As the Arab world begins a new conversation both with itself and the world via blogs – perspectives that are routinely ignored by our mainstream press, as if only extremists represent the Arab “street” – former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami warns the American people that the Bush administration’s insistence on further entrenching the Iraqi occupation is destined for disaster:
It is a pity that the proposal I presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations prior to the occupation of Iraq was never accepted. I had earnestly proposed that countries neighboring Iraq should collaborate with the five permanent members of the Security Council and under the direct supervision of the United Nations find a way to remove the cancerous regime of Saddam from our beloved Iraq.
My proposal was rejected because of the conceited intervention on the part of the US but the grave predictions it made regrettably materialized.
Here is what I suggest that we urgently must do:
1) Terminate the occupation, cut off the root cause of conflict, and thereby disarm violent extremism.
2) Strengthen the foundations of democracy in Iraq and support the establishment of security, intelligence, and law and order by the government. We should give the people of Iraq and their popular government the opportunity to base the fledgling democracy in that country on a firm foundation.
3) Engage in a concerted effort at reconstructing Iraq and helping the central government respond to the demands of the oppressed people of Iraq and lay the foundation for development and progress in that country. All this is impossible to achieve without putting an end to occupation and foreign intervention. Especially, ethnic and sectarian separatism must stop.
The US may be able to guarantee its long-term interests–should they be based on justice – by adhering to realism, avoiding delusional fantasies of politicians, and committing to the support of security and development in the region.