Thursday, August 18, 2005

Letter from an Iraqi

This is an interesting letter written by an Iraqi at www.juancole.com concerning the Bush Administration's overreliance on Tribalism and the subsequent "braindrain" in the developing Iraqi state:

' It is remarkable how the "experts" on Iraq ignore the most important
section of Iraqi society: the non-tribal millions centred in Baghdad, Basra,
Mosul, Kirkuk and some other large cities. These may well belong to tribes and
may even be religious, but are totally independent. They regard their Sheikhs
[tribal leaders], if they know who they are, almost as a lower cast: Asha'ir
(Tribal people) who are considered clumsy, thuggish, and worst of all obeying
the tribes rather than following their principles or the country's
institutions.Until the 1980's Iraq enjoyed the best health, education and other
governement service, while the tribal areas were, and still are, quite backward
and even primitive, while the cities were as advanced as south western Europe.
The non-tribal Iraqis, call them Nationalist if you like, have had no place in
Bush's Iraq because the Americans promoted tribalism from day one in the hope of
controlling Iraq by buying its Sheiks and Mullahs. This policy worked in
Afghanistan and Kurdistan because these are collections of self-ruled tribal
areas, and not real countries, but have failed in Iraq's large cities with their
complex relationships and mobile population.These urban Iraqis are critical for
the future of Iraq because of their skills and patriotism - do not confuse them
with the corrupt Ba'athists though. The Iraqi ministries now are paralysed by
the corrupt and incomptent relatives and friends appointed by the Mullahs and
Sheikhs who now rule Iraq, which is being transormed into a failed state. The
militias and terrorists decide what happens to the people of Iraq. The
Constitution and state Institutions are irrelevant no matter how much fuss is
made about them.The Nationalists, who are more likely to be highly educated
professionals do not have militias, but can leave the country in droves.
Thousands already have, and the country can not function without them regardless
of who is in power. The bizzare collection of "Iraq Leaders" today are fighting
over spoils that do not exist. The Oil money is not enough even for basic needs,
and the failed economy and services will sooner or later trigger national
revolt. Unlike other nations, millions of ordinary civilians have AK47s in their
homes, and plenty of military training. '

Many of the Lebanese people I met complained about a similar exodus of educated elites during their civil war from 1975 to 1990, a situation that Iraq is quickly mirroring every day. Only now, 15 years later, are Lebanese professionals returning to their country.

Also, in their books, Richard Clarke and Bob Woodward document the U.S. Special Forces' tactic of literally handing out wads of cash to Tribal leaders in Afghanistan and Iraq in an effort to buy them off. Is this really the best allocation of U.S. tax dollars? Is there anyway to track where that money goes? We might as well just start sending personal checks to Sunni Insurgents.

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