Painful or painless? The hypothesis of the US-British troops withdrawal from Iraq is being widely discussed today in the US, even by the conservative press. It’s not only a matter of leaving but how to do it. A Washington Times’s analyst suggested last week that George W. Bush should draw inspiration from General De Gaulle’s experience since De Gaulle knew how to turn the defeat in Algeria into a political springboard. France could withdraw with dignity, defeated but victorious, with a mission-accomplished feeling. Not for nothing the new political adviser at the White House Peter D. Feaver – author of the speech delivered by the US President at the Annapolis Military Academy – is an expert on Gaullism and decolonization in the Maghreb.
In his “Strategy for Victory in Iraq” – a document drawn up by the new adviser, as proved by a study of the meta data of the official document, George W. Bush used the words “victory” and “win” 15 times to emphasize how successful his political and military strategy had been. In his speech, George W. Bush addressed a pliant auditorium, i.e., student officers potentially subject to a court martial if they dared show any sign of disapproval of the “commander-in-chief’s” policy. If one were to believe what he said, then everything has become better in Iraq, the few opponents are in the process of getting converted (the Sunnis), or being defeated (Saddam Hussein’s nostalgic followers). Concerning the terrorists led by Zarkaui, these are a bunch of killers rejected by the whole world, who will soon be crushed. However, Bush never mentioned a deadline for the troops to retreat, and limited to mould the opinion on the subject by stressing the task of the occupation forces. George W. Bush is not the only one in his administration to overrate the results of the US mission in Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld even said last week on TV during General Pace’s press conference that the members of the resistance (renamed “EOLEIG” by the Pentagon, that is, “Enemies of the Legally Elected Iraqi Government”) were demoralized and deserting by the hundred.
The prospects are therefore positive and if it is still too early to consider the retreat of the troops, we are on the right track. Mission accomplished! This communication campaign is a reply to the attacks by part of the US Democrats in relation to the Iraqi disaster issue and to the Republicans’ fears of an electoral failure in November 2006 during mid-term elections. However, the Democrats also have their batch of neo-cons who support the Bush administration’s policy in the Middle East. Among them is, of course, former Al Gore’s ticket partner during the 2000 presidential elections Joseph Liebermann – who also manages the Nixon Center and supported Donald Rumsfeld after the triggering of the Abu Ghraib scandal.
In the Wall Street Journal, the Connecticut Senator approached the subject just as the Bush administration did. He declared himself an expert on Iraqi issues upon his return from his fourth trip to Iraq – a trip during which he hardly came out of Baghdad’s protected area, receiving only the dignitaries of the established regime – and said that the situation continues to improve in the country. The Iraqi leaders who collaborate with the occupation forces were quick to tell him that everything was better everyday in the “most democratic nation of the Arab countries”. He maintained, and he meant it, that Iraq is the future political model for the Palestinians, Lebanese, Kuwaitis, Egyptians and Saudis, and that the population supports en masse the new team in power. So, the mission that the US had set itself there three years ago, at the outset of the war, had been accomplished. The Democrats’ criticism doesn’t hold water. There were reasons for this war. However – the Senator went on – there is still work to do to shape the Iraqi police so that they fight the bunch of terrorists that want to deprive Iraqis of their freedom. The troops should consequently stay a little longer. And naturally, the Iraqi economy must be reformed, just as the new ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad – a theoretician of the US superpower – is doing.

It was precisely the economy for which, among other things, the “mission was accomplished”, as Heather Wokusch of the MoveOn organization said in Dissident Voice. With the establishment of an elected government in Iraq, the Bush administration eventually has a “legal” interlocutor available with whom to sign exploitation agreements. Taking advantage of the existing disorder and the weakness of the Iraqi institutions, the State Department is imposing production sharing agreements (PSA), the terms of which are extremely favorable to western oil companies, and not to the Iraqi citizens who will be bereft of a large part of their oil manna for the next 50 years. The oil lobby ends this way its interference in the country’s energy resources – the main reason for the invasion. But this is not all. If we bore in mind the opinion of the British NGO PLATFORM – an expert on oil issues – the PSA agreements in Iraq would only be a natural-scale test to further spread the interference over the rest of the region’s resources, and essentially over Iran. What concerns the oil lobby most is not the Iranian nuclear program but Teheran’s will to create a stock exchange for competitor oil, which would cast aside the dollar to benefit the euro. This initiative cannot be tolerated by Washington, which is already preparing the destabilization of Iran to submit it to US controls.

When it comes right down to it in Iraq, the reassuring words of the Bush administration or Joseph Liebermann are contradictory. PressAction published the last e-mail sent by Tom Fox – one of the four US hostages imprisoned in Iraq – where he refers to the hard living conditions of the Iraqis and defines how the daily violence that ravages Iraqi society is directly connected with the presence of foreign troops. He says that the Iraqis have lots of work to do in order to settle their own domestic conflicts but they won’t be able to do it as long as Bush’s and Bin Laden’s soldiers remain there killing each other. It is not surprising for him that despite their many and deep differences, the various factions of Iraqi society have been able to agree on one point only at the Cairo Conference: the immediate departure of foreign troops from their country.
The “civil war” in Iraq only causes despair. In an article taken from the Los Angeles Times widely reproduced by the world press, political scientist Schlomo Avineri explained that, from a purely utilitarian point of view, the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and its division into three provinces benefits Israel. Naturally, a failure in Iraq would weaken the US, which would further have an impact on its ally Israel. However, an Iraq broken into three small states or ravaged by a civil war would wipe out any threat against Israel from that part of the region for a long time. The US must understand that no West-type democracy can be built in Iraq. Therefore, the US withdrawal is inevitable. In any case, Israel is the winner. Mission accomplished!

For Iran, the “Iraqi disorder” is less positive. The country availed itself of a political system established by the occupation forces to develop a mass influence in Iraq. Consequently, the resistance action does not really favor it, even when it forces the US to stay in Iraq and prevents Washington releasing its troops for a new military aggression.
Tehran Times’s editorialist and partly official spokesman of the Islamist Republic Hassan Hanizadeh, referred to the Iranian will to stop the division of Iraq. In addition to the Iraqi President’s visit to Iran, Teheran participated actively in the Conference for National Reconciliation and gave its support for the staging of elections in December 2005, in the hope that they will stabilize the country.

The Arab conservative daily Asharqalawsat emphasized that, inevitable as it may be, nobody in Iraq is interested in a speedy withdrawal as huge efforts would be required to fill that gap, which could affect the stability of the region terribly. As long as the country has not become stable through an effective political program and unless there is a real police force, the withdrawal will have to take place gradually. At the risk that the US, in order not to lose its prestige, resorts to regional partners and uses them as a baton changers. Iran has already sent clear signals of its willingness to collaborate with the occupation forces – although only for reasons of strategic detente with Washington.

Iraqi political analyst in exile Abdul-Ilah Al-Bayaty indicated, for his part, in the Egyptian official daily Al-Ahram that Iraqi history has been characterized by the constant resistance to any kind of foreign supremacy, mainly with regard to the issue of the control of oil. Iraqi politicians know that they won’t survive if they entrust foreign firms with the oil management. In order to achieve this, the US is trying to dissolve Iraq’s state unity and divide the country into various ethnic or religious entities, but the people remain stuck to their Pan-Arabian-Muslim identity and the more they are attacked, the more hostile they will grow toward the US, and the more reluctant to give any legitimacy to the government.