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Anastasios
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« on: February 27, 2003, 01:03:44 AM »

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-taheri022603.asp

Could I have the microphone for one minute to tell the people about my life?" asked the Iraqi grandmother.

I spent part of a recent Saturday with the so-called "antiwar" marchers in London in the company of some Iraqi friends. Our aim had been to persuade the organizers to let at least one Iraqi voice to be heard. Soon, however, it became clear that the organizers were as anxious to stifle the voice of the Iraqis in exile as was Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

The Iraqis had come with placards reading "Freedom for Iraq" and "American rule, a hundred thousand times better than Takriti tyranny!"

But the tough guys who supervised the march would have none of that. Only official placards, manufactured in thousands and distributed among the "spontaneous" marchers, were allowed. These read "Bush and Blair, baby-killers," " Not in my name," "Freedom for Palestine," and "Indict Bush and Sharon."

Not one placard demanded that Saddam should disarm to avoid war.

The goons also confiscated photographs showing the tragedy of Halabja, the Kurdish town where Saddam's forces gassed 5,000 people to death in 1988.

We managed to reach some of the stars of the show, including Reverend Jesse Jackson, the self-styled champion of American civil rights. One of our group, Salima Kazim, an Iraqi grandmother, managed to attract the reverend's attention and told him how Saddam Hussein had murdered her three sons because they had been dissidents in the Baath Party; and how one of her grandsons had died in the war Saddam had launched against Kuwait in 1990.

"Could I have the microphone for one minute to tell the people about my life?" 78-year-old Salima demanded.

The reverend was not pleased.

"Today is not about Saddam Hussein," he snapped. "Today is about Bush and Blair and the massacre they plan in Iraq." Salima had to beat a retreat, with all of us following, as the reverend's gorillas closed in to protect his holiness.

We next spotted former film star Glenda Jackson, apparently manning a stand where "antiwar" characters could sign up to become "human shields" to protect Saddam's military installations against American air attacks.

"These people are mad," said Awad Nasser, one of Iraq's most famous modernist poets. "They are actually signing up to sacrifice their lives to protect a tyrant's death machine."

The former film star, now a Labor party member of parliament, had no time for "side issues" such as the 1.2 million Iraqis, Iranians, and Kuwaitis who have died as a result of Saddam's various wars.

We thought we might have a better chance with Charles Kennedy, a boyish-looking, red-headed Scot who leads the misnamed Liberal Democrat party. But he, too, had no time for "complex issues" that could not be raised at a mass rally.

"The point of what we are doing here is to tell the American and British governments that we are against war," he pontificated. "There will be ample time for other issues."

But was it not amazing that there could be a rally about Iraq without any mention of what Saddam and his regime have done over almost three decades? Just a little hint, perhaps, that Saddam was still murdering people in his Qasr al-Nayhayah (Palace of the End) prison, and that as the Westerners marched, Iraqis continued to die?

Not a chance.

We then ran into Tony Benn, a leftist septuagenarian who has recycled himself as a television reporter to interview Saddam in Baghdad.

But we knew there was no point in talking to him. The previous night he had appeared on TV to tell the Brits that his friend Saddam was standing for "the little people" against "hegemonistic America."

"Are these people ignorant, or are they blinded by hatred of the United States?" Nasser the poet demanded.

The Iraqis would had much to tell the "antiwar" marchers, had they had a chance to speak. Fadel Sultani, president of the National Association of Iraqi authors, would have told the marchers that their action would encourage Saddam to intensify his repression.

"I had a few questions for the marchers," Sultani said. "Did they not realize that oppression, torture and massacre of innocent civilians are also forms of war? Are the antiwar marchers only against a war that would liberate Iraq, or do they also oppose the war Saddam has been waging against our people for a generation?"

Sultani could have told the peaceniks how Saddam's henchmen killed dissident poets and writers by pushing page after page of forbidden books down their throats until they choked.

Hashem al-Iqabi, one of Iraq's leading writers and intellectuals, had hoped the marchers would mention the fact that Saddam had driven almost four million Iraqis out of their homes and razed more than 6,000 villages to the ground.

