by Zafar Bangash (Reflections, Crescent International Vol. 33, No. 3, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1425)
US president George Bush had hoped that by April 2004 American casualties in Iraq would be so low that he could present this success as his personal triumph in transforming Iraq from a tyranny into a democracy...
US president George Bush had hoped that by April 2004 American casualties in Iraq would be so low that he could present this success as his personal triumph in transforming Iraq from a tyranny into a democracy. On this basis Bush thought that he would be able to return to the White House in the presidential elections in November. The reality has been markedly different, although, judging by Bush's messianic Christian rhetoric of bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq, he appears blind to the realities unfolding in Iraq.
Last month's fighting has left his imperial and presidential hopes smouldering in the bombed-out ruins of Fallujah. That small Iraqi town became a catalyst, mobilizing all Iraqis – Shia and Sunni – against their occupiers. Fallujah has paid a heavy price; nearly 1,000 people – mostly women and children – were killed in the first two weeks of April, as US forces launched an all-out assault on the city, while also preventing food and medical supplies from reaching its people. Thousands of heavily armed marines have fired indiscriminately at unarmed civilians in mosques, homes and shops; helicopter-gunships and F-16 planes have bombed residential neighbourhoods.
Far from crushing the resistance, such brutality has inspired more people to join it. Mosques have become centres of mobilization and distribution of food, and imams have emerged as leaders, exposing the US-appointed members of the Iraqi Governing Council as puppets, and therefore irrelevant. Americans have a remarkable capacity for antagonizing people. Provoking the al-Mahdi militia of Seyyed Moqtada al-Sadr by shutting down Al-Hawza, its weekly, while drum-beating about the virtues of a free press, is an example of this crude and inconsistent behaviour. By standing up to the Americans, Seyyed Moqtada, despite his relative youth – he is only 31 – has inspired all Iraqis. Whether he will be able to sustain this momentum is another matter, but America's brutality has been exposed to all.
At a press conference on April 13, Bush was forced to concede that the previous weeks had been "tough", but he vowed to "stay the course". This drew derision even from the New York Times, which asked where exactly this course is leading. Elsewhere in Iraq, the situation for the Americans is equally grim; instead of Shias and Sunnis fighting each other, as the Americans had hoped, they have united to fight the invaders. This is not how things were supposed to have turned out a year after Saddam's removal from power. Much more significant is the fact that the resistance in Iraq has transcended national boundaries by forming an ideological alliance with the resistance in Palestine. The martyrdom of Shaikh Ahmed Yassin in Ghazzah on March 22 was the catalyst; just as the oppressors are one, so the resistors have become one.
At home Bush faced hard questions prompted by the 9/11 Inquiry Commission. Instead of projecting him as the war president, an image he has tried to cultivate, the inquiry has revealed him to be disinterested in detail and out of his depth in his job. Nobody has ever accused him of being bright, but now even his friends are cringing at his lack of understanding of even simple issues. There is, however, a serious flaw in the entire inquiry process. Nobody has asked the obvious question: why was not a single US air force plane scrambled for two hours, while commercial airliners were being hijacked, when this is standard procedure everywhere if a commercial airliner strays off its assigned flight path or loses contact with ground control?
Muslims worldwide, at the receiving end of US/zionist aggression, can take heart from developments in Iraq. As Imam Jafar as-Sadiq, the great Islamic scholar, said: "We thank Allah for making our enemies from among the fools." The events of the last few weeks should comfort Muslims that, despite their paucity of material resources, their determination not to be cowed by superior firepower is their greatest strength. The much-vaunted American soldiers have been exposed yet again as cowards. Iraq is turning into a graveyard for US imperialism, even as Bush tries belatedly to seek cover under the UN fig leaf. If it proves his personal undoing as well, that will be a bonus.