Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, December 5th, 2006
Prior to the invasion of Iraq, President Bush referred to the existing political order in the Middle East as “false stability”.
This writer agreed with this characterization. After all, the seeming stability was perfectly correlated with dictatorships. Unless one accepts that the region's dictators are a normal state of affairs, the calm that most Middle East countries enjoyed could not have been sustainable or "real".
Growing up in the Middle East, I know the conventional wisdom has been that the region’s dictators were more or less hand picked by the U.S. to serve the superpower’s own interests.
Surely, the Shah of Iran, the King of Saudi Arabia, Mubarak of Egypt, Saddam of Iraq as well as Assad of Syria could not have maintained their hold on power for this long had it not been for the U.S.'s implicit, if not explicit, help. Only when the U.S. yanked the rug from underneath these regimes would the region have a chance to prosper and advance, the thinking had always been.
On March 20th, 2003, the U.S. did indeed decide to pull the rug from under one of the key regimes that it had supported in the past.
The official, stated objectives of this invasion were to “disarm Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people".
Three and a half years later, of course, things could not have turned out any differently.
Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were never found. Saddam’s support for terrorism (Al-Qaeda) was never proved. The Iraqi people were freed from Saddam but only to be thrown into the ensuing hell and mayhem that soon followed.
This writer wrote an article on this forum criticizing the U.S.’s stated reasoning behind the Iraq invasion. It was entitled "Spreading Democracy – Why the U.S. must tell the truth".
The U.S. bet big. They lost bigger.
Rather than being intimidated by the superpower next door, both Syria and Iran have worked tirelessly to fill the vacuum left by Saddam’s exit.
Soon following the arrival of America’s troops in the region, both Iran and Syria marshaled their resources and embarked on a well-orchestrated plan to thwart the U.S. mission. Were the U.S. to succeed in their first Middle East experiment, all signs pointed to Damascus and Tehran as being next. As it turns out, instigating chaos and instability in a Saddamless Iraq was not difficult. To the contrary, the ground was very fertile indeed.
The Middle East, and Iraq in particular, had its own experiment with occupying foreign forces in the past. At the height of the British Empire’s dominance, Iraq was thought to be critical in influencing the territory. As the Americans have recently discovered, traditional Arab hospitality does not extend to occupying Christian armies. Most people blame the U.S. support of Israel as one of the reasons for their failure in Iraq. The British, of course, faced a similar unwelcome before the State of Israel ever came into being. This point is worth remembering when we hear today’s pleas for a Palestinian-Israeli peace as a prerequisite for a solution in Iraq.
One wonders what would have happened were a Moslem army to have invaded and occupied a country like Iraq. Perhaps other readers and commentators can expand on this topic.
Regardless of how events unfold in the immediate future, the clear winners of this failed American experiment are the region’s dictators.
Given their mastery of ruling their populace by fear and intimidation, these leaders know full well that the only way they can be removed from power is through the help of implicit, if not explicit, foreign intervention. Without that, their own citizens are powerless to hold their own leaders accountable.
Had it not been for the U.S., Saddam would have stayed in power till his death. His two handsome sons would have surely been next in line. Not that Iraqis feel any better with him gone of course.
Syria is no different. Assad senior handed the reign to his 34-old year son after a 30-minute amendment of the constitution. The odds are heavily in favor of Hafez Assad junior to be the country’s next President after the many years that the current healthy President is expected to enjoy as head of state.
Most readers of this forum seem to believe that the recent facts on the ground favor the Syria/Iran axis to win this confrontation with the U.S. It is all just a matter of time before the world’s sole superpower will decide to retreat and look for a graceful exit from the region’s treacherous waters, the majority opinion believes.
If readers of this forum represent a microcosm of Arab opinion, the people of the region are glad to see America humiliated in Iraq. Their own leaders are simply ecstatic. They have just received a new lease on life. America will never dare come to their region again. Calls for democracy have seen the Islamists fill the void in one country after another. The Palestinians chose Hamas. The Egyptian local elections brought the Moslem Brothers. Even tiny and traditionally liberal Bahrain has recently seen its own Islamists control Parliament. I think that it is now obvious to all that this pattern will be repeated over and over in every Arab country that experiments with its own style of democracy.
We, the people of this region, therefore have made our wishes clear to the international community:
“Leave us alone. We do not need your help. We are content to let our dictators rule us with an iron fist and rob us of our civil rights and dignity. We prefer the stability that comes with the use of force than the inevitable anarchy that will follow when our dictators are gone. Given the chance to vote and choose our own leaders, Islamists and Sharia rule will be the inevitable winnners . Our own dictators have long known and masterfully exploited this inherent tendency of ours. We know that we will never be able to get rid of our tyrants by ourselves. But this does not stop us from dreaming that we can do so without the help of others. The only winners of this saga have been our very own leaders. The failed American endeavour in Iraq has been a Godsend to them. Sadly, and as usual, the region's people have lost. Middle East style stability our people may indeed keep. In return for this so-called stability however, they will have to give up their civil liberties, economic development, increased standards of living and the chance to elect their leaders and hold them accountable.