Saturday, December 17, 2011

A dictatorship without a dictator

News of the United States' formal withdrawal from Iraq is receiving mediocre coverage in mainstream Arab media. On the popular al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera television networks, for example, Iraqi news come forth on the list, after Syria, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

In popular pan-Arab dailies, like Asharq Alawsat, Syria rather than Iraq was the main headline. Although glad to see the Americans leave after nearly nine years - ending a very long and unwelcomed stay - the Arab masses feel that they have too much on their plates in countries experiencing the Arab Spring to mind about Iraqi affairs any longer.

The same applies to anything related to the Palestinians, who for over 60 years were the Arab world’s main - and only - obsession. Too much effort, time, money and tears have been shed for Iraq during the years 2003-2011 and on Palestine since 1948.

for the exit, ordinary Iraqis are asking themselves plenty of questions. One is: "Had it not been for the 2003 war, is there the slightest chance in a million that we would have rid ourselves of Saddam Hussein?" The answer is no. Probably had there been no war, Iraqis would have been stuck with Saddam, although he might have bequeathed power to his son Uday.

The second question is: "Looking back, was it worth it?" Again, the obvious answer - from an Iraqi perspective - is no. Human life was wasted under Saddam and equally wasted under the Americans. The current leaders of Iraq are mini-dictators, lacking Saddam's brutality no doubt, but they are as arrogant, stubborn and selfish as the former strongman.