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Fisk: America steals from Iraq

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    Robert Fisk: America is not a charitable organisation - they came to steal from Iraq http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6548.htm 21 July 2004
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 6, 2004
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      Robert Fisk: 'America is not a charitable organisation -
      they came to steal from Iraq'

      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6548.htm

      21 July 2004 "The Independent" -- Outside on Sayed Ayatollah Ahmed
      Hassani al-Baghdadi's little lawn, the temperature is touching 60C.
      But inside his spacious library with its shelves of leather-bound
      volumes of Islamic science and law, the political heat soars between
      3,000 degrees and minus 20. The Shia marja [leading Shia scholars]
      are known for their outspokenness but Sayed Baghdadi more than speaks
      his mind. The Americans occupied Iraq as part of a Zionist project,
      he announces. They will not leave Iraq because they intend to steal
      Iraq's oil. The new US-appointed Iraqi government
      are "collaborators". And Sayed Baghdadi, remember, is a highly
      respected and very influential marja whose lectures draw students
      from all over Iraq.

      When I ask him to talk about the current situation of Iraq's Shia
      population, he responds with an attack on my question, suggesting
      that the world's press are involved in a vast project to separate
      Sunni from Shia. When I ask him what would happen if the Americans
      left next week, he roars back at me. "Impossible! The Americans will
      not retreat from Iraq because they have strategic benefits in the
      region from Afghanistan to Morocco ... How can you ask such a
      question?"

      Sayed Baghdadi looks older than his 59 years but he has the energy of
      a tiger, leaping from the floor to retrieve a volume of history, on
      tip-toe to find a copy of his own biography, his voice bellowing and
      booming across the library - the roaring air-conditioner is no match
      for him - his right hand, forefinger pointed, bouncing up and down
      when he refers to "the British spy, Miss Bell". Poor Gertrude Bell,
      she thought she understood Iraq and knew very little about it when
      she died after the First World War. But she could hardly have
      expected to find herself on Sayed Baghdadi's list of villains.

      "The press are putting a Zionist-American cover on the war in Iraq,"
      he says. "They say there is only a triangle in which the Sunnis are
      fighting the occupation. But there were operations in Karbala and
      Hilla and Diwaniyah [Shia cities] before the intifada of the Mehdi
      Army - this fact unmasks the lies of the press agencies. The Shia
      insurrection led by the Mehdi Army was a symbol of the emotional ties
      with their brothers from the Sunni areas. Now the CIA and MI6 and
      other foreign intelligence services are saying there will be a civil
      war if the American army retreats." Sayed Baghdadi's forefinger goes
      up like a warning beacon. "This is a play, a scenario of theirs. This
      civil war will not happen because the Iraqi people are linked by
      their Arabic origins and religion. So when this civil war threat
      didn't work, the intelligence service invented the character of
      Zarqawi [the al-Qa'ida member whom the Americans claim is in Iraq].
      Then a mosque explodes or a Husseiniya [Shia house of worship] blows
      up or a Shia religious leader is killed. Then the local press - the
      collaborationist press - say like the Dawa Party and the National
      Conference of [Ahmed] Chalabi that there will be civil war like this
      if the Americans go." The Sayed's scorn for the press will last
      throughout our interview. So will his anger towards the American-
      appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, and his President, Ghazi Ageel
      Yawar.

      His is a cocktail of political argument and religious history. "The
      Americans theoretically handed over power to their collaborators,
      Allawi and Yawar, but those people don't have a patriotic nationalist
      history. The Shia follow the lines of the Imams and they co-ordinate
      with the Sunnis. Even if the Sultan is a Sunni - even if he is a
      dictator or oppressor - we will follow him and obey him, and we will
      not obey the idolators. Our Imams fought with the Amawayin states
      [the Caliphates that opposed the Imams Ali and Hussein] and with the
      Abbasids and with the sectarian Ottomans.

      "Miss Bell, the British spy, was writing to her father and to her
      minister that the Shia will not fight with British soldiers because
      the sectarian Turks had killed so many Shia. But the Shia fought the
      British in Basra in 1914 and later, in 1920, the Shia and the Sunni
      fought together and the British were shocked. And today there is a
      strategic relationship between the Sunni and the Shia and they will
      continue resisting the occupation." Almost inevitably, it turns out
      the Sayed's father and grandfather were involved in the 1914 Basra
      insurgency against the British.

      Sayed Baghdadi went into exile in Damascus for 10 years to avoid
      Saddam Hussein's wrath, so he is no apologist for the old regime. But
      he has no doubts about America's intentions. "The new American
      embassy is the largest in the world and there are many CIA in the
      embassy. American military bases are on both sides of Iraq and in the
      mountains in the north where they have the means to 'listen in' to
      the entire Middle East. America is not a charitable organisation to
      save the Iraqi people from dictatorship. Saddam Hussein was himself
      an American agent."

      According to the Sayed, when America invaded Iraq "to start its new
      Middle Eastern project", Iraq was "like a sheep", exhausted by unjust
      sanctions and wars. "The Americans came to steal the petrol ...
      That's why there was a struggle between the Americans and the
      European powers. But now they have reached a deal by establishing
      the 'multinational forces'. They changed the name but the occupation
      still exists."

      Suddenly the electricity cuts out, the roaring air-conditioner dies
      and within seconds the outdoor heat moves like a cowl across the
      thick carpets. But Sayed Baghdadi is on his feet again, handing me a
      photocopy of his hand-written ishtihad, the certificate which
      authorises him to issue fatwas - religious rulings - and quoting from
      his own biography. "He still continues to lecture and discuss science
      in a unique way," he reads from the text about himself. "From
      childhood he was a revolutionary who by nature could not be misled."
      The Sayed shows me a photograph of him kneeling next to Ayatollah
      Khomeini and begins to list those who have referred to his books and
      character, including Sayed Mohamed Fadlallah and the writer Khaled
      Rashid.

      Then just before the air-conditioner growls back to life, he turns to
      his son-in-law and - in reference to me - says quietly: "He is either
      a liberal man or a spy." But half an hour later, he signs one of his
      books - Power and the Religious Shia Foundation - for me. "In the
      name of God," he writes, "this is a gift to brother Mr Robert with
      good wishes and regards." No fatwas against Fisk, it seems.

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