Fallujah - Alarm for Policymakers in Afghanistan
More than 100 people were killed Friday as Iraqi police and tribesmen battled Al-Qaeda-linked militants who took over parts of two Anbar provincial cities, announcing one an Islamic state – Parts of Ramadi and Fallujah… have been held by militants for days… Anger at the Shiite-led government among the Sunni minority is seen as one of the main drivers of the worst violence to hit Iraq in five years – Police and tribesmen fought… Militants from Al-Qaeda-linked group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which operates in Iraq and Syria, security officials said
'Hundreds of gunmen, some of them carrying the black flags often flown by jihadists, gathered at outdoor weekly Muslim prayers in central Fallujah', an witness said (AFP report, Jan 3, 2014)
Post 9/11, the US passed the Iraq Resolution in Oct 2002, wherein it declared its authority to wage war on Iraq. The Resolution was based on several assumptive allegations, some of which were – Saddam’s repression of the civilian population – Iraq’s capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people – Al Qaeda members responsible for the 9/11 attacks being known to be in Iraq – Turkey, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia fearing Saddam and wanting him removed from power – the Iraq Liberation Act, that legitimizes the United States to remove Saddam Hussein and promote a democratic replacement.
It is interesting to note that the Iraq Resolution mentions the United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 that authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce the United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions that, in addition to other things, ask to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security. But the Resolution fails to mention that the UN Security Council had not given any mandate to the US or its allies to wage a war upon Iraq as yet, and the Resolution 1441 of Nov 2002 was only another warning to Iraq that it should comply with the United Nations.
In fact, the UN was proceeding as usually with its inspections, as evident from the UN Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix’s March 7, 2003 presentation to the U.N. Security Council on the progress of the inspection effort in Iraq. His report was fairly defensive for Iraq when he said things like, ‘… No evidence of proscribed activities (mobile production units for biological weapons) has so far been found’ and ‘No underground facilities for chemical or biological production or storage were found so far’. He had further informed the Council that, ‘…disarmament, and at any rate verification of it, cannot be instant. Even with a proactive Iraqi attitude induced by continued outside pressure, it will still take some time to verify sites and items, analyze documents, interview relevant persons and draw conclusions. It will not take years, nor weeks, but months’.
Yet, it was the American arrogance in its self-righteousness that urged it to construct a façade of lies for its own people and the people of the world, by insisting the Iraq did have the WMDs when no evidence was there to prove it. In March 2004, the US Special Investigation Division released a report ‘The Bush Administration’s Public Statements on Iraq’. The report shows how five top US officials; President George Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice made 237 specific misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 125 public appearances. These lies led the Congress to authorize the US President to use the Armed Forces of the United States against Iraq to defend the national security of the United States and to enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq. Thus playing the Big Brother role by doing in the name of the UN what the UN had not yet approved of.
The other grave allegation upon Iraq, that it was harboring Al Qaeda members responsible for 9/11, soon turned out to be a total hoax too. This allegation was based on the statements given by Ibn Al Shaykh Al-Libi, a Libyan national captured in Afghanistan in Nov 2001; he was an Al-Qaeda operative and was interrogated by both the United States and Egypt. It was publicly reported that Libi had been tortured by Egyptian authorities. ‘During the interrogative sessions, he claimed that Iraq had trained members of Al-Qaeda to use chemical and biological weapons. But in January 2004, al-Libi recanted his confession. He said that he had invented the information because he was afraid of being further abused by his interrogators’ (Rand Beers). But for the US, one man’s statement under coercion was enough to play the dark and brutal game of death and pain upon the whole nation of the Iraqis.
Still, all this may have gotten buried under the layers of time, only if the Iraqi population had gotten any respite against the disposal of Saddam Hussein. Whereas the courts had eventually convicted Saddam for the murder of 148 civilians in the Dujail Massacre, the Iraq Body Count database has recently published its report that gives data of over 133,000 individuals who have been killed violently in the 10 years of the occupation. This number is the least confirmed one; other estimates are as high as 157,000; most of these deaths resulted due to explosives, gun fires and suicide attacks. Even three years after the withdrawal of the US/NATO forces, hardly a day goes by when there is no news of a bomb blast killing Iraqis, many times in dozens or more.
Rachel Shabi reports in Al Jazeera, ‘…the US-led invasion dismantled the government, police and security apparatus and then further hobbled the country by backing the corrupt, authoritarian Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister. His government is routinely accused, among other misdeeds, of incompetence and of fermenting sectarian tensions – privileging one group over another and using anti-terror laws to target Sunnis. The ensuing chaos and mistrust, corruption, lack of electricity and other basics, insecurity, unemployment and unacknowledged injustice is the perfect breeding ground for al-Qaeda – which, it cannot be stated enough, did not exist in Iraq prior to the 2003 assault’.
So the US’s Iraq game plan was simply to dismantle all organization in an Iraq that, according to Hans Blix, ‘had a highly developed administrative system’ prior to 2003; to provoke sectarian violence in an Iraq that was harmonious pre- 2003; to replace a non-compliant Saddam with a compliant Nouri al-Maliki; and to replace dictatorship with utter chaos. And, of course, to convert an al-Qaeda-free Iraq into an al-Qaeda-infested one. Ramadi and Fallujah present the two live examples; 3 years after the US left, in an Iraq that was never returned to the Iraqi people, where the government is just as corrupt, incompetent and confined as the Karzai regime in Afghanistan, it is no wonder that the Iraqi Armed Force lacks any will to confront the insurgents in Fallujah and Ramadi.
