Arabs must think the unthinkable
US vision of direct interference poses serious and imminent threat to the
dignity and independence of all Arabs, warns Burhan Al-Chalabi.
By Burhan Al-Chalabi*
Middle East Online - March 13, 2003:
When this Bush administration took over office it embarked on a
deliberate and unprecedented campaign to demonise Iraq and Iraqi people.
This is achieved through a sustained campaign to demonise the Iraqi
regime. So powerful was the campaign that the moral conscience of the
international community for a decade had literally gone into hibernation.
Thus paving the way for the US to practice, unopposed, otherwise
unacceptable policies of sanctions, containment and isolation of Iraq.
The declared objective of the US administration is regime change in Iraq.
To this end a host of pretexts had been used, only to be discredited over
time for void of relevance, substance or accuracy.
Whilst focusing attention on Iraq, the US administration has been engaged
also with a much broader political strategy; statements by senior US
officials and carefully leaked reports to the press. These have painted a
picture of US vision for the Middle East. A political strategy for
imposing the new world order in the region.
Pivotal to the US strategy is eliminating any symbol of resistance to US
intentions. The Iraqi regime fits the bill. Therefore, regime change in
Iraq became essential to the US grand plan. Military destruction and
occupation of Iraq would send the right signal. Establish a much needed
It is envisaged by the US administration that regime change in Baghdad
would pave the way to implementing US vision for other countries in the
region. That of US friendly Arab democracies. Unable to resist US
effective control of Arab oil and gas reserves. Ready to submit to the
Zionist aspiration of a greater Israel. Stretching between the Nile and
Euphrates. Most importantly willing to undergo a complete social,
political and religious transformation. The extent and nature of planned
change is foreign to the fabric of Arab and Islamic cultures. These form
the basis to the existence of every society in the region.
To the people of the region this US vision is fictional. At best it is a
manifestation of US political ignorance of the history and the
civilization of the region. At worst it is a deliberate attempt to
destroy the region in order to control it. The old communist doctrine.
Order grows out of chaos.
The concept of democracy may be welcomed in some corners of the Arab
world. But it is commonly accepted that Iraq is the wrong lab for
democratic experiments. Iraq’s violent history and the delicate harmony
between the various ethnic religions and political groups offer ample
evidence to support this assertion. In any case, for democracy to
materialise in the Arab world it has to be home grown and enriched by the
wealth of Arabic and Islamic cultures.
The principal ideals of democracy have to interact effectively over time
with the realities of the Arab world. The hope being to influence
realities by the ideals. A pre-requisite to this important development is
the necessity to free Arabs from foreign and US interference in their
daily life. Not to waste the nations resources into crisis management or
military hardware. But to invest into health, education and transport.
Exported or imposed democracies are doomed to failure for they are alien
to the people’s way of life.
US vision of direct interference poses serious and imminent threat to the
dignity and independence of all Arabs. Therefore the Arabs have to think
the unthinkable. That is to accept that the US has no friends or allies.
It simply has interests. That the US is not an honest broker for Middle
East peace. Arabs have also to abandon the old notion that the US can be
won over as a friend of the Arabs. Ideologically the US is committed to
Zionism through unconditional and unlimited support to the state of
Israel. Religiously the fundamentalist Christian views of this
administration poses serious concerns to Arabs and Muslims alike.
At the heart of the matter should be Arabs recognition that the
geo-economical dependence of the US on Arabs is greater than that of the
Arabs on the US. The Arab region contains among other resources, huge
reserves of very much needed oil and gas. However, the Arabs can purchase
non-US defensive military requirements. Arabs can also prosper with
non-US imported technology. Therefore the time has come for the Arabs to
rewrite the rules of political engagements with the US. To be on the
basis of protecting Arabs interests as well.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with Iraq is a necessary first step in the
direction of mental independence from US influence. There is of course a
further fundamental change on the part of the so-called friendly Arab
governments. That is to abandon the idea of mortgaging their political
survival against Western protection. New thinking is needed consistent
with the age of the Internet and satellite TV. Today information is
available at the press of a button for all ordinary citizens. Gone are
the days of state controlled information.
In their own doctrine, Arab leaders and regimes do care about Arab
interests, dignity, integrity and independence. However, none seems to
have mustered the courage to embrace real and effective change. To break
away from old traditions of staying in power with foreign protection. To
rule with the will and support of the people. To invest Arab resources
for the benefit of peace and prosperity of the Arab citizens. These
changes will enhance not threaten the position of Arab regimes. It is the
only political insurance for survival.
The US is a superpower with different needs and considerations. All aimed
at protecting US interests. Therefore, the price of US protection can no
longer be met by friendly Arab regimes. Because the price is the very
existence of the regimes as well as the welfare and destiny of the Arab
Whether it is in the name of war against terrorism or to dominate and
control Arab oil and gas reserves, Europe has realized the US perceived
crusade against Arabs and Muslims way yield short-term dividend to the US
administration. But it is Europe which is closer to the likely Muslim and
Arab backlash and worse equipped to deal with it. Recognizing this danger
provided the impetus to the “Axis of Peace” lead by France and Germany to
embrace a strategy to contain or nullify the US strategy for Iraq and the
Similarly the Arab regimes should be under no illusion as to the real
dangers of a US invasion of Iraq. The US is banking on the so-called
“quick victory” or favourite scenario where the Iraqi army will surrender
to the first sign of US danger. Perhaps there may even be a welcoming
party of women and children in the streets of Baghdad. The history of
Iraq and the region suggests otherwise. There is only one bloody
scenario. The worst scenario. Thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians will
be killed by the mother of all US bombs. Tearing the heart and soul of
the Iraqis to save them from the burden of US sanctions. The destruction
of Iraq. A nation burial not a nation building. Complete and utter
destabilisation of the region. Anger and frustration at US policies of
double standard and selective morally. These would serve well to
radicalise the attitude of the people of the region to harm US interests
and end all regimes that have failed to act seriously to stop war.
By deploying their forces in the region without UN consent, the US and UK
have shown their commitment to war. The Arabs, in consort with the moral
conscience of the international community, have to show their commitment
to peace and stability of the region. What are needed are serious and
active measures to stop US aggression against Iraq. Thus save the future
of the region and stability of the world.
In asserting its will and authority on the Arabs and Muslims the US is
under a misconception. That being powerful is being civilised. The
opposite is true. Being civilised is being truly powerful. For a society
to be civilised it has to have a fundamental moral code. That of saving
the lives of innocent people and giving peace, not war, a chance.
* Dr Burhan M Al-Chalabi is a member of the Royal Institute of