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Al-Jazeera, Qatar

Why We Must Thwart
the American-Iraqi Treaty

By Palestinian Writer

What has happened to Iraq and in Iraq is a catastrophe in every sense of the word, and no one can make light of the numbers, even if they only counted a tenth of each figure, because even a tenth of what has happened would be daunting and terrifying.

Translated By Matthew Lundin

June 11th, 2008

Qatar - Al-Jazeera - Original Article (Arabic)

What has happened to Iraq since the beginning of the American occupation has been a catastrophe for its people, for its unity, for its role in the World, and for its basic Arabic and Islamic identity. The amount of people who have either died or been injured is one million at the most conservative estimate, and three million for those who have left Iraq. There are those who say the numbers are closer to five million if you include internal and external migration.

This is not even to mention the destruction and loss of homes, the suspension of infrastructure, the emergence of serious unemployment, the loss of security, the spread of poverty, the need for aid, and social ruin.

And it's the same story if we open the file on corruption which is so widespread that it puts Iraq among the most corrupt governments, parties, and individuals in the World.

As for the numbers associated with the plundering of Iraq (which exceeds corruption) there is no comparison in the World in either the past, present, or perhaps the future.

In a nutshell, what has happened to Iraq and in Iraq is a catastrophe in every sense of the word, and no one can make light of the numbers, even if they only counted a tenth of each figure, because even a tenth of what has happened would be daunting and terrifying, and leaves no room for any type of defense of the American occupation of Iraq and its repercussions.

And nobody, no matter how cruel their heart or how blind their eyes or how dead their conscience, would not offer up their fingers to be cut off in penitence for having contributed to bringing about the occupation or cooperating with it.

What has happened to Iraq and in Iraq has made the period of the American occupation a complete evil, a catastrophe without having used the nuclear bombs that were used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but rather brought about by the occupiers themselves.

And because of this I would be surprised to find, even among those with a neutral opinion inside and outside Iraq, anybody who would ask for the American forces to stay or who fears their departure will bring anything worse than what has happened already.

The amazing thing is that there are many who have adopted this type of fear, whether it be feigned or earnest, or whether it comes from ignorance, because there could be nothing worse compared to what has already happened--even if Iraq entered into a civil war or didn't move from a state of occupation to a state of unity and a preservation of its Arab and Islamic identity.

The first step in getting Iraq out from underneath its catastrophe is the withdrawal of American troops. They must withdraw completely, because the largest reason for what has happened to Iraq and in Iraq comes down to the American occupation and its policies during the last five years, without excusing those who bear the responsibility. And so an immediate withdrawal of forces, without restrictions or conditions, will open the horizons for a solution in Iraq, even if it seems that there is a great danger caused by the vacuum left by this withdrawal. This vacuum is better than if it were to be filled by an American-Zionist occupation of Iraq. To use the expression ‘Israeli-Zionist’ while mentioning the Bush administration is not a false charge, because there is a great amount of similarity between it and the Israeli project. This was assured by the speech Bush gave in the Knesset in which the ultra Zionist members of the Knesset seemed moderate in front of Bush.

The most stunning of those who fear for an Iraq in which the Americans leave are those who want to sign a security agreement with the Bush administration, or an American-Iraqi treaty which is now on the agenda and of which some items have already been leaked. It gives the right for the occupation to stay in Iraq for an indefinite amount of time of up to several years, or even a permanent occupation. And with a permanent occupation would come a permanent catastrophe that would be renewed and everlasting. Signing a security agreement or a military/political/security treaty alongside the crime that is the proposed oil agreement would require a hand in treachery to Iraq, to Arabs and to Muslims, under any and all circumstances. Thus we must be vigilant and unite in our efforts to prevent this from happening not only with respect to military bases, nor with respect to the oil agreement, but also in every word or article contained in the agreements that support occupation.

There are those who try in vain to push through this agreement, even after it was exposed as a scandal, by saying that it is still under negotiation and so those who haven't read its articles shouldn't rush to judge the agreement because the articles haven't been agreed on yet. There are also those who want to mislead us by using the pretense that they have reservations about the articles that affect Iraq's sovereignty, or contradict Iraq's interests, or that pose a threat to Iraq's neighbors in order to pass the agreement. This means that they agree in principle to the treaty, to the oil agreement and to having the occupation force stay under the agreement, as though the occupation will essentially change if it remains after negotiating with the government or if it signs some kind of treaty. The truth is that the occupation is illegal at its very roots.

