Bush Has One Priority For 2004
By Robert Fisk
04 January 2004
since Daniel Pipes - he of the failed American neo-cons - piped up last
summer with his plan to install a "democratic-minded autocrat"
(sic) in Iraq, I have been eyeing the Washington crystal ball for further
signs of what the designers of this wretched war have in store for the
Iraqis whom they "liberated" for "democracy" last
year. And bingo, not long before Christmas, another of those chilling
proposals for "New Iraq" popped up from the same right-wing
cabal. Any predictions for Iraq this year may thus have to be based
on the thoughts of Leslie Gelb, a former chairman of the United States
Council on Foreign Relations, whose wretched plans for "liberated"
Iraq call for something close to ethnic cleansing.
In no less an organ
than The New York Times - the same paper which carried a plea last year
that Americans should accept that US troops will commit "atrocities"
in Iraq - appeared Mr Gelb's "Three State Solution", an astonishing
combination of simplicity and ruthlessness. It goes like this. America
should create three mini-states in Iraq - Kurds in the north, Sunnis
in the centre and Shias in the south - the frontiers of these three
entities drawn along ethnic, sectarian lines. The "general idea,"
says Mr Gelb, "is to strengthen the Kurds and Shias and weaken
the Sunnis." Thus US forces can extricate themselves from the quagmire
of the "Sunni triangle" while the "troublesome and domineering"
Sunnis themselves - with no control over Iraq's northern or southern
oil fields - will be in a more moderate frame of mind.
True, the chopping
up of Iraq might be "a messy and dangerous enterprise" - tens
of thousands of Iraqis, after all, would be thrown out of their homes
and pushed across new frontiers - but Washington should, if necessary,
impose partition by force. This is the essence of the Gelb plan.
Bosnia comes to
mind. Or Kosovo. But if it gets us out of Iraq, who's going to complain
when we - the famous "coalition of the willing" - push those
recalcitrant, ungrateful Iraqis into the same kind of "divide and
rule" colonial world for which the Americans always used to excoriate
It's important not
to regard all this as the meandering of Washington think-tanks. Pipes
and Gelb and their friends helped to build the foundations of this war,
and their ideas are intended to further weaken Iraq as a nation - and
thus the Arab world as a whole - while maintaining American military
power. Already, the sectarian nature of "New Iraq" has been
established by Washington's proconsul in Baghad, Paul Bremer.
Council" is made up of Shias, Sunnis and Kurds in direct proportion
to their share of the population. The Shias, who form 60 per cent of
the country, expect to take effective power in the Iraqi national elections
this year - this, after all, is the only reason why the Shia clergy
have not urged their people to join the anti-American insurgency - and
the Americans and British understand this all too well. Like so many
of those Arab nations created by the French and British amid the wreckage
of the Ottoman empire after the First World War, Iraq is to be governed
along sectarian lines.
So the coming months
are not difficult to comprehend. As the insurgency continues - and as
President Bush's re-election drama grows nearer - the US administration
will be ever more anxious to do two things: to insist that America will
"stay the course" - and to get out as quickly as possible.
There will be ever more policemen hired, ever more militias, ever more
ex-members of Saddam's old secret service, to act as sandbags between
Iraqi guerillas and the Americans. Already - with Iraqi cops taking
the most casualties - this is coming about. The Iraqi world is now breaking
up into rebels and collaborators, with a vast heap of innocent Iraqi
bodies - of children playing beside roadside bombs, children cut down
by American gunfire during house raids or protests, busloads of passengers
caught in guerilla ambushes, diners blown apart in restaurants - turning
up each morning at the Baghdad morgue.
Mr Bush, of course,
will be looking forward to the Show Trial of the Year to help his election
prospects. What, after all, could be more calculated to justify the
whole miserable occupation of Iraq than the concrete evidence of Saddam's
atrocities? Already, however, this highlight is beginning to look distinctly
worrying for the Bush administration, because any fair trial of the
old dictator must take into account the massive evidence, much of it
still secret in Washington, of the United States' involvement in creating
- and supporting - Saddam's regime for the cruellest years of his rule.
The shark-like lawyers already vying to defend Saddam are well aware
that it was Washington which enabled Saddam to obtain the chemicals
for his revolting use of gas against both Kurds and Iranian soldiers.
Gwynne Dyer, the
courageous journalist who did more than anyone to publicise Saddam's
use of gas against the Kurds - at a time when the CIA was putting out
the lie that the Halabja dead were killed by Iranian gas bombs - believes
Saddam will never get a public trial because if he did, "all this
would come out in gory detail." So maybe we won't see Saddam in
the dock this year after all.
As for that other,
cancerous war - between the Israelis and the Palestinians - we can be
sure than America's cowardly bias towards Israel at the expense of occupied
Palestinians will only be exacerbated by November's US presidential
election. Between Arafat's corrupt rule and the suicide executioners
of Hamas, and the expansionist and brutal Ariel Sharon, there will be
no peace. Already - how often that word "already" now crops
up in any Middle East analysis - Washington has given its blessing to
the shocking "new" message delivered by Sharon last month.
This was the speech
in which the Israeli Prime Minister appeared to support President Bush's
"road-map" - which calls, among other things, for an end to
Jewish settlement building - by stating that he was faithful to the
agreement "based on President Bush's speech of June 2002".
editorials went along with this piece of chicanery - without checking
the date. For Bush outlined his "road-map" in a speech in
2003, not 2002. The 2002 presidential speech to which Sharon was referring
stated only that Palestinians must forgo terrorism "before the
peace process can begin". Which suits Sharon fine. Hence this week's
revelation that during his three-year premiership, the population of
illegal Jewish settlements - built for Jews and Jews only on occupied
Arab land - has increased by 16 per cent.
So there you have
it. More Israeli settlement building on Arab land and, I've no doubt,
more Palestinian suicide bombings. More desperate attempts by the Americans
to escape from Iraq and more talk of turning "New Iraq" into
ethnic statelets. More Arab humiliation. More anger. More "war
on terror". Flak jackets on for 2004.
Copyright: The Independent