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Has the U.S. administration gone mad?
Posted: Friday, March 7, 2003

By Firas Al-Atraqchi, yellowtimes

The U.S. administration suffered a debilitating diplomatic defeat today when UNMOVIC head Hans Blix said that Iraq was showing substantial signs of proactive disarmament. Blix scrutinized U.S. intelligence reports.

IAEA chief Mohammed Al Baradei said his team had conclusive evidence that information alleging aluminum tubes were destined for nuclear projects was unfounded. He gave his strongest show of support to date concerning Iraqi cooperation.

The U.S. and U.K. U.N. representatives, nevertheless, put forward a March 17 deadline for Iraq's full disarmament. No details were given as to who would verify disarmament by that date.

In a sign that the U.S. is ignoring its allies and friends in the region, prized CNN field journalist Barbara Starr today reported that the U.S. administration is intending to divide Iraq into three sections, with each section administered by a different U.S. authority. The north and south of Iraq will be administered by two different retired U.S. Army generals, while the central portion, Baghdad and the surrounding areas, will be run by a woman, Barbara Bodine, former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen. (Bodine was ambassador to Yemen when the U.S.S. Cole was struck in 2000.)

Sources in the Arab League, who were informed of the U.S. post-Saddam plans, are outraged. The Arab League had secretly proposed a mixed-Arab type commitment to maintaining security in Iraq.

The U.S. ignored Arab pleas and opted to name an American woman to run Baghdad.

This is sure to ignite the Iraqis.

"Are they crazy? They want to bomb us, kill us, and now they insult us by putting a woman to rule over our heads?" asked Abdullah Azawi, an Iraqi cab driver in Toronto.

"Iraqis will never stand for it. Never!"

While Iraq is a secular state, with Iraqi women afforded full rights of participation in all levels of society, the installing of a government run by a non-Arab, non-Muslim woman will definitely wound Iraqi pride. To have their country sectioned off is one thing; to have their lives run by an American woman is another. Indeed, Iraq is fully modernized but tribal customs still run deep. A woman, representing the country that devastated Iraq with 12 years of sanctions and inflicted countless casualties, telling Iraqis how to run their lives will be an intolerable insult.

Carnage will ensue.

It remains to be seen who devised the plan that does not take into account Iraqi cultural, historical, and religious sensitivities.

[Firas Al-Atraqchi, B.Sc (Physics), M.A. (Journalism and Communications), is a Canadian journalist with eleven years of experience covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry.]

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