Vol. 4 Num 173 Mon. November 17, 2003  

Dilemma in ending occupation in Iraq

Early in the year the European trio -- German, France and Russia -- opposing war in Iraq remained defiant till the last. The US and Britain had to bypass them in the UN for finally going to war. But when after indicating that it was inclined to share the burden of occupation in Iraq the US brought before the security council a revised third draft resolution in mid-October and pressed for a vote the mysterious trio sheepishly endorsed it. It was inspite of the dichotomy inherent in the resolution that the US essentially asked the world body to assume the burden of picking up the pieces from rapidly collapsing campaign in Iraq while decisive powers were reserved entirely for the US. Although the first two drafts submitted by the US came up against objections from influential members and the UN Secretary General himself censured them about their 'rather lopsided perception of power and responsibilities' there was not even a murmur of protest next time and the resolution was passed unanimously marking the US' clear diplomatic victory after a string of security setback in Iraq.

The only audible mumbling from the trio was a demand for 'more substantive power to the UN and a specific time frame for the end of US occupation'. But the US was hardly under any obligation to concede to those demands; neither does it have any intention to do so, nor did it make any commitment to this effect. Because the occupation of Iraq -- central to the US-Israel scheme of things in West Asia -- is only about to widen in scope where even Britain, the US' closest European ally has little place. Indeed, to the occupation in Iraq, Britain, is now 'superfluous, a minor accessory that has outlived its utility and can be cast away'. The US is clearly emerging in an explicit military alliance with Israel with an agenda for the entire region. Sponsored by the Zionist organisations and campaign groups the agenda ominously includes regime changes in Syria and Iraq and final decimation of Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation. How can it consider at this delicate stage an end to the occupation?

That an unholy alliance between the US and Israel is firmly in place and it is already up to implement the items on its agenda can be partially gauged from how things transpired both in Washington and Tel Aviv with regard to their postures towards West Asia. Just days before it brought the motion on Iraq to vote in the UN, the US vetoed a Security Council resolution tabled by Syria condemning Israel for putting up so called security wall grabbing Palestinian lands and expanding its settlements in the West Bank. Earlier, when following a suicide attack in a Staifa cafe, Israel bombed target deep inside Syria the US endorsed it upholding Israel's right to defend itself. In its three years long campaign for the obliteration of Palestinian society when Israel completed its most destructive rampage against the Palestinian people the US simply looked the other way and the media focussed its attention elsewhere. Over four days of recent operations in Gaza the Israeli military demolished many houses and killed civilians including children.

Aghast at the scale of destruction Kofi Annan reminded Israel that 'disproportionate use of force in densely populated area is not compatible with international humanitarian law'. The Amnesty International condemned the operation and characterised the Israeli action as 'war crime'. Only the US remained non-chalant of the horror perpetrated by Israel. Richard Boucher, the state Department spokesman, while talking of Israel's recent operation in Gaza routinely expressed concern about 'terrorism' and endorsed the Israeli action. After the US' failure in delivering an imposed Middle East settlement as the Quartet-sponsored Roadmap for Middle East peace is in limbo now, it is entirely the privilege of Israel's overwhelming military power to rule the roost in the region. Only in a peace negotiation, however, the Palestinians stand some chance.

Israel is therefore out to scuttle any such negotiation unless absolutely on her term. Even if Arafat has lent support to a new peace initiative jointly worked out by the elements of Israel's Labour Party and Arafat's Fatah faction of Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) it faces strong opposition from the US and Israel. Although Britain is believed to have patronised the initiative perhaps as a last-ditch effort by the embattled Prime Minister Tony Blair to regain his credibility in the world affairs the move is cold-shouldered both by Ariel Sharon and Bush Administration. To Sharon, any Israeli politician associated with the plan would be guilty of consorting with the enemies of Israel. As far as the US is concerned, according to Richard Boucher the plan is a track IIT effort and thus 'irrelevant' for the US government.

Yet the new initiative addressed two major sources of disagreement that rent Oslo peace process to a dead -end. It promised the Palestinians sovereignty over the most of West Bank and Gaza and substantial part of the old city of Jerusalem. Palestinian side was expected to recognise Israel as a Jewish state for eternity and renounce the right of return of refugees uprooted from within Israel's pre-67 borders. This could be a beacon of light where both sides are presently groping in the darkness for direction. But nothing can make any head way unless on Israel's term.

Both Israel and the US have a propensity for expanding the military engagement in the region. The gathering storm in occupied territories, either in Iraq or Palestine is a pointer to the compulsions of US policy. Historically, Jordan is designated in Zionist ideology as a receptacle that would eventually hold the Palestinians who would have to be transferred out of occupied territories to ease the demographic pressure on the Jewish state. But Jordan can be stable receptacle only if its flanks are secured. Therefore there is little question of granting Iraqis even limited degree of political autonomy before this Zionist plans are fully implemented, because a free Iraq can always be a powerful source of resistance to the designs of Zionist expansionism.

Any US intention of retreat from Iraq is thus hostage to the grand Zionist plans.

The recent UN resolution on Iraq also did little to address the demand made by other Security Council members for an early transfer of political authority to Iraqi people and an end to the occupation. It rather designated the occupying forces styled as the Coalition Provisional Authority as the supreme authority in Iraq. Even if the latest change of heart in the US administration after Nassiriya massacre prompts the Governing Council to willy-nilly transfer power to the Iraqis it is to be seen whether that can be done in the face of intricate layers of oppositions to be put up by powerful Jewish lobby both in the Pentagon and the State Department.

Brig ( retd) Hafiz is former DG of BIISS.