the Blog Papers of Dr. Michael Sakbani; Economics, Finance and Politics

Dr. Michael Sakbani is a professor of economics and Finance at the Geneva campus of Webster-Europe. He is a senior international consultant to the UN system, European Union and Swiss banks. His career began at the State university of NY at Stoney Brook,then the Federal Reserve Bank of New York followed by UNCTAD where he was Director of the divisions of Economic Cooperation, Poverty Alleviation, and UNCTAD`s Special Programs. Published over 100 professional papers.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Abstract: The Genesis of the US Problems in Iraq: a Seven point withdrawal Plan

The US current problems in Iraq are the result of six erroneous major decesions made by the Administration, based partly on faulty inteligence data, partly on wrong advise offerred by interested, secteian Iraqi politicians and partly on the lobbeying of Israeli supporters. The US went into Iraq unprepared for the aftermath of the war and hardly informed about the Iraqi demographic and political mosaic. It introduced secterian and ethnic distinctions into the Iraqi body politic and sought to isolate the Arab Sunnis and reduce their influence. A tragic result of the US approach was the disappearance of the of the Iraqi state and the emergence of communial and secterian politics with casts of beneficiries.The US turned out incapable of coming to terms with Arab nationalism and unwilling to work for national concilliation. All of this found expression in the constitution it inspired and guided. This consitution ignores the Arab character of Iraq. It lays the grounds for dividing the country into mini states. By creating a federal structure where the regions are proprieters of national resources and more powerful than the central government, the seeds of regional disputes and secterian conflicts are laid. The elections, largely won by Clerics and local chiefs, deepened the political impass facing the US. This is unsustainable for the US for several reasons. To begin with, the US budget cannot sustain the current pace of expenditure and the US government cannot ignore domestic pressing needs. Nor would the American public support an indefinate stay in Iraq entailing steady casualties. On the other hand, Iraq is hammared by a brutal insurgency, which cannot be abated without a fundamental change in Iraqi poltics and without forging a common vision of the country. Iraqis live under cinditions of no public services, no security, rank joblesness and absence of reconstruction. Iraq `s neighbors, in particular Iran, have not been helpful; if any thing, one of the major outcomes of the US intervention is the growth of influence of Iran and its sympathizerts and the alienation of Iraq`s neighbors from the US. Hence the paper wind up proposing a seven point plan for exit which saveguatrds the essentials of the US interest, reestablishs the Iraqi state and reassures its neigbors. This is done under a multilateral embrella with a major role for the US.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Struggle for the Real Islam: Militancy and Failure of Reform and Development

The Struggle for the Real Islam: Islamic Militancy and Failure of
Modernization and Economic Transformation.

Dr Michael Sakbani*
Monotheistic religions have been around for more than 3000 years. This time span is punctuated by a thousand years between Christianity and Judaism, another 650 between Christianity and Islam and a thousand four hundred between our era and Islam. Each of these three religions took its own road of reform and development into our era. The revelation of Judaism was gradually evolved by the rabbinical authorities in Mesopotamia and by the great Rabbis of the middle ages, in particular the great Arab-Jewish theologian, Ibin al Ma`moun (Mimonadis) of Cordoba. In the nineteenth century, Judaism underwent significant evolutions through the rise of the conservative and reform faiths. In effect, non-Orthodox Judaism reflects man’s effort to adapt his religion to his circumstances. For Christianity, the Church and its doctors had carried out important evolution of the revelation by the end of the fifth century. In particular, the third council of the Church redefined the basis of the faith, thereby splitting the Western Church from the eastern Ethiopian and Nestorian churches. Then, the Church split again between Orthodoxy and Catholicism redefining in the process the basic tenants. In the middle ages, nothing happened for some 600 years. However, since the renaissance, Christian dogma has undergone significant reorientation towards man and his world and absorbed in its theology so much of western thought. The Reformation, and in its wake, the cumulative changes in the Catholic doctrine starting with St. Thomas Aquinas, transformed modern Christianity to a faith that can be said to reflect as much the Western culture as any thing in the original revelation.

Five Centuries in the Formation of Islam

The road of Islam started out by the recording of the revelation of the Prophet at the time of the third Caliph, Osman, a process of tracing and checking oral sources which lasted for about 50 years. With the Koranic text on hand, it became the main source of religious, moral and temporal rules. The development of society, however, required an ever-expanding code of behavior. This was supplied in a juridical manner by the development of what came to be called the Fuqh (the science of religion). According to the Fuqh, the Koran is not the only source of this law; the sayings and practices of the Prophet, i.e., the Sunna, were added as another source of religious legislation to the body of the Sharià, the religious corpus. To develop further the Sharià so as to cope with the complexity of a society, the Fuqh developed a system of hierarchy for sources together with rules of derivation wherefrom. This system of rules of derivation starts with the Koran, the book of the revelation, and then the sayings and practices of the profit, i.e. the Sunna, and thereafter, the consensus of the community (Ijma`a), which became practically unattainable after the early period of limited geography. Hence, the Fuqh considered the consensus of the learned, the Ulama, to be its equivalence.
These three sources came to characterize the early Sunni version of Islam. But this proved rather inadequate as the Muslim society developed further. Hence, another avenue of sourcing developed. It involved comparing the case on hand with

· Former Director of Economic Cooperation, Poverty Alleviation and Special Programs, UNCTAD; Adjunct Professor of Finance and Economics at Thunderbird-Europe and Webster-Geneva; Senior Consultant to the UN System and the European Union.
similar precedents thereby opening the door to what came to be called Qiyas, i.e. patterning on the precedent, whether in fact or in reasoning, the legal disposition of the case on hand. The extent of acceptance and deployment of Qiyas came to distinguish and demarcate the four Sunni schools of Fuqh, with the Hanbali` school on the strict extreme and the Hanafi School on the flexible end. Several hundred years later, the great Sunni doctor of Islam, al Ghazali, added a fifth source, which he called the “Interests of the Prophecy (al Masalih al Mursala); it generates Sharià rules on the basis of what he considered the five general purposes of the religious prophecy.[1]
It is interesting to note in this respect the similarity between Judaism and Islam in placing the accent on developing a code of behavior for the faithful, the religious law.
In Shià Islam, some two centuries after the Prophet, his distant grandson, Jaafar al Sadique, the sixth Imam, fashioned the institution of the Imamate and endowed it with the capacity to interpret the doctrine so as to be compatible with changes in time and place. The authority of the Imam is said to emanate from his inspired perception of the inner meaning or intents of the religion and from his mission of safeguarding the true faith. He is accordingly infallible and obedience to him is an essential part of the faith. As Shià Islam developed subsequently, it created a cast of trained scholars and a hierarchy of authority in the matter of the Sharià. A decisive moment in the development of Shiism arrived when the scholar al Kulayni compiled in the first half of the Tenth Century, a collection of traditions in his book, Kitab al Kafi, which came to constitute the basic reference for Shià Islam[2]
This rather juridical character of al Sharià implied a code of varied strictures on individual behavior and the functioning of the society. Yet, outside Shià Islam, the Sunni mainstream did not create any institutions to evolve these rules or to revise them; there was never an institutionalized religious authority in Sunni Islam.
The effervescence of religious learning and creativity in the first four centuries of Islam resulted in a pluralistic culture of interpretation and a wide variety of schools, more than twenty of them. There were however two main approaches to religious jurisprudence: an interpretative tradition following strictly the Sharià`s rules of sourcing, and a philosophical approach emphasizing additionally, concepts inspired by Aristotelian and neo- Plutonian rationalism. This tradition started with al Farabi and al Kindi followed by a long line of Muslim philosophers, like Ibin Sina (Avicina), all the way to Ibin Rushd (Averroes). In time, these two approaches came to an inevitable collision. To the philosophers, epitomized by the great Ibin Rushd, Sharià, and religion in general, cannot be at tension with rational thinking, since thought, like religion, is bestowed upon man by his creator. Hence, the maxim: whatever is from the mind is from God. Therefore, to the philosophers, the theology of religion is a rationalist and by implication relativist.
The celebrated debate between al Ghazali and Ibin Rushd in the eleventh century marked a schism between these two traditions in interpreting and developing the Sharià[3]. At any rate, this intellectual dispute was immediately seized upon by the temporal authorities and by the Ulama (the religiously learned) who were appointed by them. As we will argue below, both had an obvious interest in shutting off free-thinking and non- authorized theorizing. Some Caliphs (kings) were alarmed by the proliferation of Islamic interpretations and the great multiplicity of schools, some of which were quite anti-authoritarian, like the Khawarej, the Karamitah and the early Ismailis. Moreover, such anti-authoritarian schools used violence in challenging the power of the state and in implementing their egalitarian programs, like land and wealth distribution. Thus, the state banned in the sixth century of Islam new religious invention, that is, the Ijtihad was officially banned, and felons doing it were pursued and persecuted by the full power of the state. Under the Seljuk rulers, at the time of the grand vizier Nizam al Mulk, the famous al Ghazali was invited to write the authoritative version of Islam according to the state, with the head of the state as the head of Islam[4]. After al Ghazali wrote the official canon, some five centuries of rich philosophic traditions in the Arab- Islamic culture receded rapidly from the intellectual scene. It is one of the ironies of Islamic culture that its philosophers, in particular, Ibin Rushed influenced more the development of Christian than Islamic theology. As Bertrand Russell remarked “he was a dead end in the latter (Islamic theology) but a beginning in the former (Christian theology)”[5]. Russell continues to note that Ibin Rushd influence in the West “was very great, not only on the scholastics, a body of unprofessional free thinkers … who were called “Averroists” …but…among professional philosophers…especially the Franciscans and at the University of Paris”
Closing the Door on Theological Innovation: the Petrifaction of Islam

This act of the Saljuk grand Wazir signaled the beginning of the era of an official homogeneous Islam. The rulers had an obvious interest in assuming the mantle of official Islam, so as to fuse temporal and spiritual power in their hands and force obedience to themselves as a matter of religious duty. On the other hand, the Ulama had a vital interest in securing their status and assuring the continuation of their economic earnings. This model ushered in at the time of the late Abbasid Empire prevailed and continued during the subsequent long reign of the Ottoman Sultans. It should be recalled that the Sultans were temporal kings and additionally Islamic Caliphs. Consequently, the interpretive traditions gained the party and obedience to the rulers, the guardians of religion, became the hallmark of the writings of Muslim scholars. The effervescence of Islamic intellect, so striking in the first five centuries, sadly came to a murmuring halt enthusiastically enforced by the temporal rulers.
An exception to this was the development of Sufism in the middle period. The development of Sufism brought into Islam a spiritual dimension of utmost interest. It bore the influence of some aspects of Shià Islam, Christianity and Hinduism, and in some of its finest advocates, Mohieddin Ibin Arabi, it had a universal ecumenical spirit. However, despite its interest and universal leanings, Sufism great contribution was in the recasting of the relationship between man and God rather than in the theology of Islam.
In the middle period of Islam, its mainstream, Sunni Islam, became rigid, final and homogenized with great suspicion of anything new- cast as budaa, i.e., doubtful invention. Uncertainty and doubt, which are a part and parcel of spiritual belief, gave ground to the certainty and immutability of the established faith. The belief was widespread that the Koran has everything and that the last word on anything can be found in the authorized body of the religion. It was forgotten that the great religious traditions are worlds of texts and deeds i.e. worlds of forms, that take us closer to God, but can in no way define and explain God or his will and pin down the spirituality of belief. Spirituality derives its power from a Source that is a reality within and outside religious forms, and this Source cannot be proven or explained strictly in the terms of religious forms[6]. This homogenization led to concrete forms and beliefs, with literal meaning and precise preordained rites. Consequently, the risk became great that individuals regardless of their learning can believe in communicating God’s will according to their own reading of it. This was to portend the great dangers of fundamentalist interpretations. It is not our contention that there were no great scholars in this period; rather, such scholars spent their energies purging the faith from inventions not based on what they considered the official corpus of the canon. A new tradition of scholarship came to the fore in which the ancestral scholars assumed superior authority and later ones spent their energy quoting and interpreting what their “righteous predecessors” opined. This tradition of more or less backward referring scholarship continued in traditional Islam to this day.
In Shià Islam, the conversion of Iran to Twelve Imam Shiism[7] after the coming to power of the Safavid dynasty in the sixteenth century, propelled the establishment of religious institutional hierarchy and an alliance with the temporal power of the Safavids. Shià theology in opposition to Sunni theology gave the sayings and deeds of the prophet a reference power only if transmitted by Shià scholars and/or decedents of the Prophet. The interesting twist in Shià jurisprudence is its development of the Mutazila rational doctrine, which they imputed to the Imamate (the institution of the Imam), thereby conferring upon it the validity of reason in all its pronouncements[8]. However, in matters of theology, Shià Fuqh is more restrictive than its Sunni counterpart in as much as it does not accept Qias as a source. This is quite understandable in view of the Imamet`s authority in developing Sharià. Aside from this aspect, the Shià establishment did not evolve the doctrine; their main effort was to evolve the tenets of Shià Islam as opposed to Sunni Islam, especially with respect to the authority of the four deputies of the last Imam and their successors. As far as other schools of Shià Islam went, the Ismaili Seven Imam sect, the second most numerous, developed in various localities, and evolved from a violent start to a peaceful cult of basically local importance. Thus, Islam arrived into the modern era without major adaptation or radical changes in the last seven hundred years.
The fossilization of Islam would have been explained in historical terms as a phenomenon of historical rise and decline in a cyclical pattern of history. However, what distinguishes it from self- reversing phenomena is that it is coupled with cultural, economic and scientific declines. In other words, it was a new state of mind of a formerly great civilization. The state of backwardness of Islamic societies have in addition bred cultural habits and modes of thought often alien to Islam itself. An outstanding manifestation of that is the refusal to participate in Western progress in all aspects of education, culture and economics and the insistence on the indigenousness of any development. A case in point is the refusal of Arab parents in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to send their children to western schools on the basis of their missionary financial backing[9].

Revivalist Currents: the Birth of Political and Fundamentalist Islam
The stark decline of the Islamic world from its previous exalted heights called forth a mixture of revivalists. There were among them extremist schools that followed the teaching of some middle-age scholars, notably, Ibin al Kayyem and Ibin Taymyya, a Hanbali scholar, who sought salvation by returning to early Islamic purity, i.e. seeking the truth in the concrete simplicity and literal textual interpretation. Theology and Fuqh thus become methods of interpreting words, language phrases and ascertaining the authentic historicity of events collateral to their interpretation. A shoot of this return- to- the- roots thinking can be found in the Wahhabi sect of Islam which seeks to emulate the “righteous ancestors” and duplicate their ways[10], thus, the name the“ Salafiyya”. The idea is to re-establish the old practices to shake off the prevailing state.
Another shoot seeks the politicization of Islam and the reestablishment of a Muslim state of authentic and pure character, the Khilafah. This type of political Islam is present in the post- Khilafah thought; it having been abolished by Mustafa Kemal in 1923. A leading example is the thought of Hasan al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brothers in the 1920`s in Egypt[11]. The Muslim Brothers started a trend in Islamic societies of seeking political power in the name of Islam by presenting the Sharià as a political program without advocating any reform in it. Implicit in this is the thought that the problems of Islamic societies lie in their abandonment of the true path of the Sharià and not in the genuine petrifaction of Islamic theology. It is therefore an  advocacy of taking the historical example rather than offering a specific new program. In this view, the prevailing state is essentially the result of the disintegration of the political order. Thus, a proposition common to the political Islamists in this mold is the advocacy of re-establishing a Muslim state, i.e. al Khilafah, to defend Muslims and secure their rights. Political Islamists in the contemporary scene include the Islamic Front of Salvation of Algeria and the followers of Al Maududi in Pakistan. A different variety of political Islam is found in the thoughts and actions of Hasan al Turabi in Sudan.
Some extremists of al Banna followers combined politicization with the literal theology of Ibin Taymyya, resulting into a brew of incendiary thinking, such as found in the writings of Sayyed Qutb and his society of “Forgiveness and Disfranchising”. Sayyed Qutb elaborated, after Ibin Taymyya, the doctrine of disfranchising from Islam, i.e., Takfeer, any body who does not subscribe to his thought and act according to Islam as he sees it. In particular, he considered democracy as a major corroding Western influence, which impedes the Islamization of societies. He, therefore, opined killing its advocates and practitioners’. Bin Laden, and his principal associate, al Zwahiri along with the Talabans, are the latest link in Qutb`s chain of political Islamists.
Another offshoot of political Islamists is the Party of Islamic Liberation. This was founded in Lebanon in the early fifties by the Palestinian Takuyuddin al Nabahani. This party has a significant following in the Central Asian countries. This is altogether different from other Islamists in that it primes the political advocacy of establishing an Islamic state in which a new theological interpretation of Islam would modify the existing Fuqh. It remains still in the nature of a sect with a political agenda and a distant promise of a new future theology. It can be said that its views on contemporary Islamic societies are essentially transitional.
In Shià Islam, the equivalence is found in Imam al Khumeini` concept of the “reign of the religious authority”, Wilayat al Faquih, installed in the Islamic Republic of Iran through the Council of Guides. The Council is charged with the task of an overseer of all the laws and actions of the elected officials, which have to be consistent with precepts of Shià Fuqh, i.e. the teachings of the deputies of the disappeared Imam. With the exception of authenticating the Prophet’s sayings and actions by a Shià source and the Imamet institution, Shià Islam does not have a different theology than Sunni Islam.
Besides the political Islamists and the literalist militants, there were at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century other revivalists within the Islamic main traditions. These include modernizers such as Jamaluddin al Afghani, Abdurahman al Kawakiby, Rasheed Ridha, Muhammad Abdoh, Muhammad Iqbal, Taher al Jazairy and several others. These reformists, unlike the political Islamists and the literalist Salafiyyas, had thoughts that included both the Sharià itself and the state of their societies. They offered at the time a critique of what was wrong with the Ottoman State, the Islamic Khilafah, the intellectual state of Islam itself as well as the way it was practiced in their time. They all advocated reopening the door of Ijtihad, i.e. new thinking, in reinterpreting and renewing the Islamic Sharià. They were also sharply aware of the double value system of the West and the materialist nature of its secular culture and sought to develop a spiritual alternative[12]. Therefore, they tried to innovate within the context of Islam’s character and within the requirements of their time. However, the advent of Western colonialization at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman State, the Islamic Khilafah, turned the general public attention from Islamic reform to National awakening to fight colonialism. Indeed, at the beginning of the last century, nationalist movements spread all over the Islamic world. The nationalists' programs involved modernization, a bit of secularism and a western-style nationalist creed. The nationalists caught the imagination of the educated elite and soon became also mass movements with clear -cut political agendas. It was evident that the Nationalist appeal for joining the struggle against the yoke of the Imperialist West drowned the appeal of religious reformers. Thus, the Nationalists can be said to have pre-empted the main stream Islamic reformers[13].

The Failure of the Nationalist Regimes and the Rise of Global Militancy
The nationalist thinking in general and that in the Arab world in particular, followed closely the European Nationalist thought of the nineteenth century. It was secular, modernizing and totally disinterested in the concept of the Islamic state. It was to be expected that the particular country conditions of various Muslim societies dictated the contents of the modernization programs of the various national movements. Still, a common feature of the nationalist thinking was the abandonment of the Islamic state. Moreover, the reform of Islam and the building of modern, rationalist and equally spiritual new traditions, were not, and perhaps could not be, a part of the projects of modernization of the nationalist movements. On the other hand, a distinct Islamic theological revival did not seem to attract the attention or interest of the advocates of political Islam; they continued to believe that the full truth is implicit in the received traditions and that the problems of their societies are of political nature rather than, additionally, questions of doctrinal relevance and socio-political maladaptation.
In the Arab world, the two movements: the political Islamists and the Arab Nationalists, cohabited at some tension in the first six decades of the Twentieth Century, specifically, from 1908 when the Young Turks took over power in the Ottoman state, bringing with them to the Islamic State (Khilafah) a National Touranic creed, to 1967 and the decade of the seventies, when the Arab National Movement was defeated by Israel and its dysfunctional and failed national political regimes were exposed over the decade as mere dictatorships, often corrupt and always repressive. The lack of political and cultural content to Arab Nationalism exposed its vulnerability to political exploitation and cultural retrogradation. And the socialism content of its economic programs added to that economic failure. This largely explains its impoverished record.
The cohabitation however produced a dualistic culture in Arab societies: the culture of the ruled masses with no political power or political participation in which the Islamists laid low, and that of the ruling one-party National state. The culture of the masses was traditional, full of givens from the past, closed upon itself, politically neutered, economically poor and rather backward. The culture of the Nationalists was modern only in slogans, their states based on power relationship to the ruled, and in respect of the prevailing traditions, empty of any reformist contents. Almost all the Nationalists` leaders came through the army from rural backgrounds with little personal intellectual attainments and thus limited intellectual horizon: Nasser, Assad, Kadafi, Boumedienne and Saddam, all come to mind in this respect[14]. They put in place "etatic", Soviets- style, totalitarian regimes protected from the people by police and security apparatuses, all above and outside the law. The one party system puts its beneficiaries, mostly unqualified, in charge of the public sector, which managed and controlled the economy with no standards of performance or a bottom lime[15]. The nationalists` forays into social and cultural transformation were negligible and often politically skewed. For example, forming and educating a new generation capable of functioning in the modern universal civilization became exercises in political indoctrination, in dilution of academic standards and in neglect of teaching critical thinking and historical objectivity. The result was a failure on most fronts[16]. In addition, the dysfunctional nationalist regimes, all of which came by military coups, failed even in the military task of protecting their people against Israel. And this failure became obvious to the populace by the end of the 1960`s. This populace who supported the Nationalists and dreamt for decades of revival under their leadership received the cruelest of history’s shocks: the loss of self- esteem and the desperation of repeated failure on multiple fronts. This was to be reflected later on in the Jihadis finding in self-sacrifice a personal redemption from the collective failure. The result of the nationalist failure was the loss of followers in the popular scene, much to the delight of the West, and the move of the advocates of political Islam and the fundamental religious revivalists to occupy the resultant vacuum. They had a ready audience in the subculture of the masses among which they have lain low. These masses were politically neutered and intellectually desperate for something new. The Islamists laid a claim to authenticity in the prevailing dualist culture and connected readily to the grievances of this substratum among which they survived for several decades.
The Islamists of all hues came gradually to share with the Arab Nationalists most of the nationalistic goals, and more importantly, the same sense of grievance towards western colonialism. With the creation of Israel and the unlimited support of the West, especially the US, to its Zionist designs, the Islamists exploited the flagrant incapacity of the nationalist Arab rulers to put a limit to the humiliations and encroachment inflicted by Israel and fashioned an anti-Western attitude wrapped by a feeling of deep injustice. As economic and social underdevelopment along with political repression turned out to be the main legacy of the Arab Nationalist regimes, the 1970`s witnessed a turn among large segments of the disaffected Arab populations towards the Islamists who posed as the natural power inheritors. The Islamists claimed authenticity to their analysis of the problems and their solutions were premised on Islamic deliverance without ever specifying its details[17]. On this view, since the entire verity reposed in the dogma, the return to the sources was claimed to be the historically proven way out. In other words, the program was based on faith and historical example rather than specifics[18]. Absent any political organization and civil society institutions left in place between the Nationalists and the Islamists by the totalitarian regimes, there was no other choice to be made.
The political Islamists are of two streams: a stream that wants an Islamic revival, and as of late, accepts democracy and renounces violence as referred to above, and another who rejects democracy altogether on the theory that God is the only source of authority and the Sharià is the lone genuine program reference[19].
To be sure, the political Islamists of all shades were still a minority in the population, but this minority was the only force present in opposition to the nationalist dictatorships. The supporters of Arab Nationalism, took a kind of political sabbatical in the 1980`s to examine and try to understand their multiple failures. During the decade of the nationalists' sabbatical, their disappearance from the scene left the Islamists as the only advocates of change in the Arab street and the main victims of political repression of the rulers. It was not until the 1990`s that the Nationalist reappeared back on the scene. As an example, a nationalist conference was held in Cairo, under the auspices of the Centre for Studies of Arab Unity, to examine in a manner of self-critiques the gaps and errors of the nationalist program and its experience. This conference formulated a new platform of six goals for the nationalist project, among which democracy and Arab federalism, modernization and economic development had central places. Another conference was organized by the same sponsors in 1994, which included this time the leftists, Marxists and the non-violent Islamists, who for the first time endorsed, inter alias, democracy and the peaceful alternation of power by the ballot box as parts of a common program[20]. During the second half of the 1990`s, the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, in Syria, and in Iraq moved gradually from their old position of considering the Sharià as the sole valid reference for the society to accepting references of non-Islamic parties provided that all compete democratically. Thus, while the Muslim Brothers were the pioneers of militant political Islam, they have grown in effect, from a political movement into an Islamic political party. In the last five years, the Egyptian, Syrian and Libyan Muslim Brothers have joined the opposition to their countries respective regimes with a claimed full acceptance of the democratic game and a forthright denunciation of violence for political purposes. In sum, the Muslim Brothers have separated themselves from the militant Islamists and accepted, at last, to join others in the movement for political democracy, human rights and reform in the Arab World. However, this remains a promise to be tested under democratic conditions.

