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Commentary Last Updated: Jul 16th, 2007 - 01:08:14

Charlatans in Baghdad
By Abbas J. Ali
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jul 16, 2007, 01:06

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Regrettably, since President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, life in that country has become a list of grievances and frustrations, fears and deaths.

Ordinary Iraqis are forced to abandon their aspirations and hopes and are left to die unceremoniously. Hunting them has becomes a favorite sport for amateur and skilled sportsmen alike. Even though they are burdened by their calamities, Iraqis manage remarkably to maintain their sanity. Powerless and saddened by daily tragedies, they have learned to demonstrate, in various forms, their protests against and contempt for the occupation front men.

In the Iraqi public square, these front men are called, alhbal (the fool), al-athowal (the disoriented sheep), al-tern (the stupid), and al-tartoor (the joke). These adjectives are primarily reserved for the national security adviser, the prime minister, the president and his two deputies, and the speaker of the parliament who are constantly ridiculed. Nevertheless, deprived of morality and patriotism, the charlatans behave in their hideout -- the occupation-fortified Green-Zone -- as if life is an eternal paradise. Pretending they are important and in charge, the charlatans in Baghdad appear on TV surrounded by well-armed bodyguards and armored vehicles. Flanked by Iraqi flags, they hope to convince the disbelieving public that they are exemplary patriots.

Surprisingly, the charlatans are persistent in their deceptions. As each day passes and they remain in power, they continue to distance themselves from the Iraqi people and to hope that the occupation will last forever, as it protects them from their own people.

One of the most ridiculed charlatans in Iraq is National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubai. He has been called the fool and a dozen other epithets that express the people�s disrespect for his incompetence and pathetic announcements.

On May 21, al-Rubai was interviewed by the Independent. In it he indicated that the occupation powers induced him, in 2004, to have a meeting with Muqtada al-Sadr at a specified time and place in the city of Najaf in order to engage him in peaceful negotiations. At the designated time, the US Marines opened up an intense bombardment of the house where the meeting was supposed to take place. But al-Sadr managed to escape. Al-Rubai insisted, in the interview, that it was al-Sadr rather then himself who was the subject of the assassination attempt, stating that the Americans were not planning to kill him along with al-Sadr because he had �a senior American officer with him almost all the time.� For al-Rubai, the killing of Iraqis by foreigners is not wrong as long as he is safe.

Like al-Rubai, al-Malaki and Talabani, the prime minister and the president of Iraq, respectively, have been either used or ignored by the occupation forces. Nevertheless, they continue pretending that they are in charge and responsible for a sovereign Iraq. When the occupation powers decided to build walls around certain neighborhoods in Baghdad -- caged communities -- both al-Malaki and Talabani objected. Their objections were ignored and many Iraqi communities found themselves confined and humiliated.

According to the occupation-framed Iraqi constitution, the prime minister, Nuri al-Malaki, is the head of the executive branch and the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces. Al-Malaki seems to like this, constantly reminding Iraqis that he is in charge and that Iraq is a sovereign country. However, he does not have the authority to order his army to move from one place to another and he has no freedom of movement without the approval and the protection of the occupation authority. Recently, he issued an order to Iraqi military units not to obey orders from the occupation forces in attacking Iraqis without his consent. Iraqi officers, in some units, ignored his orders as they are in practice under the command of foreign officers.

The New York Times (June 30) reported that al-Malaki condemned the bombardments of Sadr City by foreign troops in which 26 civilians were killed, and asked that such illegal operations be discontinued. Since then, however, foreign troops have expanded their operations against several cities in Iraq, including Baghdad, Dewyniah, Basra, Nasryia, Kut, etc. Likewise, when the occupation authority decided to arm tribes in the Anbar and Diyala provinces and some extremist militias (e.g., the Islamic Army, Mohamed Army, etc.) al-Malaki vehemently rejected the proposal. The leaders of the occupation's military forces went ahead and armed such groups.

In occupied Iraq, decent and patriotic Iraqis are being gradually exterminated while the lucky ones are escaping from the country. The UN reported that, since the occupation, more than 4.3 million Iraqis have become refugees and about 50,000 Iraqis leave the country each month. The charlatans in Baghdad have become an important instrument to legitimize actions against Iraqis and to perpetuate their suffering. For the charlatans, the safety and dignity of Iraqis, and for that matter the integrity of Iraq, is not important as long as they live in a protected zone and their interests are ensured.

Recently, prominent charlatans agreed to organize a new alliance called the moderate or the constitutional front. The alliance encompasses the two ethnic minority Kurdish groups led by warlords Brazani and Talabani and the two religious organizations led by al-Malaki and al-Hakim. Iraqis familiar with political maneuvering argue that this new alliance is aimed at appeasing the occupation powers, exterminating patriotic forces, and accelerating the partitioning of Iraq. If successful, the alliance will deepen the misery of the Iraqis and condemn them to a dark future.

Working with the occupation powers, charlatans in Baghdad, in a little more than four years, have changed the demographic landscape of Iraq and deepened hostility to Iraqi national and cultural identity. In the process, they have helped to incapacitate Iraqi cultural, economic, and political institutions. It is doubtful that these individuals can survive without an omnipresence of foreign troops. Indeed, they have become an obstacle for a free and democratic Iraq. In their presence, a healthy and functional Iraq is a distant dream.

Abbas J. Ali, is Professor and Director School of International Management, Eberly College of Business, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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