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Failure is not an option in Iraq - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Former Afghani ambassador for the United States in Kabul and current US ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmai Khalil Zaad, reiterates that failure is not an option for Iraq. Why does he say this and how does he define failure? Doubts have spread all over the world with regard to the validity of the presence of American forces in Iraq due to the daily casualties, damages incurred and the severe lack of security by central government. Furthermore, there are an increasing number of congressmen calling for a set date for withdrawal.

Failure is definitely not an option for Iraq. It is however, a possibility just like any other political or military venture. Nevertheless, the real question is how many losses will be tolerated? Is the loss of 2000 American soldiers in two years enough? What if the amount is to rise to ten or even thirty thousand losses as a result of an increase in insurgent attacks or because of new intervention partaking in the battles. There is also the possibility of disintegration of Iraqi society, what will the forces do then? The region”s history shows that failure is a more likely option.

What we can be sure of, however, is that if American forces were to leave Iraq defeated, damage to its status would be graver than any financial or human costs that it has incurred. Loss of authority or even a lack in presence in other regions may be the result of defeat in Iraq. It will become like any other minor country, vulnerable to the superpowers. After enjoying its time on top of the world, Washington would lose all its trust from its allies as well as its power and influence in unstable areas. The ambassador claims that failure in not an option for Iraq, nevertheless victory is by no means an easy accomplishment.

Washington asserted during the Vietnam War that it would not leave the region unless South Vietnam won. Yet when the communists seized power in Saigon, they departed. It was at this point that Americans hung on to the last helicopter leaving the roof of the American embassy, overcrowded by escapees. If one was to question Henry Kissinger about this shameful defeat, he would answer that the Americans may have lost Vietnam, but they rescued South East Asia from further advancement by the leftists. Nonetheless, defeat in a country of rice fields does not equate defeat in a country of oil fields such as Iraq, which is rich in petroleum, the only insurance for this energy-consuming world of ours. Victory over America by Iraq would mean the end of the American empire, which is why the loss of thirty thousand American soldiers has to be tolerated.

With the exception of the Muslim Scholars Institute, almost all Iraqi politicians believe that an early American withdrawal from Iraq will agitate the internal situation even more and may drive the country into a civil war similar to that of Serbia against Bosnia and Kosovo. At that time, the political arena sought international intervention rather than American intervention in order to bring the massacres to an end. Ever since, the situation has been stable.

Iraqis also deserve this stability as well as the right to control their own country by themselves without the American and other forces. This time it is up to them to make this decision and not an appeal to be made by the Arabs.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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