The Rise of the Global Jihadi Militants

The rise of political Islamists in the Arab and other countries in the 1970`s and 1980`s as a consequence of the failure of the Nationalists received an unexpected twist with the efforts of the US and Saudi Arabia to combat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. For the first time in centuries, the Jihadis recruited for the Afghan war experienced Jihad against an aggressor and fought with brother Muslims against a common enemy. In Afghanistan, they were able to gather and indoctrinate volunteers, train and equip them with the direct aid of the US, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. That experience was a trial by fire for them, and among other things, it convinced them that armed violence is the only way to remove injustice even if perpetrated by a big, seemingly invincible power. The Afghan war also gave its fighters the sense of living a common experience with coreligionists who shared the same views on Western materialism whether capitalists or communist and in the process identified their common enemy. Finally, the experience of a community of believers drew on the universal spirit of Islam in globalizing the scope of the militants` agenda and establishing, almost for the first time, a global network, free of national boundaries, fit to fight in a globalized world for a universal Islamic state. However, experience is not sufficient to bind global militants; there had to be an ideology behind all that. This they found in the thought of Sayyed Qutb, who was hung in Egypt, and they weaved into it different strands from Wahhabi theology. Among the major tenets of this thought is the notion of Takfeer, i.e. disfranchising from Islam anybody who does not share their views. Thus, they become, like the born again, a community apart from the main Islamic one.
The Afghan experience of militant global Islamists would not have been sufficient to explain the spread of militant political Islam except as regarding those who participated in it. To recruit future Jihadis, explicit Koranic references together with concrete factual applications had to be found. Like any other text, even if holy, the Koran has both general and relative addresses. Relative address concerns the particular situations that faced the Islamic community at the time of the prophet; they do not seek to establish general principles of eternal validity. The global Islamists simply selected the verses ordaining Jihad when Muslims are aggressed, as they were during the time of the Prophet, and did not fail to find concrete examples in which Muslims were under attack in our time. From Afghanistan to Kashmir, to Palestine, to Chechnya, to Bosnia and lastly Iraq, they conjured a spectre of Islam under attack.
This selectivity in referencing their actions and political agenda has not been convincingly challenged by the main line Islamic establishment. How could it have escaped attention that a religion that equates taking one life to killing all humanity, renounced aggressive wars against others and elevated the preservation of human life to one of the five cardinal purposes of its prophecy, has come to be associated with violence and terror. There has been reluctance by religious authorities and Muslim public opinion-makers to face up to such a distortion of Islam, in part, because of the common and shared sense of grievance, and in another, because these acts were initially targeted against outside aggressors. The religious authorities did not see their holy duty in the pursuit of the tolerant and peaceful message of Islam clear of partial interpretations. They seem to have silently condoned what seemed to them a justified struggle against aggressors like Israel. This is a major error of principle; in a matter of distortion of the faith, only a wide and unqualified condemnation of all terrorist acts and rejection of their perpetrators is appropriate. In addition, it convinces no one to hold that because these terrorists are subject to pursuit by the illegitimate Arab governments, one should not take a stand against the opposers of the regimes. Like at the time of al Khawarej, the distortion of religion should be condemned as such and dealt with inside the Muslim community as an internal aberration. It took quite a while for this realization to sink- in and it is unfortunate that the Muslim community has not fully grasped the damage that the extremists have inflicted on the good name of Islam. Fortunately, there are some positive changes of late[21].
Part of the blame should also be apportioned to the rulers who expelled the extremists to the outside world. By exporting those who took aim at their failure to protect their people and improve and modernize their conditions, they sought to neutralize a significant activist part of their domestic opposition. The political illegitimacy of the rulers played into the hands of both the extremists and their tolerant foreign hosts. The immigration of a large swath of political Islamists to the West has resulted in implanting among the majority of peaceful Muslim immigrant communities a minute band of activists busy trying to influence and charge with militant fervor the disaffected youths of such communities, often victims of discrimination and poverty. It is only recently that this state of affairs has become of public concern in both the West and among the rulers of the Arab world who have finally joined the international struggle against the resultant violence.
It would be a violation of reality to leave the impression that the political Islamist trend is well and thriving. As a matter of fact, since the early 1990`s, political Islam has failed in all countries to become dominant among the masses. Indeed, al Zwahiri, Bin Laden`s principal ideologue, admits in his book (Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet) that the Islamists have failed to turn the Muslim masses into armed militants i.e., tajyeesh[22]. Its record in places where it took power (Afghanistan, Iran and Sudan) has been far from satisfactory. No less bleak has been its record in countries where it attempted to take power (Algeria, Egypt, Syria and Yemen). Its methods drenched in violence and festooned in terror have aroused popular dismay, vocal objections, disapproval and, in cases, down right resistance.
A fundamental problem of political Islamists is their refusal to dispute or look critically at the Islamic heritage and their insistence on according their advocacies the character of divine reference. When programs were formulated, a rare thing, they have appeared rather simplistic to wide segments of the public opinion, and where implemented, has had very poor results. Neither in questions of doctrine nor in those of political, social and economic matters have its advocates produced a coherent and empirically valid answer to the problems of the society and the economy[23]. There has been, as discussed above, some transformations of position among some political Islamists regarding democracy and the necessity of adapting their programs to the exigencies of modern societies. This was accompanied by a forthright admittance of the errors of their past ways[24].
It is beyond the scope of this paper to document and explore the failure of political Islam and its future. Nonetheless, one can clearly glean from a great number of recent works that it is now on a descending trend[25]. Nonetheless, history synthesizes the messages of movements and ideas that erupt throughout its course. Without being a strict Hegelian, one can assert that the thesis which the political Islamists, as well as the traditional reformers, tried jointly to preach, namely, the sense of seeking a communal revival endowed with Islam’s spiritual values met its antithesis in Western secular and modern materialism and that the synthesis of the political Islamists of the future will be in grafting to the Western individualist and humanist traditions a spiritualist dimension in the life of man absent from rigid secularism. This is an outcome that fascinated Michael Foucault when he observed first hand the Iranian revolution at its inception and thought that it would usher an alternative to the bureaucratic and materialist civilization of the West[26]. In a recent book along somewhat different lines, Reza Aslan holds that the future of democracy and political Islam in the Islamic societies will reflect the egalitarian and communal dimension of Islam and will infuse them with its particular spirituality[27]. In other words, Islamic societies will establish their own pattern of democracy and modernization, which is different than the Western model. It is hazardous at best to predict the course of history, but the marks that economic and technological transformations leave have historically had more similarities than differences across various societies unless there are different dynamic forces at play.
The question arises, whether it is fair to link Islam with the terrorist acts of the extremists in view of their selective Islam. It is said, why is terror by non- Muslims not religiously linked? ; Why is Islam paired routinely with terrorism in the Western Press? Without dwelling upon the condemnations of the likes of Senior Berlusconi, who deal with stereotypes, or upon the hysterical and ignorant journalism of Oriana Falaci, the average individual in the US and Europe sees that the perpetrators of terror claim religious justification for their acts, which goes on without repudiation by the Muslim religious authorities. Furthermore, the perpetrators have not suffered effective ostracism by their co-religionists. As long as there are some Muslims who insist on explaining, even if they do not justify, such acts in political terms, the outside world and its prejudiced and castigating media cannot be blamed for calling this terror in the terms chosen by its perpetrators.
The Islamic and Arab worlds are poised at a historical juncture: they have to start thinking about modernization not just in economic and technological terms, but, as well, in cultural and political terms. And all the efforts expended on this course will come to serious obstacles if Islam is not reformed and looked at with modern eyes as a religion relevant to the universal civilization of our times.


This essay leads to short and long-run conclusions. In the former, the Muslim community and the Islamic establishment have both to repudiate without qualifications the violent acts of the Jihadis as an aberration to Islam. There has also to be an internal mobilization of public opinion, especially among the youth, against this distorted selective Islam. In the long run, the root causes of the feelings of collective failure, political oppression, and injustice-to- Muslims and slight to dignity must be dealt with. This implies wide-scale political reform, the democratisation of governance and the establishment of the rule of law in the affected countries. There has to be a new project of modernization and economic development in the Arab countries backed fully by the West, financially, technologically and culturally. A revision of scholastic curricula to introduce critical thinking and humanist cultural values together with modernization of the learning technology is an essential requisite[28]. Finally, the policies of the West towards festering problems like Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, etc.., must be revised and purged of cultural arrogance, imperial thinking and double standard. Similarly, the European domestic policies towards Muslim minorities, especially the disaffected youth, must move towards empowerment, furthering economic and employment opportunities and acceptance of the other.

Geneva, 28/10/2005.

[1] According to al Ghazali the purposes of the prophecy are: the preservation of faith, of life, of nature, of moral ethics and of peace among peoples.[2] For the development of Shià Islam seethe discussion in J. Berky, The Formation of Islam, Cambridge university press, 2003, Ch.14, 18& 19, p. 179 and after.[3] This debate started after al Ghazali publisher his treaty entitled, The Collapse of Philosophy, attacking in it the philosophical interpretation of Islam. Ibin Rushd, one of the greatest late philosophers, answered by writing his book, The Collapse of the Collapse, in which he attacked the traditionalist interpretation and penned a classic exposé of the philosophic foundations of theology.[4] Al Ghazali wrote his famous book, The Revival of Religion `s Learning, as an annotated guide to Islam. Despite its theological brilliance, it has stood as a prime exposé of orthodoxy. On the development of Sunni Islam in this period see, J. Berkey, Op. Cit., especially, Ch.12 &13, pp.113-129.
[5] Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, Simon and Schuster, N.Y. 1972.PP.425-428.[6] See for a discussion of religious forms Paul Laude, “An Eternal Perfume”, Parabola, Winter 2005, pp.6-9.[7]Twelve Imam Shià is so called because after the death of the eleventh Imam, Hasan al Askari, at the age of 29 in 873, a raging debate took place among Shià scholars about his succession. The opinion that triumphed was that he had a son called Mohammed al Muntazar who disappeared and will come back at the end of time to fulfil god’s plans for the faithful. See Said Amir Arjumand, ed. Authority and Political Culture, SUNY Press, Albany, 1988, pp. 25-53.[8] See J. Berkey, Op, Cit., Ch.13.[9] In the Sunna, the prophet says that a Muslem should seek knowledge even if it were as far as China.[10] It is customary to see Wahhabi clerics and similar literalist wearing the same attires as those of the righteous predecessors some 1400 years ago.[11] There has been in recent year’s significant changes in the stances of the M.B. on democracy and violence. The Muslim. Brothers. are now on record adopting democracy and renouncing violence. But that remains a promise.
[12] Muhammad Abdoh who was the grand Mufti of Egypt, wrote at the end of the Nineteenth Century addressing the English public, “We Egyptians believed once in English liberalism and sympathy; but we believe no longer, for facts are stronger than words. Your liberalism and enlightenment is only for your self”.[13] In recent years, some traditionalist reformers such as Yousuf al Qardawi, have been trying to revive the Ijtihad and add to the body of traditional Islamic Jurisprudence. The challenges faced by Muslims living in the West, i.e., outside Islamic societies, have created needs for revisiting many of the old agreed precepts. Consequently a Council of Islamic Fatwa, whose membership include some prominent scholars, has been found to legislate new rules when needed. One cannot however, group this work with the renovations wanted by the revivalists early in the twentieth century, because this reformist movement strictly adheres to the rules of the existing Jurisprudence and is again backward- referencing to the four Sunni Islamic schools plus some of the Shià Jurisprudence in their sourcing.[14] Although the Baath party, one of the main elements in the Nationalist movement, had a fair number of intellectuals, it got bogged down and mixed up with the military elements, officers with sectarian and tribal backgrounds who soon took over the party and turned its apparatus into a cast of acquiescent beneficiaries or, as did Saddam Hussain, expelled or liquidated the old cadres.[15] In the surprising position of a supporter of the unqualified, the urbane and cultured journalist M. H. Haykal, chief editor of the al Ahram, wrote in 1960 a series of articles in the paper entitled “ People of trust versus people of expertise” in which he defended this recourse to the trusted and unqualified as necessary but temporary. History, Haykal`s favourite subject, proved him wrong; states cannot secure legitimacy without performance and cannot cast off easily the beneficiaries entrenched inside the regime.[16] The nationalists achieved significant gains for the rural population, especially in education and employment. But these gains occurred in the context of the re-distributional efforts of the state under stagnant economic developments and non modernized structural forms. There were under Nasser and later on under Saddam, attempts at industrialization. However, political failures and wars aborted the potential of these efforts as attested by the statistical development data.[17]One of the outstanding examples of lack of specifics and objective imprecision’s of the Islamists is their claim that there is in the Sharià an economic system. To be sure, there are some general statements about fair exchange and commerce and interdiction of usury. However, such generalities are far from being elements of a valid economic system. In Islamic banking, a going concern, there is a mix up between interest rate and usury and a complete lack of understanding of the market interest rate and its function in time and in capital theory. There is also a mix up between banking intermediation where the depositor bears only the residual default risk of the bank and the commercial deployment of capital via venture capital or merchant banking where the depositor bears the commerce and business risks.
[19] This view echoes some Wahhabi opinions that God through his Sharià and not the populace is the source of authority. The Saudi Royal Family, at least as can be ascertained from some of its spokesmen, supports this view. For example, prince Turki Ibin Faisal, the former head of intelligence, former Ambassador in London and current Ambassador in Washington, has repeatedly stated this position in public. In a televised world forum anchored by Christian Amanpour on CNN in May 2004, he repeated this position. Recently, Mr. Adel Jabbar, a spokesman for King Abdullah, said on CNN that the Saudi government is interested in political reform and not in the label of democracy.[20] See the Centre for Studies of Arab Unity for the papers of these two conferences.[21] The Grand Sheikh of al Azhar University, and such Islamic scholars like Yousuf al Kardhawi and several others have opined against violence and terrorist acts in the last three years.[22] Ayman al Zwahiri, Knights under the Banner of the Prophet, Document: FBIS-NES-“002-0108 of 2/12/2001 Number: 20020108000197.[23] After his release from jail, Dr. Hasan al Turabi admitted in his one- hour TV interview with al Jazeera on 18/10/2005 that the Islamists, himself included, have major gaps in their thinking in matters of economic, political governance and social modernization. He also admitted errors of judgment in their political struggle for governing. The Muslim brothers in Syria, Egypt and Yemen admitted publicly the errors of their past practices and approach.[24] After the terrorist attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia in 2003, 2004 and similar such attacks in Morocco in 2003 and Egypt in 2005, all Arab governments seem to have joined in the struggle against Islamist extremists.[25] See Olivier Roy, L`Echec de L`Islam Politique, Seuli, Paris, 1992 for an early socio-cultural study of the elements making for success or failure. More recently, two more sources can be recommended: Gilles Kepel, Jihad, Expansion ET Déclin de L`Islamism, Galimard, Paris, 2000. Also, Antoine Basbous, L`Islamism : Une Révolution Avortée ? , Hachette, Paris, 2000.[26] Janet Afary & Kevin Anderson, Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Isalmism, University of Chicago press, 2005.[27] Reza Aslan, No God but God: the Origins Evolution and Future of Islam, Random House, 2005.[28] Among the necessary scholastic aims is the introduction of empiricism and logical objectivity in thinking and in the study of history. In the same vein, the learned Islamic institutions, such as al Azhar, would benefit of modernizing their curricula to assure in addition to the mastery of the Fuqh, the knowledge of philosophy, comparative religion, theology, jurisprudence, critical thinking, and the methodology of science and modern methods of research. The study of Islam should become a true university -level endeavor with requisite standards.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Abstract for "The Strugle for the Real Islam; the Rise of Militancy and Failure of Modernization and Devlopment"


