Should it be formed in advance from exiled opposition groups, or built up from within a cowed and shattered country?

This is where the UK might be able to contribute something more than firepower. For that to happen, however, a new set of voices must be heard: those of the Iraqis themselves, who are too often ignored where their future is concerned.

A fascinating exchange can be read on the Open Democracy discussion website (www.opendemocracy.net) between two Iraqis of different generations. Faleh Jabar, a research fellow at London’s Birkbeck College, opposes war, arguing that upheaval will come from within. Echoing the views of many on the European left, he says: "I don’t have the moral right - I fear nobody outside has the right - to tell the Iraqi people to pay the price."

But his younger compatriot, Yasser Alaskary, who chairs a network of Iraqi exiles, believes that nothing, including a US-imposed regime, could be worse than Saddam Hussein. He urges opponents of military action to switch their focus and start pushing for post-war democracy in Iraq.

This is where the UK, with its long-standing connections in the region, could bring pressure to bear. The Bush administration, instinctively opposed to "nation-building", will not want to be detained long in Iraq. It bailed out of Afghanistan pretty quick and has resisted pleas to let the international security assistance force (ISAF) patrol the lawless terrain beyond Kabul.

Before any kind of nation can be built, however, balm must be applied to a bleeding country. A UN planning document, obtained by an anti-sanctions group and made public yesterday, predicts that a ground attack would bring food shortages, electricity failures and a mass flight of refugees to Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Relief efforts would be hampered by the likely destruction of ports, roads and railway lines, warns the document.

A chilling prospect, and scarcely consistent with Mr Blair’s wish "to make progress with order; to ensure that change is accompanied by stability".

The Prime Minister had fine things to say yesterday about championing developing countries and "reaching out" to the Muslim world. If he holds fast to those principles after the bombs fall, he should use his credit with President Bush to help Iraqis to build the peace they deserve and the freedom to which they are entitled.

 

© 2007 Iraqi Prospect Organisation
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