Africa

The Way out of Iraq

Iraq's Can of Worms

The situation in Iraq is still just too explosive. With more than 100 American soldiers killed in guerrilla-style attacks since President George Bush officially declared the armed conflict over in May, it would be wishful thinking to imagine that the hostilities will end soon. In fact, the death toll is already higher than during the combat proper.

This is hardly the kind of environment that one would want to throw the famed Kenyan United Nations peacekeeping soldiers into. And as some commentators have aptly put it, there is no peace to keep, anyway.

Kenyans may have earned themselves a solid reputation in U.N. peacekeeping operations—from Namibia in the 1990s, to East Timor, to the searing Balkans of the 1990s, lawless Sierra Leone, and several other hotspots—but this is a different kind of ballgame. They have proved their mettle everywhere. However, the hostility they are likely to encounter in Iraq makes me shudder; to think that Foreign Minister Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka suggested that the Kenyan blue berets would be on their way to Baghdad sooner rather than later.

Being closely identified with America in Iraq at this point would put the lives of the Kenyans seriously at risk. Also, my misgivings about this whole thing stem from the fact that before it all began, the Americans had continually rubbished the U.N., saying they would definitely attack Iraq with or without its blessings. And they did just that. Now, they are belatedly showing some confidence in the U.N. and welcoming participation by other countries. It can’t be more than selfish interest, as they appear determined to continue pulling the strings behind the show. After all, their heavy investment was not for nothing.

Still smarting from the terrorist bomb blast at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, in which more than 200 Kenyans perished, and the Paradise Hotel attack of last November, which killed another nine of our compatriots, we should stay out of the Iraq conflict. America and its allies are squarely responsible for the mess in Iraq; let them sort it out before we move in—if we must.

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