Thu 4 Nov, 2004 10:24 am
US options in Iraq: Look at history
By Pat M. Holt
WASHINGTON – Perhaps the worst legacy of Saddam Hussein will turn out to be an Iraqi civil war after the coalition forces leave thinking they have pacified the country. This new war will come, if it does, from an explosion of bad feeling among various non-Arab groups who settled northern Iraq under the Ottoman Empire and Arabs who were brought there by Hussein as part of an Arabization policy. Before there was Saddam Hussein, there was the Ottoman Empire and the League of Nations. At the height of its power, the Ottoman Empire extended from Algeria and the gates of Vienna on the west to Iran on the east and Saudi Arabia on the south. The Ottomans (Turks, really) occupied most of what is now Iraq in the 16th century. They built a major naval base in Basra to protect and control shipping in the Persian Gulf. Gradually Ottoman expansion into Europe was pushed back, and by the beginning of World War I in 1914 the Empire had shrunk to the Middle East and a little of North Africa.
The Ottomans might have remained neutral in that war, but instead they allied themselves with Germany. The decision was influenced by early German victories, basic Turkish hostility to Russia (later a factor in Turkey's joining NATO), and the opportunism of Ottoman Minister of War Enver Pasha. In October 1914, with the war only two months old, the Ottomans bombarded Russian Black Sea ports, and the Triple Entente (France, Russia, and Britain) declared war.
Out of the war, there came the League of Nations and its system of mandates, which were much like the United Nations trusteeships that followed World War II. The British got a mandate as far north as Baghdad, and the French had a mandate in Syria as far east as Mosul. The provinces of Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra were merged into one political entity with diverse religious and ethnic populations and artificial boundaries which the British drew on a map. This new country was called Iraq.
In 1921, British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill presided over a conference in Cairo, which established a monarchy in Iraq. A constitution provided for a parliamentary government with a bicameral legislature. The first parliament met in 1925. Britain terminated the mandate in 1932. In the period between 1925 and the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958, there were 10 general elections and 50 cabinets - a new cabinet approximately every eight months. This is not a good record of political stability, nor is there reason to think a new Iraqi democracy will be much, if any, better. But for that matter, neither are the multitudinous governments of Italy or Bolivia, two very different nations that seem to be getting along alright and not threatening their neighbors.
There may not be opportunity in the short term to try a new Iraqi democracy. Hussein's efforts to suppress the Kurds are well known. What is not so well known is that these were part of a broader policy of Arabization of northern Iraq. About a thousand years ago, there began successive waves of immigration from Central Asia - Mongols, Turks, Turkmens, Kurds, and Circassians. Of these, Kurds, Turkmens, and Turks are still significant. (Turkmens are from Turkmenistan, a former Soviet Republic, and are not to be confused with people from Turkey.)
This mixture lived together without noticeable friction until Hussein decided that Iraq's security (and his own?) required Arab majorities. To encourage this, he gave Arab families houses (plus settlement allowances of some thousands of dollars). He obtained the houses either by buying them from non-Arab families or by evicting the families, with compensation a fraction of market value. The non-Arabs were told that a railroad or other public works project was to be built and the house was in the way. The projects never materialized and Arab families from elsewhere in Iraq moved into the houses.
This created abiding hatred on the part of the dispossessed non-Arabs. It was only in the north that American invaders were welcomed as liberators. Many non-Arabs are reported to hope the Americans stay, an invitation that most Americans would probably not like to accept.
The choices for American foreign policy will be: (1) Stay indefinitely as unwilling, and most likely ineffective, peacekeepers. Or (2) Come home and watch a civil war that was made possible by the American intervention followed by withdrawal.
• Pat M. Holt is former chief of staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He wrote the book 'Secret Intelligence and Public Policy: A Dilemma of Democracy.'
Our oil interests are too valuable to cut and run. We will stay and protect those. Most of the military bases we are building there, basically renovations and augmentations of existing Iraqi military bases, are based in oil related cities and locales.
The problem is in emplacing a stooge government that will forgo the will of the Iraqis in favor of our own interests.
In the meantime, we must take matters into our own hands.
The suppression of insurgency will commence shortly in Fallujah and will continue throughout the country as we see fit.
Also, Iraq is too important militarily strategic to give up so easily.
From Iraq we can conduct other freedom wars in the Middle East from a centralized location without having to go through the red tape of flyover and thoroughfare diplomacy.
Although not strictly speaking a "history" entry, this excerpt I wrote in the Politics forum, touches upon this subject:
Four years ago I wrote condoleances to my US pen pal and foretold him that his new president would go to war at the first possible opportunity. What will I tell him now?
I think that what we are seeing is the predictions of the Club of Rome gradually becoming reality during our lifetime. Oil (and other mineral) resources are dwindling while demand (especially from developing economies like China) is growing.
The sensible and farsighted thing to do would be to invest heavily in sustainable alternative resources and spread the technology as far and wide as possible. However, we know that the Bush administration is doing the contrary: the US are consuming more oil and other resources than any other nation on earth. Americans drive bigger and bigger gas guzzlers and petrol prices are kept low. Why? What's the idea?
I think it is partly bread and games and it is partly the interests of the oil industry. Every sane person knows that the oil is going to run out sooner or later, so oil becomes a rare commodity and control of the resource will be of great strategic (and economic!) importance. Therefore the Bush clique seek to use the might of the world's only superpower to gain control of the oil. That way they can check China's future threat (but remember what happened when the US put an oil embargo on Japan in 1941).
The thing is that the majority of the oil producing nations are muslim countries. Therefore, in order to explain going to war against these countries we must make islam the enemy. Osama fits the bill perfectly. Naturally, we do not want to destroy him, because then people might think the threat is over, so we must cultivate the enemy, the war must be endless so that we can use it as a tool to remain power (in 4 year's time you can bet your buttocks that Jeb Bush will be a contender), divide the people and spread fear, fear keeps people in a stranglehold and makes them easy to rule.
The war in Iraq is not going to end soon, but Bush will try to "Iraquify" the fighting so that it will be Iraquis killing each other and if that doesn't work properly he will try to escalate the conflict to the neighbouring countries, preferably Iran, which also has large oil reserves and borders on Afghanistan. Direct or indirect control of the oil is the goal and with the hand on that rare resource the US power will be assured for the immediate future, the EU and China will be at the mercy of the US oil barons in the White House.
Will back here later.
Just a short notice:
The Ottomans (Turks, really)
The term Ottoman is a dynastic appellation derived from Osman (Arabic: 'Uthman), the nomadic Turkmen chief who founded both the dynasty and the empire.
The Ottoman Empire was created by Turkish tribes in Anatolia, and became one of the most powerful states in the world during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Turkic peoples are historically and linguistically connected with the T'u-chüeh, the name given by the Chinese to the nomadic people who in the 6th century AD founded an empire stretching from Mongolia and the northern frontier of China to the Black Sea.
The Turkic peoples may be divided into two main groups: the western and the eastern. The western group includes the Turkic peoples of southeastern Europe and those of southwestern Asia inhabiting Anatolia (Asian Turkey) and northwestern Iran. The eastern group comprises the Turkic peoples of Central Asia, Kazakhstan, and the Uighur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang in China. Turkic peoples display a great variety of ethnic types.
source: Britannica et. al.