The new Saddam, without a moustache
By Pepe Escobar
Talk about outsourcing.
The first two acts of former Central Intelligence Agency asset turned Prime Minister Iyad Allawi were to call a US air strike on an alleged safe house in Fallujah, and to sign a martial-law order to be imposed on an Arab "sovereign" state by a Western, Christian army. Saddam Hussein also imposed martial law on Iraq. Last year, the talk in Baghdad was that the Americans wanted an "American Saddam". Now they have one. No wonder "sovereign" Iraq looks like your average Arab dictatorship - again: it could be Egypt, it could be Syria.
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"With Allawi, it's like the CIA is marrying Iraq," says a Baghdad intellectual. European diplomats in Brussels prefer to note his old-school but very sound strategy to climb to power: first infiltrating the debris of the Iraqi secret services and then putting them back into place while allying himself with former Ba'ath Sunni generals so he can reconstitute the army in his image. In Baghdad, Allawi is called "Saddam without a moustache". Exactly what Washington wants.
But the point is what Iraqis want. They want two things from Allawi: restoration of order and security, and getting rid of the US occupation as soon as possible. Allawi and his party, though, have absolutely no popular base. He has to do what the Americans - via US Ambassador John Negroponte at the US Embassy - tell him to do. Bringing back the Mukhabarat and Saddam's spies is a tremendously unpopular move - as well as a virtual death warrant to democracy.
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The trumpeted "reconstruction" is seen by most Iraqis as an extension of the occupation: one more foreign invasion, this one by US multinationals. That's why the "reconstruction" is a key target of the resistance. US contractors are protected by thousands of mercenaries. Twenty-five percent of reconstruction contracts go to security: this is money not being spent on hospitals, schools, roads and US-bombed telephone exchanges. So what the average Iraqi sees is a surrealist situation of contractors spending fortunes to arm and insure themselves against the Iraqis they were supposed to help in the first place.
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Washington tried 19th-century-style colonialism in Iraq. It failed. Now it's trying a remix of 1970s Latin America - with proxy hardcore security forces subjected to the US. It will fail - as it did in Latin America. The United States may be militarily strong in Iraq, but politically it is a midget - as Fallujah demonstrates. Only one desired effect by the White House is already on: the war - at least in this summer silly season - is slowly disappearing from US television. The resistance - and not only in Fallujah - will certainly bring it back.
The word is clusterfuck, ladies and germs. Read the whole article here.