Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

To Sit Back and Watch Iraq | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In one day, there were three international figures present in Iraq, the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, the British Foreign Minister Jack Straw and the American Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Before them, many other important international figures have also visited Iraq, the most influential of whom are American president George W. Bush, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. All declared that their aim was to support the peaceful political process in Iraq.

On the other hand, the Arab attitude towards Iraq has resembled that of a boycott rather than support. If Arab leaders visited Iraq, then this would portray a clear image of support and the desire for stability. If Arab embassies were opened in Iraq, this would hasten stability. Why do Arab officials not visit Baghdad and openly declare their support?

There are those who, for local consumption only, justify the Arab boycott of Iraq, saying that visits by Arab delegations would be an implicit approval of an occupation. This is merely a façade as most Arab countries host foreign soldiers, military bases and other facilitation for foreign forces. Most Arab air and seaports are packed with foreign, stationed aircrafts and warships. Moreover, most Arab leaders frequently visit Washington. Those who reject the American occupation of Iraq should refrain from visiting Washington rather than Baghdad.

Some seek to justify the Arab attitude by saying that Arab regimes do not entrap themselves in the intricate situation of Iraq. This weak argument can also be contested, because if the peaceful democratic project fails in Iraq, the terrorists will extend their battle and spread their cause to the rest of the Arab region, as the recent operation in Jordan has illustrated. Arab support and solidarity, however, would strengthen peace and democracy and will weaken and isolate terrorism.

The worst of justifications for the Arab attitude however, is that the security situation in Iraq prohibits visits by Arab leaders and the establishing of embassies. I do not believe that the leaders of Western nations, including those whose armies are not stationed in Iraq, have not considered the gravity of the security situation in Iraq. In fact, this should further encourage Arab leaders to visit Iraq and to assure their Iraqi brothers that they are not alone and that terrorism will not prevail.

Terrorism in Iraq will spread and the phenomenon of &#34Iraqi Arabs&#34 could potentially be worse than that of the &#34Afghan Arabs.&#34 The only way to defeat the terrorist project in Iraq is to take the initiative and tackle it, and never to sit back and watch.