King Abdullah II: It’s Palestine, Stupid
US Troops may Leave al-Anbar
A surprise for Americans: The most urgent and destabilizing crisis in the Middle East is not Iraq. It is, according to King Abdullah II of Jordan (who will meet Bush today), the Israel-Palestine conflict, which is a major engine driving the radicalization of Muslims in the Middle East and in Europe. It seldom makes the front page any more, but the Israelis are keeping the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank in Bantustan penitentiaries and bombing the ones in Gaza relentlessly, often killing signficant numbers of innocent civilians. Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Michael Rubin, David Wurmser and other Likudniks who had managed to get influential perches in the US government once argued that the road to peace in Jerusalem lay through Baghdad. It never did, and they were wrong about that the way they were wrong about everything else.
In fact, September 11 was significantly about the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, and as long as the Israelis continue their actual creeping colonialization of Palestinian land while they pretend to engage in a (non-existent) “peace process,” radicalism in the region will only grow. Polls taken in the last few years have shown that 64 percent of Egyptians expressed satisfaction with the Mubarak government, but only 2 percent had a favorable view of US foreign policy (i.e. knee-jerk pro-Likud policy) in the Middle East. That is, the argument that authoritarian government breeds radicalism is either untrue or only partial. It is the daily perception of a great historical wrong done to a Middle Eastern people, the Palestinians, that radicalizes people in the region (and not just Muslims).
Back to Iraq. The US military is considering withdrawing from Anbar province! I think this is all that they can do. As I said Monday, there is not a military mission that can obviously be achieved by keeping our troops there any longer. The argument could be made that the attempt to subdue al-Anbar province has been a major radicalizing factor for not only the province itself but for Sunni Arab Iraq in general. The destruction of Fallujah, which is nevertheless still not secure, was a negative turning point in the guerrilla war. The Iraqi troops of the Nuri al-Maliki government will have to keep order or learn to compromise with al-Anbar, one or the other.
‘ “If we are not going to do a better job doing what we are doing out [in al-Anbar], what’s the point of having them out there?” said a senior military official. ‘
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is offering to host a United Nations-sponsored conference of Iraqi parties and their neighbors. The idea is modeled on the relatively successful 2001 Bonn conference on Afghanistan. This is the most help the UN has offered in a long time. It is a long shot, but the offer should certainly be accepted.
Two contract service providers to the US military, one a driver and the other a security man, were killed by guerrillas in Iraq.
US troops took fire from guerrillas in Ramadi, then attacked their safe house, which appears to have actually been a family domicile. They may have winged a guerrilla, but they mainly killed 5 girls and women and an unidentified man. It is said that this sort of firefight happens almost daily in Ramadi. I guess we only get a report on casualties where an attempt is being made to head off a public relations disaster.
Police found 50 torture victims of the Iraqi civil war in Baghdad and Baquba.
Reuters reports other civil war violence on Tuesday, including a mortar attack on the Sunni Arab district of Baghdad, Ghazaliyah that wounded two dozen persons.