portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

arts and culture | imperialism & war

Iraqis didnít listen to the Arab elite and they are cheering today

When it became clear that the army was intelligent enough not to fight in defence of its oppressor, the "long-distance heroes" began urging civilians to go and get killed in large numbers in the forlorn hope of keeping Saddam in power.
Iraqis didn't listen to the Arab elite and they are cheering today
By Amir Taheri, The Daily Times, Pakistan

A regime regarded by every sane person as the worst the Arabs have seen in contemporary history has collapsed with relatively few casualties and limited material damage.

The Baathist criminals who killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including some by chemical weapons, over a quarter of a century, are either dead or will soon be captured and tried. For the first time since 1958 Iraq has a chance to dream of something other than bloody dictatorship.

Logically, the Arabs should be jubilant. But some of the Western media tell us that they are not. Are the Arabs masochists? The answer is: no.

The Arabs can be divided into three groups with regard to the war to liberate Iraq. The first consists of Arab regimes, most of them despotic, who secretly wished to see the end of Saddam while praying that they would escape a similar fate. The second consists of the Arab masses who, as yesterday's scenes of jubilation showed in Baghdad, are happy to see at least one of their oppressors kicked into the dustbin of history. The so-called "Arab street" did not explode in countries outside Iraq, thus disappointing the "Don't-Touch-Saddam" lobby in the West. All in all 17 demonstrations were held in four Arab countries. The largest, organised by the Syrian Government in Damascus, attracted just 12,000 people.

Then we have the "long-distance heroes", corrupt and confused elites who, tortured by what is left of their numbed consciences, still hope that someone else's sacrifices will somehow redeem them. These are not Iraqis. They are people far from the scene of the conflict who urged the Iraqis to die in large numbers so that they could compose poems in their praise or pen incendiary columns inciting them to "martyrdom". They dreamed of a second Vietnam or, failing that, at least a "Stalingrad in Baghdad".

Much of the Arab media went hysterical about imaginary battles in which resisting Iraqis supposedly inflicted massive losses on "the invaders". They forecast a war that would last "for years", if not "until the end of time".

Al-Ahram, the Egyptian government daily, promised that "the heroic Iraqis, ready to fight to the last of their blood", would turn their country into "a vast graveyard for America's imperial dreams". Many Arab newspapers imported their illusions from the West. Throughout the war, the Saudi, Egyptian and Lebanese press syndicated hundreds of articles from British and French anti-war newspapers. (The Saudi Arab News, for example, ran up to ten articles from The Independent each day.)

The headlines screamed, "Americans slaughter civilians" and "Thousands of Iraqis prepare for suicide missions". None of that happened. The Iraqis proved to be wiser than some of their Arab brethren had assumed.

The Iraqi Army, which suffered from Saddam Hussein's savagery as much as other Iraqi institutions, decided not to fight from the start. Its units did not become involved in a single engagement, above company level, against the coalition forces. Iraq's elite 4th Army Corps, based in the southeast, for example, evaporated. Had the Iraqi Army and people wanted to fight, coalition tanks would not have been at the gates of Baghdad in two weeks.

The first Gulf War, for the liberation of Kuwait, lasted six weeks including only 100 hours of ground fighting and indicated the unwillingness of the Iraqi Army to fight for the despot. (By comparison, the war to liberate Kosovo from Serbian terror lasted 11 weeks, and the war to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban took nine weeks.)

When it became clear that the army was intelligent enough not to fight in defence of its oppressor, the "long-distance heroes" began urging civilians to go and get killed in large numbers in the forlorn hope of keeping Saddam in power.

The fugitive terrorist Osama bin Laden, or whoever pretends to be him, issued a statement calling on Iraqis to commit suicide, presumably so that he could have a chuckle in his grotto. The sheikh of al-Azhar seminary in Cairo, and Hussein Fadlallah, the Hezbollah spiritual chief in Lebanon, issued fatwas for "jihad" which they mistakenly take to mean "holy war", and then went to bed, leaving the fight to Iraqi "candidates for martyrdom". The Iraqi people ignored them.

The Iraqis did not wish to suffer the fate of the Palestinians, that is to say to die in large numbers for decades so that other Arabs, safe in their homes, would feel good about themselves. The Iraqis know that had the Palestinians not listened to their Arab brethren, they would have had a state in 1947, as decided by the United Nations Security Council. The Iraqis know that each time the Palestinians became heroic to please other Arabs they lost even more.

These days the Arab media are full of articles about how the Arabs feel humiliated by what has happened in Iraq, how they are frustrated, how they hate America for having liberated the people of Iraq from their oppressor, and how they hope that the Europeans, presumably led by Jacques Chirac, will ride to the rescue to preserve a little bit of Saddam's legacy with the help of the United Nations.

Thank God, the peoples of Iraq, not deceived by Arab hyperbole, are ignoring such nonsense.

Are the "long-distance heroes" humiliated? If they are, so what? They should jump in a river. Today, Iraq is free and, despite its legitimate concerns about the future, cautiously happy. óThe Times

homepage: homepage: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_11-4-2003_pg4_14

wake up 10.Apr.2003 21:24


Rationalized mass murder.

Its mass murder.

Mass murder.


Not so much cheering.... 11.Apr.2003 03:06


as looting anything they can find. In reality the situation seems less about welcoming American "liberators" as expropriating the ill gotten goods of the oppressive Saddam government. I don't even have a problem with this, but if the Americans start showing the arrogence and trigger happy policing they've shown during their occupation so far they will quickly become seen as the new oppressors, and will see that same kind of anger directed at them.