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Iraq: Two years after the invasion PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 20 March 2005 12:33
God told me to strike al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam which I did.  This is according to Ha’artz is what President Bush told the then Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmood Abbas on June 24, 2003.

During the early hours of March 20, 2003, I was listening in my house in Baghdad to President Bush's address to the American people.  Bush was informing the American people of his order to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom ostensibly to protect the world from the menace of Saddam’s WMDs and free the Iraqi people from his tyranny and allow them to escape the hell that Saddam has created for them and kept them inside it for the last 35 years.  But the leader of the world’s only super power did not tell his citizens whether he has received the divine order to strike at Saddam that night, or he has received it earlier and that he was waiting for further instructions from the almighty or that he was allowing his military to prepare properly for its execution.  There are now very strong and irrefutable evidence that the reality of what happened is completely different from this explanation, George Bush had Iraq in the cross hairs of his gun from the earliest days of his presidency.

Paul O'Neill, George Bush’s first Treasury Secretary who in that capacity was a permanent member of the National Security Council and was fired after only two years in that post talks in a book called "The Price of Loyalty" which was written by Ron Suskind a former Wall Street Journal reporter about his experience during those two years in the Bush administration.  O'Neill said that the Bush administration was very secretive about how decisions have been taken, he has served under ex-presidents Ford and Reagan and has been before agreeing to serve in the new administration the president of Alcoa, one of Americas biggest industrial giants.  O'Neill goes on to say that the president did not make his decisions in a methodical way, there was no free flow of ideas or open debate very often forcing top officials to act on little more than hunches about what the president might think.  O'Neill stresses that during the first National Security Council meeting 10 days after the inauguration Saddam was topic A, from the first instance it was about what can be done to change the regime and not the why, Iraq was targeted, there was a conviction that Saddam was a bad guy and he needed to go the and the President was exhorting his people to go and find ways to accomplish that goal.  The real reasons for the newly elected president’s obsession with Iraq is very hard to fathom, there has been are a lot of explanations and theories which I cannot go into now, but I will try to do that in the future.

The President’s address to the nation which launched Operation Iraqi Freedom unleashed the mighty military machine of the United States against this country.  Two massive columns were hurrying towards Baghdad from their staging points in northern Kuwait, at least a thousand of the most modern warplanes were involved throwing hundreds of thousands of tons of all sorts of bombs.  The bunker buster bombs were a basic ingredient of the "shock and awe" strategy of the invaders and dozens of smart bombs and cruise missiles, which were under the disposal of the commanders of the operation.  The whole military operation lasted three weeks at the end of which the Americans were sitting in the presidential palace.  Saddam and his top lieutenants have fled, his regime has been toppled and the much feared and talked about, has simply melted out and apart from some minor skirmishes with troops who were rushing toward Baghdad.  There was a large number of civilian casualties who were never mentioned during the unfolding drama.  In fact, many Iraqis were welcoming the Americans hoping that they will honor their promises of helping with the reconstruction of the country.  Many top US officials from the president down said that the reconstruction will immediately follow the completion of the military operation.  I amongst many believed that we are going to be helped with something like the Marshal Plan, the ingenious plan by which the Germans were to rebuild their country after the devastation Germany has suffered at the end of the Second World War.  The Marshal Plan resulted after few years in the emergence of what was called the German miracle.  Unfortunately, we did not get a Marshal Plan, we got ORHA.

ORHA is an acronym for the "Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance" and ORHA duly arrived under the leadership of Jay Garner a retired army general with a handful of ex-ambassadors a number of defense officials and retired army generals.  Garner had done some good work in the north of Iraq after the 1991 uprising there, which followed the expulsion of Saddam from Kuwait.  The Iraqis were hoping that the General’s accomplishments in the north would be repeated in the whole country, ORHA was plagued from the beginning by inexperience, bureaucratic infighting and inertia.  They occupied the presidential palaces with its marbled hallways were they lazed on cots set up beneath chandeliers and lavish murals, barbecued and played touch football on the parched lawn outside.  ORHA failed and was replaced by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) under Paul Bremer, nobody has heard of Bremer before or of his credentials for the job, he was said to be a retired State Department official in the anti-terrorism section.  Bremer has been working recently in the Kissinger consultancy in New York, the people in Iraq were hoping that things would get better, but things did not get better.  The CPA was worse than its predecessor, in fact Bremer made some incredible mistakes which have contributed to the current terrible mess.

Today, on the 2nd anniversary of the American adventure in Iraq, the current situation is very dangerous and threatens extremely serious problems in the future to us and the Americans.  The security situation is worsening, the provision of power and the essential necessities like food and medicines is still extremely inadequate, the efforts to establish an acceptable political structure to replace the dismantled regime are yet to provide the alternative.  The victors in the recently conducted national elections are still engaged in endless meetings and consultations and have failed to reach an agreement on at least the most important job which is facing them namely; the election of a three man presidential council composed of a President and two Vice Presidents, who would then nominate a Prime Minister and a council of ministers.

The long awaited meeting of the National Assembly which finally took place on March 16, 2005, under immense security precautions was a very nice ceremony in which some of the major players in the current drama made very nicely worded statements without reaching any agreement on the vital issues.  The assembly succeeded in swearing in its members and then everybody went home without agreeing on a date for its next meeting.

Dr. Najeeb Hanoudi
Baghdad, March 19, 2005
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