Jordanian Responses to President Obama’s Iraq Speech

The USG Open Source Center summarizes Jordanian editorials on the end of US major combat in Iraq and the future of that country, as well as American-Arab relations:

Jordanian Writers View US Troop Withdrawal From Iraq, Future Possibilities
Jordan — OSC Summary
Monday, September 6, 2010

Jordanian writers on 1 September express different views on the end of the US combat mission in Iraq and the future of the country.

In a 600-word article in Amman Al-Arab al-Yawm in Arabic, an independent newspaper often critical of government policies, Tahir al-Udwan says: “Everyone shares Al-Iraqiyah List leader Iyad Allawi’s concern that civil war might return to Iraq. While the Americans are holding a celebration in Baghdad, attended by US Vice President Joe Biden, to mark the withdrawal of a 100,000 soldiers, the fact that more than 50,000 soldiers will remain in 93 land and air bases until the end of next year turns this celebration into a deception circus. Seven years after the occupation, Iraq is still experiencing sectarian and ethnic division in addition to the sharp political division. This proves that ‘the US mission of removing the dictatorship and promoting democracy,’ as George W. Bush described it, was in fact nothing but the dirtiest colonialist mission in the history of the Middle East since the British, French, and Portuguese fleets sailed the high seas four centuries ago.”

The writer adds: “Nothing of what has happened in Iraq since the country was treaded by the armies of the colonialist invasion in 2003 deserves to be praised or to be proud of. The damage that the US reputation suffered in the Arab and Islamic world over the past seven years is too great to be removed through a show sponsored by Joe Biden. The hatred toward the Americans in and outside Iraq, from Afghanistan and Pakistan to the border of the Atlantic Ocean, is deeper than the hatred that the terrorist 11 September attacks on New York generated among the Americans.”

He goes on: “When the peoples of the region see the angry reaction by US Congress, organizations, and newspapers to the planned construction of Manhattan mosque near the site of the World Trade Center, and the angry US talk about the unforgettable pains, only a racist mind would ignore the devastating physical and psychological impact that the US invasion of Iraq left in a war that President Obama described as unjustified.”

The writer says the Americans have the right not to forget their victims, but “they should understand that the Iraqis and Arabs will not forget that the occupation, which was based on fabricated intelligence information, left total destruction in the Middle East’s oldest civilization and most advanced country.” He says if the New York attacks killed a few thousand people, 1 million Iraqis were killed, 4 million others were displaced, and many other millions were wounded in the US invasion of Iraq, which “brought the country back to the middle ages.”

The writer concludes by saying: “Obama’s support for the construction of the Cordoba Mosque lays the foundation of a future where there will be accountability for the crime of invading and destroying Iraq. This is if the United States wants to preserve the future of its relations with the Arab and Islamic worlds because without a responsible ethical position through which Washington takes responsibility for the dirtiest colonization that caused disasters for the Iraqis, extremism, terrorism, and destructive reactions will govern the relations between the East and the West for a long time to come.”

In a 500-word article in Amman Al-Ra’y in Arabic, a Jordanian daily of widest circulation partially owned by government, Hazim Mubaydin says those who fear that Iraq will witness security collapses after the withdrawal of the US troops ignore the fact that “the combat missions have been the responsibility of the Iraqi forces for more than one year.” The writer says the Iraqis sought help from the American forces in a few cases only over the past year. “The Iraqi Army has recently carried out extensive operations using its own resources, with limited support from the Americans and the multinational forces.” He also says that the remaining 50,000 US soldiers in Iraq “will offer their experience and efforts in combating terrorism, the return of which some people are maliciously promoting, revealing their black wishes and exposing their evil intentions.” He says these people also ignore the fact that there is a security agreement between Iraq and the United States.

The writer says: “The terrorists have been trying to escalate their operations for about three months, before the US withdrawal has been completed. But the Iraqi Army and security forces are not silent. If some people think the withdrawal will allow regional countries to intervene and fill the security vacuum, or enable loose armed men to control the streets, they are mistaken.”

He adds: “The American troops will stay in Iraq or on its border. Or they will remain in their bases in Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. They did not fight and lose thousands of soldiers only to leave Iraq a prey for security void. They will not leave the region before ensuring that a stable state will be built.”

