Blaming the occupied

Mubashar Jawed Akbar is a leading Indian journalist and writer. He writes for the Washington Post about the legacy of the Iraq war:

In ten years, George Bush’s legacy will be evident. In Iraq, give two years for the departure of American troops, three years for local power struggles, and five years for consolidation and recovery.

Iraq in 2017 will be an overwhelmingly Shia-majority nation, with most Arab Sunnis having migrated to Jordan, Palestine or a much-altered Saudi Arabia. Sunni Kurds will remain in their province, but under watch since Baghdad, Damascus, Istanbul and Tehran will cooperate to shut out any hopes of Kurdish independence. Iraq will be part of an Iran-led economic-military alliance that will stretch from the border of Afghanistan to the border of Syria and Jordan. It will probably also include Bahrain as its Dubai oasis: an outpost for finance, paper, and leisure for those Shias who might find domestic laws a trifle too restrictive for their weekends.

The Iraqi armed forces, now strengthened by the inclusion of Shias who fought to defeat Bush’s armies in partnership with Iran, will raise confrontation with Israel to the top of its agenda. The Iraqi army will still be equipped by the mountain of weapons that George Bush left behind, on the assumption that he was arming a friendly force or simply because it was too dangerous to lug back so much weaponry along roads and routes over which America had lost control.

If Iran’s nuclear capability has been destroyed, it will be a nation seething with the desire for revenge against Israel by other means; if it has not been destroyed, then its nuclear capability will be the shield in a war to restore the borders of 1967 and create a fully independent Palestinian state.

A front against Israel will be the one major area of agreement between the Shia bloc and the Sunni-Arab states, with Iraq far keener to provoke confrontation than the others. Baghdad and Tehran will not raise the ante against Israel; they will be equally keen to further radicalize the Arab Street in Cairo, Damascus and Amman, where the people will no longer see any merit in the no-war, no-peace policy towards Israel of their governments.

Saddam Hussein will be remembered only by the final hours of his life, and his last words: “Palestine is Arab”. The secret service protecting former President George Bush will never permit him to visit two countries – Iraq and Israel – albeit for vastly different reasons.… 

An equally prescient analysis of the Iraq war is that, according to a US diplomat, “US President George Bush’s new Iraq policy is the contemporary equivalent of Vietnamisation, the purpose being not to win an unwinnable war, but to provide political cover for a defeat and eventually to blame the loss on the Iraqis.”