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by Mohamed Elmasry
If we rank those countries which have benefited most, and are still benefiting, from the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Israel heads the list. While it is certainly not alone in profiting from this conflict, it has reaped by far the greatest advantages of any other nation, both politically and economically. Here are the top ten.
1). By successfully turning the U.S. into an occupation force in the Arab world, Israel has effectively disqualified Washington from exerting any meaningful political persuasion on its own policies of occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. How can the U.S. urge Israel to free Palestinians from a brutal occupation, when the American presence in Iraq has become synonymous not with liberation, but with oppression? In Iraq, America's track record of torture, concentration camps, civilian detentions, killing of innocent citizens (even guests at a wedding), the siege of Iraqi cities, and the over-use of sophisticated killing machines in lieu of diplomacy, renders any criticism about Israel's treatment of Palestinians wholly hypocritical. How can Washington now proclaim to Israeli leaders, "What you are doing to the Palestinians is wrong"? Ironically, the American siege of the Iraqi city of Falluja in 2004 has served to evoke nostalgia over the Jewish state's siege of another Falluja -- the Palestinian city -- in 1949.
In reality, the U.S. and Israel now share membership in the same elite and notorious club, that of occupiers of Arab countries -- theirs has become a comradeship as never before.
2). Until the day when America invaded, Iraq had shown legitimate potential to become a major regional power in the Middle East. It had what it takes: natural resources, an educated population, and a national will.
But now Iraq is in turmoil, and will be so for a very long time. Its resources have been plundered by its latest occupiers, with the help of supporters from within and beyond its borders. Today, its once highly educated population is dwindling, the result of a mysterious campaign of assassinations; its national will is broken, fragmented, and divided. The people no longer have any focus and cannot agree even on how to liberate their country. It is now America who determines Iraq's enemies; and you can be sure Israel will not be on that list.
3). Despite denials by Iraqi officials, their country has become an accessible operational theatre for the Israeli military, including the MOSAD. And who can stop them? Not the Americans, and certainly not the Iraqis. It's no wonder that reports are emerging of Israelis training U.S. occupation forces in urban warfare tactics.
4). Throughout the Arab world, governments, the media, and the general public are now dividing their attention between the atrocities of the Israelis upon Palestinians and those of the Americans upon Iraqis. After 37 years of Israeli occupation, the frustration on the Arab street over the oppression of Palestine is only too evident. And the meagre efforts expended by neighbouring Arab states toward solving the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza are further weakened with yet another Arab land occupied.
5). To the delight of the Jewish state and its propaganda artists, Iraqis have now graduated in both the American media and Washington rhetoric, from "rebels" and "insurgents" to full-blown "terrorists." To many Americans, Iraqis are little more than troublesome subhumans, often considered better dead than alive. This is exactly how the Sharon government brands all Palestinians. It makes a perfect parallel.
6). The continuing occupation of Iraq is further radicalizing the Middle East against the U.S., presenting another political advantage to Israel as its ally and dependent. No matter how hated the U.S. becomes, the big losers in this political, military and propaganda battle are the Arab and the Muslim worlds.
7). The U.S. occupation of Iraq is steadily shifting Washington further to the right, with neo-conservatives and American Jewish groups now providing the dominant political backdrop. Even if John Kerry wins the upcoming presidential election, today's Democrats are far to the right of their position of only a few years ago.
8). Occupied Iraq is becoming a killing field for Americans as much as the occupied West Bank and Gaza have been for the Israeli army. The mission of both military powers is now horribly similar -- not to fight an invading army in defense of their own country, but to oppress a people against their will, shooting at and often destroying their homes, cars, shops, or schools, and killing men, women and children because "they got caught in the cross-fire." Each is quick to blame the victims.
9). In these post-Iraq invasion times, America's "war on Islamist terrorism" now has a new meaning. Afghanistan is no longer the main target, because they cannot pay for Americans occupying their country; instead, Iraq has become the perfect theatre for the "war on Islamist terrorism" -- a war created by Americans, defined by Americans, and fought by Americans. The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, establishing a linkage between Iraq, Israel and terrorism, states: "Neither Israel nor the new Iraq will be safer if worldwide Islamist terrorism grows stronger."
10). Israel is not only profiting economically right now from the U.S. occupation of Iraq, but stands to gain even more in the future. It is currently supplying the Iraqi market through Jordan, while Iraqi oil is flowing to Israel, or soon will be. A more formal commercial relationship, like that which already functions between Israel and Qatar, is on the horizon. And after all is said and done, the real costs of this destabilizing invasion will be borne by the Iraqis, the Saudis, and other Gulf countries -- further weakening their economies. In summary, Israel indeed has much to celebrate, both politically and economically, as a direct result of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. It's no wonder that the only country in which the majority of the population supported this war was Israel. And to no one's surprise, those same Israeli supporters in Washington and in the American media encouraged and vigorously defended the American war on Iraq; and continue to do so in favour of the occupation.
One can't help but feel for the poor Iraqis. War has created a better world for some, but not for them.