|December 24, 2011
By Richard Cottrell
Contributing writer for End the Lie
The news that Turkey would consider offering sanctuary to the most senior vice president of Iraq is a measure of how fast Iraq is reverting to full-blown dictatorship and in contrast, how quickly Turkey’s status and influence in the region is soaring.
Tariq al-Hashemi, an important Iraqi politician and statesman in the Sunni bloc, is on the run.
The mainstream media, particularly in the US and the UK, are silent on the fact that the man who was once nominated as a key figure in a power sharing coalition, has gone into hiding.
There is a warrant out for his arrest on the specious grounds that he was the mastermind controlling a death squad picking on senior military officers and government officers belonging to the majority Shiite sect.
It is also claimed that his hands are stained with the latest round of ethnic bombing attacks.
Frankly, this seems more the line of work of the country’s Prime Minister – and de facto dictator – Nouri Hasan al-Maliki.
Al-Hashemi is now in Arbil, seat of the Iraq’s quasi-independent northern Kurdish enclave.
His departure seals the fate of further attempts to involve the Sunni minority faction in the central government in any meaningful fashion.
Al-Maliki’s power is now absolute. He is stepping directly into the vacant shoes of Saddam Hussein.
Interestingly, the warrant for Al-Hashemi’s arrest warrant was issued barely hours after the “last” American troops left the country.
The timing is hardly an accident or coincidence. Washington wants to be seen with clean hands as Al-Maliki, their favorite puppet, moves to secure a long term US presence by imposing his personal dictatorship.
But there is another sinister side to the affair. The United States does not wish to see the emergence of a truly powerful, independent and sovereign Iraqi state.
That runs counter to the whole strategy of invading the country in the first place.
Iraq is once again a colonial province of a great empire, just as she was under the League of Nations Mandate granted to the British after WWI.
Of course, there was no such name on the map in those days. The Mandate was called Mesopotamia and not until 1932 did Iraq figure in the regional geography.
At every stage there was powerful resistance to the occupying power.
Now, turning the tables so to speak, the Turks are opposed to a long term US presence in the Middle East.
They are mostly Sunnis, like the Iraqi minority, but that is not a powerful or particularly significant card in Ankara.
Far more importantly Turkey is the sole Islamic democracy. By hosting Tariq al-Hashemi, Turkey draws to herself the role of virtuous leader and beacon.
It is obviously more in Turkey’s interest to shelter him rather than see another fair trial and lynching like Saddam Hussein.
It not lost on anyone who grapples with the complex labyrinth of the Middle East that Al-Hashemi was scarcely a Washington poster boy.
He said that the violence in Iraq was the direct consequence of the US-led invasion. He alluded to some of it as stirred by US-backed forces with the intention to maintain the country balanced on the edge of civil war.
The Kurds are unlikely to export their reluctant guest back to Baghdad. It is true that they tread the dividing line between the two sects with immense delicacy, not least to discourage the central government from overtly intruding in the affairs of the north.
But they have their own issues with Ankara, such as the long-running Kurdish self-determination movement within Turkey.
The government in Baghdad also knows that Iraq cannot afford to trifle with the Turks for another important reason: Turkey controls much of the Tigris-Euphrates river system.
The rivers are filtered through a series of immense dams in south eastern Anatolia. So, in a sense it is Turkey (and to some extent, Iran) that exercises an important direct power over whatever government is in power in Baghdad.
The US of course is not leaving Iraq. American forces remain by the thousands in strategically sited bases which in fact are really sovereign zones where the Stars and Stripes are on display, not the Iraqi flag.
[Editor’s note: not to mention the massive numbers of contractors that will be shipped over to commit more atrocities, on our dime, of course.]
Al-Maliki is thus reminded that he governs entirely at the behest of the United States.
Therefore, it is no coincidence at all that his contrived exile of Tariq al-Hashemi is part of the divide and rule project that America trusts will keep Iraq unstable – and pliant.
When the so-called insurgency flares into violence, as it has with the bombings of recent days, the excuse can be run out that American “trainers and advisers” are always on hand to assist the civilian power.
It remains to be seen whether Al-Hashemi gets his exit papers to Turkey. If he does, then the presumption is that the Sunnis will be powerless to challenge Al-Maliki.
That may well be wrong. If, as I suspect, Iraq is entering a new and bloody phase of turmoil, then the exiled leader may assume a new prominence.
One can be sure that the government in Baghdad is making exactly those calculations.
It is often stated that America never acts except in her own interests. The same can now be said of Turkey.
Edited by Madison Ruppert
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