For the majority of political analysts and experts the question is no longer whether there will be a war in Iraq or not, but when, how and … what (is) will be its purpose? Regardless of the fact that the Iraqi regime has agreed to the return of inspectors who were barred from Iraq in 1998 prior to the operation the Desert Fox.
Once again, the question of overthrowing Saddam Hussein has become the major issue: because of the production of weapons of mass destruction or because of the Iraqi oil stocks. The latter amount to 220 billion barrels, and the country also has 30 trillion m³ of gas stocks. Is the reason hiding in the fertile Mesopotamia where two million Palestinian refugees could be settled, or in the new political map of the Middle East where the USA would replace the non-democratic regimes with the democratic ones? Iraq is the beginning of one of the series of democratisation processes of the Middle East which according to Dr. Bernard Lewis, professor at the Princeton University, metaphorically presents a game of dominoes. Baghdad is the dice and when it is cast the other dominoes will start to fall successively.
US President George Bush has announced the course of events in relation to Iraq at the United Nations General Assembly Session: 1) in his speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, President Bush was clear that the American goal is not only the return of inspectors but also additional conditions inherent in former resolutions of the Security Council (No 1284 of 17 December 1999, No 1051 of 17 December 1999, No 715 of 11 October 1991, No 707 of 15 November 1991) binding Iraq to destroy the weapons of mass destructions; 2) the Iraqi regime has to resolve the conflict with Kuwait, i.e. the questions of missing persons and war indemnity (Resolution No 686 of 3 March 1991 and No 687 of 3 April 1991); 3) resolutions No 688 of 5 April 1991 and No 949 of 15 September 1994 bind Iraq to stop persecutions of civilian population and minorities.
In his speech to the General Assembly, Bush advocated the dissolution of the Iraqi repressive apparatus and public prosecution of the Iraqi leaders. However, Saddam Hussein definitely can not fulfil these conditions, since it would mean the end of his authority. In that case, Bush has checkmated Saddam Hussein.
Undoubtedly, there is a plan for overthrowing Saddam Hussein, but there is also a chance that no real scenario has been prepared. According to STRATFOR, American intelligence analyses agency, the American Administration has several variants of the scenario and is ready to initiate at any moment one or even more scenarios simultaneously: 1) The desert turbulence: a fierce air assault with radar-guided invisible bombers to command posts; 2) The desert chopping: a strong and continuous offensive which would chop off some areas and regions from Baghdad and transfer their governance to the opposition; 3) The desert storm II: a strong offensive from air which would cause a military and economic collapse of the country; 4) The desert thunder: bombing of Baghdad and of the positions of the Republican Guard with various weapons and in various ways.
The experts and co-workers of the IFIMES institute believe the Iraqi forces (except Israel) still to be the strongest in the Middle East, although at least 40% of its capacities were lost during the Desert Storm operation. In the regular composition, Iraqi forces count 430 thousand soldiers and the incredible 6.6 million reservists ("the Jerusalem Army"). Iraq has 2,200 tanks (of which 700 are type T-72 tanks), 3,700 armoured personnel carriers, 2,400 artillery weapons – they have preserved some 20-50 SCUD rocket missiles, 316 aircraft (air force is composed of 30 thousand men), while the navy counts 2,000 men and is armed with land-to-sea missiles and sea mines.
The two strongest components of the Iraqi forces are the Republican Guard (60,000 men), which occupied Kuwait in a lightning three-hour military operation, and the Special Republican Guard (15,000 men) under the command of Saddam's son Qusey. The Republican Guard provides the defence of Baghdad and of the cities of Kirkuk and Basra.
AMERICAN EXPORT OF DEMOCRACY
There is no doubt that the Americans already have a silent agreement and consent of Russia and China for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. France is changing its viewpoint and the European Union, according to Prime Minister Rasmussen from EU presiding Denmark, believes that the Americans need no special resolution since they are already backed by previous resolutions.
