Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Iraqi dilemma

Every morning I check the news for information on the latest events making the headlines in the Middle East, and every morning now, I have been noting with depressing familiarity the continuous drip of casualties from a mutilated and comatose Iraq. How can one make sense of the orgy of violence within which the people of Iraq find themselves overwhelmed? Having been pushed out of the frying pan and into the fire, Iraqi's today find themselves under a foreign occupation yet again, with an ineffective government and a sectarian based civil war that has ripped apart the fabric of their society.

The atmosphere of lawlessness and violence that is prevalent in Iraq today has reached such proportions that not a day goes by without attacks targeting members of this or the other religious faction or ethnic group in the country, though that too masks the true scale of this tragedy as most crimes are seldom if ever reported. In attempting to tackle this problem, the present Iraqi government has for some time implemented an advertising campaign on Iraqi and Arab television and satellite channels emphasizing the importance of working 'together' to combat terrorism. Apart from the permeation of American official political language underlying these Arabic advertisements, there is also another underlying message. The various groups in Iraq are all painted with the broad brush of terrorism and the Iraqi government, by attempting to address the security situation, is attempting to legitimise itself by establishing a monopoly on the use of force within it's borders. In doing so it is also fulfilling its strategic role envisioned by it's American masters. That role involves a pro-Western state in the heart of the Middle East which will serve as a powerbase for the United States as well as a wedge to be driven between Syria and Iran.

However, not all the movements in Iraq are chopping captives heads off and targeting civilians in suicide bombings and mortar attacks. Within the tangled pile of yarn that is Iraq there also exist resistance movements composed of Iraqi and Arab nationalists, Islamists and Baathists who are resisting this occupation. As we had seen in Yusri Fudha's recent documentary "Sirri lil Ghayah" (Secret to the utmost), these movements continually undermine any such attempts at legitimacy by continually targeting the Occupation and all those who collaborate with it. As deplorable as the security situation in Iraq remains, it would be ethically unacceptable for the resistance to lay down its arms and allow the puppet government to impose its authority throughout Iraq. The moral burden of the lawless killing and violence is and always will be placed firmly on the United States and those who choose to collaborate with it in its Iraqi enterprise. Resistance is imperative on political, cultural and military levels. It can be as simple as teaching children to throw back the sweets offered by Occupation forces, to the refusal of serving in any way, the incumbent occupation authorities. All such actions collectively can bring true Independance a whiskers length closer and help to loosen the vice like grip that the United States is attempting to maintain on the trappings of the Iraqi state apparatus.

The crude attempts of the United States in propping up the Iraqi government demonstrate a profound inability on the part of the United States in comprehending that a Western political philosophy grafted onto a predominantly Muslim, and more importantly Middle Eastern country, is bound to fail. Islamic/Eastern values, call them what you may, stem from a deep rooted importance attached to the family as a unit and the wider society. Unlike Western political philosophy and it's emphasis on the individual, it is the society and the community which take precedence in the East. This is not to say that the individual is not important, but this importance stems from their position and contribution to the family unit and subsequently to the wider community. The head of the family holds the ultimate authority in the family and it is he (in the East the male retains dominance socially) who imposes rules and justice, sometimes even unfairly. However, the humiliation is not when the head of the house does so, but when a stranger forcefully enters the family and begins, rightly or wrongly, to impose his will. Like a dagger striking at the internal organs of a body, it is then that the family unit begins to die, fragmenting and losing it's cohesion. To submit to the will of another, however benevolent, is to become a slave to them.

This is not to say that opposition to unjust rule is unacceptable in the Middle East, it is completely legitimate, but there are certain qualititave aspects that an opposition movement must possess for it to be legitimate and acceptable.

Firstly, the opposition movement must not be aligned with any outside movements or groups no matter how unjust the ruler is. Should there be an outside threat, the priority must always be with maintaining the sovereignty and independence of the state, and a united front is presented to tackle the challenge.

Secondly, the opposition must have a valid grievance or case to argue, such as in situations when there has been a clear injustice perpetrated by the ruler. Opposing for the sake of opposition leads to a scenario whereby multiple parties, aiming for power, compete for the attention of a detached and disinterested populace. We see examples of this in the British political arena whereby the actual politics of the Conservative and Labour parties have become so closely aligned that it brings to mind Orwell's closing chapter in his book Animal Farm.

The violent groups that are taking advantage of the breakdown of authority in Iraq must be tackled and flushed out, however we must remember that they are symptoms and not causes of Iraq's illness. The true cause lies in her occupation by the United States, and the seeds of the legitimacy and monopoly on the use of force lie in the Iraqi resistance movements. It is these movements which will guarantee the future security and cohesiveness of Iraq while maintaining it's sovereignty and independence of will as a member of the Arab world, not the circus that the clowns in the White house have drawn up. These movements will succeed and the Americans, like in Vietnam, will be unceremoniously pushed out of the backdoor.

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