The development of religions is marked by periods of reexamination and reformation of the faith to adapt religion to the prevailing culture and civilization. In Islam, the first five centuries of its formation witnessed a great deal of such adaptation. However, as of its sixth century, Islam was barred from further evolution by an alliance of temporal rulers and beneficiary religious establishment. For 700 years, Islam became frozen, rigid and conformist. The result was a marked decline in all aspects of civilization and culture. However, the great previous achievements of Islamic civilization did not fail to inspire revivalists. Broadly, there were three currents of revivalists: the modernizing traditionalists, the ancestor -referencing and the political Islamists
The promise of reform of the traditional modernizers seems to have been pre -emptied by the rise of the nationalist movements in various countries in reaction to the advent of Western colonialism. In the Arab world, the nationalists held sway for six decades in the Twentieth Century. However, their record was characterized by repression, cultural and economic decline and failure to protect their people from aggression. This comprehensive failure marked the psychology of the populace and gave an impulse to the political Islamists and the militants to present themselves as the authentic alternative. The violence and terror of some of their followers is found to be a reaction to this collective failure to reform the culture, modernize the societies and develop the economies.
The political Islamists base their thesis on a particular and selective interpretation of Islam. This group found in the Afghan experience an occasion to form an international identity capable to achieve by violence its goals. Dealing with these groups is possible the only form within the Islamic societies by outright rejection of the distortion and through a new program of modernization and economic transformation. Islam itself should come under a modern rational reading to fit the age.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The New US Foreign Policy: the Case of Iraq

TheUS Foreign policy; the case of Iraq
The US Foreign policy; the case of Iraq
The Struggle for the Real Islam:Militancy and the Failure of reform and Development
the Genesis of the US Problems in Iraq: a Seven point exit Plan
Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The US New Foreign Policy; the Case of Iraq
Dr. Michael Sakbani*
Delivered at Bellevue, Switzerland on September 23, 2004 before the ADA (American Democrats Abroad), Geneva chapter, published and distributed by ADA, revised for general publication end September,2005.

The New Foreign Policy

The war in Iraq can be better understood if it is put in the context of the decidedly new foreign policy of the Bush Administration[1]. This foreign policy together with its consequent military posture were outlined to the US Congress in September 2002, in a remarkable document entitled “The National Security Strategy of the US” This important document must be read in conjunction with the writings and pronouncements of such luminaries of this Administration as: Vice-President Cheney, Secretary- of -defence Rumsfeld, two strong nationalists, and the ideologues such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Kenneth Adleman, Douglass Feith, Lewis libby, as well as advisors and outside policy commentators such as William Christol, James Worsley, Charles Krauthammer and Robert Kagan; these are the salient names among the Washington crowd now known as the neo-conservatives, “Neo-cons”[2].
In a sharp break with previous policies and practices of the US which emphasized working through the Multilateral System and its institutions, viz.: UN, IMF, World Bank, NATO, etc., all of which established on US initiatives after WWII, the current policy is to work within or without the System as it sees fit. The web of international agreements such as the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the treaty on nuclear tests and inspections, the treaty on chemical and biological weapons, the disarmament treaty, etc- have therefore, all become superfluous and only enforceable on other countries. The current Administration took specific action to withdraw or refuse to sign such international agreements or treaties.
Since WWII, the US has, in general, striven to co-opt others into the multilateral system where their interests are accommodated with the aim of legitimising and gathering support for its own interests. There were to be sure, instances where the US acted outside the System- South Vietnam, Panama, Lebanon, Kosovo- but these were the exception and mainly due to the unfeasibility of obtaining a UN -Security Council resolution. The new doctrine does not rely on the Multilateral –system; it works by forming variable coalitions of the willing, via offering incentives or threatening punishment on case- by- case basis. Its crux is that the US would unilaterally decide any matter according to its own national interests.
The doctrine of containment, elaborated by the US and for decades accepted by its allies, is now replaced by the so- called “pre-emptive war”. Pre-emptive war is actually a misnomer. A better term more fitting to the current policy doctrine is “preventive war”. Secretary –of- state Daniel Webster defined in 1842 pre-emptive war as one launched when the enemy shows his designs. In other wards, when there is a clear, discernable and imminent danger. This is pretty much what Senator Edward Kennedy articulated as acceptable in his speech before the US senate in September 2003 i9n discussing President Bush`s demanded for war power authorization before going to the UN. It is a far cry from the concept of preventive war based on future, potential danger, i.e. a danger not yet discernable.

In justifying such a far- fetched principle the defence document says: “The US can no longer solely rely on reactive posture as we have done in the past. The inability to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of today‘s threats, and the magnitude of potential harm…. do not permit that option. We cannot let our enemies strike first”. Behind this view lurks a fundamental lack of trust in collective international security.
In other words, the US now takes the position of striking first based on its own estimation of the potential danger. This is a principle rejected explicitly by every US president since Roosevelt; most notably, repudiated by the most militarily experienced among them: Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Consequently, war can now be waged not only on the authorization of the UN Security Council in case of a threat to international collective security, or unilaterally in the case of self-defence, but as well, outside the system by a US decision based on its own estimation and according to its own rules. Moreover, war can be initiated not only on the premise of actual and present danger, but also on the presumption of potential danger as estimated by the US. In a world of unreliable intelligence, as has the Iraq war shown, this is indeed a dangerous principle.

The views that the UN is not reliable when it comes to protecting US security and that its Charter has gaping holes in this regard has been argued by many. In fact, some prominent statesmen made suggestions to remedy this lacuna[1] What is new is that such views have now become the views of the US policy establishment.

Rebirth of an Old Idea

It was recently revealed that the idea to go to war against Iraq was brought up by the Vice- President and the Secretary- of -Defence almost immediately after the Administration took charge. It was later again brought up by the same protagonists two days after 9/11.[2] The same idea was advocated by the same people early- on during the Bush senior Administration, but was dismissed at the time. We also know now that Richard Perle, the head of the Pentagon Advisory Council, wrote a memo for Mr. Netenyahu, the former Israeli prime minister, back when he came to power with the likhud victory in the Israeli elections, advocating the same views through proposing to change by force the geo-political situation surrounding Israel. This was to be done in tacit coordination with, and perhaps the help of the US. The same Richard Perle and some dozen names of the Neo-Cons of the Bush administration signed a petition in1998 asking President Clinton to launch war on Iraq. Thus, 9/11 provided the opportunity to warm up an old idea.[3]
The views of the Neo-Cons on Iraq were based on their strategic conception of the US interests in the region. According to their views, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US, as the sole super power, has something like a ten- year window of opportunity to shape by force, by diplomacy and by economic power the rest of the world in its own interests and values. There was in addition a great deal of attention paid to the Israeli interests at stake. Views might differ on the balance between Israeli and US interests in the minds of the NEO-Cons, but there is no doubt that they are all strong advocates of Israel.[4] Whatever may be this balance, there is no doubt that the Iraq posture was also greatly influenced by the advice proffered by Iraqi exiles such as Ahmed Chalabi, the Chicago mathematician, and Kanaan Makkiya of Boston University, whom Perle, Wolfowitz, and vice-president Cheney had met and befriended 10-13 years before the war.
The Iraqi exiles provided a fanciful view of Iraq after Saddam, an Iraq bottled up by Saddam, full of wealth, talents and friends of the US. Perle and Wolfowitz even enlisted the Princeton historian Bernard Lewis, a hawkish expert on Oriental Studies and a friend of Israel, to marshal the President and his White House security advisors “to rid the long -suffering people of Iraq” of their rapacious dictator.
Saddam was undoubtedly brutal, and his regime widely unpopular. Under him the Iraqi people paid indeed a tragic price in life and wealth. However, the intelligence provided by some of the exiles on the regime’s military capabilities and the possible reaction of Iraqis to an American invasion, were pure fantasies. Fantasies also were the exiles rosy picture of Iraq‘s capabilities and wealth. To be sure, Iraq has a very capable elite at par with any, but it does not have long established and tried institutions capable of channelling its capabilities. Moreover, its great oil wealth is the main -stay of essentially an underdeveloped economy as can be judged by any of the familiar criteria of economic development[5]. This lopsided picture of Iraqi reality was also supported by the Israeli intelligence in an obvious self- serving role. However, instead of mobilizing the US intelligence capacity to check this body of information, the Administration proceeded to put together a case to sell the war to the American public. In the now familiar picture that emerged form the Hutton ‘s inquiry in England on the same topic, the government started collecting evidence to back a decision it already made and not collect evidence to make a decision.
The US went into Iraq without an explicit UN SC decision to use force and without waiting for the UN inspection team to produce a definite report. US diplomacy suffered a major failure trying to persuade the members of the Security Council to support its actions; of the fifteen members of the Council, only four supported the US position. It seems that the temperature of the terrain in Iraq was more important than observing the modalities of the international system.
The Neo-cons found three attractive attributes to Iraq: it is an asymmetrical power situation were a third- rate broken army under boycott or 12 years would face the primary world power with predictable outcome. Secondly, Iraq is a rich state with educated managers, scientists, and experts of all kind, i.e., “cadres”, obviating the need to invest in the lengthy process of building human capital. Thus, the US can easily reshape its future system in accordance with its interests and values. Thirdly, Saddam is perhaps the world most brutal dictator with a human rights record approaching those of Stalin and Hitler. Of course the strong supporters of the Israeli likhud among the Neo-Cons, thought also that such a move is in the interest of Israel as it destroys any possibility of a Syrian-Iraqi combination against it, and it cuts off the financial support of Saddam for the Palestinian.
After the US arrived at the scene, several fatal decisions were made that, in the light of subsequent events proved erroneous:

1. The US excluded the UN, the Arab states, France, Russia, Germany an others from any role in Iraq. The UN role, which was described as “vital” by the US consisted, in reality, of some humanitarian aid workers and an office for the late Sergio Vieira di Mello.
2. The President decided to assign to the Pentagon the management of Iraq, in preference over any other US government agency or combination of agencies. Ever since Somalia, the Pentagon has been against the concept of nation building and, thus, had an institutional resistance to planning for the aftermath of the war. Its doctrine is simply to win a war, as it did in Afghanistan, and then withdraw. This is why the US turned out to have no plans for Iraq after the war. General Wesley Clark, the former commander of NATO, describes in his book Waging Modern War his total surprise upon finding no prior planning in the Pentagon for the war aftermath. As late as February 2003, a memo was circulating at the highest levels in the State Department warning of dire consequences of the lack of preparation of the Central Command for the phase after the war§ (National Security Electronic, 2003)[6].