Incidentally, all the colonial occupations of Iraq have followed this trajectory. The British colonial occupation was able to 'sanctify' its presence by signing a treaty. Everyone will recall how many sacrifices were made for this Iraqi agreement, remembering the attack by the British, their occupation, their colonizing, their plundering, not to mention the setting up of a Zionist presence in Palestine. And that occupation lasted far shorter than the American occupation and especially shorter than it will be if the treaty, the security or oil agreement is signed after being negotiated by the Maliki government. This is welcomed by the Barzani and Talabani administrations and all their partners.

To look at the evidence of what has happened in Iraq and to Iraq in the last five years means that passing judgment on a treaty or an agreement doesn't require one to read its articles or examine the details. This is due to the fact those who are negotiating such a treaty or agreement is, on one hand, the American occupation and those who govern in the shadow of the occupation on the other. We cannot expect to get anything new from these people that has not been done in the past. If anything is to change, it will be a move from a state of occupation to an attempt at legitimization, or rather a move from a state of dependency imposed by force to a state of dependency based on will and choice. It will only exacerbate the state of catastrophe and ensure continued fighting, fragmentation, strife, chaos, displacement, plunder, and corruption.

Indeed, the objection to a treaty governing the status of American-Iraqi occupation forces stems from the fact that it would consecrate and prolong the occupation. And as for objecting to the security agreement with the American forces, this is because it would consecrate chaos and the lack of security. As well, the oil agreement would only mean more plundering of the wealth of Iraq and corruption in the billions, not merely in the millions, by those same people who have been involved in the plunder over the last five years.

In other words, the judgment passed on such treaties and agreements should be obvious, without having to go into the articles and details. The facts that have been leaked about it leave no doubt as to the fact that it serves only to consecrate occupation, to trample on national sovereignty and to give the ability to the occupation forces to move throughout Iraq freely, and to launch military operations, arrests and raids, without holding accountable any of its members, even if they committed a crime that had nothing do to with stated policies.

This treaty must be rejected even if on a temporary basis, and we must also reject those who are trying to introduce amendments to it, because any amendment will not change the facts within the time given to make changes. The treaty will be imposed on subsequent governments, which will be even worse than the government that was imposed by occupation. We can be certain of this, because of our experience with occupations (colonialism) that ended with the signing of treaties, including the experience of Iraq from 1920-1958.

The statements by Shiite and Sunni leaders, from the institute of Muslim Scholars, the al-Sadr movement as well as others have stated their condemnation of what is going on in negotiations between the occupation forces and the Maliki government, which are trying to reach an agreement on a military/political/security treaty and another concerned with oil. These statements put Iraq on a new stage in which it is forming a wider front of different social and political formations in order to offer resistance to the signing of these agreements. If it succeeds it will make sure that these agreements never see the light of day.

Forming such a front of support by such players as Arab countries, Iran and Turkey will not only be able to save Iraq from the signing of these agreements, but will help force the occupation forces, those which have caused such catastrophes in Iraq, to leave completely and without any conditions. In fact, this campaign against such an agreement could become the foundation for a pluralist and justice-based Iraqi unity that agrees on affirming its independence, sovereignty and its Arab/Islamic identity and that is prepared to play its role in the third world.

This would dispel the fear of those worried about the future of Iraq after the occupation forces leave. This Iraqi unity would be able to overcome sectarian unrest between Sunni and Shi'a, between Arabs and Kurds which are still dormant, but always ready to ignite. And so there can be cooperation and solidarity with Iran, Turkey and other Arabs, because there is an overriding interest against the evil which affects all parties.
Last but not least this front would be able to impose a withdrawal of occupation forces without limits or conditions. The current international situation and what America faces in terms of weakness, confusion and internal divisions of Iraq, along with the suffering of the Zionist presence, its deterioration, its retreat and crisis allows for this possibility.

So how could we possibly let the Bush Administration be presented with the gift of this treaty and the oil agreement? Or to be more precise, how could you leave the Maliki government to tamper with the future of Iraq and the security of the region by signing the treaty and the oil agreement?

This issue is not merely of interest to the Iraqis themselves, but rather all Arabs and Muslims. There is no excuse for anyone to not refuse or resist the signing of any agreement if the occupation is to continue even if a withdrawal were among its articles. This is because any version would be sure to include conditions that would ensure the continued hegemony of the occupation. A withdrawal should be made without any conditions set by a treaty.



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