ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Occupying Iraq, Not a Good Idea

Occupying Iraq, Not a Good Idea

07 April 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Too many people believe the war in Iraq is almost over.  Of course the statements are qualified as quite a few mention the “continuing war on terrorism” and the possibility of some Saddam diehards willing to battle for months.  But they are all forgetting something.  True most Iraqis want Saddam out but that does not mean they want the Americans and British to replace them.

The Shi’ite Moslems who so detested his regime will always prefer an alliance with Sunni Moslems over a similar agreement with any western power.  What the Coalition sees now is ‘neutralism’ since they have no real allies within Iraq.  Any post-war government will want the US and Britain out as soon as possible since for them to stay will drain credibility from the new leadership.

In 1982 Israel invaded south Lebanon to remove the hated PLO along the northern border.  There are those who forget, but the IDF was welcomed by the Christians and Druze while those Shi’ites who remained took a ‘wait and see attitude’.  Israel overstayed its welcome and within a few months the Shi’ites began to organize and eventually formed the Hizbollah.  Until 1990 the moderate Shi’ite Amal militia was ‘neutral’ and had an everyday working relationship with the Israeli army… until its leadership was assassinated.

Within a couple of years the Hizbollah reigned supreme and slowly overwhelmed the Israeli supported South Lebanese Army made up of Christians, Druze and a few Shi’ites.  When Israel withdrew in May 2000 the SLA collapsed.

There are two points here to be noticed by the Coalition.  Months after the war ends there will be a reorganization of forces in Iraq and there is a good chance the most radical religious forces will rise to the fore, meaning some Shi’ite – Hizbollah style grouping.  Secondly, anyone supporting a pro-west post war government may find themselves marked as an enemy to be destroyed at the first opportunity.

The US post war policy must be handled quickly, entailing a renewal of oil revenues, Coalition withdrawal and moves towards Iraqi self - government. Then it is time to get out as the Americans can only complicate matters by an extended stay.  Call it a few months at best.

Although Saddam has already reached the limits in how much he is despised, the American potential for Iraqi revile is exponentially greater than anything he has managed.