Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Perpetual War The rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq is something that our nominal allies in the Middle East are watching sadly saying "I told you so" along with fear that the ticking timebomb feared since Iranian Revolution of 1978 becoming uncontainable. Islamic fundementalism is becoming unbound, and our invasion of Iraq and the failure of the Bush Administration to adequately plan occupation is doing EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of the PNAC crowds predictions -- rather than staunching the flames, it may be pouring gasoline on the fire. From Reuters: DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (Reuters) - As U.S. forces battle on a new front in Iraq, Baghdad's Arab neighbors watch the escalating violence with alarm and a message that affords them only the grimmest satisfaction: "We told you so." Arab leaders had said loudly and repeatedly that a U.S. war against Saddam Hussein would unleash chaos in multi-ethnic Iraq and the region and open a Pandora's box of radicalism. With U.S.-led forces now battling Shi'ite Muslims in several cities, they now feel their ominous prophecy has come true. The leaders fear that clashes between Shi'ites loyal to firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and occupation forces could lead to civil war -- and spill over their borders. "This is what we've been warning about. We told the Americans Saddam Hussein was only five percent of the problem. The other 95 percent just wasn't visible to them," a Gulf Arab diplomat said. "It's a very dangerous situation. It's painful." "The developments in Iraq are alarming and we fear that we are facing a civil war in Iraq like Afghanistan and Lebanon," Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said. "We cannot leave Iraq in this state because this disease will spread and I believe the situation is out of control." .... "The Americans appear to be sinking into the Iraqi quagmire. I dread to think about the repercussions on the region in case Iraq disintegrates into wider chaos," said a Jordanian official who declined to be identified. ... Soli Ozel, an associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said: "If Iraq falls apart, other states will start backing their own groups and will suck everyone in. "I believe the genie is out of the bottle," he added. ... Many analysts say that arresting Sadr would not halt Iraq's Shi'ite uprising, saying the cause of the revolt was not the cleric, but U.S. policy. "Moqtada al-Sadr's remarkable ability to mobilize opposition reflects the large scale frustration with this policy," said Egyptian analyst Mohamed al-Sayed Said. "We have a complete mess, a series of mistakes committed by the Americans." One of those, said Middle East expert Khairallah Khairallah, was the U.S. decision to demobilize thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police, leaving many armed youths jobless and free to join Sadr's militia. "The general situation in Iraq overall is jinxed. ... The question is how or will they (the Americans) be able to transfer power to Iraqis," said Kuwaiti academic Shamlan el-Issa. (Additional reporting by Dominic Evans in Riyadh, Ghaida Ghantous in Qatar, Tom Perry in Cairo, Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman, Inal Ersan in Damascus and Noora Mahfouz in Kuwait) If we do not get a handle on this situation PRONTO the Iraqi failure will turn into the disposal of Jordan and Saudi Arabia and maybe more and the United States will be at perpetual and eventually hopeless war. It may not be World War Three, but it will be worse than Vietnam.
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