Arabian Business Weekly Update September 25, 2005

Washington and London must act now to break the stranglehold of the militias. IT SEEMS the golden rule of modern politics that a policy cannot be abandoned just because it is wrong. To do so would break the first rule of governance — to admit fallibility. Following the extraordinary scenes in Basra last week, UK Defence Secretary, John Reid, announced: “We remain committed to helping the Iraqi government for as long as they judge that a coalition presence is necessary to provide security.”

  • E-Mail
By  Stuart Qualtrough Published  September 25, 2005

Now is the time for action|~||~||~|Washington and London must act now to break the stranglehold of the militias. IT SEEMS the golden rule of modern politics that a policy cannot be abandoned just because it is wrong. To do so would break the first rule of governance — to admit fallibility. Following the extraordinary scenes in Basra last week, UK Defence Secretary, John Reid, announced: “We remain committed to helping the Iraqi government for as long as they judge that a coalition presence is necessary to provide security.” This would be admirable if it were true. But security is not being provided in southern Iraq. The population is at the mercy of the militia men. Civil society has failed to put down any roots in the 30 months since the invasion, local institutions are hollow and the chief of police admitted recently that he can only trust half his men. The main victims of the militias are not British soldiers, however, but the people of Basra. The gunmen kill each other in large numbers in turf battles and are locked in a struggle for control of the security forces. Those who oppose them are powerless. Cutting and running and leaving ordinary people to their fate is not on. The US and UK got them into this mess, now they must help them get out of it. Their presence in Iraq gives the militias and insurgents the prime justification for their violence. It is imperative to announce a timetable for withdrawal and a detailed exit strategy, which at a stroke will remove the gunmen’s purported purpose. Future decisions should be based on harsh reality rather than the pitiful wishful thinking that has so distorted attitudes in London and Washington. To take such a decision requires both courage and humility. But there is nothing strong about keeping foreign troops on Iraqi soil on a pointless mission. Nor is it wise governance in keeping Iraqis in bondage to gunmen who use the forces’ very presence to maintain their oppression. ||**||Heard it all before, George|~||~||~|WHY IS IT that when beleaguered American presidents really start to feel the pressure, they plan a trip to the moon? In the 1960s, the Apollo missions helped keep the horrors of Vietnam from the screens of a battle-weary nation. In 1989, the current president’s father tried to kick-start a floundering effort to his presidential term with abortive plans to go to Mars. And in January 2004, as the war in Iraq escalated, Bush junior blew the dust off the old scam and announced a “new vision”, adding: “We do not know where this journey will end, yet we know this — human beings are headed into the cosmos.” Sometimes it’s just better to stay at home. And now, battered from the criticism over his handling of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, Bush again conjures up another inter-planetary journey. Take-off is planned for 2020, but be prepared for huge delays if Nasa allows Bush to read out the final countdown from 10 down to lift-off. ||**||Gridlock chaos|~||~||~|LAST Monday, rush-hour Dubai ground to near-gridlock as several hundred construction workers staged a sit-down protest choking the main traffic artery through the emirate. Within hours, the Ministry of Labour successfully resolved the dispute, clamping down hard on the culprit, the Abu Dhabi-based Al Hamed Company, ordering them to hand over the three months’ wages owed to their workers. Now, the ministry has introduced new rules to ensure vulnerable workers are protected from financial abuse and an awareness campaign to allow aggrieved workers to go straight to the government instead of the fast lane of Sheikh Zayed Road. Now that the government has acted, it must continue the clampdown on rogue firms and enforce their new campaign rigorously if Dubai isn’t to grind to a halt again. ||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code