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From the January 2003 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 50, No. 01)

Middle East

Iraq: No Uprising Without Outside Support

Sarkis Naoum, An-Nahar (independent), Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 31, 2002

A Kurdish woman trains for combat in northern Iraq
A Kurdish woman trains for combat in Suleimaniya, a city 250 kms northeast of Baghdad, on Nov. 2, 2002 (Photo: AFP). 
The whole world seems to be preoccupied by Saddam Hussein. Countries with permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council are negotiating with the world superpower, the United States, to find a way to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction without resort to military power—and to negotiate for guarantees on the spoils of war that could be attained if they went along with the American plans concerning Iraq. Meanwhile, key regional countries, such as Turkey and Iran, are struggling with a number of issues. Turkey appears to be more lenient in going along with the Bush administration if the administration manages to provide the guarantees it wants; Iran, although it will not be upset to see Saddam Hussein fall, is still reluctant to work together with the United States.

As for the Arab countries, their leaders and princes reject the military option against Iraq and prefer peaceful measures calling on Baghdad to adhere to the demands of the international community. But they are also refraining from taking any tangible steps and are failing to use their financial resources to serve this end, thereby giving implicit approval for actions with regard to Iraq, whether military or peaceful—as long as they happen quickly.

As for the Arab people, they reject the American policy against Iraq, against Palestine, and against the rest of the world, but they are helpless. The only thing they can do is participate in “public demonstrations” that are planned and approved by the governments. Everyone in the Arab world seems to have already said something about their position on Iraq—especially after Islamic groups recently issued decrees prohibiting Muslims in general, and the Shiites of Iraq in particular, from supporting a military operation against Iraq, despite what the Shiites have suffered in Iraq and Iran at the hands of the Iraqi regime.

After Lebanon’s most respected Shiite religious figure, Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah [spiritual leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah], issued a similar decree, we met with him and asked him for his position on such decrees and to learn what his expections were regarding the threats the region is facing.

Does he expect an American military strike against Iraq, or does he believe that the toppling of Hussein will be accomplished by an uprising
from within?

He responded: “When studying the Iraqi situation it is very difficult to think of a weakening of the regime from within because of the all-encompassing security measures that the Iraqi regime has put in place, which make it difficult to form an internal revolution in order to overthrow the regime. Maybe some people might think of assassinating the head of the regime, and some of the opposition forces tried to venture into this realm, but they all failed because of the nature of the protection Saddam Hussein received in the past from international intelligence agencies, particularly American, which protected the Iraqi leader from a possible assassination attempt, especially when the Iranians were seen by the CIA as working in that direction.

“An internal solution appears less plausible given the Iraqi internal political situation, but maybe some people think that intelligence and espionage methods might help in providing better internal conditions for a domestic uprising, especially after some intelligence forces have established footholds in the Kurdish areas and other areas and have worked to infiltrate certain military facilities. Added to this is the suffocating economic situation that the Iraqi people have been living through due to the regime’s style of managing social, economic, political, and security issues and the outside pressures imposed by the economic blockade against Iraq under the pretext of weakening the Iraqi regime. This has led to massive immigration of Iraqis.
 
“All these factors may lead to creating a plan to remove the Iraqi regime but only if it is reinforced by outside support. It has to be done in a way that gives the implicit impression that an internal uprising will enjoy external support. This position can be inferred from the statements by Iraqi opposition leaders who went to Washington and pleaded that the United States not repeat what it did after the Gulf  War, when they cut off the public uprising in Iraq by providing the regime with power and equipment. Now, they ask that America support the uprising by protecting it from being squashed by Hussein or by simply not intervening to protect the regime.”

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