"The death and destruction caused by Saddam in our land is the worst since Nebuchadnezzar," he said. "These prosperous, peaceful, and fat Europeans are marching in support of evil incarnate." He said that, watching the march, he felt Nazism was "alive and well and flexing its muscles in Hyde Park."

Abdel-Majid Khoi, son of the late Grand Ayatollah Khoi, Iraq's foremost religious leader for almost 40 years, spoke of the "deep moral pain" he feels when hearing the so-called " antiwar" discourse.

"The Iraqi nation is like a man who is kept captive and tortured by a gang of thugs," Khoi said. "The proper moral position is to fly to help that man liberate himself and bring the torturers to book. But what we witness in the West is the opposite: support for the torturers and total contempt for the victim."

Khoi said he would say ahlan wasahlan (welcome) to anyone who would liberate Iraq.

"When you are being tortured to death you are not fussy about who will save you," he said.

Ismail Qaderi, a former Baathist official but now a dissident, wanted to tell the marchers how Saddam systematically destroyed even his own party, starting by murdering all but one of its 16 original leaders.

"Those who see Saddam as a symbol of socialism, progress, and secularism in the Arab world must be mad," he said.

Khalid Kishtaini, Iraq's most famous satirical writer, added his complaint.

"Don't these marchers know that the only march possible in Iraq under Saddam Hussein is from the prison to the firing-squad?" he asked. "The Western marchers behave as if the US wanted to invade Switzerland, not Iraq under Saddam Hussein."

With all doors shutting in our faces we decided to drop out of the show and watch the political zoology of the march from the sidelines.

Who were these people who felt such hatred of their democratic governments and such intense self-loathing?

There were the usual suspects: the remnants of the Left, from Stalinists and Trotskyites to caviar socialists. There were the pro-abortionists, the anti-GM food crowd, the anti-capital-punishment militants, the black-rights gurus, the anti-Semites, the "burn Israel" lobby, the "Bush-didn't-win-Florida" zealots, the unilateral disarmers, the anti-Hollywood "cultural exception" merchants, and the guilt-ridden postmodernist "everything is equal to everything else" philosophers.

But the bulk of the crowd consisted of fellow travelers, those innocent citizens who, prompted by idealism or boredom, are always prepared to play the role of "useful idiots," as Lenin used to call them.

They ignored the fact that the peoples of Iraq are unanimous in their prayers for the war of liberation to come as quickly as possible.

The number of marchers did not impress Salima, the grandmother.

"What is wrong does not become right because many people say it," she asserted, bidding us farewell while the marchers shouted "Not in my name!"

Let us hope that when Iraq is liberated, as it soon will be, the world will remember that it was not done in the name of Rev. Jackson, Charles Kennedy, Glenda Jackson, Tony Benn, and their companions in a march of shame.

— Amir Taheri is author of The Cauldron: The Middle East behind the headlines. Taheri is reachable through www.benadorassociates.com.
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2003, 12:28:51 PM »

Christians for Saddam?
by Glen Chancy

Introduction

After the Divine Liturgy a few Sundays ago, I joined several other men from my parish for brunch. The topic of Iraq came up, and one of the men remarked that he had heard that there was a substantial Christian population in Iraq, and that Tariq Assiz, the Iraqi foreign minister, was a Roman Catholic. He was shocked that a Christian could be associated with such a man as Saddam Hussein.

"What can that mean for his witness as a Christian to serve such a leader?" my friend asked in bewilderment.

While I cannot know what is in Mr. Assiz’s heart, only God can know that, I can certainly understand, on a basic level, his service to Saddam Hussein. Before we, in the West, become too judgmental of our co-religionists living under Muslim rule, I believe we need to understand the world Iraqi Christians inhabit. It is a brutal world of few good choices, and many potential dangers. Theirs is a truly desperate plight, and it is one that our forthcoming invasion of Iraq is quite likely to make much, much worse.

