Thursday, September 11, 2003

Escobar: the choice is between secular dictatorship and Islamic democracy: "PARIS - 'I wonder whether there can be a future for the UN in Iraq,' asks an European diplomat. Some Iraqis recognize that the United Nations' humanitarian aid, in the shape of the oil for food program, may have saved lives during the embargo. But many hate the UN exactly because of the embargo: for them, the UN just enforces what Washington decides. The undisputable fact is that the UN supervised the harsh sanctions that, according to the United Nations Children's Fund, were directly responsible for the deaths of half a million Iraqi children and an explosion in the mortality rate. Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, two senior, respected UN officials, resigned in disgust against the way in which the oil for food worked (or not) - for them, the UN had betrayed the people of Iraq... It is now impossible to overstate the anger in many parts of Iraq towards the UN."

"European intelligence reads the death of the roadmap in the Middle East as a coup deliberately orchestrated by the Israeli military, with Ariel Sharon and his Defense Minister Shaoul Mofaz as commanders (and following Wolfowitz's advice)."

"European diplomats are keen to point out that if there is a choice in the Middle East, it is not a choice between secular dictatorship and secular democracy - but between secular dictatorship and Islamic democracy."

"The Afghan model is a total failure. Warlords keep helping the Americans to go after the Taliban - to the tune of suitcases full of dollars. Obviously the warlords have no interest to finish off this extraordinary source of income. By using the warlords - and getting a lot of disinformation for its dollars - the Pentagon further sabotages the already flimsy authority of Hamid Karzai's government in Kabul. The Taliban, for their part, pose as the only credible alternative to warlords and gangs which terrorize residents, extort money, deal heavily in opium and heroin and run ultra-profitable smuggling routes."

"European intelligence is paying serious attention to conspiracy theories roaming the Arab and Islamic world - according to which the neo-cons have deliberately provoked this escalation of violence, especially after the Najaf bombing that killed al-Hakim. From Egyptian newspapers to Iranian clerics, a chorus of voices is accusing US intelligence and Mossad of applying the well-worn imperial tactic of "divide and rule", creating conflict among Shi'ites and between Sunnis and Shi'ites. This development is so serious that it even led to Saddam releasing another audiotape denying any involvement in the bombing."

"The current "war on terror" may last longer than the Cold War. This implies a bleak future for all of us... A solution will come only when America - and regional autocratic regimes - allow those people to decide by themselves. Obviously, this will only happen when Middle Eastern oil runs out."

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