print
memri
August 1, 2003 No.
545

An Iraqi Intellectual in London: Arab Nationalists' Interference in Iraqi Affairs Will Pound the Final Nail into Iraq's Coffin

Challenging the voices in the Arab world that praise attacks against the U.S. forces in Iraq, Iraqi intellectual and columnist Khalid Kishtainy of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat wrote two articles, "First Palestine, Second Iraq" [1]and "Farewell, Arabism," [2]condemning the Arab intellectuals who still support Saddam Hussein. The following are excerpts from the articles:

Arab Intellectuals Still Await Saddam's Return

"… The source of the problems in the Arab world is not the Palestinians, but backwardness and egotism. Yet the Palestinian problem – not the Palestinians – has added to the complexity [of the problems of backwardness and egotism]. Today most Arabs understand this, and they are angry about all the [suffering] that befell their land because of the Palestinian problem, and they do not want to continue to make sacrifices for it."

"I chose my words carefully: I do not blame the Palestinians, rather the Palestinian intellectuals and their leadership… I have devoted long years of my life to studying and defending [the Palestinians]… I [also] devoted four years of research to the writing of my book 'The Essence of Zionism.' Today I feel great bitterness…"

"This bitterness emanates from my realization that, in the final analysis, the Palestinian intellectuals do not really care about the suffering of their people. Most of them live in fancy houses in the U.S. or Europe , [drive] luxury cars, and [send] their children to attend prestigious schools. And every time a solution to the Palestinian problem is proposed they say 'No' [and choose] steadfastness, sacrifice, and Shahada [martyrdom]. And who is the shahid [martyr]? Not any of their sons. Not at all. Rather, one of the children of the unfortunate [Palestinians]."

"For 50 years we have seen the pictures of the weeping, mourning mothers, and of their demolished homes, and no one thinks of ending this suffering. The stone has become more important than the man. Instead of the land serving man – man has become the servant of the land. The history of Palestine is an entire century of acts of idiocy by its intellectuals, of egotism, of arrogance, and of national foolishness, which tore their land to shreds and brought catastrophes upon their people."

"Now they want to drag Iraq and the Iraqi people to the same fate, with the same slogans, the same acts of stupidity, and the same egocentrism… Every drop of the Iraqi fallah's [3] blood is more precious to me than everything in Iraq , with all its mountains, rivers, oil, or any golden age, silver age, or tin age it ever had in its history."

"Dear [reader]… why not join me in condemning the Arab intellectuals, who still support Saddam and await his return, and in expressing thanks to the countries that sacrificed their sons in order to topple his regime? [Why not join me] in condemning the attacks [by Saddam's supporters] aimed at preventing Iraq 's revival and at restoring Saddam to his evil rule…?"

'Farewell Arabism'

"All the people who speak in the name of Arabism and of Arab nationalism, sovereignty, and independence have today become the murderers of [the Arab nationalism] in whose name they speak. They have already done this in the past; most of the disasters and defeats that befell us [the Arabs] originated with these people, who misled us with slogans of unity and Arab nationalism. Now, with their interference in Iraqi affairs, they pound the final nail into the coffin."

"In a recently published book, American experts ask questions about the invasion [of Iraq]. Why is democracy not taking root in the Arab world? Even in the most backwards of Africa's countries, [democracy] has begun to emerge and stabilize – but not in the Arab world, and one wonders: Is there hope that democracy will become [a reality] in the Arab world?"

"Recently, Arab intellectuals have begun to discover the personality of a dictator, in its vilest of manifestations. Not only does he support dictatorship in his land and participate in building it; not only does he act dictatorially towards his wife (or wives), his children, his pupils in the school, and his clerks in the [public] institutions, but we can see him today trying to impose his will also on other peoples."

"Several statistical reports by independent research institutes were published recently. They show that 80% of the Iraqis support the coalition forces' remaining in their country for two years, and that more than half support the U.N. taking the running of their country into its hands."

"[If this be the case] by what right [does] a Palestinian journalist living in London, who turned his back on life in his land and in the Arab world so as to enjoy life under the protection of Queen Elizabeth, or [by what right does a commentator on] television in Qatar or Lebanon encourage the terrorists, thieves, and murderers in Iraq to continue their actions, and by what right does he ennoble them with the aura of national resistance? Who gave these people… the right to challenge the desire of three-quarters of the Iraqi people, their interests, their right to live in security, their determination to rebuild their land in the shadow of the only power capable of imposing security and peace [i.e. the U.S.], preserving the unity of the country and the integrity of its borders, and protecting it from social disintegration and civil war?"

"If the coalition forces withdraw now and leave the country, the [various] leaderships in Iraq will crush each other, as they have been doing for 13 years – because they are incapable of arriving at any agreement among themselves. And if this brawling leads to civil war and armed conflict, as happened in Somalia , Lebanon , and Central African countries, who will be called in to put out the flames? [Arab League Secretary-General] Amr Moussa? [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Yasser Arafat? The Arab League? Gentlemen, not one of you [will do it, so] keep your distance. We have [already] had experience with you, in daylight and in darkness."

"The coalition forces will not withdraw from Iraq until they complete their mission. They are in Iraq at the will of the overwhelming majority of the people, and their mission is a noble and blessed one. They strengthen their presence [in Iraq] every day, with forces from other countries [whose leaders have] grasped the nobility of the mission carried out by the coalition forces. This mission is to sow the seeds of legitimacy of rule and of law, to establish a democratic government, to liberate women from the slavery and backwardness to which they are subject, to spread transparency in [public] administration, and to spread rationality and the spirit of science in education and in defending human rights."

"The terrorists, the mercenaries, and the backward must be banished. [I say to the Arab intellectuals] Do not take malicious pleasure in this transient [phase of] acts of robbery. Soon the Iraqi people will stand on its feet to learn another lesson… that will be a starting point for the march towards freedom of thought and choice… and out of this darkness in which Iraq now lives will shine the light that will illuminate the entire region with the radiance of modern citizenship, the rule of the people, and the rule of intellect and science…"


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 23, 2003.

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 20, 2003.

[3] An Arabic word meaning "peasant."