Background - Iraqi Christians

In Iraq, live an estimated 1 million Christians who are ethnically Assyrian. This community descends from the various Mesopotamian kingdoms that once ruled the area and formed powerful empires in the Fertile Crescent. Their Christian heritage is ancient. Many Assyrians converted to Christianity as early as the second century A.D. Assyrians define themselves as a broad category of Christian groups speaking Aramaic (the language of Jesus) that includes followers of the Chaldean Catholic Church (in communion with Rome), the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Church of the East, among others.

The Assyrians have lived under foreign domination since the fall of the Assyrian kingdom to Persian power in the seventh century B.C. Since then, the Assyrians have been subjected to Persian, Arab, and Ottoman domination. As a result of ethnic cleansing by Iranian, Turkish, and Arab-Iraqi forces in the 1920s and 1930s, the Assyrians lost thousands of people and have found themselves mostly concentrated in the mountainous regions north of Baghdad.

Under various Iraqi governments, particularly those following the British withdrawal in 1945, Christians in Iraq have been politically suppressed. Although substantial numbers of their intellectuals chose to join the Ba'th regime and identify themselves as Arab Christians, the Assyrians have been subjected to systematic attempts by Saddam’s regime to "Arabize" them, a process that includes driving ethnic minorities from their lands and seizing some of their properties, especially in the strategic, oil-rich northern region bordering the Kurdish enclave. This has been done partly out of Saddam’s fear of disloyalty on the part of non-Arabs, and partly out of a desire to reward Saddam’s political supporters with their land.

"The Iraqi government has also forced ethnic minorities such as the Assyrians, the Kurds and the Turkomen to sign 'national correction forms' that require them to renounce their ethnic identities and declare themselves to be Arabs," says Hania Mufti of Human Rights Watch.

Today, in the Middle East, Assyrians are spread across Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, where rights groups say they live as small, often discriminated-against minorities under governments largely unsympathetic to their religious and cultural aspirations. In Iraq, most Assyrians live in the North, under Kurdish control in an enclave that was established after the 1991 Gulf War. There, they have achieved a modicum of independence, and are allowed five seats in the Kurdish Parliament.

In fact, this is perhaps the best situation in which Assyrians have found themselves in some time. Given their history with Saddam, and the relative freedom they are experiencing in Northern Iraq, you would probably assume that the Assyrians would like nothing better than to see Saddam’s murderous regime consigned to the dustbin of history.

Unfortunately, you would be wrong.

Saddam Hussein - That Bad in Context?

This may come as a shock to many Americans, whose image of Saddam has been framed by comparisons to Adolf Hitler, but the prevalent fear among Assyrians, both in Iraq and abroad, is that what comes next after an American invasion will be worse.

"Our greatest fear if there is a regime change in Iraq is if there will be a substitution of Saddam Hussein's tyranny for a new tyranny," says Ronald Michael, president of the Assyrian American League, an Illinois-based organization representing the estimated four-million-strong Assyrian community in the United States.

Saddam Hussein and the Ba’th Regime have been, and still are, nasty and oppressive to all Iraqis. However, Saddam has not been particularly oppressive to the Assyrians, at least compared to what has been the norm elsewhere in the region. One must always keep in mind that the oldest members of Middle Eastern Christian communities remember outright slaughters of Christians by the millions. By the yardstick of his neighbors and Middle Eastern history, Saddam just doesn’t look that bad.

The secular Saddam has neither encouraged nor permitted the type of anti-Christian riots seen in Egypt and Iran. Further, Saddam has never engaged in actual anti-Christian genocide of the type seen in Sudan, where 2 million Christian have lost their lives in the past decade. Unlike any other regime in the Middle East, Saddam has permitted Christians to occupy high public office. This includes the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Tariq Assiz, who is a Roman Catholic. In addition, Saddam’s regime has permitted a degree of free practice for Christians that is positively enviable compared to the situations experienced in such U.S. ‘allies’ as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Christmas and Easter decorations always abound, even in Baghdad, and attending church does not require an act of courage.

