Talabani Opposes Military Action against Syria
By Juan Cole
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Tuesday before the United
Nations: "I categorically refuse the use of Iraqi soil to launch a
military strike against Syria or any other Arab country . . . "But
at the end of the day my ability to confront the US military is
limited and I cannot impose on them my will."
So let's get this straight. The president of Iraq elected six months
after the US "turned over sovereignty" on June 28, 2004 is saying
before the United Nations that George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld
decide whether his country can be used as a base to attack other
countries, and he is unable to influence such decisions-- even
though he categorically rejects any such action.
For all those "Bush's Iraq" boosters who laud the "democratic"
elections of January 30 and the recent constitutional referendum,
this clear admission that Iraq remains under American military
occupation, and that its government is helpless before American
decisions about the fate of Iraq, is a rather strong refutation.
After all, no country is a "democracy" where the military calls the
shots, overruling the civilian president-- how much less so if it is
a foreign military! Talabani is saying that Iraq is more like
Burma, Pakistan or the Sudan than it is like democracies such as
India or Brazil.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari asked the UN to extend the
mandate for coalition troops in Iraq for up to another year. But the
Iraqi government wants the UN to review the resolution 8 months from
now, and at any time that the Iraqi government requests a review.
Jaafari also wants to reserve the right of the Iraqi government to
ask foreign troops to leave before the end of 2006 if it so decides.
That is, the Iraqi government wants US troops for the time being, it
just doesn't want to be stuck with them. It is not a very gracious
invitation; but then, see above.
Al-Hayat: The Iraqi Islamic Party [Sunni] complained Tuesday
about the practice of the new Iraqi security forces, of taking women
hostage in order to put pressure on their husbands that are
suspected of being part of the guerrilla movement. The communique
said that Iraqi security forces on Sunday evening invaded a home in
the area of Latifiyah in search of its owner. "When they did not
find hi, the group attempted to kidnap one of the women of the
household. When she resisted, they fired at her and wounded her in
the foot." The IIP called on the government to stop such practices.
There have been several incidents where US or Iraq troops have taken
women hostage as a way of pressuring their male relatives, producing
local protests-- some of which have been effective.
Juan Cole is Professor of History at the University of Michigan -
Visit his website www.juancole.com
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