Lebanon News

SSNP leader says US won’t succeed politically in Iraq

Arab regimes in the Levant might have been created by the West after World War I but they have apparently outlived their usefulness in the eyes of the United States, according to the president of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.

In an interview with The Daily Star, SSNP leader Gebran Araiji said he expected that a phase of the Lebanese civil war might be replayed soon in Iraq ­ a national resistance coalescing after a military victory by the enemy on the battlefield.

“Despite the various differences between segments of (Iraqi society), there has been resistance to the war,” Araiji said. “One of the interesting repercussions was that we haven’t seen any waves of refugees. Instead, we’ve seen the reverse, namely waves of fighters who want to join the war ­ some of these people have had serious differences with the regime, but they’re going back.”

Araiji said that unlike the “Arab-Afghans” of the 1980s who left their countries to fight a US-backed war against the Soviet Union, today’s volunteers were responding to a more basic desire: self-defense.

“There is considerable popular awareness that this war goes beyond the issue of Iraq,” he said. “This war is about an attempt to strengthen Israeli sovereignty over the Arab world. People are going to defend Iraq, but they’re also going because they want to defend Palestine, and they feel that the regimes are being threatened, as well.

“The phenomenon involves defending one’s land, the idea of Arabism, and nationalist sentiment. In Afghanistan, it was more about a particular ideology, and religious feeling.”

Araiji said the war raging now represented the first phase of a US plan to effect not just regime change, but “society change.”

He said that in one sense, the United States was the victim of a fallacy ­ it doesn’t believe the notion that true states exist in the Arab world. “They just don’t believe in states ­ they think that it’s just a collection of sects, tribes and clans.”

In the view of Washington, Araiji added, the regimes that do exist should be changed because they have failed to produce Arab peoples that are sufficiently pro-American and pro-Israel. “The goal is to remake societies here, to convince them of the ‘American reading’ of various concepts, like Islam, nationalism, relations with Israel and democracy.”

Araiji conceded that the United States could emerge victorious from the war, but maintained “it won’t succeed politically,” especially with countries like Syria and Iran unhappy with post-war arrangements.

As for a post-war US threat to Syria and Lebanon, Araiji said the volunteers heading toward Iraq was a heartening sign.

“This happened with a regime that is guilty of ‘deviations’ on several occasions. The (Saddam Hussein) regime didn’t follow a properly nationalistic path” in its war with Iran and invasion of Kuwait, he argued, as it diverted needed resources from the struggle with Israel. “And even with all this, people are still volunteering,” Araiji said, predicting an even greater response of solidarity if Syria and Lebanon, which have taken a solid line backing Arab causes like the Palestinian issue, found themselves facing a military attack.

“The resistance to Israel in Lebanon in 1982 began with a pistol, after all,” Araiji said, recalling the shooting in broad daylight of several Israeli military personnel by an SSNP member, Khaled Alwan, at the Wimpy Cafe in Hamra.





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