2003 February 24 Monday
Fouad Ajami on Iraq and Middle East
For those who like to keep up on what Fouad Ajami has written recently here is a collection of links. If you haven't read him before I recommend it.
Ajami sees the Arabs as wallowing in self-pity.
Cross hairs. There can be no reasoning with this kind of willful self-pity. The mufti of Saudi Arabia, its highest judge, spoke recently to the throngs that had come from across the Islamic world for the annual pilgrimage. A dark conspiracy, the jurist said, encircles and stalks the world of Islam. "The Islamic nation is in the cross hairs, threatened by its enemies in its morals and values." The "forces of evil," he added darkly, are at work, and the principal struggle is "at once economic and religious." A deep rot has settled on Arab lands while a "freedom deficit" leaves their inhabitants in the throes of authoritarian rule and their children prey to the recruiters of terror. About such troubles the jurist has nothing to offer--nothing save a dark message of enemies bent on Islam's ruin.
Fouad Ajami analyses Tony Benn's interview of Saddam Hussein.
“Do you think he doesn’t realize that the Americans are coming after him no matter what he does or says? No matter which British lefties he invites to Baghdad?” Simon asked Ajami.
“I think this man still believes that he could probably just plea bargain his way out of trouble, and dodge another bullet. He may think that this peace camp in the world may prevent the onset of war,” Ajami says.
A recurring theme in Ajami's writing is the extent to which the Arabs use fantasy interpretations of the world to escape from confronting their predicament. In an excerpt from his book
Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation's Odyssey Ajami looks at the rationalizations of supporters of Saddam in Gulf War I.
Those who fell for Kuwait's conqueror were free to claim that they had been misunderstood, that they were only patriots responding to the coming to the Arab world of yet another Western army, that they had only wanted to be heard because there had been no place for them in the "New World Order" the foreigner came to uphold. This was a world with endless escapes. The defeat of the Iraqi predator provided no guarantee that the political sensibilities which had sustained him were vanquished once and for all.
Ajami is not afraid Iran will dominate post-Saddam Iraq thru Iraq's Shiite majority.
As Iran battles its own demons, we needn't let our obsession with the power of the Iranian revolution that paralyzed American power after Desert Storm do so again in Iraq. Our fear of Iran was a factor of no small consequence in our walking away from the Shia and Kurdish rebellions that erupted against Saddam. America didn't know that world, and it was easy to see the Shiites of Iraq as followers of the Iranian clerical regime, a potential "sister republic" in Iran's image. But the Shiites of Iraq are Iraqis and Arabs through and through. The Arabic literary tradition is their pride, the Arab tribal norms their defining culture. They are their country's majority, and thus eager to maintain its independence.
Also see this previous post Fouad Ajami on the Importance of the Next Iraq War
Also, Ajami wrote brief article right after 9/11 that is worth a read if you missed it then. It is about anti-Americanism as an alibi.
The anti-Americanism blows at will–an alibi for socioeconomic ills with deep roots, a simplifying answer for populations drawn to a civilization they can neither master nor reject. Preachers, the wholesalers of terror, make of this country a demon. The U.S. Navy monitors the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the eastern Mediterranean, protecting the flow of oil. Raging on those shores, though, is an unyielding hatred of America. Places once remote have been hurled into an uneven modernity.
Resentment and jealousy of those who are more powerful or more successful are natural human reactions. Americans may not spend much time thinking of themselves in comparison to the rest of the world but for those in failed societies a reason for their failure that doesn't reflect poorly on them and which instead shifts the blame elsewhere is can be very appealing. It appears to be especially appealing for Islamic societies that are accustomed to believing that God meant for them to rule all others.
Do you have an email address for Dr. Fouad Ajami. Please send it to me if you do. If not I would like to comment on his appearance on PBS News Hour on 5/5/04. He is the first Middle East analyist that I have heard that makes sense in almost everything that he says. I wish the president had him on his staff.