The Arab regimes have the form of monarchies or presidential monarchies (Saddam appointed his son Qusey successor to the throne, Hafes al Asada was succeeded by his son Bashaar, eventually Hosni Mubarak also appointed his son Jamal successor…). The Arab regimes will, instead of shedding tears for Saddam Hussein, fear their own fate in spite of the declared resistance to the intervention. As vividly described by sheik Hamad ben Jasim Al-Thani, foreign minister of Qatar: "The Americans and the United American HQ have been at the Alidedh base for three years. We have informed the Gulf states thereof, even though they say now they were not informed…"
"The Arab states will not hinder action against Iraq" said Lieutenant-General of Israeli defence forces to the audience at the auditorium of Institute for Political Studies in Hertzli.
THE RESPONSE OF THREE HUNDRED MILLION ARABS AND ONE BILLION MUSLIMS
Bush Administration has recognized that the end of totalitarian regimes in the Middle East is approaching. During 50 years of cold war the Americans defeated the communist regimes in East Europe and Central Asia. Iraq is the first phase of a new long lasting process in the Middle East.
In any case, the Arab masses are sceptical about American plans. The regime-controlled media in those states present the USA as the aggressor against their traditional values and the war against terrorism as the war against Islam. The Arab media have not mentioned Bush's speech immediately after the attack on the WTC which he delivered at the Islam centre in New York nor the speech given by the very prominent Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfovitz, both saying that the USA are not at war with the liberal Islam. America has not succeeded in bringing its view point closer to the Muslim masses despite the appointment of Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (Charlotte Beers), nor has it managed to present the goals of American politics such as peace in the Middle East, tolerance and promotion of democracy in the Arab society.
Nevertheless, majority of Iraqis will await American liberators in the streets, expecting them to bring the democracy and human rights they have waited so long for, as Vice President Cheney clearly put it in his speech delivered on 29 August 2002. Perhaps Cheney founded his statement on the opinion given by Dr Fuad Ajmy, professor of political studies at the John Hopkins University, who recommends the USA not to pay too much attention to the reactions of Arab masses.
EQUATION: DEMOCRACY AND WAR AGAINST TERRORISM
Democracy and war against terrorism are two strongly interrelated ideas. All radical Islam organisations have emerged in non-democratic Arab states which suffer great political and social pressures. Islam Jihad, Jamaa Islami-GIA in Egypt and other organisations are the results of social and political repression exerted by Naser, Sadat and their bloody revenge on Muslim brothers, communists and trade unions. Hamas is the product of irrational policy of corrupt Palestinian authority led by Arafat and of Likud-led repression under the leadership of Prime Minister Sharon. In Iraq, SCIRI is the reaction of the majority Shiite population, in Algeria, GEA has resulted from the socialist reign of Hawari Bomidien, Osama bin Laden and al-Quaeda are products of official policy of certain Muslim countries. Al-Quaeda was a tool used during the cold war in Afghanistan, Kashmir etc. where Islam was the disguise for achieving goals in the global context.
According to the opinion of Graham Foller, known American analyst, the end of Saddam Hussein’s regime will positively affect the atmosphere in the region. The Iraqi regime is the worst of the bad Arab regimes. Eventually, the nations in the region will be convinced of the sincere intentions of American Administration.
The IFIMES Institute proposes constant presence of Americans in Iraq and setting up of military bases in Iraq. Present deployment of forces is namely irrational and American Administration will have to take advantage of the positive effects of intervention to support the reform movements in the region and in this way clearly express a threat to those most resistant who can await a similar fate as Saddam Hussein. The USA have rich experience in interventions and establishment of democracy: Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan etc.
Radical Islam organisations have taken advantage of the suffering of Islam masses in order to impose its (destructive) ideologies of solution. Events following 11 September have beyond doubt caused a heavy blow for those movements and weakened their political and manoeuvring position. In the ideological sense they have lost credibility among the followers and are consequently facing the stage of internal conflicts and fractioning. Their fate and consolidation depend on what democratic alternative can they offer in their countries. However, there are almost no such alternatives or they are weak due to lack of democratic tradition, economic-social crises and overall state corruption.