Today, the Christians of Iraq seem to be split between those who support the status quo - de facto autonomy of a type in the North - and those who support Saddam Hussein’s continuation in power. Broad support, enthusiastic or otherwise, for the ouster of Saddam Hussein by the U.S. Army seems to be noticeably absent from the political landscape.

Is this anxiety warranted? Should the Assyrians be so concerned about being liberated by U.S. military power? If history is our guide, they shouldn’t be afraid.

They should be terrified.

Our Friends The Kurds

As noted earlier, the majority of Assyrians live in northern Iraq in the Kurdish enclave. So far, this situation has been reasonably tolerable for the Assyrians, as the Kurds have been conducting a fairly successful democratic experiment under the cover of U.S. and British combat patrols. Given the historical tendency of the Kurds to victimize and slaughter the Assyrians, the current situation seems quite impressive.

However, Assyrians are quick to ask, have the Kurds really moderated their traditional attitudes and embraced Western notions of civil rights? Or, are they only moderating their tone in order to build a unified front against Saddam Hussein? This leads to a great fear among Assyrians in the north that when the unifying factor of a common enemy is removed, the traditional problems between the Kurds and the Assyrians will resurface with a vengeance.

Among the future problems between the two groups are disputes over land, that for now have been put on hold. "There are outstanding issues of Assyrian villages and lands, which were vacated under Baghdad's forced repatriations during the 1970s and '80s," says Hania Mufti of Human Rights Watch.

Recent events in the north fuel fears that the Assyrians may become victims of Kurdish aggression again. The Kurdish authorities have begun attempts to classify Iraq's Christians as "Kurdish Christians." This appellation is an outright fabrication, but it points to a future in which the Assyrians, who survived ‘Arabization’ in Saddam’s Iraq, may find themselves subjected to a harsh ‘Kurdization’ at the hands of an independent Kurdistan.

Also, there has been a resurgence of traditional Kurdish attacks on Christians. The Kurdish authorities have resolutely ignored these attacks. As Ronald Michael explains, it is in the best interests of Kurdish politicians to not antagonize their Muslim constituents by being zealous in the defense of Christians.

"The nationalist parties don't want to lose the support of the Kurdish people," says Michael. "The KDP [Kurdish Democratic Party] turns a blind eye to these attacks out of fear of an Islamic backlash."

The Kurds have an estimated 70,000 anti-Saddam soldiers in the north. How extensively the U.S. plans to make use of them in its war effort remains to be seen. However, one thing is clear - these men aren’t going away after the fighting stops. If the blind eye turned by Kurdish authorities to violence against Christians becomes outright genocide, will our U.S. military forces intervene against our Kurdish ‘allies’ to protect defenseless Christians?

If you and I don’t know the answer to that troubling question, how do you think the Assyrians feel?

Our Friends the Turks

Turkey has repeatedly warned against any attempt to establish an independent Kurdish political entity. The Ankara government is fearful that independent Kurds will be an example for the millions of Kurds under Turkish domination. Should the Kurds attempt to achieve independence, there is a real threat that Turkey will enter the war in order to stop a Kurdish state from forming.

In fact, there is a chance that Turkey may intervene aggressively in any event. Leading up to the latest Turkish election, which brought to power a party with Islamic roots, nationalist Turkish politicians and senior generals threatened to seize Kirkuk and Mosul in the event of war, citing Ottoman-era claims to the two oil-rich northern Iraqi cities.

In September 2002, Ozdem Sanberk, the former Turkish ambassador to Britain, told a reporter, "If the U.S. intervenes, and in the first days the Kurds enter Kirkuk and Mosul, the Turkish army will move in." It has been reported that the Turkish army already has troops inside the Iraqi Kurdish zone, and is already planning to send more to stop any flow of Kurdish refugees into Turkey when full-scale war breaks out.

Currently, Turkey is driving a hard bargain in exchange for backing the U.S. The details are not all public, but it appears that Turkey is demanding at least 10% of the oil revenues from the area around Kirkuk and Mosul. Even if it receives its wish, there is no guarantee that it will abide by any agreement it makes with Washington.