Richard J. Sample
Captain USN (Retired)
I was an Iraqi scientist who graduated from U.K universities many years ago and took a postgraduate degrees in two fields medical microbiology and clinical biochemistry. on 1983 they called mew back to Iraq to meet the president at that time Saddam Hussein and he ordered me to leave the U.K and come to work for my country .He mentioned the establishment of biological and chemical programme and said the life of my only sister Rabiha on danger if I don't come back and work for the sake of defeating the Iranian aggression on Iraq.
I came back and established the two programmes but on 1999 i escaped from Iraq with my sister to Abu Dhabi after selling our house and handling all ita money to the intelligence of Saddam.
In Abu Dhabi I worked as the head of science dept in an American school called oxford school .I was very happy with my only sister and a good salary from that school till 2003 when a local man phoned me and told me his highness sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid the crown prince of Dubai wanted me to work for him. The man name was Suleiman Ahmed Suleiman and his mobile number 6511126.I went with him and dined with his highness the sheikh on one Friday in the sheikh farm behind Zayed Road. Another \local man joined us .His name was Obeyed and his mobile number 4527557.
The sheikh and his subordinates wanted to know the secret of Saddam Hussein programmes and where are the weapons of mass destructions. I gave all the secrets and how to manufacture botulinum and anthrax poisons. They were satisfied with what I gave and promised to reward me with a very good job.
Afterward I was very lonely and they didn't keep their promise. I suffered a lot in Dubai and my sister left to Iraq. Then they gave me a very humble job as a clerk in the dept of health in Dubai. My sufferings were intolerable and I protested on that job but they threatened me if I don't agree and keep silent they are going to kill me or at least de port me.
I asked them to send me back to my country Iraq with dignity but they refused.
One day they phoned me and told me a man with the name of Ali with a mobile number 2523932 will visit me where I am residing and will give me a gift from the sheikh waited and Ali came with three men .they took me to destiny unknown and tortured me all the night on 19/3/2005.I asked them please tell me what crime have I done .they kept me all night standing on my feet and tortured me with different ways like electricity , hitting and cold water. They reminded me of Saddam Hussein and his methods. I thought to my self all Arabs are the same. They took all my belongings and I begged for my medicine but they carried on torturing me till I fainted.
it was the horrible nightmare of my life.
in the morning they took me to Dubai airport and they were frightened as they increased in number more than 100 from that gang. They did very illegal acts to deport me. they faked many papers and gave bribes to some officials in the airport. All their acts were illegal and I told them that but they knocked me down badly. They confiscated my car and took all credit cards from my poket.Isnt that a robbery?
I was after half an hour on board an aeroplane which took me to Baghdad. Before that I asked them to give my clothes , medicine and to withdraw some money but they refused. They also robbed from my pocket the key and documents of my car,
Now I am in Baghdad streets without clothes money or medicine. They stole my car and took its key with credit cards from my pocket. I don't know what to do. I contacted the British Embassy in Baghdad asking them for any job but they declined me.
I am asking the British or American governments to help me on humanitarian bases.
I don't have any connection in Baghdad and don't know what to do. My sister and her family died in a recent explosion .I am living in the streets of Baghdad because I don't have a penny on me.
I spent the last week on streets and very frightened from terrorists.
Please help me going to any country in the world whom can offer me a political asylum or any job.
I wrote many letters to the government of united Arab emirates but they never answered me. they are very unhuman like all other Arabs and Muslims.I was suffering from brain aneurysm and admitted to Rashid hospital in Dubai to undergo a surgery which can not be done in Iraq under the supervision of Dr Emad Ahmed the head of neurosurgery Dept. but my fate seems to be very bleak now in such deteriorating health situation in Iraq.
Please don't let me down . I appeal to your conscience. In one of his most memorable poems T.S.Eliot wrote :
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the shadow.
Its a very heavy shadow indeed that has always fallen between my aspiration and realities-and the prospect now that the yawning gulf may this time , with your help , will not lead as usual to more disillusionments and more frustrations.
Professor Hamid Ramdhan Mesafir Al- Laebi