Nor does Nouri al-Maliki have that will; he has said on Sunday that he would not order a military assault on the city of Fallujah, on the grounds that he wanted to spare the city more bloodshed and give Sunni Muslim tribesmen time to expel the Al-Qaeda-linked militants who have held the city for close to two weeks. So the handful of civilian tribesmen will eliminate the al-Qaeda that the US/NATO alliance could not in a decade? Or did they implant them there in the first place?
Most analyses today are relating the al-Qaeda presence in Iraq with the Western backing, finance, facilitation, and encouragement of having Syria to become the breeding ground for al-Qaeda, wherefrom they cross over to Iraq. As Bashar al-Assad said in April 2013,
The West paid heavily for funding al-Qaeda in its early stages in Afghanistan. Today it is supporting it in Syria, Libya and other places, and will pay a heavy price later in the heart of Europe and the United States.
So then how does this all relate to Afghanistan; now that the 2014 US/NATO withdrawal date has approached us? Will the power not be returned to the Afghan people either; will there again be a puppet regime in the green zone of Kabul like the one in Baghdad; will the unreachable and thus un-administrable wilder lands of Afghanistan become breeding grounds for yet more lethal brands of al-Qaeda, that will keep swinging terror across all borders; will there be many more Fallujahs here too, states within the state? And will the successors of Karzai not be encouraged to strengthen the North/East divide in the Afghans like Maliki plays with the Shia/Sunni fault line?
All this is a certain alarm for our policy makers in Pakistan! Three years of a fake democratic set up in Iraq has set an example of what we can expect in the coming years in Afghanistan. The elections under the auspice of the US, that more or less ensures a Northern Alliance government against the democratic right of a Pashtun majority in the east, and the US troops that will remain in Kabul after the withdrawal (a number of about 9000 is under consideration), will only add misery to the impending chaos.
Once the NATO has gone and the Afghans find themselves to have suffered an invasion for 12 years for no gains and only losses, they might not be ready to plunge into another era of uncertainty and stagnancy, where they stand not only deprived of the natural resources of their own soil but also deprived of the thing they cherish more than material wealth, that is their pride, their freedom and power. We must therefore understand that the US policy, in spite of all their self-applauded intentions of bringing democracy and securing human rights, has been utterly a failure.
If hoodwinked, democracy can easily be made a camouflage over treachery and fascism; the mere prosecution of the electoral process and the setting up of parliaments does not ensure justice, equality or peace of society, and this is proven by numerous practical examples all around the globe. The Karzai regime has proven to be a good example too; after being through the democratic process for over a decade now, Afghanistan still does not find itself to be a place where the conduction of safe, transparent and all-inclusive voting seems possible. Many limitations can be quoted owing to the specific socio-politics of the Afghans, nevertheless, 12 years is enough time to conclude that the American experiment has been a failure, and if democracy is to work for the Afghans, it will have to be by including all the Afghans according to their proportions, not by labeling one major part of their population as rogues and un-conversable.
The Afghans cannot be given a right of self-determination and the determination that they themselves are their real evil, both at the same time!
Democracy is based on the presumption that all people are good and capable of deciding what is good for them, but the US double-policy in Afghanistan is based on getting the world rid of the Afghan menace and pretending to give them their democratic will at the same time; a foul policy that has yielded chaos. Therefore, today, the first thing that has to be finalized before moving ahead is to choose between true democracy for the Afghans OR an imposed dictatorship, backed by indirect foreign intervention, stubbornly labeled as democracy.
Perhaps the fault lies in the laying down of fundamental policy by think tanks with economic and strategic factors in mind while undermining the human factor. Whenever, in history, great powers have invaded the weaker ones, they have exploited their resources and made them their slaves, but the human factor that contains the ingredients of repulsion and change has always been under-assessed. The human factor does submit to political and military intimidation, but it also despises it; fear compels it to act as a slave, but slavery compels it to seek freedom too. It can be subjected to an induced framework of thinking, but the subjective being inside it will eventually recognize its own inbuilt framework and smash the imposed rhetoric; that is precisely the reason why freedom and self-determination should be and are the basic human rights of all, regardless of them being rich or poor, literate or not, powerful or weak, as they all are thinking, emotional beings, each possessing a worldview, however crude it may be.
For as long as the outsiders will try to control the lives and livelihoods of a people, try to make them comply by the use of force, coercion and deception, with the idea that perhaps they are not civilized enough to make their own choices, what will be yielded is not peaceful compliance but only fear, corruption and chaos. Today Iraq shows us all; fear, corruption and chaos. What Iraq is today, soon tomorrow will be Afghanistan. As for the capitalistic ideal, today’s Iraq is nothing but a free-market haven; a ground with maximum extraction possibilities and minimum liabilities. Yes, chaos makes a country the best place for the corporate to set its industry; it’s like the man-ship landing on the Planet of Apes. That is why, after more than a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no media presence, all places are remote and no information can come out of these two countries through independent local sources.
That is also why it should be easier for policy makers to repel the US doctrine for future Afghanistan, as for Pakistan, our neighbors are human and not apes, and their country is not an undiscovered land waiting for Columbus. Nor should we want to see a Fallujah next door to Parachinar or a Ramadi next to Landi Kotal, or a state-forming entity swinging between Afghanistan and Pakistan like the ISIL swings between Syria and Iraq.