Should the Turks end up in control of northern Iraq, the outcome for the Assyrian Christians in the area is likely to be catastrophic. Turkish rule would likely be far worse than continuing to live under Saddam Hussein, and could very well spell the end of the Assyrian communities.

No nation in the region has as much Christian blood on its hands as Turkey. The Turks carried out major slaughters of Christians in 1915 (close to two million Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks that year alone), the early 1920’s, and again in 1955. To this day, it is the official position of the Turkish government that these genocides did not happen. Further, Turkey has waged a non-stop war of attrition on its native Assyrian, Greek, and Armenian minorities over the last century. Through discrimination, expulsion, race riots, and immigration, these communities have been practically obliterated.

Today, Turkey is almost a Christian-free zone, despite Istanbul serving as the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople - one of the most important Sees of the Orthodox Church. It is estimated that only 60,000 Armenians, 15,000 Assyrians, and 3,500 Greeks remain in Turkey at the dawn of the 21st Century. Less than 100 years ago, the numbers of Christians in what is now Turkey numbered in the millions.

If a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq leads to genocide against the Assyrian Christians as part of a campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ will the United States defend the Christians?

History would lead one to conclude that the answer is an unqualified ‘no.’

The United States sat idly by and allowed the Turks to massacre Christians in 1923 and 1955. (In fact, U.S. ships in the area even refused to take aboard survivors who were fleeing for their lives. The U.S. was afraid of ‘offending’ the Turks by helping any of their victims.) The U.S. did not assist the Greek island nation of Cyprus when Turkey attacked it in 1974, and occupied over 1/3 of Cypriot territory. The U.S. has failed to vigorously protest ongoing Turkish abuse of Turkey’s few remaining Christians.

Over and over again, the U.S. has proven that it will sacrifice an unlimited number of Christian lives in order to maintain its alliance with Turkey. The Assyrians are well aware of this history, and are terrified that they will be the next sacrifice offered up on the altar of U.S.-Turkish friendship.

Our Friends the Iraqi National Congress

The Iraqi National Congress is an umbrella organization bringing together various anti-Saddam groups. Based in London, it is heavily financed by the United States, and may be expected to play a role in the post-invasion reorganization of Iraq. The groups represented in the INC range from constitutional monarchists to Islamic radicals. Their diversity is representative of Iraq itself, which has a Kurdish north, a Sunni Arab center, and Shiite south. Despite this diversity, however, there may be one thing that all of these various groups could agree on - they are all Muslims.

And this is another fear that grips the Assyrians. In a post-Saddam world, there must be some unifying force to hold the disparate pieces of Iraq together. What that force will be is still to be determined. Will it be an occupation by the U.S. Army? Will it be a new monarchy, loosely based on Islamic principals? Will it be fundamentalist Islam, as in the ethnically diverse nation of Pakistan?

If Iraq turns more fundamentalist after Saddam is removed from the picture, as some future dictatorship seeks to use Islam as a unifying force, the Assyrians could find themselves becoming the sacrificial lambs on the altar of Iraqi unity. It has happened elsewhere in the Middle East - nothing unifies a population like a common enemy to slaughter.

If a new Iraqi government, in control of the whole country, turns on the Assyrians with a genocidal fury, will the U.S. military protect the Christians?

If history is our guide, the answer is an unqualified ‘no.’

In Kosovo, we have an example of NATO forces, led by U.S. ground troops, occupying a majority Muslim state. While ostensibly neutral between the two sides at the time of deployment, it became quickly apparent to the Serbs in Kosovo that the NATO forces had little stomach for keeping the Muslims in line. The ‘peacekeepers’ were only there to keep Serbian forces out of Kosovo, not to protect the Serbs in Kosovo. If they had tried to do so, then it would have invited casualties from Muslim reprisals. That was the last thing any NATO governments wanted. So 50,000 NATO troops stood by while 100,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed and 112 churches and monasteries were destroyed.

