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The Real Idiocy - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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How interesting, yet sad, was the Iraqi Vice-President’s dubbing of the US “invasion” of Iraq and overthrowing of Saddam Hussein’s regime an “idiot decision!”

Should we regard this as a moment of confession and revelation on the part of Sayyed Abdul Mahdi, or rather is it a crude “demagogical” moment?! But how can it be a demagogical, plebeian moment considering that he spoke from the “elite” platform at the World Economic Forum in Davos last Thursday?

Adel Abdul Mahdi is Abdul Aziz al Hakim’s man, the Shia cleric who is at the helm of the Shia political leadership in Iraq; or rather, let us say that he is the “guide” of the Iraqi revolution! Had it not been for the “idiot” US decision according to Abdul Mahdi’s words, he would not have been able to sit comfortably in Davos and deliver these sermons as Iraq’s Vice-President. We should remind Abdul Mahdi of his “guide’s” trip to Washington to encourage the Americans — the idiot Americans — to stay in Iraq rather than leave!

Actually, this is an ironic and bitter paradox in Abdul Mahdi’s statement. It indicates the extent of undermining people’s minds and to what extent Bush’s “dispraise” bank has become a lucrative one for those who are bankrupt in the field of political achievements.

Well, according to Abdul Mahdi’s interposition, if the Americans have committed “many mistakes that fueled violence in the country,” and most of “these mistakes and acts of violence were avoidable,” what is the role of the new Iraqi ruling class? Is it less careful with regards to its country than the Americans? To what extent is it responsible for these mistakes?

The US administration committed numerous “errors” with regard to the Iraqi file, chiefly dissolving the army, eliminating the Baath and entertaining the illusion that al Hakim’s turban is more merciful and than al Zarqawi’s djellaba or al Dari’s cloak.

However, regardless of what we say about the Americans, they remain “foreigners” in that country who have specific interests in it. They will be no “kinder” to the people and the country than the Iraqis who promised others paradise.

Accordingly, this tone of candor does not suffice. Neither does the act of disclosure, revelation and self-criticism. The new ruling class members have to rectify their mistakes and live up to the challenge rather than place their burdens on others. If matters had run smoothly and developments took place in the right direction, we would have seen the new ruling class members crediting themselves alone and monopolizing success. We should not forget the well-known speech that al Hakim delivered to his supporters last year in which he claimed that it was the council supporters and their allies who ousted the regime rather than the Americans. Now as the situation has deteriorated, Abdul Mahdi rises to hold the Americans accountable! This kind of behavior is best suited to the powerless who evade responsibility.

Iraq’s new ruling class members should have rectified the mistakes of the past rather than pausing at that moment of boasting about ousting the former regime. We agree that the fall of the awful, suppressive regime was a great event and could have been a brilliant beginning to a new Iraq, the positive impacts of which would have benefited the whole region. Unfortunately, the victors did not live up to the great victory!

It is not enough to say that the Americans made several mistakes as this is nothing new, but how are you working to rectify these mistakes especially as you, being a member of the new ruling class, contributed to thwarting positive decisions to strengthen the state and bring about security? One perfect example is when Sayyed Nuri al Maliki ruined the anti-Sadr militia crackdown recently. So who will help to avoid committing mistakes?!

Such methods of passing on the responsibility reminded me of a statement made by Israeli journalist Ehud Yaari who in 1982 accompanied Sharon’s invading troops to Beirut as a journalist. He asked for an interview with Pierre Gemayel, the founder of the Phalange Party. Upon seeing him, Pierre Gemayel gave him a warm welcome and told him according to Yaari, “You are too late.” Then he seemed cautious during the interview. He said that as a Lebanese Maronite, he could not deny his position in the Arab world and could not remain an alien member to the Arab body but that he wanted to eliminate the Palestinian militias that ravaged Lebanon and destroyed the Lebanese state.

It is a weird logic; so the Israeli journalist had the impression that the cunning sheikh wanted Israel to do the dirty work for them without him offering anything in return, as in Omar Issawi’s outstanding long documentary on the secrets of the civil war in Lebanon.

We do not want to elaborate on this dark stage of Lebanon’s history nor do we want to defend Abu Ammar’s militias, the Fakahani Republic, the atrocities of the Phalange etc., a bleak stage that the second generation in Lebanon now wants to repeat with all its hideousness and lack of sensitivity. We are not interested in the interview but want to refer to this mode of opportunistic, non-confrontational behavior that evades responsibility and does not seek to shape its own destiny, whether or not the attempts are successful. If they succeed, they lead the ranks, make speeches and take credit, and if otherwise or if the march stumbles slightly, they withdraw, wash their hands and throw the ball into the courts of others.

The first and major responsibility falls upon the ruling class in Iraq before anyone else. We can enumerate several “mistakes” made by the Americans in Iraq. As a superpower, they have demonstrated unusual ignorance of the country’s priorities for change, of its political history and of the nature of the interests that dominates its tribal, sectarian and racial constituents. All this is true, and echoing this may bring solace to those who are comfortable with words only! But we know that many crimes and mistakes were also committed by the new ruling class, the allies of the Americans. Just like Bush has been and is being held accountable by his people, the House of Representatives, media representatives and intellectuals as well as by many world politicians and intellects, all of Iraq’s rulers and politicians who made similar mistakes – mistakes that sometimes amount to crimes – must be held accountable. We are simply remembering the prisons of al Sadr, the Mahdi militias, the Badr Brigade and the running of ministries in a disgustingly sectarian manner, such as the health ministry which has transformed into a fiefdom of Sadr elements. In addition, all those who criticize the state and its logic by day, and woo Al Qaeda and the Baath by night must be held accountable!

Since Sayyed Abdul Mahdi acknowledged that they as well as the Americans have made mistakes, we say that what is truly an “idiot decision” is to be presented with a historical opportunity that would allow you to be great and constructive, yet insist on being small and destructive. This is the real idiocy.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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