Radical organisations such as Al-Quaeda did not manage to recruit Muslim masses against the intervention in Afghanistan in spite of fierce and mortal American bombing and consequent civil victims or even revengeful march of the North Alliance (Mazari Sharif) against Talibans. Today, radical organisations actually live only thanks to the differences in interpretations of the idea of terrorism between Islam and the West.
The “Conspiracy Theory ” prevails in all analyses of terrorist organisations in relation with American politics towards the Arabs and Muslims. Fundamentalist organisations are divided on the basis of ideology and goals. Some call for military resistance and terrorism while others, on the contrary, condemn those methods. Certain movements have a national connotation, such as the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in Palestine. These organisations see themselves as national liberation movements in contrast to Vehab ultra radical movements which have expanded since 11 September even in some countries with no history of such movement (Lebanon and Morocco). Fundamentalist organisations in the Gulf have expanded and strengthened in the past two decades as a result of powerful missionary activities in Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan and eventually in Bosnia, and mainly due to vast funds allocated in the framework of humanitarian organisation. During the 1980s, they were also supported by the West in neutralising the Soviet interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Examples are Shiitic export of Islam revolution to Egypt and the Gulf states and support of Islam groups in Bosnia as a counterweight to Serbian nationalism. Present organisations are facing a major crisis as they operate in groups that are too small to sustain the opposing influence of their governments.
The USA have recognised that there would be no 11 September without the silent support of such (terrorist) organisations by certain regimes. Iraq is beyond doubt one of them. The basis of such ideologies is hatred towards the West expressed in the media, educational programs, activities of humanitarian organisations etc. After all, this was at least symbolically confirmed by a group action brought against three Saudi princes by the relatives of victims of 11 September. American Senator John McCain has clearly accused Saudi Arabia of supporting terrorism since 15 attackers of WTC were Saudi citizens. Some states took the message from Washington very seriously. Saudi Arabia was one of them and at the meeting between Bush and Saudi Prince Bandar it was agreed that Saudi Arabia would finance half of the costs of intervention in Iraq. However, nobody has denied nor confirmed the agreement until now. Crown Prince Abdullah has called the religious leaders at a meeting to openness to the world, tolerance and spreading of real values of Islam instead of hatred. Libya has agreed to pay the indemnity for relatives of the victims of aircraft tragedy in Lockerbie, Iran has handed over 16 members of Al-Quaeda to Saudi Arabia which later delivered them to the Americans.
Dr Bernard Lewis from Princeton University believes that hatred of Muslims towards the West is partly hidden in support which the USA provided to inhumane and repressive Muslim regimes. He told that to President Bust at a private dinner. However, Lewis also believes that the USA will win favour and trust of the Arab people who have been waiting much too long for democracy. This support is a much better weapon than all available nuclear and conventional armament America possessed which proved to be of no use on 11 September last year.
The experts and co-workers of the IFIMES institute share the opinion that the USA are making progress in their efforts to achieve reforms and democratisation in the Middle East. The USA should establish direct communication with Muslim nations instead of through corrupt and hateful regimes and regime-controlled media. Those nations will eventually become partners and allies of the USA and the West.
America should consider a variant of the Marshall Plan for the Middle East. Not only in the economic scope but also, and above all, in political and social sense. As regards the security, it would be recommendable to consider the establishment of military alliance as a factor of stability in the region, such as the NATO Partnership for Peace in Europe.
The European Union has to be more actively involved in the resolving of accumulated problems in the Middle East. The latter should not become the stumbling block and reason for competition between EU and the USA. The European Union, having the neighbouring position with the Middle East (which the USA do not have) should play an active role in the economic and political reconstruction of the Middle East.