NATO and the United States were, and are, unwilling to make waves in Kosovo in order to save Christian lives and churches - why would post-invasion Iraq be any different?

Conclusion

There is probably no avoiding war with Iraq at this time. Too much has happened for us to turn aside now, even if that might be the best thing for all concerned. Despite some of our wishes to the contrary, the war is probably going to come, and its coming is fraught with danger for many innocent people in the Middle East. But if war must come, then as citizens of the United States, we have an obligation to remind our leaders that the lives of Christians are just as important as the lives of Muslims. A victory in Iraq that destroys the Assyrian community in its wake is no victory. If our President and his staff are not considering the fates of these brave Christians, then it is time for us, as Americans, to remind them of their obligations to our co-religionists in a war that we brought to them.

The Assyrians still speak the language of Jesus, and follow the way of the cross, despite centuries of persecution. The strength of their faith should be a humbling example to us all in the West. The Assyrians have survived the coming of the Persians, the Arabs, and the Turks. It remains to be seen if they will survive the coming of the Americans.

February 25, 2003

Glen Chancy [send him mail] is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Political Science, and a certificate in Eastern European Studies. A former University lecturer in Poland, he currently holds an MBA in Finance and works in Orlando, Fl as a business analyst for an international software developer.

Copyright -¬ 2003 LewRockwell.com
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2003, 12:52:20 PM »

Not surprising from a neocon publication such as the National Review. Read Samer's posting from Lew Rockwell's site about Assyrian Christians and how they feel about Hussein and possible American rule (for American rule it would be).
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2003, 01:55:22 AM »

So basically, Serge, if a "neocon" publication publishes the voice of people, their voice is illegitimate, but if Lew Rockwell gets some people together that support his view, it's ok?  Sorry to sound harsh but it seems like you are dismissing evidence solely because of its source, without taking these Iraqis' words to heart.

As far as the Assyrian thing, I have seen other articles by Kurds and Assyrians living in the North (in print) which say that they are really glad that the US no-fly zone is there because that is the thing that has finally kept them from being destroyed by Saddam.

Thirdly, "for American rule it would be" is really off the mark.  There is no way the US wants to take on military rule of Iraq.  That would be insane and President Bush and his advisors know it (in fact they were talking about that on the news shows this week).  We will do basically what we did successfully in Afghanistan: kick out the dictators, and help the people install their own government.  It worked great in Afghanistan with the people wildly happy that we were there, and it will happen in Iraq.  People like freedom, which is what we will give them, just as we gave the Afghanis freedom--a very commendable thing compared to what others might have done in a similar situation.  I only wish we had been so kind in Serbia or Vietnam... (proof that I am not a nationalistic war hawk!)

I will continue to read scholarly journals though such as Foreign Policy to update my thinking on this matter, because I don't really have a reason to trust National Review or Lew Rockwell 100%.

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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2003, 12:35:40 AM »

I'd feel a lot better about this war mongering on the United States' part, if it were only half-way honest about it's intentions.

We all agree, Saddam is a bad dude.  But this is nothing new; he was just as much of an S.O.B. when he was still in the U.S. gov'ts good graces.  It's strange how his "human rights abuses" mattered so little then (or how those of America's current "allies" matter so little now.)

If all of the pretense to altruistic or noble motives were dropped, and the truth were stated plainly (that this war is motivated by Zionistic influence in Washington, with the related promise of a "Pax Americana"), I'd actually feel better.  It'd still leave me feeling dirty, but I think I'd feel less lied to.

From alleged Jihadists (who booze it up and toy around with whores the night before their supposed martyrdom) slamming themselves into the World Trade Center, through to the tenuous (and not to mention ridiculous) linking of this to Saddam's regime, this whole thing has been a string of B.S. from start to finish.   It would be comical, if were not a comedy written in crimson and charred flesh.

Do you have to be paranoid to believe there are plans for a "New World Order"?  Perhaps.  But then again, sometimes one is right to be paranoid.

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