Reflections on Iraq and Arab-US relations

As US troops leave Iraq, parallels to post-WWI decolonisation are important to understand so the region can be free. – Published on english Al Jazeera, by Mohammad Tarbush, January 5, 2012.

Geneva, Switzerland – As American troops are finally pulling out of Iraq and heading back home, those who genuinely wish both the United States and the Arab world well must be heaving a deep sigh of relief.  

A sober assessment of that war should show how misguided and utterly avoidable the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was. As the Arab Spring has amply demonstrated, there are much less costly ways for getting rid of tyrants. Any dispassionate assessment of that unfortunate eight-year-long war should reach conclusions along the following lines:

Impact on Iraq /(and US): … //

… Similarities between the political turmoil in the Arab world after the final crumbling of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 and today’s Arab Spring are plentiful.

Then, like now, the Arab world was undergoing an awakening. Then, like now, Western powers were scrambling for control over this strategically vital region. And then, like now, Western political leaders were publicly saying all the right things as they called for freedom and an end of despotism.

Crucially, then, but hopefully not now, Western leaders were saying one thing in public while doing its exact opposite in secret. Flagrant examples were the Sykes-Picot Accord and the Balfour Declaration.

Since then, the Arab world has been ruled by autocratic regimes desperately lacking in legitimacy. Despite its wealth in natural and human resources, the Arab world was held back from meaningful socio-economic and political development and trailed behind other regions in the world that are not as endowed in natural and human resources.

Now, with the Arab Spring in full swing, there is renewed hope that the region will not see a replay of Sykes-Picot, but the formation of mutually beneficial partnerships with Europe and the United States. The Arab world will at last be seen from the prism of home-grown values: such as personal liberties, an independent judicial system, fair elections, social justice and accountability.

The annals of history are filled with examples of something good sometimes coming out of terrible and ill-conceived wars and human follies. Let’s hope that this Iraq war will be one such example and a new dawn in Arab-American relations will bring about a mutually beneficial future. (full text).

(Mohammad Tarbush, a Geneva-based political and financial analyst, is author of The Role of the Military in Politics: A Case Study of Iraq to 1941).


In times of economic crisis, should central banks retain their independence? on, by Aaron K., Netherlands, January 04, 2012.

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