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US Iraq Opportunity
Publication date: 2004-08-14

People often complain about lack of opportunities. But opportunities are always there. It is just that people do not see them.

The Americans might think that Muqtada as-Sadar is an obstacle to their plans in Iraq. But his "uprising" is the best chance they have ever had, or will ever have, if they miss it, to get out of the mess which they have created in Iraq.

The American position is that they want to withdraw from Iraq as soon as they can hand over the power to an Iraqi government. They even have set up such government. But they cannot hand over the power to it, because it cannot govern Iraq without the presence of the American troops.

This is a hopeless situation, because no Iraqi government associated with Americans will ever be able, not only to govern Iraq, but even just to survive without protection of the American troops. And this means that the American troops will have to stay in Iraq as long as the number of Americans killed in Iraq reaches such level as to become unacceptable to the American public. And then the Americans will have to leave Iraq together with whatever Iraqi government they had installed. And this means humiliation and acceptance of total failure.

But, if instead of relying on a government installed by themselves, they would accept the authority of Muqtada as-Sadar, negotiate with him an orderly withdrawal of the American troops, and hand over the power to him, then the problem they are facing will be resolved.

The most important advantage that Muqtada as-Sadar has over any government the Americans might want to install in Iraq is that he is not "tainted" by co-operation with the Americans. And this means that he will have natural authority over the Iraqi people, and there will be no need for the American troops to protect his government. The Iraqis will accept his authority because he has stood up against the American occupation.

The hand over of the American power to Muqtada as-Sadar will not lead to a "civil war". He is sufficiently mature and responsible and will be able to cooperate with Sunni and other Iraqi groups and to establish a government which will be acceptable to the Iraqi people.

The main grievance that the Iraqis have today is American occupation. Putting an end to that occupation by Muqtada as-Sadar will unify Iraq and will lead to a stable Iraqi government which will proceed rebuilding Iraq. And then the Americans will have opportunity to contribute to the rebuilding of Iraq by the as-Sadar government by means of financial contributions to pay for the material damage caused by them to Iraq.

This is an opportunity for the American administration that is theirs for the taking. If they fail to seize upon it today, they will end up by regretting it when they will be forced to leave Iraq, not by an orderly arrangement, but in panic, having accepted a humiliating defeat.

A departure from Iraq by the Americans by arrangement with Muqtada as-Sadar, not only will mean a happy ending to the Iraq War, but will enable President Bush to take credit for a genuine success of that war. He will be able to say: "We have established a popular government in Iraq and now Iraq is a truly independent state - our mission is truly accomplished". And this will mean a victory for President Bush in the coming elections. The "President of War" will become the "President of Peace". And this will even take Tony Blair off the hook.


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