THE NEW SADDAM
"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." ~ Albert Einstein.
A friend passed me an article from the WSJ editorial page which, although it was written before the ratification of the Iraqi constitution, is still an excellent analysis of the position of Iraq vis-a-vis the Arab world. Fans of Kanan Makiya will love Fouad Ajami's article Heart of Darkness: From Zarqawi to the man on the street, Sunni Arabs fear Shiite emancipation.
Both men are from Shi'a backgrounds, one Iraqi and the other Lebanese, and perhaps this accounts for the similarity of their views on the situation in Iraq. I could not help being reminded of Kanan Makiya's excellent Cruelty and Silence as I read the piece by Ajami.
The remarkable thing about the terror in Iraq is the silence with which it is greeted in other Arab lands. Grant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his due: He has been skilled at exposing the pitilessness on the loose in that fabled Arab street and the moral emptiness of so much of official Arab life. [. . . .] Zarqawi is a bigot and a killer, but he did not descend from the sky. He emerged out of the Arab world's sins of omission and commission; in the way he rails against the Shiites (and the Kurds) he expresses that fatal Arab inability to take in "the other." [. . . .] Zarqawi's war, it has to be conceded, is not his alone; he kills and maims, he labels the Shiites rafida (rejecters of Islam), he charges them with treason as "collaborators of the occupiers and the crusaders," but he can be forgiven the sense that he is a holy warrior on behalf of a wider Arab world that has averted its gaze from his crimes, that has given him its silent approval.
In other words, Zarqawi has become the new "al ra'ees," the new Saddam, the same as the old Saddam, risen up from the moral quagmire of the greater Arab world which never condemned the old Saddam for his brutality and atrocities against Iraqis. The silence was deafening then and it is deafening now, and the silence is abetted by the Arab world's appeasers in Europe and the UN, as Kanan Makiya describes in an interview with The Middle East Quarterly:
MEQ: Can the United Nations or Europe assist with reconciliation in coming years?
Makiya: From the Iraqi point-of-view, every involvement of the United Nations has been negative. But it is desirable to have the appearance of U.N. involvement. We need to break the isolation that currently exists, with the United States and a handful of other countries shouldering the burden of the Iraq project. The silence of the Europeans, the negative role of the United Nations—the fact that neither did anything for the people of Iraq during their historic elections—is shameful. The United Nations' and European hearts are just not in the Iraq project. That is unlikely to change in the near future. They might feel it necessary to make some effort, but it will always be halfhearted. In that sense I would say that the European countries, and particularly France, Germany, and the U.N. have actually given succor and assistance indirectly and unwittingly to the insurgents in Iraq. That is a shameful blot on their record.
Is the silence of the Arab world a surprise to Iraqis? Read the next question and Makiya's answer in the interview:
MEQ: Have any of the states neighboring Iraq played a more helpful role?
Makiya: None. None at all. There is no doubt about this whatsoever: We never expected to have friends in the region, and we still don't.
This year everyone saw the Arab League snaking its way into Baghdad to ingratiate itself with the new government for the sole purpose of lending support to the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq, a minority that is still sore from losing its position of privilege and power within Iraqi society, as Mr. Ajami writes:
For the diehards [Ba'athi], Iraq is now a "stolen country" delivered into the hands of subject communities unfit to rule. Though a decided minority, the Sunni Arabs have a majoritarian mindset and a conviction that political dominion is their birthright. Instead of encouraging a break with the old Manichaean ideologies, the Arab world beyond Iraq feeds this deep-seated sense of historical entitlement. No one is under any illusions as to what the Sunni Arabs would have done had oil been located in their provinces. They would have disowned both north and south and opted for a smaller world of their own and defended it with the sword.
Mr. Ajami is to the point with his remarks on Jordan and Egypt. One day, I hope that the Sunni triangle will belong to Jordan so that King Abdullah, formerly a great supporter of the old Saddam, can battle for control of his enlarged country with his Jordanian brother from Zarqa, the new Saddam. In fact, the battle for Jordan has already begun with Zarqawi's claim of responsibility for the recent Amman bombings. As for Egypt, I do not forget Egypt's role in the Anfal campaign . . . nor will I ever forgive it. More about that can be read at this article too.
A final word, this one about Mr. Ajami's observations about the American role in Iraq:
Washington has its cadre of Arabists reared on Arab nationalist historiography. This camp had a seat at the table, but the very scale of what was at play in Iraq, and the redemptionism at the heart of George Bush's ideology, dwarfed them.
US Department of State Arabists bear their share of responsibility for the Great Arab Silence. They have willingly immersed themselves in the filth of Arab nationalist ideology, the epitome of which is Ba'athism, and they stink of it. For examples of how well the Arabists have integrated Arab racism into their mindsets and world view, one can check an article by Peter Galbraith or one by Ralph Peters.
Like the Sunni Arabs they support, the DOS Arabist has also integrated that sense of superiority, privilege and elitism which blinds them to the fact that not all peoples are willing to do as they are ordered. The Shi'a in Iraq are going to act in their own interests, doing what they want to do and this won't necessarily be the same things that the Sunni Arabs and the DOS want. Furthermore, it is utter stupidity for the DOS Arabists to think that Southern Kurds have fought since 1961 for US interests, Sunni Arab/Arab League interests, Iraqi interests or any interests except Kurdish interests.
Neither the Kurds nor the Shi'a are inclined to be obedient to Amr Moussa's lackeys in the DOS.