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Commentary: A policy of containment may have avoided further Middle East troubles
Published on July 2, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Arley Gill

ISIS – the group that claims it’s fighting for an “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’’ – is said to be extreme compared to the Taliban, whom we know to be extreme. The goal of ISIS is to carve out an Islamic state, taking portions of unstable Iraq and the dysfunctional nation of Syria. This is not good news for the west and, indeed, the world.

arley_gill3.jpg
 Lawyer Arley Gill is a magistrate and a former Grenada minister of culture
Now, I am no admirer of Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president. For sure, I would not like to live in a country where the likes of Saddam are leaders.

However, it is fair to ask oneself whether or not the so-called “War on Terror’’, launched by the United Stated in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in America, would not have been better off with a policy of containment on an Iraq led by Saddam Hussein.

Saddam, for all his weaknesses, led a more stable Iraq. One cannot help but wonder whether or not these types of leaders are what are required in societies so volatile.

So, did the US err in invading Iraq and getting rid of Saddam? Was getting rid of Saddam a shortsighted policy?

It occurs to me that the same questions can be asked for the countries that were part of the Arab Spring of protest and western-encouraged government changes; in places such as Egypt and Libya, for example.

Egypt is back, effectively, with a military Jefe, who has jailed his opponents including a sitting president. He resigned from the army, installed himself as government leader, and then – not surprisingly – ran and won an election. Farcical, isn't it?

Libya, for its part, now has a multitude of leaders and militias for every district.

Muammar Gaddafi, the former leader who was overthrown and executed, had negotiated a settlement of the Lockerbie airplane bombing (subsequent documentaries and literature I have read indicate that Libya was not to blame for the bombing), and he had opened up Libya to the West; so much so that western leaders had returned to visiting Libya.

But, the West had other plans for Gaddafi and it did not include him remaining in charge of Libya.

They supported rebel fighters against Gaddafi and a no-fly zone was set up over Libya. It’s the same policy that was adopted against Syria; only this time, Syria had powerful friends like Russia to assist.

The West now seemingly appreciates that there is no one opposition group in Syria and it is chaos dealing with the leaders of these groups. Here again, can a policy of containment be a better option rather than military intervention and the overthrow of the government?

Admittedly, there is need for greater freedom and democracy in Syria. But, what is the alternative? Who is the alternative? Those are questions begging for answers. It seems to me that a dance with the devil may be better than a search for the unknown.

Further, on the issue of Iraq, the reasons given by the US for the invasion we now know to be untruthful. So, what were the real reasons for the Iraqi invasion?

Whatever it is, it seems as though it was a bad decision by the US. But, who is going to take the blame? Who is going to accept the responsibility?
 
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