Jump to content
Clubplanet Nightlife Community
Sign in to follow this  

Read this...

Recommended Posts

By Linda S. Heard

ATHENS (PalestineChronicle.com) - As the hauntingly beautiful sounds of the Muezzin resonate through the night sky over Baghdad, ancient capital of the Arab world, the city's residents bravely brace themselves for yet another onslaught of death and destruction, courtesy of the Coalition of the Callous.

Sky TV's David Chater said that the prospect of a second night of the Pentagon's "Shock and Awe" campaign filled him with "dread". He graciously praised the spirit of the Iraqi people and ironically likened that spirit to that of Londoners during the World War II Blitz.

Many of the Western journalists still remaining in Baghdad have been amazed at the city's stoicism in the face of overwhelming force. Despite the city's skyline ablaze on the first day of "Shock and Awe", the heavens suffused with a red pallor and the stench of burning oil, the people of Baghdad emerged from a night of unimaginable horror to carry on with their lives.

In a spirit of defiance, bakers, butchers and even barbers opened their stores; people queued outside hospitals to give blood and mothers shopped for fresh produce. If the allies expected to see a cowed and cowardly nation on its bended knee, they were sorely disappointed.

While speculation ran wild as to whether the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain was still alive, Iraq's feisty ambassador to the United Nations complained that Kofi Annan had behaved improperly by stopping the oil for food programme and pulling out UN peacekeepers from th e demilitarised zone between Iraq and Kuwait.

The U.S. showed its disrespect for the Iraqi government by expelling its diplomats with the intention to seize its embassies and consulates while giving notice that it is considering using Iraq's $1.7 billion - frozen in U.S. banks since the Gulf War - to rebuild Iraq's shattered infrastructure. America has urged other countries to follow suit but most have refused.

Against speculation as to whether the U.S. intends to privatise Iraq's oil industry and manoeuvers to take over responsibility for the "Oil for Food" escrow account, Igor Ivanov, the Russian Foreign Minister, complained that America's call to expel Iraqi diplomats is aimed at negating Iraq's $8 billion debt to Moscow, while rendering oil contracts between Russia and Iraq null and void.

In a climate of increasing rancour between nations, Tommy Franks, leader of the coalition forces, gave a press conference in Qatar, some would say appropriately, upon a podium created by a Hollywood set designer.

Dressed in a crisp camouflage uniform and flanked by ranking officers from the British, Australian, Danish and Dutch armed services sporting contrasting mottled fatigues, General Franks gave the impression that Iraqi troops were surrendering in large numbers. He presented satellite imagery of snaking lines of men... or dogs, or maybe ants as "proof".

The General gave the impression that taking Baghdad would be a walk in the park but the news emerging on Sunday presented a very different picture. The town of Umm Qasr hadn't been "liberated" after all, Basra had been circumvented, not taken, an American soldier had turned on his own officers, killing one and injuring others, while a British plane had been shot down in a "blue on blue" incident.

Worse was to come. The Americans suffered a number of casualties during various skirmishes and five terrified American service personnel were taken as prisoners of war and interrogated on Iraqi television. All day long the Pentagon h ad refuted Iraqi claims that it had taken prisoners. Perhaps if it had told the truth, the Iraqis would not have had to prove their assertions to the world by putting the young soldiers on public display.

The American administration called the broadcast "disgusting". Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a hypocritical invocation of the Geneva Conventions, saying that these prohibit the public humiliation of POWs.

Rumsfeld conveniently forgot that during the first days of the war scores of Iraqi prisoners carrying white flags had been televised being patted down and forced to lie down on the tarmac.

The scenes of hundreds of Arabs being transported from Afghanistan to Guantanamo, shackled, gagged, blindfolded, handcuffed and chained to their aircraft seats before being kept in chicken coops must have slipped his mind too. Do the Geneva Conventions only apply to America's foes?

It is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff when psychological warfare has a pivotal role in "Operation Enduring Freedom".

The CIA had circulated rumours concerning the demise of Iraq's vice president say some experts, claiming that the U.S. wanted Tariq Aziz to surface in public, making him a more visible and traceable target.

Some in the media have begun to wonder whether they are being manipulated. Veteran war journalists have accused embedded reporters as having made a Faustian bargain. "This will be a campaign unlike any other in history," prophesied General Franks.

He's got that right. This is the first time in decades that the U.S. has launched a pre-emptive war, whose legality is questionable - a war, which flies in the face of the United Nations Charter, international law and worldwide condemnation.

Indeed, the legitimacy of this war is a bone of contention between the coalition allies and anti-war nations such as France, Russia, and Germany, which are urging the UN to rule as to its legality one way or the other.

The problem is that Bush has shown his disdain for the United Nations and is likely to brush aside its judgments. As long as America is the sole superpower then Bush feels, rightly or wrongly, that he and his country are invincible.

Bush displayed his confidence on the day that the war began. After a ball game with his pet pooch on the lawns of the White House, he dined with Laura before squeezing in his televised speech to the nation.

The BBC was so eager to broadcast this 'oratorical gem' that its cameras began rolling ahead of time. The result. There was a cheerful looking Dubya soundlessly moving his mouth, practicing a catalogue of facial expressions while a matronly figure primped his hair and dusted his nose. On air, he adopted a Churchillian demeanour, a tragic pose, fooling few.

When Ari Fleischer, the President's spokesman, was asked whether his boss had viewed the bombardment of Baghd ad and what his reaction had been, he answered "the president rarely watches television." What the eye doesn't see... For the rest of us, images of conflagration and children in pain have been seared in our memories for all time.

The latest bon mot emanating from the Bush camp is "liberation" twinned with how America intends to provide a better future for the Iraqis, but few among the millions of people around the world, protesting "an illegal and unjust war" trust anything the White House has to say.

When U.S. marines prematurely hoisted the American flag over the port of Umm Qasr, the anti-war brigade was outraged, their worst fears confirmed. The Americans came as occupiers not liberators. Pax Americana was born.

Or was it? After British objections, the Star Spangled Banner, once thought of as benign, now threatening, was speedily taken down. The veil of illusion under which most of the world was labouring with regards to the superpower fell down with that flag.

This New World Order has made our planet a dangerous place seething with conflicting interests and ideologies. The so-called "Old Europe" is nervous and is seriously pushing for a combined European force.

Iran demands to know why missiles are raining down on its soil. Syria and Iran are discussing joint defence. Russia is retreating from its non-proliferation treaties while its pilots eyeball American spy planes flying around its borders. Then there is the increasing nuclear threat posed by North Korea.

Turkey is extracting itself from America's influence, while the region's Gates of Hell could be about to open as Amr Moussa has warned. Both the Egyptian and Jordanian governments struggle to keep a lid on the fury of their respective populations while urging America to cease firing and withdraw before it's too late. The Arab world reflects on where it went wrong and on just how badly it has misjudged its dear old friend Uncle Sam.

If and when the Coalition conquers Baghdad it will soon discover that its victory is Pyrrhic. For the Iraqis the end of the sirens, the deafening explosions and the sensation of cold fear may bring welcome relief. Their neo imperial master might allow them to retain nominal freedom even as their natural resources are stolen and a puppet leader is installed. Their standard of living could improve by leaps and bounds. All this is true.

But in their hearts they will feel betrayed, their national pride eroded and their dignity compromised. They are Arabs and like their Palestinian brethren they will never surrender to occupation. Never. The Anglo-American aggressive alliance may win the campaign but I predict that the war will remain ever elusive as the world, and particularly the Arab world, wakes up from its stupor.

The writer is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. The writer can be contacted at [email protected]

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this