Checking in

While Iraqi Riverbend discusses the constitutional elections, veteran Middle East reporter David Hirst injects some reality into the region:

“Arabs have long warned of the “Lebanonisation” of Iraq, automatically mindful of the fact that virtually every western-created state in the eastern Arab world contains the latent ethnic or sectarian tensions that produced that archetype of Arab civil war. But whereas, in concert with the US, the Arabs finally managed to put out the Lebanese fire before it spread, their prospects of achieving the same amid the violence in Iraq are slight indeed. The inter-Arab state system – and its chief institution, the Arab League – has long been incapable of concerted action against what, like Iraq, are perceived as threats to the Arab “nation”. Now the system itself is threatened by the growth of non-state activities, the cross-border traffic in extreme Islamist ideology – along with the jihadists and suicide bombers who act on it – or ethnic and sectarian solidarities of the kind that threaten to tear Iraq apart.”

Australia’s contribution to the war effort remains small, though we will all be paying the price for such folly in generations to come. When men understand history and politics with little more than ideology on their side, rest assured “freedom and democracy” will never follow.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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