Saturday, March 01, 2003

After the attack
In this weekend’s Yediot Aharonot (the weekend newsy supplement is really good) Smadar Perry discussed the controversies that surround head of the Iraqi opposition Ahmad Chalabi. For instance, his criminal status in Jordan. He was apparently given a twenty-year prison sentence there, in his absence, for leaving the bank he owned there, the Petra Bank, with a 200 million dollar debt.

Professor Amatzia Baram of Haifa University, a veteran expert on Iraq, who has just returned from a series of meetings in Washington, was asked his opinion. “I know the American administration has an interest in constructing a democracy in Iraq, but because of the problems that will crop up – my estimate is that democracy will only be possible in two or three years.” He says “the first days after the attack will pose a great challenge to the Americans. They will have to immediately commence rebuilding the infrastructure, which will have been damaged in the attack. At the same time, they will have to make an effort to avoid internal massacres. There is a danger that immediately following occupation the Shiites will begin slaughtering members of Saddam’s Suni regime”, and he anticipates “revenge campaigns: People who were harmed will track down the murderers and the rapists that harmed their family members, and try to kill them.

There is also the danger that Saddam and Kusai’s Presidential Guards will respond to the attack with unconventional weapons, aimed at Americans and Shiites. It is necessary to be prepared for acts of revenge, and then revenge of revenge. The initial effort given over to this will determine the future of the American stay in Baghdad”.

Baram doesn’t see a real problem if Saddam and his sons survive the attack. He says a big enough money offer to those in resistance pockets will eventually persuade someone to betray them. I don’t know. It didn’t work with bin Laden, did it?


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