3. Effectively, the US dissolved half of the Iraqi state: it dismissed the personnel of four ministries: the interior, defence, information and education. That meant it dissolved the Iraqi army, fired the police and security forces, and dismissed school- teachers and the personnel of the Press and Information Ministry. This was contrary to the plans announced before the war by the US representative Mr. Khalilzad to the Iraqi opposition conferees at Salahuddine in northern Iraq. In so doing, once again, the Administration followed the advice of exiled Shià sectarian politicians about excluding Arab Sunni officials employed by the Iraqi state of any role in the new order. At any rate, if the people thrown out of jobs headed families of five like the average Iraqi family, then, 3 million Iraqis were out of income earning power and living on meager pensions squeezed by hyperinflation.
4. At the advice of Iraqi opposition groups in exile, and against the expert views of old hands in and outside the government, the US dissolved the Baath party and banned all its members from any public sector jobs. There were reportedly up to two million Iraqis enrolled in the Baath Party. Naturally, most of those are political opportunists who wanted to get the bounties of the dictator’s one party state; Under Saddam customarily, being a party member gave one an advantage in getting a job and advancing one’s career. Again with the same arithmetic, if the Baath had only one million members, about five million were added to those without earned income, totalling eight million Iraqis living on paltry pension. It should be recalled that the Baath before Saddam was the secular party of the Arab world having in its ranks a large number of modern secular Arabs. Saddam took over the party through a process of eliminating, frequently by killing, the old leadership and replacing it with his henchmen and clan members. Given these known facts, would it not have been more sensible for the US to arrest the incriminated leadership of the Party and recuperate the rank and file once the war was over?
5. Mr. Chalabi`s Iraqi National Conference and the pro Iranian Supreme Islamic Council, among other exiles, advised the US to depend on the Arab Shià majority of Iraq. Not only did the US listen to this advice, it allowed into Iraq an Iranian trained and equipped force, largely lead by Iranians with Iraqi connections, called the Badre Corps, to bolster these partisans. It turned out later, that this paramilitary force along with others brought in with the US forces, were instrumental in looting the Iraqi state and spreading mayhem. This decision had far reaching consequences in that it created an armed street presence to the new sectarian politicians at the moment when security, and in general, law and order ceased to exist. The new politicians acquired therefore a power base by the barrel of the gun. It also laid the foundations of an extensive network of Iranian agents and operators, especially in Southern Iraq.

The Iraqi Mosaic

The Shià* constitute anywhere from 45 to 55 per cent of the population. There are no reliable statistics here, because Saddam`s regime held forth that it was non-sectarian and did not approve of such classifications and statistics. There are additionally problems with emigrant Shià from Iran whose legal status is still in dispute; it is a leftover from a bad application of the law of citizenship at the time of Saddam. These would be around half a million, i.e., 2 per cent of the population. Nobody disputes the plurality of the Shià in Iraq, but it is rather implausible that they are in fact a majority on the order of 60-65 per cent as frequently reported in the Western media. A reasonable guess estimate of Shià would be 52 per cent of the total (Islam on Line)[7].
Not all the Shià are Arab; some 3 per cent of the Iraqi population are Shià Kurds (Feylani Kurds) and even some Turkmans are Shià. The Shià are far from politically monolithic and their allegiances are far from uniform. For example, the majority of the members of the former Communist and Baath parties of Iraq, as well as the Nationalist Arab Movement, were Shià. Of the fifty on the most wanted list of the US, 33 were Shià.
It is common knowledge that the Iraqi society is not sectarian. Intermarriage among Sunnis and Shià is widespread, and the common ethnic identification and evident social fraternity of the two Muslim Arab groups are strong and have withstood the trauma of Saddam`s war with Iran. Thus, by favouring the Shià, the US introduced sectarian distinctions into its approach and ushered sectarianism into the Iraqi body politics.
While the idea of according to the Shià their due share is eminently sensible, it is nevertheless, a minefield for the US: as long as the US has troubled relationship with Iran, given the close links between the Shià religious leaderships in the two countries, the sectarian approach risks promoting an Iranian -style regime in Iraq or, at least, one closely allied with it. The Shià are, on the whole, poorer and less well educated than their Sunni counterpart. Many among them hold a rather strong allegiance to their traditional religious leadership, the Marjiya**. Unlike the Sunni religious leadership, The Shià leadership has institutional authority and is financially well endowed. Saddam persecuted the leadership during the Iran-Iraq war and brutally tried to change the sociological hierarchies of the community. He went as far as killing and chasing away some of the most respected Shià leaders and their families. He uprooted the Shià inhabitants of the Euphrates delta, and forced them à la Caucescu, to move into new government- built villages. Although, Saddam was an indiscriminating brute, the Shià bore a large share of his repression.

The other big Iraqi group is the Sunnis. The Sunnis are Arabs, Kurds and Turkmans[8]. As a total, one is talking about a figure around 46 per cent of the population. A recent UN workshop organized by ESCWA, attended by varied Iraqi demographic scholars, put the Sunnis total at 53 per cent of the population (Islam on Line, fn.7). That is rather doubtful according to this paper research. A reasonable guess-estimate would be the figure of 46 percent. Regardless of the true figures, which are still to be ascertained, the ethnic identification among the Sunnis is perhaps more important than the sectarian one. This is certainly true of the Kurds. Within this group, the largest are the Sunni Arabs. They account for any where between 22 and 30 per cent of the total population. Perhaps, a reasonable guess-estimate is 26 per cent. There are some 4 percent Iraqi Turkmans whose vast majority is Sunni and eighty percent of Iraq’s 15 to 18 per cent Kurds, are also Sunnis. All in all, the Iraqi population can be said to have, as far as we know, a small Shià majority. Nonetheless, the central facts that emerge are that more than 79 per cent of the population is ethnic Arabs and about 97 per cent are Muslims.
The Arab Sunnis have been very well epresented in all the previous Iraqi regimes, and have had a disproportionate share in both government and business. For example, according to CIA sources, 55 per cent of government officials during Saddam`s regime were Sunni Arabs, but only 33 per cent Shià Arabs*. Expectedly, Sunnis constitute a major part of the Iraqi middle class. But because of this historical dominance, which continued during the Saddam regime, and equally, because of the entrenchment of Arab nationalist thinking among them, the US decided to treat them as suspects and not to open up bridges to them. Saddam, however, was an equal opportunity oppressor; he did not spare Sunnis, including members of his own family, his rapacious repression. Instead of recuperating this vital stratum, the US pushed the Sunnis aside and accorded them 5 out of the 25 seats on the Governing Council. No wonder, it is among these people that one finds the greatest resistance now.
The exclusion of the Sunni Arab population was justified to the US by its Israeli connection, as a strategic move to split Iraq from the rest of the overwhelmingly Sunni Arab world. In view of the absence of peace with its neighbors, Israel has always had a strategic design for the region based on splintering it. It is plausible that some exiles, such as Mr. Chalabi and the leaders of the Supreme Islamic Council, had personal political or material interests in a new Iraq free of Sunni power.
The last group is the Kurds. They are probably about 17 per cent of the population. This figure includes all Kurds: those who live in the north, mostly Sunnis, and the Feylani Kurds who live in the east and Baghdad, mostly Shià. The former are the US` friends. However, they have their own agenda of independence. The majority of Iraqis across the board oppose Kurdish independence, and so do all the neighboring states. The Kurdish politicians say now that they want autonomy within a democratic Iraq. One would hope that this is truly the case, and that they have learned from their experience and read correctly the regional political circumstances. However, Kurdish ambitions, as a matter of historic record, have surely been more than autonomy. If the US, as their friend, sponsors their unrestricted national aspirations, it will be a disaster for Iraq, for the Kurds as well as for US prospects there; in view of the exaggerated land claims of the Kurds, no Iraqi government will ever tolerate ceding to the Kurds the lands they want. It would be another blood bath in Iraq. The national aspirations of the northern Kurds got them into trouble with Saddam during the Iraq- Iran war when they allied themselves with Iran in the hope of getting independence after its victory. And that was not the first time the Kurds made such a tragic error; their former tribal chief, Mulla Barazani, made alliance with the Soviet Union and was expelled from Iraq for twelve years. Saddam brutally repressed the Kurds and used against them all his panoply of repression from gassing to killing to massive deportations. No other group suffered as much collective punishment. Nonetheless, observers of the Iraqi scene have always remarked the absence of malice in Arab- Kurdish relations at the level of the populace; one is struck by the evident fraternity towards the Kurds among the Iraqi Arabs.
Against this demographic and ethnic mosaic, it would be unwise for the US to stoke the ethnic fires in Iraq; that would bring on civil war. The US, true to itself, ought to promote co-existence among all groups. Iraq is capable of ethnic and sectarian tolerance and the respect for the rights and dignity of all groups. From this optic, the exclusive visit of Secretary-of-State Powell to the Kurdish areas in September 2003, the large footprint of US advisors in Kurdistan* and the constant traffic of US officials visiting Kurdish politicians, are rather ill advised. If the US interest is to stabilize and democratize the region, sectarian policies and hostility to the Arab national character, are precisely what the US should avoid. Otherwise, the US will end up with an Islamic Iranian victory in Iraq. In sum, the US has been given the wrong advice by self interested parties (the Mossad and Iraqi exiles) and went there not knowing the Iraqi reality and much less its political and historical sociology.

The US Economic Realities

Up until early September 2003, the cost of the military in Iraq was, according to the Pentagon, $49 billion (The economist, 2003).[9] The other costs were for the oil industry and reconstruction, at $15 billion and $10 billion respectively. In September 2003, the President asked and got eighty -seven more billion, thereby bringing the total to $ 146 billion. Additional appropriations were authorized in 2004 and 2005 bringing the total by September 30, 2005 to $ 204.6. Extrapolating this figure till the end of 2005 would bring it up to $ 225 billion. Almost the same figures are given by the National Priorities Project, which places the cost of the war at $197 billion on 6 September 2005 (National Priority Project, 2005).9 In September 2005, the 8 -month cost of the war per US family reached $1731. All of this is charged to a budget that was, according to the Congressional budget Office, in a deficit of $412 billion in 2004, and is estimated to be in $331 billion deficit in 2005 *. What a remarkable turn around from the $250 billion surplus for 2001 inherited by Mr. Bush.
Economics informs us that the sum of the current account and the difference between domestic investments and savings must eventually add up to the difference between government spending and taxes such that the grand sum of the three converges to zero. According to The Economist consensus forecast, our Current Account was in deficit of $ 510 billion in 2004. At 5.2 per cent of the GDP, that is higher than any in the industrial countries. It is expected by most forecasters to widen in 2005.Unless the President knows some thing nobody else does, the US has to borrow from abroad to finance these deficits, generate more internal savings, attract more FDI and/or increase tax receipts (not accepted by the President). With the current prospects of the dollar and the US net exports, amassing some $800 billion, to finance the twin deficits will require heroic assumptions and very steep rise in interest rates, i.e., a tight monetary policy (Gale & Orszag, 2005)[10]. The Federal budget deficit takes place against a back- drop of severe budgetary crises in the finance of almost all the states of the Union. In addition, years of neglect of national infrastructure and cutting of spending on education are showing their effects. Such is the state of the economy and the country that Iraq is a burden on every American.
The Administration never provided the public or the Congress a precise cost of the war. In his testimony before the Congress in June 2003, Paul Wolfowitz said that only $10 billion are needed to start reconstruction. Thereafter, he said, Iraqi oil revenues will start paying. Today, Iraq exports less than what Saddam exported before the war despite the embargo. As soon as oil is pumped out, the saboteurs try, and often succeed, in getting to the pipeline to blow it up. The only pipeline still intact is the one through Syria, which the US shut down upon arrival in Baghdad. With this situation, it is high time to start thinking seriously about whether the US can afford to continue footing the bills of the war.
On the security front, the US is losing an average of 40 soldiers a month. By the end of August 2005, it had lost 1280 soldiers since the end of hostilities. On September 28, the total loss of the coalition since the war stated was 2121, of which 1926 killed US soldiers. The number of injured is less precise, but it is put at more than 15000 injured (the Cost of the War, 2005)[11]. Naturally this total does not include American civilians working for the US and for private companies as well as civilians holding other nationalities. This low intensity guerrilla warfare, as described by General Abizaid in his congressional testimony, has already cost six times more casualties than the war itself. In addition, it has forced the US into military and security operations not designed to enhance its standing with the local population. Levelling cities like Falluja, Samurra and Tel Afre in order to clear them of terrorists leaves bitterness and breeds terrorist vengeance. It is very hard for any army to avoid brutalizing a population when there is armed opposition to it, and no army can completely control the behavior of all its elements in a state of war. Abu Ghuraib is surely shocking, but not totally unusual in war.
It is truly astonishing how little scrutiny the American press gave to all these matters before the last Presidential elections. Many are those who questioned the political bias of the press ownership and its high- income columnists. One wonders, what would the press have said if the Democrats were in charge? Equally astonishing is how little the Democratic Party and its spokesmen had said about these economic issues until shortly before the last elections. The Democrats seem to have succumbed to the fear of questioning a President who has, as Paul Krugman said in September 2003 in the New York Times, “used the flag to wrap his manipulation of the public, and his mismanagement of the affairs of the state”. The paucity of domestic debate regarding the enormous military expenditure in Iraq coming on top of a record high defense- budget is quite remarkable. A country in severe public finance deficit at all levels of government, large foreign and domestic indebtedness and glaring neglect of public infrastructure, as New Orleans has shown, simply cannot afford such expenditure. Loose fiscal discipline might have shielded the average American from feeling the due tax pinch, but the chickens will sooner or later come home to roost. It should be pointed out for balanced presentation that a minority view among economists disputes this deficit alarm (Galbraith, 2005)[12].

