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Babylon is Falling Down PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Sunday, 03 December 2006 08:26
Babylon is Falling Down

Toronto Sun
- Eric S. Margolis - FRENCH President Jacques Chirac?s warnings in 2003 that a US invasion of Iraq would set the Mideast on fire, encouraging terrorism and producing a disaster have been tragically borne out by events. Iraq is falling ever deeper into chaos and sectarian conflict. Lebanon teeters on the brink of civil war. The agonies of Palestine ? now the world?s largest outdoor prison ? continue without relent. Iran?s power and influence are surging.


End is near in Babylon


Toronto Sun
December 3, 2006

For the latter, thank Washington, which overthrew two of Iran?s bitterest enemies, Taliban and Saddam Hussein, then stuck US ground forces in the $250 million per day Iraq quagmire.

As Iraq turns into a nightmare of carnage and hate, President Bush and mentor Dick Cheney rushed to the Mideast last week to urge their local allies to pull America?s bacon out of the fire.

But Iraq?s prime minister, Nuri Al Maliki, governs only over Baghdad?s US-protected Green Zone. The US controls what passes for Iraq?s police and armed forces. Maliki has no army of his own; his Shia supporters are divided and feuding. How can Bush expect a powerless prime minister to do what the mighty US cannot?

At least, Maliki had the pluck to make a symbolic protest by refusing to meet with Bush for dinner in Amman after humiliating reports leaked in Washington the US intended to dump him. So much for Iraq ?democracy.? Washington may be headed towards installing a ruthless Saddam clone, either a former CIA ?asset? or some iron-fisted general.

What western reporters term the Iraqi Army is really a collection of Shia militias, death squads and mercenaries, many former convicts. The US occupation?s extensive use of Shia death squads to fight the Sunni resistance has played a key role in igniting Iraq?s current sectarian bloodbath. This little-known story is a major scandal.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Jordan warn they may send troops into Iraq to protect its Sunni minority from ethnic cleansing by the Shia majority. Such a move could provoke the powerful Turkish Army to invade independence-seeking Kurdish regions of northern Iraq. Iran would be quickly drawn into the melee.

Iraq?s neighbours deeply fear its chaos will spread across their borders, with dangerous, unpredictable consequences for all concerned.

The long-awaited Iraq Study Group?s report comes out this week. It is expected to call for a phased withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq, and retention of some ?intervention units? in neighbouring countries. France ruled its West African empire for a half a century this way: installing compliant rulers kept in power by strategically located French Foreign Legion and Air Force units ready to swiftly intervene at signs of unrest.

The Iraq Study Group will also likely suggest direct talks with so-called ?axis of evil? members, Iran and Syria. Their cooperation is essential to stabilizing Iraq as well as for producing a viable solution to the Palestinian tragedy.

But a furious, behind-the-scenes battle is raging in Washington between advocates of diplomatic engagement with Damascus and Teheran, and the powerful Israel lobby, which has successfully blocked for decades all attempts to open such badly needed dialogue or press Israel over Palestinian rights. Israel and its American supporters are pushing hard for US attacks on Iran?s nuclear infrastructure.

Israel also wants to avoid being drawn into any talks with Syria that will inevitably raise the issue of the Golan Heights, which Israel occupied and ethnically cleansed of its Arab and Druze population in 1967. A comprehensive Mideast settlement will inevitably involve Golan, which Syria desperately wants back and that Israel is determined not to relinquish. Damascus won?t permit an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal until Golan is returned.

If Washington announces ?phased withdrawals? of US forces from Iraq, already shaky morale of American troops there will plummet. Who wants to risk life or limb for a withdrawal?

This is exactly what I saw happen to US forces in Vietnam after President Lyndon Johnson announced military victory was no longer his goal. No GI wanted to be the last soldier killed in a lost war started by bungling politicians.

Once Washington utters the dreaded ?W? word ? withdrawal? ? Iraqis working for the US occupation will flee to the Sunni or Shia opposition. Iran?s influence in Iraq will soar. America?s Arab allies will be left facing severe external and internal dangers. But President Bush keeps insisting ?no retreat.? He still seems unable to see the writing on the wall in Babylon.

Eric S. Margolis is a veteran American journalist and contributing foreign editor of The Toronto Sun

[Republished at PEJ News with author permission]

Last Updated on Sunday, 03 December 2006 08:26

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