In The Interest Of Palestinians And Arabs

by Mamdouh Nofal on 06/01/2004

Despite their bitter state of affairs, the Palestinian are actually concerned about Iraqis and wish that their occupation would end and hope for Iraq to become a unified sovereign state. The Palestinians also fear that the Iraqi wound would deepen, and accordingly, the Arabs would divert their attention to Iraq and disregard the Palestinian cause. Because of many factors, some Palestinians show signs of sympathy towards the former Iraqi president, who is detained by the Americans, one of which is that Saddam had once threatened and bombarded Israel and was benevolent towards the Palestinian cause. He also donated amounts of money to the families of “martyrs.” The long Palestinian experience of occupation drives them to reject any sort of occupation anywhere. Many questions, in the West Bank and Gaza, are raised about the future of Iraq, and the nature of the pictures the Americans released when they captured Saddam. How was Saddam incarcerated? Why didn’t he fight? He did not even resist, and they did not even attack. Many of the Palestinians thought that he might actually attempt suicide, for his gun never leaves his sight. He betrayed his gun. The Palestinians wonder about the future of Iraq and the future of the resistance. Will Saddam’s imprisonment put an end to the resistance or did he alleviate its burden for a chance of modification and development? Will his trail and execution next June, according to Abdulaziz Al Hakim, current president of the ruling council hasten in closing the Iraqi file, and will it help the Iraqis in regaining their independence? Or will it prompt further ethnic and sectarian differences?

In light of this there are also questions about the impact of the new Iraq on it relations with neighboring countries, particularly Syria, and the outcome of the transfer of power to the Shiite majority in Iraq and the balance of power in the region. What impact will the start of a civil war and establishment of a confederation in Iraq have on the Palestinian cause? What is the aftermath if Saddam denies or assures some of the claims of Israel and some member of the Bush administration that Syrian intelligence supported the Iraqi resistance and Syria had hidden the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam had sent? No doubt that the capture of Saddam was a victory for the Bush administration and the government of Tony Blair, knowing that they desperately needed such a victory. It actually gave reconsideration to the British and American intelligence after their repetitive mistakes before and after the invasion of Baghdad. Saddam’s mysterious imprisonment does not solve the situation in Iraq. It is most probable that Saddam’s followers turned him in, in return for money, because they were getting sick and tired and on the run. It is not far from the truth that his cohorts anesthetized him and turned him to the American “buyer,” just as they squealed on Udai, and Qusai’s hideouts.

The Americans announced news of Saddam’s capture carefully and cautiously. They insisted on showing the man in a desperate situation appearing to be as an alcoholic or even a drug abuser. They presented him hiding in a hole, but they did not show us how he surrendered folding his hands up and turning in his gun. They did not even show us how they handcuffed him; instead he appeared to be astonished.

It is quite obvious that Bush and Blair will use this opportunity to attain further support to enhance their images. Accordingly, some American strategists are calling for the decrease in number of American troops in Iraq. They are calling for a larger international role and enhancing the working of the different UN agencies.

No doubt that the Iraqis suffered long from Saddam’s despotic reign and were joyous about his capture. These people who had lost so much and lost so many of their people because of the selfish interest of the Baath Party under Saddam. But the celebration of the end of a dictatorship does not veil their sights towards the dangers of the American occupation. The ruling council and the various Islamic and national forces could deal with the current situation as means of exerting pressure to speed the process of development and the end of the occupation based on democracy and national interest. The capture of Saddam Hussein will not alter any changes among the Sunnis, Shiites, Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen regarding the American occupation in Iraq. The American presence in Iraq will always be regarded by the Iraqis, by international law as an occupying force that must leave without any rewards, especially that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq and it appears that Saddam’s capture exposed the reality about the lies of the CIA and the British intelligence. The Iraqis have the right to try Saddam in Iraqi courts.

The Palestinians who suffered long from the Israeli occupation regard that it is not only sufficient to try Saddam, but the Arab system as whole should be reconsidered because it failed to alleviate the sufferings of the Palestinian people as well. The Palestinians also think that the Americans and the British should be tried for their illegal occupation of Iraq, for their continuous support for Israel, for encouraging Saddam to wage a gory war against his neighbors and for providing Saddam with chemical and biological weapons that he used against his own people.

No matter what Bush thinks, the resistance in Iraq will not stop and it is bound to escalate. The Iraqis are the only people that should determine the nature of the resistance, and if the capture of Saddam Hussein had weakened the resistance, it sustained an alternative cogency. In any sense, the Iraqi nights seem to be long and it does not seem that the current dilemma would end soon, as the Palestinians and the Arabs aspire.