Commentary: Bremer Should Be Sent Packing

April 8th, 2004 - by admin

Hassan Hanizadeh / Tehran Times – 2004-04-08 08:03:37

(April 7, 2004) — There is only one cause for the recent unrest in Iraq that left up to 250 people dead or injured: the incompetence of US administrator Paul Bremer in managing the country’s affairs.

Bremer, apparently a capable US diplomat, unfortunately has an aggressive attitude about resolving Iraq’s affairs. Due to his scant knowledge of Iraq’s complicated social and religious structure, Bremer intends to use military power to suppress the biggest group of the Iraqi nation, the Shia.

The Iraqi Shias, who have suffered at the hands of despotic regimes for decades, felt they had been redeemed after the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s government. Therefore, ever since US coalition forces occupied Iraq a year ago, Iraqi Shias only silently observed Iraq’s internal situation on the advice of certain clerics from Najaf.

Although the coalition forces on certain occasions disrespected pilgrims visiting holy sites, the Shia remained silent since they did not want to be regarded as Saddam’s allies or members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Later, the drafting of the new Iraqi interim constitution and Bremer’s remarks to the effect that he would not allow it to be based on Islam angered Iraqi Muslims. Although their patience was being tested, the Iraqi Shias still only held peaceful protest demonstrations.

US officials, and especially Bremer, had considered the Shias’ silence a sign of their satisfaction with the way Iraq was being run. However, this silence is only the calm before the storm.

Although Iraq’s most prominent Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Sistani, was opposed to Bremer’s demonic actions, he refused to more actively respond in order to prevent bloodshed and further manipulation of the situation.

Also, one part of Iraq’s political scene consists of a group of young Shia clerics who could not remain silent about the disrespect shown toward the majority of the Iraqi nation. Therefore, they occasionally expressed their dissatisfaction with the actions of the US administrator in Iraq.

The recent bloody conflicts starting in Kufa and immediately spreading to Baghdad, Najaf, Nassiriya, and Basra, are a sign of Bremer’s failure to competently administer Iraq’s affairs, resulting in the death or injury of dozens of innocent people and several soldiers of the US-led coalition forces.

US forces should not have closed down a local paper in Baghdad or issued an arrest warrant for a Shia cleric at such a sensitive juncture, but instead should have tried to solve these two simple problems with the help of certain moderate Shia clerics.

Now there is only one option left for the US: apologizing to the Iraqi nation, especially to the people of Najaf, Nassiriya, and Basra, and dismissing Bremer from his post, since it will no longer be easy for Bremer to rule Iraq under the current circumstances.

If the US wants to withdraw its forces from Iraq in a dignified manner, it should make efforts to immediately hand over power to the people of Iraq by holding a referendum under UN supervision and also deliver Saddam to a court to be established by Iraq’s future government.

In order to end the current deadlock in Iraq, Bremer should be dismissed, UN peacekeepers should be dispatched to Iraq, the US-led occupying forces should be withdrawn from the country, and free elections should be held.

But if the US insists on keeping Bremer in his post and continues to suppress the Iraqi nation, the country will face worse bloodshed in the future, which will probably spread to regional countries.

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