American Peace Put to the Test
American Peace Put to the Test
By Jean-Louis Turlin
Saturday 14 June 2003
Middle East: Two months after the downfall of Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush is forced to fight on all fronts. In Iraq, in Israel and in Palestine, in Afghanistan, United States' activity bumps up against resistance, when it doesn't experience reversals.
After the euphoria of the lightning strikes, now are troubled times. In Iraq, GIs are engaged in a far-reaching operation against organized resistance north of Baghdad. In Afghanistan, convoys of American soldiers remain targets for the Taliban. In the Middle East, the sudden reawakening of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict put the new American strategy to the test.
The overthrow of Saddam Hussein on April 9 ought, beyond the elimination of the still undiscoverable weapons of mass destruction, all the same, to have contributed to stabilizing the Middle East. It should have, notably, gotten rid of a dangerous neighbor to Israel and delivered a warning to the countries in the region, notably Iran and Syria, accused of sponsoring Hamas. Thursday's suicide attack in Jerusalem which produced 17 deaths and the Israeli raids on Gaza put an end to a calm of several months
In spite of American exhortations, attacks, provocations, and bloody reprisals started up again worse than ever this week. President Bush, who had just, after much beating around the bush, personally committed himself to the process, is in the front row.
The intervention in Iraq hasn't motivated Sharon to moderation, no more than it has disarmed Palestinian extremists whom the United States suspects of enjoying military and financial support from as far away as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. After rapping Ariel Sharon's fingers, Washington finished by excusing the Israeli Prime Minister's strong-arm methods of by identifying Hamas as the great obstacle to the application of the road map, which is supposed to lead to a Palestinian state by 2005.
The United States have enough to do in Iraq, where the end of the war is far from signifying peace. Forty-five American soldiers have been killed there since May 1st and yesterday an ambushed armored column killed 27 Iraqi rebels, on top of some 70 deaths the day before during the destruction of a guerilla training camp. Sunni agitation follows Shiite insubordination. While the United States maintains 150,000 soldiers in Iraq, with every day that passes the installation of a provisional government seems to become a more difficult task.
In Afghanistan, the situation is far from stabilized, as last week's death of four German members of the Kabul security forces served to remind. This week, American soldiers killed four Al-Qaeda sympathizers in a skirmish on the Pakistani border. According to general opinion, the 11,500 members of the international force are inadequate in number to assure Kabul's security, let alone that of the rest of the country.
We've looked away from Afghanistan and allowed the terrorist networks "to regenerate themselves" one of the candidates for the Democratic party nomination, Bob Graham, pointed out last Saturday. The Florida Senator guesses that America was the strongest and the most-admired country when George W. Bush took up the reins. It's still the strongest, but also the most contested, the one that raises the most questions, not only on the part of its enemies, but also on the part of its allies.
Vis- -vis Iran, whom the Iraq war seems not to have intimidated, the American administration takes the offensive. Teheran was accused this week by the new American Proconsul in Iraq, Paul Bremer, of inciting Shiite agitation with the objective of installing a pro-Iranian regime in Southern Iraq. The ayatollahs, on their side, accuse the Americans of encouraging the demonstrations of Iranian youth that have been unfolding the last few days in Teheran.
Washington, which never stops denouncing the military potential of the Iranian nuclear program, could only rejoice in a spontaneous regime change. While keeping up uncertainty about an eventual intervention in Iran, the Bush Administration knows that it can count on itself only for a forced regime change, Great Britain's position, recalled the day before yesterday by Foreign Affairs Minister Jack Straw, excluding any new "coalition of the willing".
Translation: TruthOut French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher.
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