What Has the War Accomplished So Far?

The Administration waged this war for three purposes: rid Iraq of the weapons of mass -destruction; defeat terror and cut the Iraqi terror connection and 3; to liberate the Iraqis and transform their country into a peaceful and prosperous democracy. Many also said that peace in the Middle East passes through Baghdad, to use Henry Kissinger`s term.
Almost two years on, the US has not found any weapons of mass destruction. The lie of W.M.D. is now admitted by all experts, except the die-hards like Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld. It is likely that whatever Saddam had, was destroyed by the UN inspectors long before the war. The US sent to Iraq a team of more than 1200 experts led by the former UN inspector Dr. David Kay that searched for about a year and found nothing. Before a US senate Committee, Kay testified: ” Mr. President we all have gotten it wrong on Iraq”. The survey- group, headed by Kay’s deputy, subsequently reaffirmed the same finding and suggested closing the file on one of the most egregious lies in current diplomatic history. This comes as no surprise to those who saw through the hype of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction perpetrated by the US and the UK administrations and their faulty intelligence services. In fact, during the building up to the invasion, the French press reported that French officials conveyed to their US colleagues that the French Intelligence doubted the veracity of some major parts of US intelligence findings: the WMD quantum and the al Qaeda connection. President Vaclav Havel, a war supporter, told US officials on his visit to Washington in July 2003, that according to Czech intelligence, the meeting that allegedly took place in Prague between Iraqi and al Qaeda operators for the procurement of weapons and military implements could not be verified. And the story about buying uranium from Niger was found by the UN, much to the embarrassment of the US and its Secretary -of-State, to be a forgery (al Baradii`s testimony, 2003)[13]
The war on terror is now full blown in Iraq, which was clear of Jihadis before the invasion. The President and the US sponsored government of Iraq are now saying that Iraq is the forefront of the war on international terror (joint Bush-Jaafari` Press Conference)[14], an irony apparently totally lost on both of them. The war on terror in Afghanistan, despite the considerable political transformation, is not yet completely won. The US relative military disengagement in Afghanistan as a consequence of its engagement in Iraq is encouraging the remnants of the Talibans to raise their heads again.
The economic situation in Iraq is catastrophic. In addition to the vast devastation of the war and the large -scale security operations such as those in Falluja, Tel Afar and Samurra, which levelled these cities, the economy is literally paralysed by the prevailing and pervasive insecurity in all except the Kurdish areas. Hardly any reconstruction is underway and donors` pledges have not been translated into received funds, due to both the security situation and the rampant corruption. There are no reliable statistics on the unemployment situation, but the Coalition Provisional Authority put it at 25 to 30 percent in 2004. It should now be much worse in view of the deteriorating security and the devastation of the security operations. A University of Baghdad study quoted on Aljazeera net-site puts the figure at 70 per cent of the working age population. However, unemployment is not calculated against the working age total, rather against the fraction thereof that participates in the labor force. A conservative estimation was given in a report jointly authored by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning in cooperation with the UNDP published on May 12, 2005, which puts unemployment at 18.4 percent of those seeking work[15]. However, the number of job seekers under the present situation in Iraq is considerably less than those wanting to work. Interviews with job seekers in Baghdad consistently report that, because of the security situation, job seekers cannot go out to work half the time. So, it would be reasonable to multiply the above estimate by two, thereby bringing it to 37 per cent. In sum, there are no reliable statistics in the extraordinary situation of Iraq. Yet, there is little doubt that under the standard statistical methodology of unemployment and considering the number of active participants in the devastated cities, it can be shown that there would be more than 45 per cent unemployment. Aside from this rank joblessness, Iraq has sustained in this war, according to the “Cost of the War, 2005” cited above, more than a hundred thousand casualties of which twenty-seven thousand are deaths. This is an enormous price entailing heavy moral responsibility for a war whose announced reasons were not to be.
In conclusion, only deposing Saddam and his regime can be counted as positive results so far. With the new constitution and the up coming elections there is the possibility of political transformation. However, that needs for assured fruition several changes in the US approach to Iraq and the region along the lines sketched out in the Exit Plan suggested bellow. There is also a pressing imperative to give priority to restarting the Iraqi economy and its reconstruction.

The Current Exit Strategy and the Iraqi Scene

In November 2003, the Governing Council of Iraq and the Occupation Authority signed an agreement in which a seeming exit strategy was laid out. This strategy consists of following a series of steps which end up in setting in place an Iraqi Constitution and governing institutions run by a US selected cast of loyal Iraqi politicians to hand over Iraq to them. A critical factor is training a new Iraqi army and security forces that can gradually take over from the US, at least, the major day- to- day operations. This strategy has several features: it is unilateral and completely under US control; it depends on setting up in government the Shià and Kurdish exiles brought in with the US armed forces; it continues, in effect, the exclusion of the Arab Sunnis; it has no time framework for withdrawal and finally, it places US disengagement hostage to the development of an effective Iraqi replacement force. The new force has to be recruited by the US political clients and should largely not involve former Iraqi forces. To spare the reader the chronological details of the major events, a summary is provided in the footnote bellow (Chronology)[16].

The chronology of events summarized has taken place against the background of a vicious, and brutal, Iraqi insurgency. Counteracting the insurgency, the US aided by Iraqi Government security forces has undertaken several search and destroy missions in several cities and villages in the so called “Sunni Triangle”, resulting in, more or less, levelling these cities, arresting a large number of their inhabitants and further alienating the locals. The authorities admit that 137,000 Iraqis were under detention on September 21, 2005, and that the overwhelming majority has no charge against them. In consequence, a spiral of violence and mistrust dominates the Iraqi scene.
The insurgency is manned by an amalgam of various dissatisfied groups fighting for completely different purposes. The remnants of the beneficiaries of Saddam`s regime together with Jihadis of the Bin Laden types newly brought into Iraq, have combined with the disaffected former Iraqi army elements, and some sincere nationalists, to man the insurgency. The purposes of the Jihadis, under the Jordanian A.M. al Zarqawi, is to engage the US and kill a maximum number of its forces and friends and, as of late, to ignite civil war in Iraq. The remnants of the old regime are “desperados” with nowhere to go. However, the other two elements are sincere nationalists whose aim is to harass the US into withdrawal. It would be a grave mistake for the US to believe its own propaganda, namely, the insurgency is supported only by die-hard Saddamists and al Qaeda followers and is, to quote the Vice President, “in its last throes”(Cheney, 2005)[17]. Most of the Arab Sunnis and a very large part of the Arab Shià, for example, those sympathetic to the clerk Muktada al Sadre, are supportive of the insurgency` opposition to the US both as the occupying power and the authority that has failed its responsibility in providing the Iraqis with the most basic minimum of security and protection. The claim that foreigners dominate the insurgency has no support in facts; of the thousands of captured insurgents, the US and Iraqi officials admit that more than 95 percent are Iraqis. That should be no surprise; after twenty- one months since the fall of the old regime, the common Iraqi feels a grave deterioration in his daily conditions.
Dr. al Jaafari`s government has failed at every turn. After six months in power, it still is not in charge of the security question and it has failed in re-establishing the minimum expected government services: providing water, electricity, sanitation and health facilities, schools, and above all, security and law and order. Dr. Jaafari is widely perceived as bumbler incapable of even controlling his ministers. The latest example of non -performance is the tragic failure of the government to anticipate the stampede on 29 August 2005, of two million mourners commemorating for the 1100 time the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Musa al Kazem. Tragically, 1050 Iraqis were killed. The ensuing spectacle of three ministers, each accusing the other for failing to take the necessary measures to protect this procession was pathetic. Furthermore, the government has proved incapable of starting the reconstruction of the country, so badly needed in an economy with massive 45 per cent unemployment. The failure to move on the reconstruction front reflects in addition to incompetence the pervasive corruption rampant at all levels. Iraq under this government wallows in corruption that has extended to steeling billions of dollars of the public budget funds (khoza`i, 2005)[18] Mr. Alexander Croft, the head of International Transparency, UK, said on Aljazeera TV on September 19, 2005, that Iraq is now ranked by his Agency as number one in the world in corruption. Numerous Iraqi commentators advance the explanation that the new sectarian sharing and party quotas in the Iraqi government have created ministry fiefdoms with beneficiaries owing exclusive allegiance to the top Minister-cum-benefactor who secures loyalty by spreading around the bounty he exacts from public funds. Rounding out this record, the government has failed in asserting itself against the extensive and increasing influence of Iran in Southern Iraq; its officials blame the US for looking the other way. Similarly, having no power base of its own, it has failed to assert its legitimacy vis-à-vis the United States on such issues as security, undermining in the process both itself and its US benefactor. No wonder, the popularity of Muktada al Sadre, the young Shiite clerk, who is opposing the US in the name of the Arab majority, is sweeping the streets and he is growing into an Iraqi national Arab leader of the Sunnis, Shià, Christians and others.
The obvious disappearance of the Iraqi State is corroding the sense of allegiance of the citizenry and creating alternative poles of loyalty among Iraqis on sectarian, tribal and ethnic lines. Numerous Iraqi commentators acutely liken the situation to the political scene that the British faced in 1920; it seems as if eighty-five years of modernization have dropped out of Iraqi history. This is quite disturbing to any Iraqi looking forward to reconstructing a modern and peaceful society; one can glean this despair by the extraordinary immigration of qualified Iraqis in the last two years. And in no lesser measure, this disappearance of the State is quite unsettling to Iraq’s neighbors. Consequently, the US should have a stake in re- establishing the authority of the Iraqi State, lest it hands over Iraq to Iran and the sectarian and clan chiefs it brought with it.

As the insurgency rages on, neither the US, nor its political allies in Iraq seem to be prepared to deal with it as a political matter. The insurgency and the Iraqi opposition to the US cannot be effectively diminished without a definite US withdrawal schedule, which the US does not contemplate at present. The US perceives that the insurgency is driven by the remnants of the old regime and that behind the Sunni Arabs` refusal to accept the Pax Americana in Iraq lies the hostile thinking of the Arab nationalists regarding its policies in the area. The US is not prepared to deal with this thinking or to open a dialogue with the Sunnis except on its own terms and with due regard to its Kurdish and Shià allies; but the experience of the last six months of contact proves this approach a failure. In this context, the US has locked itself for the last five decades into a stance of refusing to accept Arab Nationalism and to deal with it, even when secular. There are several factors behind this frozen attitude, one of which, the Nationalists alliance with the Soviet Union, is no longer operative. But several others persist. The first is the antithetical attitude of Arab nationalists towards Israel and the unflinching US support of Israeli policies. The US has not been capable under various administrations of forging an independent and balanced stand on the Arab-Israeli conflict because, inter alia, until a few years ago, the Arabs did not countenance recognition of Israel. The notable exceptions to the US locking itself to the Israeli position are the Suez war and Mr. Baker’s stewardship of the US State Department at the time of the Madrid Conference. The second reason is the anti US stance of most Arab nationalists, which in reality, is a mixture of a reflexive reaction to its support to Israel and of a palpable ignorance of the US political realities. Many Arab nationalists have theories and ideologies about the US conjured up outside reality. The third is the underlying US contemptuous judgment of the evident failure of Arab nationalist regimes to accomplish a modicum of success in their stewardships of their countries and the anti democratic and repressive nature of all of them. Added to this frozen attitude is the US realization after September Eleven, that Middle East terror is driven by backwardness and absence of democracy in the region, including in the countries of the regimes supported by the US in the past. On this theory, regardless of opposition, the US wants to set up in Iraq a democratic regime of its making manned by its controlled allies which presents a new prosperous Iraq that is not a party to Arab nationalist aspirations and at peace and in active cooperation with Israel.

As far as the new Iraqi allies of the US are concerned, there are a variety of motives. The Kurds, represented now at more than twice their relative weight, think that Iraq under the US offers a historical opportunity to realize their dreams without opposition. They are loath to a US withdrawal before their ambitions are cemented concretely on the ground and not eager to bring in the Arab Sunnis since they oppose a loosely federated Iraq. The Shià mix of politicians include Islamists who want to secure Shià control for themselves in the Southern part, and others who have personal interests and political ambitions of doubtful realization without the US presence and without playing the sectarian card. There are still others who think that the new Iraq should have barriers to central control and to a repetition of the old Sunni dominance.
This is what explains the reluctance of the new Iraqi body politics to move towards the idea of convoking a national reconciliation conference comprising all parties, old and new, first proposed by the UN envoy Mr. Lakhdar Ibrahimi in the spring of 2004 and later on adopted and reiterated by the Government of Dr. Iyad Alawi in its decision 1546 of July 2004. The government mandated at the time Mr. Fuad Ma`soum of the Kurdistan National Union Party, the party of Mr. Talabani, to follow up the implementation of this decision. But Mr. Bremmer the US administrator vetoed this idea (al Jader, 2005)[19] This was indeed a missed opportunity to discuss among all Iraqis the national situation before the last elections in order to come to a reconciliation that would have rendered the elections not only legal but, in addition, legitimate. However, the Iraqi new politicians were not prepared to enter into such a dialogue; they did not approve of the idea of participation of all parties, old and new. They also did not want to drop the idea of debaathification, which is perceived by the Arab Sunnis as a cover to exclude much of their cadres from government and public positions. And not least, the new Iraqi politicians are not willing to accept the likely Arab Sunnis demand for a time schedule for US withdrawal before they secure their interests and positions.

