What Iraqis really want from the Coalition.


Both Arab nationalists and pan-Islamists are calling for the “immediate” withdrawal of American and Coalition troops from liberated Iraq.

The “Don’t-touch-Saddam” choir, that opposed military action against the “Vampire”, now wants the Coalition to abandon Iraq to its fate and simply walk away.

If that happens the Arab nationalists and the Islamists, traditional enemies now united by anti-Americanism, might feel good about their Arabness and their Islamicness.

But what will happen in Iraq?

They couldn’t care less.

They wish nothing good for Iraq.

They only wish something bad for America.

The Coalition should ignore calls coming from bankrupt elements that have brought nothing but disaster for Arabs and Muslims whenever given a chance.

The truth is that the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people do not want the Coalition to leave until it is asked to do so by a freely elected and democratic government in Baghdad.

Let us see what could happen if the Coalition were to abandon Iraq right away.

The remnants of Saddam’s fascist regime will emerge from their hideouts and regroup. There may be thousands of them. And what is certain is that many will be armed. With the regular army disbanded and the police nonexistent, armed Saddamites could make a fresh bid for power or, at least, provoke new carnage in some cities.

The absence of law and order could provoke fights between Shiites and Sunnis, Kurds and Arabs, Kurds and Turcomans, and so on. Having been pitted against one another by the fallen dictator for decades, all these ethnic and religious communities have grievances against one another. Saddam has planted many poisonous seeds of sectarian hatred that, given the right political climate, could grow quickly.

Neighboring powers could also intervene in a wakened and disorganized Iraq.

Turkey is itching to enter, supposedly to protect the Iraqi Turcomans against the Kurds. Ankara could also take military action to prevent what it fears could become an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq. We know that Turkey has already sent large quantities of arms, disguised in trucks bringing in food aid, to the Turcomans in Kirkuk, regardless of warnings from Washington.

If Turkey intervenes, Iran will also be sure to step in, supposedly to protect the Shiites in the south. We know that Iran, too, has been sending special agents and arms, also disguised in food aid trucks, to the Iraqi Shiite heartland.

It is only if such things are allowed to happen that “the gates of hell” will open, as predicted by Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary general who opposed the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein.

The Arab nationalists and the Islamists had joined forces once before. It was in 1990 when they both urged Saddam Hussein to retain occupied Kuwait and use its oil wealth to finance a broader war against “Zionism and Imperialism.”

At that time they didn’t care if Kuwait were invaded and burned. Today, they don’t care if Iraq is burned. All they want is some cheap glory for their sick ideologies.

The people of Iraq, however, are not going to oblige.

The self-styled champions of Arabism and Islamism do not speak for my people.

In my humble opinion, a majority of our people want the Coalition to stay until the last elements of the fallen regime are tracked down and brought to justice and the threat of a Baathist comeback is removed forever.

The Coalition still has plenty to do to help the Iraqi people put the Saddamite criminals on trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and then to start a program of reconstruction.

The government of Iraq should be transferred to Iraqis at the earliest opportunity.

But what constitutes an earliest opportunity is a matter only for the Iraqis and the Coalition — not for those who wish to make of Iraq a sacrifice to their sick dreams.

Adnan Hussein, an Iraqi journalist, is a managing editor of the pan-Arab daily newspaper Asharq Alawsat.