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Iraq and Iran: History Repeating - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In yesterday’s article we touched on the thirty years of ignorance and arrogance during the long period of rule under former president of Iraq Saddam Hussein. Today we will look at a tough lesson and a serious mistake committed by Saddam Hussein against himself and his people, and even the region as a whole, with regards to Iran, as it seems that Baghdad today is making the same mistake once again regarding Tehran.

The documents on the US investigation into Saddam Hussein, which were published in Asharq Al-Awsat, showed that Saddam chose to bluff Iran in order to deter it [from attacking]. He succeeded at tricking everyone, even his own people, into thinking that he had nuclear weapons with which he could deter Iran.

But what happened? The Iranians embarked upon a bigger armament process and exerted all their efforts to target Saddam’s regime; in fact Tehran worked with the Americans to overthrow Saddam who committed the fatal error of succeeding at identifying his enemies but failing to know his friends!

Because of his arrogance, Saddam Hussein committed a number of follies against his fundamental strength i.e. the Arab world. He committed a crime against the Arab world when he occupied Kuwait and committed a crime against his own people, after which he faced hell. He antagonized the Arabs, the international community and above all his own people with oppression and dictatorship.

In Iraq today the same mistake is being committed but in a different way. Iraq today is not declaring itself an enemy of Iran; rather, Baghdad has decided to throw itself into Tehran’s arms thus choosing to get closer to evil in order to be secure.

All of this is happening at a time when Iraq-Iran relations are going through a state of clear stagnancy and the paradox is that Iraq’s biggest problems with the Arab countries, and the Gulf states in particular, are related to Baghdad’s request for its debts to be cancelled. Saddam Hussein based his hostility towards the Arabs on the same issue.

Saddam was a paper tiger when it came to Iran. Today however influential figures in Iraq have decided to lay with the snakes in the grass and this is the same mistake, historically and strategically, especially if we look at what Saddam Hussein said about the magnitude of Iranian attacks on Iraq. If it is true that the Iranian regime made around 500 attempts to attack [Iraq] – in accordance with what Saddam said during the US investigations – at a time when the Baghdad regime was powerful, what would the situation be today when the Iranians have a finger in every pie inside Iraq?

Safeguarding Iraq from foreign ambitions can only be achieved with Iraqi unity and the strengthening of Iraq’s frontline and by clinging to its real geographical and historical strength i.e. the Arab world, and by transforming Baghdad into an active member of the international community and not into a subject of another state.

When Iraqis of all different sects and backgrounds feel that Iraq is their real shield, and that there is no difference between a Sunni and a Shia and a Kurd and an Arab, and that the Iraqi regime is what will protect them rather than affiliation to a foreign entity then that is when Iraq, the land of the two rivers, will be powerful enough against foreign ambitions.

This is the lesson that should be learnt from the errors committed by Saddam Hussein during his thirty years in power. These are also features of the mistake that is being committed by some in Iraq today, as the reality of Baghdad is depressing and the people that live there are certainly fully aware of that.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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