The Battle of the Constitution

The Parliament constituted in early July a committee of fifty- five members to draft a new constitution. Subsequently, some fifteen Arab Sunnis were added to this committeeª. On August 22, the draft new constitution was submitted within the dead- line to the Parliament*.
The draft constitution submission marked the beginning of the “ battle of the constitution”. It should be stated at the outset that in many aspects such as human rights, protection of the liberties and the dignity of the citizens, the establishment of a state of law and of a decentralized administration, and the enshrining of democratic governance, this US inspired constitution (drafted on the basis of a complete US proposal**) is admirable and worthy. No such document is current among other states in the region. Nevertheless, a large number of Iraqis of all persuasions and backgrounds have voiced out objections on several grounds; to wit, 1.the attempt to blur the dominant Arab character of Iraq; 2. the loose form of federalism given to the Iraqi Kurds together with the institutionalization of constitutional procedures for demands for similar arrangements by other regions; 3.the setting up a form of “guardianship of the Islamic jurist” over legislation, 4.the extent of the authority of the federal government and its ownership of natural resources and 5.the precariousness of the statue of women. In this respect, to the extent that Islamic law (Sharià) upholds social customs as a source of jurisprudence, the status of women would be precarious in the light of the constitutional provision giving precedence to Islamic law over the law of the land. Behind all that are two other issues: the drafting of a constitution under the dictate of an occupier unwilling to commit itself to a definite withdrawal schedule, and Iraq relations to its Arab neighbors.

The first problem is not a fiction of the imagination of a few Arab nationalists. At 80 per cent Arab ethnicity, Iraq is a predominantly Arab country with other fraternal and equally respected ethnicities. Why was it so difficult to find language to accept this evident fact? For the critics, the question arises why did the drafters attempt to single out the Arab part of Iraqis as a part of the Arab nation? While that is a statement of fact, the singling out, they believe, was a statement in itself. It is pointed out that there are many countries in the world with different sects and ethnic origins, yet they define themselves in terms of their dominant group and do not have constitutions that enumerate all ethnic groups and sects in their preambles. They cite the US, Iran, Britain, India, etc, as examples in point. In this view, it is rather odd that the constitution starts by enumerating ten groups “that came together in Mesopotamia, to unite into a federated democratic Iraq”. In this context, it is recalled that Iraq is among the oldest countries in the world and not, as the Constitution explicitly states a place in which ten communities have just met to unite. These critics hold that the minority Kurdish and Turkmen ethnicities should not, and actually would not, find reasonable objections to stating that Iraq is an Arab country. The Kurds in particular, they argue, have had hundreds of years of common history with the Arabs and some of the most revered heroes of the Arab-Islamic history are Kurds. It is stressed that the chauvinistic character of the regime of Saddam is at a piece with his other aberrations. Some secular and humanist critics inveigh against the old relic of nationalism, Kurd or Arab, in the age of globalization. The important thing in their view is the legal and factual respect of all groups and the treatment of every citizen on the principle of equality in citizenry. It is a recurrent refrain of the critics that Iraq has given its Kurds more rights and accorded them more genuine fraternity at the popular level than any other country with large Kurdish population. It is said that the instances of collective punishment, many as they were, happened when the Kurds rose up in arms to split the country or joined hostilities against Iraq.

The second problem is quite serious. That the Kurds should have local “regional” autonomy within a federal structure for Iraq is now a historical and juridical fait accomplis, acceptable to even the Sunni Arabs. In fact, it is widely seen to be in the interest of the unity of Iraq to give the Kurds this association after decades of discrimination, suffering and, therefore, lack of trust. Indeed, the election of Mr. Talabani, the Kurdish leader, as an interim President is regarded by many of these critics as an act of political maturity and an excellent start for the new Iraq. But that, it is argued, is not the same as having Kurdish representatives in Iraqi embassies, the right of self- determination after seven years, barring the Iraqi Army from stationing non- Kurdish regulars in Iraqi Kurdistan, the right of the Kurdish region to enter into international agreements on its own and not having Arabic as an official language in the Kurdish region[20]. Moreover, the institutionalization of procedures for further creation of federated regions even in the areas of the Arab Shia` majority, is seen as a sectarian “parcellisation” capable of splintering Iraq. The US is suspected of favoring and pushing that on behalf of Kurds. One fails to see what conceivable US interest might be served by this demarche; it would only deepen suspicions about its intentions and its collusion with Israel. Thus, it might be a good idea for the US to disassociate itself publicly of such demands. A case can be made that the advocates of federation for the South are widely seen as playing an Iranian- Kuwaiti card.

The question of the place of Islam in the state was given a far from ideal treatment. There should be no dispute about the status of Islamic jurisprudence as a reference for legislation; Islam is not only the religion of 95 per cent of the population, but the main fold of the historical pluralistic civilization of Iraq. However, that being said, the critics ask what justifies having Islamic “jurist guardianship” in the Parliament? Is this the guardianship of the theologian, i.e., Willayat al Faqih à la Khomeini, or a form of Wahhabi style moral police in the sovereign legislature? In the preamble of the Constitution, it is stated that the Marjiya (the Shià religious authority and other Islamic authorities) are the overarching references over the Constitution and over Iraq. In other words, religion is above the state. The critics argue that such provisions alienate secular and non Moslem Iraqis; they could raise obstacles to social and cultural modernization, much needed in Iraq and the rest of the Arab World. One would think that such provisions should have been anathema to the US. Yet, the US Ambassador, Mr. Khalilzad, minimized on 23 August 2005 on CNN their importance, which prompted some commentators to claim that a deal was struck between the Shià and the US.
The fourth problem concerns the central government control of national territory and wealth and the provisions about the non-permissibility, without regional parliamentary approval, of stationing and moving troops to the federated Kurdish region, all of which violates, according to the critics, the known norms in the exercise of sovereignty in federal states. There is also a provision to the effect that mineral wealth, “under exploitation”, is the property of the Iraqi people. So, that leaves reserves out, a recipe for future disputations among the regions. Moreover, the critics argue that the central government needs the approval of the regional government in sharing such wealth. Granted that these provisions are prompted by the desire to have a fair distribution of national wealth and to avoid past practices of regional favoritism, but in the Iraqi reality, the critics claim that they foreshadow the question of the Kurdish claim to Karkuk* and the exclusion of the central regions from the oil wealth of the North and the South.
Finally, in view of the Islamist orientation of some provisions, especially the one providing that no legislation contrary to Islam would be valid, the critics wonder how can the positions of reactionary Islamists, basing themselves, as they always do, on the prevailing traditions of contemporary Islamic societies, be countered in the future in such questions as women rights, interest rates, children custody and gender mixing. The courts will have to go into byzantine debates on all these questions to delineate what is and is not Islam.
There is also a great deal of questioning of the calendar of the Constitution. Some say that the calendar imposed by the US, has no substantive justification. Others argue that it would have been more appropriate to frame the constitution after evacuation and return to normalcy instead of rushing to draft a constitution in six weeks; the process should have been given its due time.
If the constitution goes to vote without changes, the Arab Sunnis can vote it down, since they have large majorities in four provinces and are thought to be also in simple plurality in two more[21] If it fails to pass, then everything goes back to zero and the problems discussed above have to be tackled again. Should the constitution pass, then the only way to quell the insurgency is to bring the Arab Sunnis into the political process on the basis of a program to deal with these same points.

The Attitudes and Policies of Iraq `s Neighbors

The attitude of the Arab public opinion, commonly called “the Arab Street” to the US invasion of Iraq is understandably, hostile, given the US past policies in the area. While most Arab governments supported illicitly[22] the deposition of Saddam, they have expressed reservations about the war and are genuinely worried about US democratization plans for the region. There is also a third factor rarely voiced out: the challenge to many countries with substantial Shià minorities of having a Shià dominated regime in Iraq[23]. If in addition, it is perceived that the US favors splitting Sunnis from Shià so as to splinter several countries and to distance Iraq from the 90 per cent Sunni Arab World. Many entertain wild conspiracy theories against their countries in the making. The hostility of the “Arab Street” is premised on the fear of dividing Iraq and the suspicions of an Israeli design behind US policies. The governments are afraid of destabilizations and, on the whole, are not interested in a democratic Iraq next door. It should be recalled that during the Saddam era, Iraqi sufferings found no public sympathy by the Arab governments; they looked the other way. There was in effective play a game of “solidarity of the dictators”. The same silence was on display in the Arab Street and in the media. Saddam was able to deceive the Arab public through appeal to their aspirations and playing on their anti Western, anti Israel frustrations. After his fall, there was no shedding of official tears for him, but there prevailed a strange and rather unintelligible reluctance to get involved in the Iraqi situation. The US unilateral attitude, its unwillingness to accept advice from governments it does not respect and the mayhem in Iraq are surely behind this passivity. A more perceptive explanation is that given the illegitimacy of most Arab regimes, they are more preoccupied with their domestic survival than with making policies for their area. Most Arab officials are mainly concerned with avoiding frictions with the US in order to concentrate on protecting their hold on power. If the concerned Arab states were ruled by elected and publicly accountable governments, they would have forged a common position on Iraq based on realism and Arab national interest, and then constructively engaged the US and the new Iraqi government through conditioned helpfulness. That would have cut the involvement of Israel and modified some US positions.

The attitude of Syria epitomizes all this ambiguity. The Arab character of the Iraqi state and the Kurds position in the new Iraq are preoccupations for Syria; it would oppose a wide Kurdish autonomy, any Israeli influence and the dilution of the Arab identity of Iraq. But the isolated Syrian regime is not in a position to affect the course of events in its neighbor. Syria was opposed to the war, but it turned out willing to help the US against the Jihadis, a sort of buying favor with the US on the expense of potential adversaries. Since democracy next door is inimical to its fossilized one party rule, its help has been half- hearted and without active political purpose; after all, the regime’s game is that of survival and not of affecting the course of events in Iraq. Syria’s weak economy has suffered economic damages from the US war that could have been addressed if the regime was secure enough internally to use its influence in Iraq in the services of a constructive engagement with the US. Instead, Syria promises to control its boarders§, but actually drags its feet on that, and stages periodic theatrical arrests of infiltrators to ward off US harm.

Kuwait is a neighbor whose interest seems to be in having a weakened confederated Iraq next door. For Kuwait, the American presence in Iraq is a stabilizing factor that would keep Iraq at bay. Thus, Kuwait supports the Shià politicians and the US policies. It is a strategy immersed in the painful memories of the invasion and rooted in vengefulness.

Jordan, the south- western neighbor, supported illicitly the US war, in a calculation to safeguard its economic interests and garner up US aid. The US has in return stepped up its financial support of Jordan, and seems to have increased its cooperation with the Jordanian security apparatus to process and interrogate prisoners from the war on terror. Jordan, however, has expressed concern about the situation of the Sunni Arabs in Iraq.

Finally, Saudi Arabia is another interested Arab party. It supports a unified Iraq, but would want the US to leave the area as soon as possible. It is not interested in a democratic Iraq, as that is according to the Saudi Royal family, contrary to Islam; The Royal Family supports consultative and not democratic governance*. The Saudi government is also quite unenthusiastic about the Shià domination of Iraq next door to its petrol rich Shià majority Eastern province. But since it wants to be left alone, it has a reactive stance and supports from distance the US policies.

Iran is a non -Arab neighbor and an influential one at that. Iran’s policies have been intelligent and self interested. It has blessed US toppling of Saddam in return for recognizing its legitimate interests in Iraq and accepting its friends in the political game. As the US escalated the pressure on Iran on the nuclear issue, Iran started to spread its influence through its network of armed militias and supporters in Southern Iraq**. While Iran encouraged its friends in the South to cooperate with the US on the constitution, and stepped up its relations with the Iraqi government by exchanging high level visits, it has also promoted its relationship with Syria and the resistance. If one were to see the devil in the Iranian game, one can make a logical case that it is in the interest of Iran that the US gets bogged down in Iraq, thereby depriving it of military capacity to intervene elsewhere in the region. There are, however, red lines for Iran: they include Kurdish independence and Israeli influence in Iraq. It can be expected that Iran will use Iraq in its confrontation with the US and Britain as a presure lever

Another important neighbor is Turkey. Turkey has economic interests in a prosperous Iraq as a trading partner and an overriding concern about its territorial integrity. For Turkey, Kurdish independence is a red line against whose violation it is willing to use military force. Turkey’s military power has put a break on US support of the Kurdish ambitions for independence. Turkey has been unenthusiastic about the US Iraqi venture but has kept its opposition to itself.

So, with the exception of Kuwait, all of Iraq’s neighbors are hostile to Kurdish independence and any presence of Israel in Iraq and are hardly enthusiastic about the US presence in Iraq. The declaration of the Arab Summit of 2003 clearly stipulated that the Arab countries would help Iraq after the end of occupation.

