Thursday, December 28, 2006


"According to the international conventions, it is forbidden to hand a prisoner of war to his adversary." --Khalil al-Dulaimi, attorney for Saddam Hussein, 12.27.2006.

"What's clear is that the Iraqi government won't be able to protect the Sunnis from Iranian-backed militias if American troops leave. Its army and police cannot be relied on to do so, as tens of thousands of Shiite militiamen have infiltrated their ranks. ...There is reason to believe that the Bush administration, despite domestic pressure [Ed.-The American midterm-elections have only increased this pressure.], will heed Saudi Arabia's advice [demands]. "
--Nawaf Obaid, security advisor to the House of Saud, 09.27.2006, writing in the Washington Post.

Baghdad--It appears the Bush administration's desperation for any kind of break in Iraq has put them on a course towards the execution of their former client, Saddam Hussein. ' "I urge all the international and legal organizations, the United Nations' Secretary General, the Arab League and all the leaders of the world to rapidly prevent the American administration from handing the president to the Iraqi authorities," he [Khalil al-Dulaimi, Hussein's attorney] told The Associated Press.' Well, that's fine, but did they prevent the still illegal invasion of Iraq? Yes, things have definitely changed, but Hussein's execution (and the inevitable upsurge in social chaos and violence) seems assured.

Nonetheless, the UN, the Hague and a constellation of Human Rights groups have chimed in, though it's unclear what would actually induce the Bush administration from altering their course regarding Hussein, let alone a phased withdrawal of American troops. It should be remarked, however, that UN and global opposition made the run up to war very-difficult for the Bush administration at a time when their powers were at their zenith. It's still mind-boggling to think that the Bush administration had approval ratings in the 90s, but this was only possible due to the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Strident opposition to Bush administration aims could still work, particularly in light of the November 7th midterms that were essentially a plebiscite on the war (and the GOP scandals in general). In an October 30th LA Times article, Al-Dulaimi warned that a full-blown civil war would erupt in reaction to Hussein's execution, so his point on this factor has been ongoing for months. It's likely Hussein will be executed anyway. (,1,7585188.story?coll=la-headlines-world)

How many days will the execution buy the Bush administration? Probably just the ones leading-up to the execution, though the insurgency already seems emboldened by the news. When you're a hydra-headed national liberation front, and you're capable of kidnapping over 100 people in broad daylight, one can assume order has collapsed. Remaining elements of the Baathist Party have vowed a full-fledged uprising upon the execution, but maybe they know something the Bush administration doesn't (not a stretch here): Iraq ends as a nation state with the death of Saddam Hussein, and the grab for power will accelerate. Again, something even a casual observer could notice. But, why wouldn't the Bush administration notice? Bald ignorance, and frequently the wilful variety.

Most of the gaffes spring from this because Iraq was never a real country, and was created after WWI by the British as a conglomeration of various religious and ethnic groups (capped with an unsuccessful occupation during the late 1930s). Like Afghanistan, there was little concern by British planners for the subtleties of these geopolitical creations. In this sense, Iraq and Afghanistan are very similar to the former Yugoslavia. Marshall Tito knew full well that only a dictatorship could maintain order within such a conglomeration, proving as much by his decades-long rule (as did Hussein). Is Baghdad the next Sarajevo? Possibly. It seems fragmentation is becoming a fact, the "reality on the ground." Didn't British intelligence and members of their diplomatic circles warn the Bush administration of these "subtleties"? In fact, they did on several occasions and were rebuffed. This is well-known.

Because of the aforementioned subtleties, Saudi Arabia is vowing they will support Iraqi Sunnis if there is a "phased withdrawal of [American] troops". The fear is more Iranian influence in Iraq, and in the region. All of this would be by "proxy forces", yet we know that Saudi-nationals are already streaming into Iraq for similar aims, so the statement's thrust is a little peculiar (if not Janus-faced, which is how Middle Eastern politics work). Many of them are simply supporting the general insurgency, and one has to wonder how many of them are there on deep cover missions for the House of Saud, or other elements of the ruling clans. Saudi Arabia rarely ever states issues of security openly, so we don't know the details. It's likely Mossad has a better picture than the public. One can imagine other Muslim states like Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey (over the Kurds), various Gulf states, and even Pakistan following suit. Russia could also exhibit valid security concerns, making for a toxic mix at best, with economic ties to Iran being very deep.

Kuwait might also turn on her American allies in the State Department on this one for similar reasons, mostly concerning the security and stability of the current regime (along with sectarian loyalties). Security will be the prime-motivator of any Arab nation intervening into Iraq, with the factor of sectarianism and tribalism thrown in. Add Israel with potential aerial attacks on Iran, and we have a major war developing into a region-wide conflagration where everyone is reacting based on security and religious concerns. This is shockingly similar to the context that brought the Great War, and evokes images of timetables and trains. Voicing these kinds of security concerns in an interesting echo of the US immigration debacle, the Saudis announced in late September they were building a fence along the 560-mile border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq to keep out insurgents and immigrants (Shiite refugees? They're the minority in Saudi Arabia at 15%). 

Like its counterpart in the Americas, the fence will also take "5-6 years" to construct. One has to wonder whether the same contractors will be used. Ironically, one proposal by the Saudis is to increase oil production to hurt Iran with rock bottom prices.

The impact of this would be a global one to other producers, who would likely decrease their production to continue reaping the profits of the last few years. Venezuela's Bolivarist regime would certainly consider this option, as would numerous other producers and refiners. The irony of all this? Prolix, I know: ..."the current malaise in Iraq is simply vindication of King Abdullah’s warning that invading to topple Saddam would cause more problems than it would solve." This has come to pass, after repeated warnings before the March, 2003 invasion, from all quarters. Executing Saddam Hussein will only accelerate the disintegration of the existing order in the region. For even the most casual observer, this is incredibly dangerous, possibly making the unthinkable thinkable. It is just another wrong path. 

Much of this quagmire is based on the ignorance of tribal clan networks in the Middle East, and Hussein is tied to them. These networks know no border and extend throughout the Middle East--the execution will amount to a rallying cry for many of them. When he is executed, those clans will respond, and violently. It seems the White House feels it must take orders from Mecca, rather than from the American public. This is treason. Still want to be President? This is the cost of "winning", and ample proof that the aims for Iraq were incoherent from the beginning.

King Abdullah, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL (you haven't built yet):

The Recent Threat of Saudi Intervention into Iraq (by proxy):

A Great Overview by Tony Karon: