The Arabs' Crocodile Tears for Saddam

(Jerusalem Post) Amir Taheri - The Arabs have now concluded that Washington is no longer bluffing and that President Bush is determined to topple Saddam Hussein. Washington's Arab allies have assured it in private that, as long as a diplomatic fig leaf is provided by the United Nations, they would do nothing to oppose military action against Saddam Hussein. To calm those who fear an Iranian land-grab in Iraq, Iran has 2.5 million Arabs of its own and would not wish to add a further 15 million Iraqi Arabs, even though they are Shiites. Similar assurances have come from Turkey, which has no wish to add five million Iraqi Kurds to its own 15 million-strong Kurdish community. Far from being short of operational bases for attacking Saddam, the Americans have an embarrassment of riches. Apart from the Saudi and Kuwaiti bases that may or may not be needed, there is the new giant-size multi-purpose base in al-Udaid, Qatar. There are also a string of smaller bases on the island of Massirah and in the Ras Mussandam peninsula, in the Sultanate of Oman, plus reserve facilities in Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates. Then there is the new "facility" nearing completion in Assab, Eritrea. The U.S. has some form of military cooperation with all Arab states with the exception of Libya, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. One finds little evidence of any grassroots support for Saddam in the Arab world. He has antagonized traditional Islamists by preaching Ba'athism, seen as an invention of Christian Arabs. Radical Islamists have little love for him because he attacked Iran in 1980. Pan-Arab nationalists are suspicious of him because he has killed more Nasserists than anyone in history. The Arab left detests him because of his ruthless destruction of the left in Iraq. The author, an Iranian journalist, is editor of the Paris-based Politique Internationale.

2002-09-17 00:00:00

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