The gathering momentum

After two years and five months since entering Iraq, political demands are rising around the US for a withdrawal of troops. The public opinion, whose majority had consistently supported the President on Iraq and gave him a second term on the strengths of his war leadership and his stand on social issues, has decisively shifted against him in the past few months. Now more than 56 % of polled Americans think that the war was a mistake or at least not well thought out[24]. Congressional demands for withdrawal are being heard and even the divided democrats are beginning to voice out fundamental critiques regarding how the US entered the war and many came forward suggesting troop withdrawal[25]. Even the politicians that the US brought into Iraq are beginig to speak about an eventual US withdrawal from the country[26]. In fact, even the Administration spokesmen now envisage some partial withdrawal next year[27].
This gathering momentum is not surprising; the US has not in two and a half years succeeded in forging a viable control of the Iraqi situation, which permits political and economic transformation of the country. This is the result of a misconceived military strategy and a series of wrong decisions taken by the US and based on faulty intelligence and wrong advice[28]. Moreover, neither the economic cost of the war nor its human toll on both the US forces and on Iraq seemed to have been correctly anticipated. Furthermore, an impasse has settled upon the Iraqi scene, which calls for a major political move. Perhaps this explains the US blessing of the initiative of reconciliation just launched by the Arab League. All of these factors have drained away political support and replaced the early optimism with the sceptical pessimism engendered by an endless dark passage ahead. It is now of moment to devise a different strategy of exit, which implies a different appraisal of the situation than has been the case heretofore.
Revised, end of September, 2005.

* Former Director of Economic Cooperation and Special Programs in UNCTAD, Geneva: Adjunct professor of finance & economics at Thunderbird University-Europe and Webster University-Geneva; Senior consultant/ Advisor to the UN system, the European Union and the European Central Bank.

§ It is now (25August 2005) revealed from declassified documents that States Assistant Secretary Paula Dobranskie received on February 2, 2003, a memo warning the State Department that CENTCOM, has not prepared any policies or measures for after the war. The memo pointed out the security and law and order consequences of that.
* Unless there is a standard English spelling, all Arabic words are written the way they are pronounced in Arabic.
** Islam as a universal religion does not admit national distinctions. Thus, the religious authority in Iran and Iraq is mixed. For example, Ayatollah al Ozma Ali al Sistani, the highest Shià authority, is an Iranian national, born and raised in Iran.
* It is doubtful that these figures are correct. The Shiites were a majority in the Baath Party, and therefore, it makes little sense that they were half of the Sunni number in the state. Saddam quarrel was with the Shiite traditional leadership and not with Iraqi Shiites. If Saddam were really sectarian, given the importance of government as an employer, the Arab Sunni would number more than they did.

* The European Press reported the American advisors working with Kurds in the north accompanied by a fraternity of Israeli advisors, a recipe for arousing Arab suspicions.
* The deficit cited in the text represents 3.6 % of the GDP. Compared to many advanced countries in Europe that figure is not large. However, according to William Gail and Peter Orszag, there are no prospects of reducing or eliminating this deficit up till 2020 unless there is a fundamental revision of the budget. They predict a budget deficit averaging 3.5 % of the GDP over the next decade. A persistent fiscal deficit raises the long-term interest rate and crowds out private investment, thereby reducing long run growth. In view of the paltry 3 % of the GDP saved by Americans, this implies borrowing from abroad. The US is already the world largest debtor, and in view of its trade prospects, it will not earn enough net exports to pay its debts. Sooner or later, the world will stop lending the US by refusing to take inn more dollars.

ª Two of the fifteen Arab Sunni members (former ex-Baathist intellectuals) were assassinated during the constitution drafting.

* According to the Basic Governing Law of the State, the present Parliament was supposed to dissolve its self after passing the new Constitution. However, the Parliamentarians extended themselves till the referendum in October.

* * Mr. Mahmoud Osman, a prominent Kurd jurist and a member of the Drafting Committee was the first to reveal on TV that the US presented a full draft proposal of the Constitution. In the special televised session of the Iraqi Parliament held on 22 August, to receive the draft constitution, Mr. Jalal Talabani, the interim President, thanked from the Parliament rostrum the US ambassador, Mr. Khalilzad and his colleagues, for their help in staying with the drafters till late at night. It is reported that several other US officials, US drafted copy in hand, worked also with the drafters to the small hours of the morning!!

* The Kurds claim to Karkuk has dubious basis. The population of Karkuk is now overwhelmingly Arab and Turkmen. However, the Kurds claim that Saddam uprooted many thousands of their own forcibly from Karkuk in his Arabization drive. They want to expel the new residents and reintroduce the old ones, and they have been expelling Arabs to camps around the district of Salahuddin and bringing in Kurds from all over to replace them. Further, they claim the place on historical grounds. The other two groups reject these claims and believe them to be a petrol grab.

§ The question of controlling the Syrian frontier has become a political football between Syria and the US. The 600- Kim. Syrian boarder with Iraq requires for effective control technical capabilities not available to Syria. Despite demands by Syria of such equipments, the US has supplied none.

* Prince Turki Ibin Faisal, the former head of intelligence, former Ambassador in London and current Ambassador in Washington, has repeatedly stated this position in public. In a televised world forum anchored by Christian Amanpour on CNN in 2004, he repeated this position. Recently, Mr. Adel Jabbar, a spokesman for King Abdullah, said on CNN that the Saudi government is interested in political reform and not in the label of democracy. These views echo some Wahhabi opinions that God through his Sharià and not the populous is the source of authority.

** Dr. Iyad Alawi and his defence minister complained about Iran `s interventions in Iraq during his government. Recently, the Iranian influence in the Southern provinces is an open discussion topic in Iraq.

[1] Critics of the UN charter have three main points: first the lack of representative ness of the Security Council (the main organ) in today’s world; second, the unfettered acceptance of the principle of inviolable sovereignty of states, and third, the lack of effective mechanisms for intervention in case of gross violation of human rights. The late President Mitterand suggested in 1991 to introduce in the Charter, le droit d`ingerance, which would enable the SC to intervene in situations of gross violation of the Charter such as the case of the human rights of the Iraqi Kurds at the time. These issues should be among the principal topics to discuss in the reform of the UN undertaken at this time.

[2] It is now documented that on September 13, 2002 during a meeting at Camp David with President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld and others, according to Paul Wolfowitz, brought up for discussion the prospects of launching an attack against Iraq on no evidence of involvement, but on “gut feeling”. There was also a long discussion about what place should Iraq have in a counter terrorist strategy. See, Jason Leopold, “Wolfowitz Admits Iraq war was Planned Two Days After 9-11”, Utne, 6 September, 2005.

[4] See for the full story of Israel friends Stephen J. Sniegoski, “ The War on Iraq: Conceived in Israel”, WTM Enterprise,
[5] A country is usually classified as developed if it has certain structural and performance characteristics. For example, a high level of GDP per capita, a high percentage of the GDP produced by non agricultural sectors, a high percentage of exports in the GDP, large value added of technical output, etc.
[6] See, National Security Electronic, briefing book no.163, 13 August 2005.

[7] See Islam on Line, News/2004-01/291/article 2/shtml. This article quotes UN sources, including, the Humanitarian Coordinator Office, to the effect that Sunnis constitute 57% of the population. The author of the article elsewhere places the numbers at 53% Sunnis and 45% Shià. A demographic (identified as Shiite) expert put the Shia at 52%. His sources are the statistics of the Iraqi trade and Finance Ministries and the Planning Ministry and the food distribution cads issued at Saddam`s time. The author of this paper believes that the truth of the sectarian composition is not really known, and has been manipulated by the various

[8] The Economist, September 5, 2003.
[9] National Priorities Project, net –site for data. The NPP posted on the internet with a running electronic cost counter per second
See also Non-com, War in Iraq, p.1

[10] For the Budget projections, see, Gale & Orszag, Budget Deficits, National Savings and Interest Rates, Brooking Institution paper, available at:

[11] Cost of the war in Iraq, Op. Cit.

[12] James K. Galbraith, Breaking out of the Deficit Trap: the Case Against the Fiscal Hawks, the Levy Institute, June 2005 argue an opposite point of view. The problem with Galbraith argument is that it postulates implicitly an under full employment situation and large coincidental increase in productivity.

[13] See the testimony of Dr. Mohammad al Baradii before the UN Security Council in February 2003.

[14] See Dr. Jaafari`s talk with the US press during his visit to Washington DC, in July 2005.

[15] net-site, Thursday may 12, 2005.

[16] According to the stipulated chronology, an interim government for Iraq was formed on June 1, 2004 with some cooperation with the UN. The next date was June 28, 2004 when the occupation authorities handed over full sovereignty to this interim government headed by Dr. Iyad Alawi. Thereafter, the UN Security Council agreed in June 2004 to a resolution conferring legitimacy on this interim government. During the second half of 2004, there were to be consultations to set electoral laws and arrangements and to conduct under the UN supervision national elections. The date of the elections, January 2005, was set by the US despite calls from various factions and personalities cooperative with the US, viz., Mr. G. al Yawar, the former interim president and Dr. Adnan Pachachi, the former Governing Council` president. But the US, for obvious domestic political reasons (US presidential campaign), insisted on holding the elections on schedule. Thus, they took place with the boycott of many Sunni Arabs as well as some Shià Arabs. The non-participation rate was 42 per cent of the eligible voters. Nonetheless, some 8.5 million Iraqis out of a population of 27 million voted in one of the freest and rare elections in contemporary Arab history. But one of the three basic constituents of Iraqi society, the Sunni Arabs at 26 per cent of the population, was largely absent; it is represented in the new Parliament by some 5 per cent of the 275 seats. To be sure, it was the Sunni Arabs who initiated the boycott and deprived themselves of their due representation, but in politics, representative legitimacy and viability rather than keeping deadlines are what matter. In this connection, choosing an election system that made all of Iraq one electoral district magnified the Sunnis absence. Neither the US, nor its selected Kurdish and Shià allies from the former Iraq opposition groups abroad, wanted to wait for the Sunnis to get their act together, nor indeed they seemed to have in the first place wanted that. A list, number 169, that included the Supreme Islamic Council, the Daawa Party, and the Bait al Shiva, all exile Islamist opposition groups, claimed the support of the Supreme Shià Reference (Marjiiya), and thus, swept more than 57 per cent of the seats, the Kurdish Parties took 37 and Mr. Alawi, a disappointing 6 per cent respectively. The Marjiiya in fact, neither endorsed list 169, nor denied that, and different spokesmen for the supreme Ayatullah, Ali al Sistani, made contradictory statements about his position. In the ensuing confusion and absence of organized indigenous parties (except for the Daawa Party), US allies won the day.
After several weeks of consultations and jockeying for power the victors designated the Physician Dr. Ibrahim al Jaafari, the head of the Daawa Party, to form a government. Dr. Jaafari took several more weeks to do so. In April 2005, a Cabinet dominated by list 169 and the two Kurdish allies was approved by the interim Iraqi president Mr. Jalal Talabani and accepted by the new Parliament. In the new Cabinets, four out of thirty cabinet posts were left for Sunni Arabs. Subsequently, they were filled.

[17] See Dick Cheney’s speech to the Washington Press Club on June 5, 2005 broadcast live by, inter alia, CNN.

[18] On 16 and 17 of September 2005, the Satellite channel Democracy broadcasting from London, had two round table discussions about corruption in Iraq. All the participants agreed that corruption is very wide spread. One of them, Mr. Mohammed al. Khoz`ai, a member of the Parliament said that an internal official report cites $2 billion missing from the budget, one billion of which in the defence ministry. Three days later, the Iraqi Parliament constituted a committee to investigate this matter.

[19] See for details, Adeeb al Jader, interview with Al Shiraa, February 2, 2005.

[20] The provision of self-determination was given up in the revisions to the draft.

[21] According to the law of state governance, either a country -wide majority vote on the constitution or two-thirds negative vote in three provinces is enough to kill the proposal.

[22] Kuwait is an exception to this generalization.
[23] King Abdullah of Jordan has spoken on his anxieties about the status of the Sunni Arabs in Iraq.

[24] Michelle Chen, “ Public Can Force Troop Withdrawal, Law Makers and Critics Say”, The New Standard, November 23, 2005.
[25] Eric Schmit, “Fast Withdrawal of GI`s Urged by Key Democrates”, New York Times, November 18, 2005.
[26] See the text of the relevant parts in, Arabic, “US Resistance to Iraq Reconciliation Conference”, 11/23 / 2005
[27] In the week of 19 to 24 November, Administration officials expressed positive hopes that the US may withdraw up to 30 thousand troops in 2006.
[28] Secretary Rumsfeld misjudged the nature of the war by emphasising fire- power and technological superiority over manpower. The early mistaken decisions include dissolving the Iraqi Army, dissolving all security forces, banning all members of the Baath party from public sector jobs, excluding Arab Sunnis, and introducing sectarian politics into Iraq, thereby unwittingly favoring pro Iranian factions. See for a discussion of the early mistakes Michael Sakbani, “The Genesis of the US problems in Iraq: an Eight Point Exit Plan”, Forthcoming, pp. 2,3,4.