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America may win the war, but peace may be elusive
April 10, 2003
George W Bush's team had convinced him a massive air attack followed by a ground invasion in Iraq would quickly bring an end to Saddam Hussein's regime. They said the Iraqis, especially the Shias, would rebel against Saddam and welcome the US invasion to 'liberate' Iraq. It was also believed that key Iraqi leaders, both Ba'athist and military, would desert Saddam and facilitate a quick US takeover.
Iraqi civilian deaths mount every day and coalition forces confront a heavy toll in battle. Despite their best efforts, entering Iraqi cities proved to be a headache for the coalition forces.
Although some Iraqis are shown on Western television channels as cheering the US troops, a majority of Iraqis see America as an occupation army. That the US forces have so far not found weapons of mass destruction exposes the US. The mounting civilian deaths and live scenes on world television lead to growing opposition worldwide, especially in Arab/Islamic states.
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and other pro-US leaders feel vulnerable because of their support to the US-led invasion. At the same time warnings have been issued about the emergence of hundreds of bin Ladens after the war.
The US objective of a regime change and the accusation that Saddam possessed WMD was a pretext. The capture of Iraqi oil fields -- especially rich Rumalia in south Iraq -- was America's main target. The US would love to control oil sources at Mosul and Kirkuk but the main focus was the south. When the US gained control of the southern oil fields it could have halted its invasion, worked for a cease-fire and saved further loss of lives.
Given continued hostility from many States, the US could have allowed the Arab League or Organisation of Islamic Conference forces into Iraq to perform peace keeping duties. Like what happened in 1961 in Kuwait when British forces were replaced by Arab League forces.
The United Nations could supplement the Arab League presence in Iraq with the help of UNMOVIC [United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] to certify that Iraq is free from WMD and ready for humanitarian work.
If anti-US sentiments sweeping the Islamic world are not neutralised soon by way of a quick US withdrawal it would hurt US interests.
Additionally, US policy makers had hoped to achieve a quick victory over Iraq to boost the US economy with cheap Iraqi oil and then to redraw the strategic map in the region. America could face new and unexpected challenges. Surmounting those hurdles could drag the country deeper into the Arab quagmire.
The US had unique and unprecedented goodwill after 9/11 worldwide, including most Islamic States, but anger and hatred due to its double standards and dubious policies has seen that goodwill dissipate fairly quickly. The Bush team is in no mood to listen to saner voices from any quarter. Only the American people can save the US from what is fast becoming a dangerous situation.
The US may win the war, but peace may be elusive. Throughout the world people have grave doubts about the legitimacy of the US-led war as civilian deaths mount. As the Saudi foreign minister very rightly said: 'This war can only lead to bloodshed, hatred and increased anxieties in the region.'