Iraq: January 17, 2003


Iraq's neighbors are working hard at getting Saddam removed by a coup. All manner of deals are in the air, now that American pressure, and troop build up, has created a "the end is near (for Saddam)" atmosphere inside Iraq. The neighbors prefer a coup to a battle Iraq can't win because that would eliminate the possibility of Iraq using chemical weapons. In 1991, Saudi Arabia got hit with Scud missiles, and doesn't want to go through that again, especially if the 2003 Scuds carry nerve gas. But removing Saddam is only part of the American plan. The real enemy is the Baath Party that Saddam has led for nearly three decades. It is the Baath Party that created the police state in Iraq, and backed a new Arab empire (led by Iraq, of course.) America wants to try some democracy in Iraq, and Iraq's neighbors aren't so sure that's a good idea. Saudi Arabia, in particular, would be uncomfortable with a successful Arab democracy next door. So would Syria. Iran and Turkey wouldn't mind, as both are democratic, and neither are Arab. No one has yet established a truly democratic state in the Arab world. Iraq was always seen as the best candidate for democracy in the region. Secular, wealthy and with the best educated population in the region, Iraq was sidetracked in the 1960s by nationalistic socialism, which produced Saddam and his thugs. All of this has to go if there is going to be peace in the Persian Gulf. You'll still have Islamic extremists there, but Iran has shown that an Islamic democracy is an antidote to such religious violence. 

Word from Baghdad has it that a coup attempt was foiled on January 5th, with several senior Iraqi officials being rounded up. This may have been real, but more likely it was paranoia by one of Iraq's security services. Such paranoia is seen as a cost of doing business, as are the thousands of Iraqi officials who have been arrested on suspicion of disloyalty over the years. Many of these fellow were never seen again.




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