terça-feira, setembro 21, 2004


Allawi makes a timely visit to London
in The Daily Telegraph, 21/09/2004

“Iyad Allawi, Iraq's interim prime minister, yesterday gave graphic voice to the immense distance his country is having to travel. Looking back, he reminded us that Saddam Hussein was a mass murderer who, unchecked, would have turned the Middle East into a hell. Looking forward, he spoke of Iraq's becoming a flagship for the region.

Dr Allawi's remarks carried a double message to those who opposed last year's invasion. First, pre-war Iraq, which combined totalitarian oppression at home with defiance of United Nations resolutions abroad, was inherently unstable. George W Bush inherited from Bill Clinton a situation in which international will to contain the tyrant on the Tigris had been allowed to weaken.

September 11, 2001 obviously pushed Iraq higher up the new president's agenda but, even without that catastrophe, the Republican administration would sooner or later have had to decide whether to let containment of Saddam slip further or to take a more assertive approach.

Second, the agony that Iraq is currently suffering on the road to democracy should be of universal concern. Dr Allawi was quite right yesterday to call on Russia, France and Germany, all of which opposed the invasion, to write off the debts incurred by Saddam and to help in reconstruction. There is something both small minded and short sighted in their lack of generosity and engagement.

For, as the interim prime minister pointed out, a failed Iraq will be a destabilising factor across the globe. The governments of three countries where Islamic terrorism is a pressing issue should at least appreciate the risk their standoffishness runs.
Dr Allawi is apparently determined that elections to a national assembly should go ahead, as scheduled, next January. Given the current level of violence, that is a formidable challenge. But surely the interim government's prime duty is to prevent the would-be wreckers of democracy from having their way.

Dr Allawi characterised them yesterday as a ragbag of Ba'athist revanchists, ideologically driven foreign interlopers and common criminals. Municipal elections have already been held in Iraq and the interim prime minister is hoping for a 55-60 per cent turnout in four months' time.

Dr Allawi's visit to London has restored Iraq to its rightfully prominent place in the British consciousness. Tony Blair used the occasion to steel the public for a protracted struggle. He was wrong to say that a new war had broken out: counter-insurgency has been the main task of coalition forces since the beginning. And his characterisation of Iraq as the epicentre of global terrorism was questionable: by its very nature, that phenomenon is diffuse.

But we welcome his public acknowledgement that Iraq will not just go away to suit his domestic agenda. The struggle for its soul has never been more intense. And that calls for whole-hearted commitment by Western leaders.

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