Iraq's Odious Debts

Shortening the occupation of Iraq

Maher Othman, Dar Al-Hayat, Saudi Arabia

July 22, 2003

Are we going to see anytime soon the “independent” and “democratic” Iraq, which the American occupiers have been promising the Iraqi people, so that the occupation ends and gives way to a politically and materially rebuilt Iraq? What conditions must the new Iraqi rule fulfill before the Arab countries accept to deal with it and recognize it as legitimate and representative of the Iraqi people?

The American war on Iraq led to the quasi-total collapse of the state’s foundations. The Americans claim they were surprised by the extent of this collapse – as if it happened on its own and not as a result of the military strikes and before, the 12 years of embargo, let alone the decisions that were taken by the occupation forces and the American civil governor, such as dissolving the army and the security forces, and failing to reactivate the ministries or what is left of them in the required time.

The American claim that they were surprised about this sudden collapse is only an attempt to cover the fact that they are still using trial and error in their efforts to form the new Iraq, which they believe should be related to the U.S. militarily, politically and economically. This would strip the new state of any foundation of true independence in its internal choices and its foreign relations with its Arab neighbors and others. During his recent meeting with Kurdish leaders in Northern Iraq, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, hinted that Iraq needed to sign a mutual defense treaty with his country.

The occupation authorities don’t seem to be in a hurry to restore the basic services for the Iraqis, although America is to a large extent responsible for destroying these services, which include electricity, water, sanitation, roads and bridges.

The Iraqis are fully capable of rebuilding their country, if they law and order are established, and a representative political rule is established in the near future, and provided the Americans do not create obstacles in this process in a bid to allow American companies, connected to the Bush administration, to benefit from the reconstruction efforts. These companies will charge inflated costs, adding to Iraq’s debts and leaving it to the mercy of the World Bank and the IMF, which both serve America’s interests.

The legitimacy of the new rule in Iraq must stem from free elections resulting in a representative government seeking to serve the interests of the Iraqi people, and a positive interaction with the rest of the Arab countries and the international community at large.

If the Americans wish to reduce the daily losses among their troops and foster stability in the region, they have to leave it to the UN, in consultation with the local parties, to draft a new constitution and arrange for local and national elections as soon as possible. Hopefully, the ruling council, which we hope will not last long, will work on forming ministries to expedite the restoration of services and prepare the ground for elections and drafting the constitution.


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