Birzeit community talks about Iraq

irzeit faculty, staff and student employees were contacted by e-mail to share their thoughts on the current US-Iraqi crisis. This was the first time we have tried to solicit opinions using the campus computer network. Seven responded between 14 and 17 February. Here are their responses. 

From Ahmed Safi, Center for Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

I believe that, despite the fact that Saddam Hussein is a very bad dictator and his goverment is closer to a Mafia than a national goverment, that the only people who are allowed to punish him are the Iraqi people. I think that the real aims of all the current American movements, cleverly using Saddam's stupid mistakes, are to gloss over Monicagate, to destroy the Iraqi people and its possibility of being a hopeful society; and to support the Israeli goverment and country with more arms, money, and more belief in the Israeli security lie.

The positions of Russia and France are hopeful and give us the hope of better future with other countries than America, and make it difficult for America to play the international cowboy.

The Iraqi goverment will comply with the American demands, and no war will take place. I also believe that the Palestinian position must be with the Iraqi people - not with Saddam - in whose lies we have to stop believing.

From Dr. Adel Zaghah, Chairperson, Economics Department

I do not believe that a war will take place. The crisis in essence is not about the destruction of the Iraqi military power or the mass destruction weapons of Saddam. The crisis is a test of whether the world can be ruled by one power, namely the USA. The question of weapons inspection is a problem between Iraq and the United Nations and should be resolved in the context of the UN resolutions. The USA is trying to take the mandate to do the "job" instead of the UN, i.e. trying to play the role of the international police.

The Russians had made it clear that they will not tolerate this attitude. They have awakened suddenly to remember that they too have interests in the region. The French are more or less working along this line, by trying to follow an independent policy separate from that of the USA. If the Russians at least are serious, then they will not let the Americans proceed with a free hand over the region.

If the mission of the UN delegation to Iraq failed to bring a diplomatic solution, then the Iraqis might be engaged in a deal to bring the Russians soldiers to help defend Iraq or to help the US to rethink the situation over again. In a way this is a move towards a new era of "cold war".

In the final analysis, three senarios are possible:

  1. the UN might retain its rule and find a peaceful and diplomatic solution, or
  2. the Russians might come in with a military presence, i.e. a move towards cold war. Accordingly, the Americans might come back to their mind and negotiate with the Russians to find new terms for this new stage in international relations, or
  3. (a very weak possibility), the Americans striked Iraq, proving again that this world is led by one trumpet sound, "made in the USA"!


From Ademar Ezzughayyar, Biology and Biochemistry Department

In the summer of 1990, USA succeeded in encouraging the Iraqi President to occupy Kuwait and subsequently found all the justifications to attack Iraq, destroy it, and occupy the Gulf region with military bases and the US Navy. It was not an accident that Saddam Husein survived the war, because USA wanted legitimate reasons to stay in the Gulf, thus keeping out Europe and Japan from the richness of the region.

This time USA wants more radical steps to apply in the region, specifically the subjugation of Iraq into three ethnic states: Shi'ite in the South, Sunnite in the Middle, and Kurds in the North. So this war reaches beyond Iraq to Syria and Iran on one side, and to Israel and Turkey on the other side.

In the shadow of frustration, division and artificial borders that were created by the enemies of Arabs and Muslems, these peoples have no choice but to wait for miracles as long as their leaders (client regimes) and their palaces are more sacred than their peoples' lives.

From George Nimr Rishmawi, English Undergraduate

The conflict here is not about implementing the UN security council's resolutions. It is a matter of power. The United States of America does not want any of the Arab states to be strong, neither economically nor military.

In 1990/91, when the US and its Allies saw that Saddam presents a danger to their control of the gulf states, the rich source of OIL for them, they decided to attack. They sent their aircraft carriers to the Gulf a few hours before Saddam occupied Kuwait, but he was there first, so it appeared that hey came to defend Kuwait.

So, the USA had an excellent excuse to be in the Gulf and then to attack Iraq. This time, they still seem determined to attack but they do not have a strong excuse like last time with which to convince other countries. Britain now is satisfied with being in the Gulf, but does not seem that very interested in any initiative for an attack. Russia is still very patient and is not in favour of an attack against Iraq, because they do not want to blindly apply the USA's will. I, therefore, do not expect an attack against Iraq this moment according to the available facts.

If the USA is very concerned about implementing UN security council resolutions, it should ask Israel to implement them as well. Why is there such a double standard in dealing with this issue? This I think shows the real American intent behind wanting to use force against Iraq.

From Islah Jad, Lecturer, Cultural Studies Department and Coordinator of Women's Studies Program

I feel as if I am going to explode , I feel very angry - angry at the American arrogance and their terrible bias and their hipocracy and double standards. I feel angry about the situation in all the Arab world. I feel as if we became unconscious or somehow we lost the feeling or we became - with all our wealth - worthless . I feel very strongly the need to go out to the streets and shout at the Americans and the Israelis. As for Saddam, I wish his people could give him the punishment he deserves as he gave them all the pretext to ruin his country and his people . I think we have to organize something at Birzeit to support the brave Iraqi people and to ask for a trial for their president . I may sound very emotional but this is what I feel now after many days listening to the terrible news.

From Yousef Daoud, Assistant Professor of Economics

Personally, I believe that the Arab countries should ask for the security council to meet for an approval of the US/UK action. Since three out of five countries oppose the action being undertaken by the US/UK, and since the possible strike is considered a continuation of the previous UN resolution (90/91), then it is possible to diffuse the situation.

From Roger Heacock, Associate Professor of History and International Studies

However the current confrontation may end, the era of US diplomatic hegemony has come to an end. Saddam Hussein has obviously played a role in speeding the process up, but it is an ineluctable one at any rate, as shown at both the historical and theoretical levels. The collective security system set up after World War two did not accomodate unipolar world governance, because it did away with both the anarchy and the naked power struggles of the pre-war period.

The other significant point is that the 'clash of civilizations' approach is partially vindicated by the current crisis, but not in the form envisaged by current strategic wisdom from North America (Samuel Huntington's vision of a "bloody" and threatening Muslim demographic "bulge"): the Anglo-Saxon-led states form the essence of the anti-Iraqi strike force.

The military, as opposed to diplomatic, hegemony, will continue into the foreseeable future, based on the high-cost, high-tech state of the art. Or will it? The US is so anxious to curb the Iraqi threat with a devastating blow, in part because of a presumed preventive effect: chemical and biological, in addition to certain forms of nuclear, arsenals, rapidly and inexpensively obtainable, are clearly a way to circumvent the expensive and futuristic American weaponry, thus establishing a new kind of deterrence based on 'mutually assured destruction'.