He concludes by saying: “Al-Qa’ida and the remnants of the Saddmists are working actively and changing the style of their terrorist operations in an attempt to prove that they still exist. This dictates that the Iraqi forces change their strategy to confront their plans. The Iraqi forces certainly have no choice but to confront the terrorists and prevent them from implementing their hellish plans that target the innocent Iraqi citizens. We are not so naive as to ignore the fact that the terrorist operations have increased these days, but we trust that they will disappear as long as the Iraqis believe in their right to rebuild their country on the bases of democracy, pluralism, equality, and justice.”

In a 1,500-word article in Amman Al-Dustur in Arabic, a major Jordanian daily of wide circulation partially owned by government, Abdallah al-Qaq notes that while some Iraqis believe the US withdrawal is premature, others believe the pullout is generally positive because it will support Iraq’s sovereignty and test and strengthen the Iraqi Army’s ability to maintain security and stability in the country.

The writer calls on the Iraqis to resolve their differences and introduce the needed reforms in all sectors to serve the Iraqi people “because it is obvious that the US occupation brought nothing to Iraq other than poverty, unemployment, aggravating crises, and control of the country’s capabilities.” He says the US occupation caused “disasters” for Iraq and strengthened the separatist tendencies in the country. He says the Iraqi leaders need to “prepare a unified national plan for all the Iraqi groups leading to a future stage of cooperation, solidarity, an end to differences, and movement toward a safe and stable life.”

The write expects the US withdrawal from Iraq to have “major and serious repercussions for the Middle East, the regional security order, and Iraq’s political and economic future.”

He says the Americans are leaving Iraq “not because the United States realized its objectives in Iraq in the past seven years of occupation, but because, as the Arab and Islamic worlds believe, it suffered a horrifying defeat, which boosted the Islamic jihadist movements in the region, from Iraq to Yemen to Somalia and other African countries.” He notes heavy US losses in Iraq and recalls that President Barack Obama promised to pull the US troops out of the country to minimize losses.

The writer warns against US attempts to divide Iraq into three regions along ethnic and sectarian lines. He notes a relevant US Congress bill recommending such a partition to facilitate the full US withdrawal, serve the long-term US interests, and “protect the oil sources and Israel’s security.”

He wonders if the Arab world has prepared itself for the US withdrawal from Iraq and whether it has “a plan to prevent foreign interference in Iraqi affairs.” He says the Arab League should draw up “plans and strategies to deal with this US withdrawal from Iraq, fill the security and strategic vacuum, and address the chaos that will emerge as a result of the withdrawal or partition.”

The writer asks: “If the United States is serious about a final withdrawal from Iraq now that the mission has been completed as Bush and Obama say, how can we explain the construction of permanent military bases and their provision with all the necessary equipment?” Pointing out that “the US forces built more than 50 military bases” in Iraq, the writer says “this proves that the United States, despite its pullout, is planning to stay in Iraq for long decades.”

In a 400-word article in Amman Al-Ghadd in Arabic, an independent daily, Dr Mahjub al-Zuwayri says the US troop drawdown raises questions about the future of the Iranian role in Iraq. “For Iran,” the writer says, “the US withdrawal is a success in eliminating a source of threat” on Iran’s border.

The writer says “the US-Iranian negotiation on Iraq’s security is perhaps an indication that the two countries are able to benefit from the Iraqi card to secure interests and priorities for each of them.” He says Iran appears to be more confident that it can deal with the post-withdrawal stage in light of its “political and security presence in Iraq.”

He concludes by saying: “With the withdrawal of more than half of the US troops, the number of targets that Iran might use against the United States gets smaller. The initial reading also says that Iran might fill the vacuum that the US forces will leave. But this reading ignores another fact that researchers in international relations might see: after the withdrawal of the US troops, Iraq might become hard to swallow. This assessment is based on the argument that regardless of the extent of Iran’s ability to deal with Iraq’s political situation, Iraq might turn into a source of exhaustion for Iran’s political and security capability, especially with the possibility of a new Iraqi political generation dissatisfied with the Iranian role emerging in Iraq.”

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2 Responses

  1. “without a responsible ethical position through which Washington takes responsibility for the dirtiest colonization that caused disasters for the Iraqis, extremism, terrorism, and destructive reactions will govern the relations between the East and the West for a long time to come.”
    I couldn’t agree more; the ethical position must include war reparations.

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