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There was a shortcut for Britain and the United States to demonstrate their care for the well-being of the Arab people. They could have forced Israel to implement long outstanding UN Security Council resolutions calling for its withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, and helped the Palestinians build a modern democratic state, and then people all over the Arab world, and beyond, would by now have been bestowing their benediction on President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain.

Instead, the American and British leaders are persistently saying that it is their war on Iraq that will herald the arrival of freedom and democracy in the Middle East. One of these countries, Britain, has experience of trying to bring democracy to Iraq. But its record is hardly encouraging.

For centuries Iraq was divided into competing tribes, clans, cities and religious sects. With the rising tide of Arab nationalism and the final collapse of Ottoman rule in 1918, the idea of the nation-state appealed to educated Iraqis, who joined in the popular 1920 uprising against Britain. After crushing the revolt, Britain proceeded to create an Iraqi state, partly in response to the demands of these nationalists, mainly to cement its own interests in the region.

The paper model of the new Iraqi state strongly resembled any Western democratic state of that time: It had a constitution, a cabinet, a Parliament, political parties, free elections and an impressive number of newspapers and periodicals. However, the model bore little resemblance to reality and little resemblance to a viable democratic state.


Ma'ruf Rasafi, an Iraqi poet of that period, wrote about the
incongruity:

A flag, a constitution, and a national assembly - each one a distortion of the true meaning ...
He who reads the constitution will learn that it is composed according to the mandate.
He who looks at the flapping banner will find that it is billowing in the glory of aliens.
He who sees our national assembly will know that it is constituted by and for any but the electors.
He who enters the ministries will find that they are shackled with the chains of foreign advisers.

.
I wonder what kind of poetry the postwar Iraqi government and the ruins of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities will inspire.
.
The writer is author of "The Role of the Military in Politics," a case study of Iraq to 1941.

  Källa:
   Mohammad Tarbush   http://www.iht.com/articles/92562.html 
***

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