Sunday, 6 May 2007
Bush and the Muslim Leaders
On the 3rd and 4th of May 2007 senior leaders from Iraq’s neighbours, the permanent Security Council members, the Arab League, the UN and others converged in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt to discuss Iraq. The conference was billed as an opportunity to help the Iraqi state out of its current desperate predicament and to try to help end the bloodshed. However in reality the conference is more about helping the US out of its current desperate situation. The US having failed spectacularly to achieve its goals in Iraq and for the wider region by military means has now had to humiliatingly resort to using her client states in the region to salvage some kind of tactical gain from the disaster which is Iraq. Many have cited the conference in which the US Secretary of State will be present alongside representatives of Iran and Syria as proof of progress that the US has finally acknowledged the importance of diplomacy and engagement. Many commentators have highlighted the fact that the conference is a validation of the Baker Hamilton report produced in December 2006 which proposed that the US take a more aggressive diplomatic track, especially with Iraq‘s neighbours Iran and Syria. However the conference is a sham for a number of reasons:1. It is clear from recent developments in Washington that most experts and politicians in Congress realise that the US has lost the war in Iraq. Indeed the Senate majority leader Harry Reid used these exact words to describe the US situation. Yet while the American public, the US Congress and countless former generals defy President Bush, the leaders in the Muslim lands remain largely silent over the Iraq debacle. While Washington resonates with vibrant criticism of the President’s actions, the capitals of the Muslim lands remain in their obedient slumber. While most in Washington now call for American forces to withdraw, leaders of the Muslim nations demand that US forces stay. Instead of attending a conference organised by America to provide it with legitimacy, the leaders of the Muslim nations should boycott the gathering and call for US forces to leave immediately: not only from Iraq, but from the whole region.2. The idea that countries like Iran and Syria have not assisted US foreign policy objectives in the past and would not do so in the future is a media myth. Syria was a supporter of the US in the first Gulf War and was recently visited by the US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Iran actively helped America defeat the Taliban and cheered the defeat of its historic enemy in Baghdad. Recent press reports have indicated that elements of the Iranian regime have also helped US security services in capturing various targets within Iraq on more than one occasion. It is naïve to believe that this conference is some kind of watershed to a rapprochement between Washington, Damascus and Tehran when private discussions and deals continually take place, as they did at the time of the Iran Contra affair. 3. The conference highlights the incestuous relationships between the US, the UK and some of the most brutal dictators in the world. The irony of seeking to strengthen a so-called democracy in Iraq whilst dictators, kings, emirs and self elected presidents are present, who are simultaneously classified as ‘moderates’, will not be lost on the people of the Muslim world. It is no wonder that the credibility of certain western governments is so bad when people see that core western values are repeatedly sacrificed for national interests. 4. Contrary to the narrative of Iraq by western governments that a fledgling Iraqi government is being destabilised by terrorists, it is really the occupation that remains the core of the problem. Secretary of State Rice on the eve of the conference cited Iraqi stability as key to the region. She is right but the main source of instability is the presence of tens of thousands of coalition troops from her country. The motivation behind the resistance, contrary to popular myth, is not the restoration of the secular Baathist rule. It is the removal of the US led occupation. Millions of Iraqis are completely opposed to US hegemony and to dismiss these people as merely remnants of the previous regime or terrorists is simply propaganda to cover up the complete lack of support that the so-called 'coalition' has in Iraq. 5. It is important to also restate the point that America and Britain did not fight this colonial war to benefit the Iraqi people, but rather to promote their own strategic and ideological agenda based on their own national interests. They are each obsessed with creating a puppet regime in Iraq who will do as they say. It is clear from the objectives of the war that the US and the UK remain committed to imposing secular liberal values by force in Iraq as a model for the whole region. In addition they want to eliminate Islam in the political sphere, continue their crackdown on Islamic political groups, build permanent military bases and ensure the flow of cheap energy supplies for their corporations and their citizens.We are indeed at a major fork in the road with reactionary forces in the US and the UK remaining wedded to their ideological path, despite defeat after defeat and negative poll after negative poll. The reason they continue to stay in Iraq is to make sure it remains under western influence - backward, dependent, weak and divided - a giant US military base. This is the reason why they hate the idea of Islam in the form of the Caliphate emerging in the region, because it is everything they are not. It believes in independence from the major corporations. It believes in economic rights for the poor and the needy. It has an alternative vision for the third world that is being economically milked dry by colonial policies. To this day it constitutes the only successful historical system that has truly united all nationalities and races. This is why, according to a recent opinion poll in four major Muslim countries, the Caliphate has the support of 65 % of those sampled. The US and UK governments have shown by their foreign policy and their plutocratic economic policies that they offer a narrow and selfish world view. While the vast majority of the Muslim world rejected such a vision a long time ago, their leaders at Sharm el Sheikh remain committed to supporting one of the worst episodes the world has witnessed in recent times.