Jihad Watch’s Hugh Fitzgerald on the galloping success of the democratization of Iraq:
The American government seems intent on insuring that it will do nothing to harm Islam, nothing to exploit those ready-made aspects of Iraq which lend themselves so obviously (obvious to me) to increasing division, disarray, demoralization, within Islam itself.
The Kurds, of course, will be the immediate losers, but by failing to support their well-justified demands for at the very least, autonomy, and even better, for independence, the American government loses a chance to encourage, within the world of Islam, recognition by non-Arab Muslims that they need not permanently accept Arab domination, or the Arab supremacist ideology of which Islam has always been a vehicle.
This could have consequences for the Iranians, so many of whom have become disgusted, because of the past quarter-century of the Islamic Republic of Iran, with Islam. Yet they still cannot quite see their way to jettisoning Islam, possibly for another “religious identity” (name-tags being so very important in the Middle East, where the idea of the individual, the Leibnizian monad floating in the universe, is too frightening to contemplate), most likely Zoroastrianism. It is not the content that matters in that, but rather the notion that one can choose something that is specifically Persian, and that emphasizes the Trojan-horse gift of those primitive Arabs to the superior civilization of the Persians.
It is not hard to imagine that an independent Kurdistan could worry Syria and Iran: by agreement with the Americans, standing in for the Turks, that no territorial demands would be made on Turkey — and by agreement with the Turks, who will not be admitted to the E.U. and need the Americans more than ever, that no harm would be done, or hostility demonstrated, to that Kurdish state.
What do we see, however? We see Condoleeza Rice lecturing and hectoring the Kurds. This is the woman who, like her Boss, claimed that those who were doubtful about the Administration’s Democracy-Is-On-the-March view of Iraq (with no clear explanation of how, even were such to be true, it would improve the world-wide position of Infidels, or help to weaken Islam) were akin to those who scoffed about post-war Occupied Germany and Occupied Japan. If she failed to see the difference between the complete destruction and defeat of Nazi Germany and militarist Japan, as compared to Iraq, where the reigning ideology, Islam, has not been and cannot be defeated through military means alone, she needs a course in history and another in logic.
And from today’s New Duranty Times, by way of a supplement to the Reuters’ story above, we have this reported by Dexter Filkins:
Friday’s attack in Mosul came as Iraqi leaders in Baghdad reached tentative agreement on the role of Islam in the state, Iraqi leaders said. Under the deal, the constitution would designate Islam as “a main source of legislation,” and would prohibit the passing of any legislation that contradicted Islam’s “fixed principles.”
Iraqi leaders said they had also reached a tentative agreement to relegate marriage and family matters to adjudication by clerics, an arrangement opposed by secular leaders and women’s groups here, Iraqi leaders said.
The tentative agreements on Islam were brokered by the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, according to a Kurdish negotiator who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the delicacy of the talks. The Kurdish leader said that in both cases, Mr. Khalilzad had sided with Shiite leaders in backing a more expansive role for Islam. That, the Kurd said, angered many of the secular-minded Iraqis who have been fighting for a stricter separation between Islam and the state.
According to the Kurdish leader, the secular Iraqis had pushed for language that would have narrowed the circumstances under which legislation would be deemed to be in conflict with Islam. And, according to the Kurd, the secular Iraqis had wanted marriage and family disputes to be adjudicated by civil courts, not by clerics.
“Your American ambassador is giving an Islamic character to the state,” the Kurdish leader said. “You spent all this money and all this blood to bring an Islamic republic here.”
“We are very worried,” he said.
I have posted here before about the mistake of sending a Muslim as our ambassador. No doubt, in the vulgar calculations of those in Washington, it seemed like a bright idea. You know, the way former governor of Massachusetts John Volpe was sent as the American Ambassador to Italy, where he made a terrible impression. Apparently his being an Italo-American was supposed to impress Italians; instead they were insulted that this boorish former contractor, who knew no Italian, was imposed on them. And the same with the Vatican, when the former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn was sent there: his only qualification for this post, which required someone of subtlety, was that he was a Catholic, and this was considered quite enough.
To imagine that the Arabs of Iraq would accept Khalilzad shows how little the American government knows. He is a lesser Muslim, a non-Arab Muslim. I assume that he is Sunni, and in Washington this may have been seen as an asset –but will the 60% of the population that is Shi’a be inclined to fully trust him?
He may be winning points for himself, as the “good Muslim” (the “top Muslim”) in the Administration, but here is the problem with Khalilzad — though “secular” himself (one assumes), he does not see Islam as the problem. Having grown up outside an Islamic society (he left Afghanistan long ago), he may think that it is only Taliban-style, or Saudi-style, Sharia that threatens. But when Islam is declared to be the final authority, and the Sharia is not fully imposed, but is regarded ans the imposing and unforgettable model, the malevolent ideal, the effect on the lives of people will be great. The “secular” Iraqis — the real secular Iraqis, and not simply Ba’athists (“Ba’athism” was not nearly the secular alternative to Islam that some paint it, but simply an ideological tool for the Sunnis, in a country where they were 20% of the population, to retain control through the fig-leaf of Ba’athism, that peeled off a certain number of Shi’a from what would otherwise be sectarian-based opposition) include some Sunnis and some Shi’a. One doubts that Chalabi or Allawi, who are among the latter, are delighted with Khalilzad’s performance, but what can they do?
The Kurds, now sensing the betrayal-in-the-making, who precisely because they have an identity that goes beyond, or even works against, Islam, must regard the present American Ambassador, despite his being himself a “secular” Muslim, as someone who does not recognize the need to limit Islam’s power, and in every way possible.
Or perhaps the problem is one of careerism. Possibly Khalilzad simply wants to have a quick though hollow “success” — as it can be depicted in Washington — by surrendering much, too much, to those “immoderate Muslims” pushing for Islam. Hell, he’s got his career to think of as “top Muslim” (can a job heading some Foundation Project involved in Outreach to Muslims by the American government be far behind? Or perhaps a university presidency, just to show how wonderfully fair to Muslims we are? Oh, you can expect big things for Zalmay Khalizad, even if back in Iraq, the women will be wearing black and the beer vendors be murdered in the streets — don’t worry about them, think of his career, his life).
And so it goes. Another day in the life of the farce.