Blogs > Liberty and Power > Iraq Nears the "Saigon Moment"

Nov 28, 2006 10:23 pm

Iraq Nears the "Saigon Moment"

Patrick Cockburn asks"Does Anyone in Washington or at Downing Street Know What's Really Happening in Iraq?"

"[G]oing by official statements, the British government knows no more about what was going on in Iraq in 2006 than it did in 2003. The picture Blair paints of Iraq seldom touches reality at any point. For instance he says Iraqis 'voted [f]or an explicitly non-sectarian government,' but every Iraqi knows that the vote in two parliamentary elections in 2005 went wholly along sectarian and ethnic lines. The polls were the starting pistol for the start of the civil war.

"Blair [or for that matter Bush] steadfastly refuses to accept the fact that opposition to the American and British occupation of Iraq has been the main cause of the insurgency. The commander of the British army General Sir Richard Dannatt was almost fired for his trouble when he made the obvious point that 'we should get ourselves out some time soon because our presence exacerbates the security problem.'"

"Of course Bush and Blair argue that there is no occupation. … But the reality of power remained firmly with the US and Britain. The Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki said this month that he could not move a company of soldiers without seeking permission of the Coalition (the US and Britain). Officials in Mosul confirmed to me that they could not carry out a military operation without the agreement of US forces."

"An Iraqi government will only have real legitimacy and freedom to operate when US and British troops have withdrawn. Washington and London have to accept that if Iraq is to survive at all it will be as a loose federation run by a Shia-Kurdish alliance because together they are 80 per cent of the population. But, thanks to the miscalculations of Mr Bush and Mr Blair, the future of Iraq will be settled not by negotiations but on the battlefield."

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