January 8, 2003
Government in a muddle as Straw clutches at hope
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?
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
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 Londons Birkbeck College, opposes war,
arguing that upheaval will come from within. Echoing
the views of many on the European left, he says: "I
dont have the moral right - I fear nobody outside
has the right - to tell the Iraqi people to pay the
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.
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.
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.
efforts would be hampered by the likely destruction
of ports, roads and railway lines, warns the document.
chilling prospect, and scarcely consistent with Mr Blairs
wish "to make progress with order; to ensure that
change is accompanied by stability".
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.