because there can
be no peace
without justice


Biography (1869-1948)
The Salt March
                     THE CONCEPT

Home » Features

Arabs Don't Want War on Iraq. They Want America to Change Its Policy
14 mars 2002, 10:43  |   ARTIKLAR  

Turkey was among the first to warn of the effects
of an attack on Iraq. Bulent Ecevit, Turkey’s Prime
Minister, talked of the “very sensitive balances”
of the Turkish economy, adding that an Iraqi war
would seriously affect his country. “While the Iraq
issue hangs over us like a nightmare, you can’t
expect much new investment to come to Turkey,” he

Jordan was far more pointed in its remarks. King
Abdullah, whose father, Hussain, was forced by
public opinion to stay away from the last
anti-Iraqi coalition, said a war against Saddam
would have a “catastrophic effect” on the Middle
East. “Striking Iraq represents a catastrophe for
Iraq, and threatens the security and stability of
the region,” he said. The Saudis are just as
unenthusiastic and even Kuwait, rescued by America
and its allies in 1991, has serious reservations.

Most Middle East nations opposed the bombardment of
Afghanistan but insisted that even if the Americans
struck the Taliban, an assault on Iraq would be met
with Arab hostility. Privately, pro-western leaders
in the Arab world have grave concerns about the
Bush theory of “regime change”. For if Iraqis were
helped to overthrow their dictatorial government,
what if Egyptian or Saudi citizens also decided on
a little “regime change” of their own?

President Hosni Mubarak, for example, is known to
be fearful of the effect of an anti-Iraqi strike.
The Egyptians, slow to anger in the best of days
and virtually silent during the bombardment of
Afghanistan, may not be able to stomach both an
American war against Iraq and the bloody attempt to
suppress the Palestinian intifada by America’s only
real ally in the region.

The Saudis, who flew their odd little “peace plan”
this month, courtesy of Crown Prince Abdullah and
Tom Friedman of The New York Times (Lebanese
journalists suspect the prince’s personal adviser,
Adel al-Jubair, dreamt it all up) will not want
American planes flying to bomb Iraq from bases in
the country of Islam’s holiest shrines. But they
did just that in 1991 and it is still possible ñ
just ñ that the Saudis might close their eyes if US
jets operated out of the kingdom for a short time.

Mr Cheney’s mission appears in the Middle East to
be more a symptom of Washington’s myopia than any
long-term US strategy. “They already have one war
on their hands out here,” one Lebanese commentator
said. “Why do the Americans need another?”

It’s not that the Arabs like Saddam. They know he
is a cruel dictator. But listening to Tony Blair
remind the world for the umpteenth time that Saddam
used chemical weapons “against his own people” only
reminds Arabs that Saddam also used chemical
weapons ñ in far greater quantities ñ against Iran
when the West was enthusiastically backing Iraq’s
aggression against the Islamic Republic.

Put simply, the Arabs don’t want the Americans to
package a new war for them; they want Washington to
re-examine its entire policy in the Middle East.
They want Mr Cheney to glance over his shoulder at
the bloodbath in Israel and “Palestine”.

And that is what they will politely tell him in
Amman and Riyadh and Kuwait. Only in Israel, whose
Prime Minister thinks he is fighting a “war on
terror”, will he hear what he wants to hear. Will
that be enough?