Friday, April 30, 2004

The man who would be the king-maker 

"USA Today" publishes a rather glowing profile of Lakhdar Brahimi: "Brahimi holds USA's Iraq exit strategy in his hands[;] U.N. envoy known for consensus-building."

Brahimi is also known for some other things aside of consensus-building, but the article conveniently fails to mention them or glosses over them.

"The 70-year-old former Algerian foreign minister, who also oversaw Afghanistan's political transition, appears to have become, by default, the Bush administration's best hope for an orderly political exit from Iraq," muses "USA Today". "It is an extraordinary amount of power for one person. It reflects the U.S. failure to come up with transition-of-power plans viewed as legitimate by most Iraqis."

"Though not well-known in the USA, Brahimi began building an international reputation in 1989 by helping to broker an end to Lebanon's 14-year civil war. After joining the United Nations in 1993, he oversaw a U.N. mission in Haiti and tried unsuccessfully to end the civil war in Afghanistan. He resumed the Afghanistan peacemaking effort at U.S. and U.N. behest after the attacks of Sept. 11."

Brahimi's resume that "USA Today" salivates over, looks far less impressive when you remember that Lebanon's civil war was actually brought to an end when Syria managed to crush all the armed opposition, that Haiti remains a basketcase, and that Brahimi's peacemaking efforts in Afghanistan were only successful on the back of an American military action. History is repeating itself in Iraq, but the irony seems to be lost on Brahimi, who's always only too happy to criticise the United States and its actions.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone is as impressed by this "slim, distinguished-looking man with curly salt- and-pepper hair" as the "USA Today" journo.

Israelis, for one, didn't particularly appreciate having their policies described as "the great poison in the region." The "USA Today" article side-steps the issue by noting simply that Brahimi "denies any bias but expresses mainstream Arab views critical of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians." As is that's supposed to put the matter beyond any discussion.

Another group in the Middle East not over-awed by the UN potentate are those who have fought the long and hard fight for freedom, like the Kurds. Some of the commentary bears to be repeated at length:

"If Brahimi's association with the UN is not enough to discredit him, one need only to do a cursory examination of Brahimi's past to see why he should be irrelevant to the future of Iraq. From 1984 to 1991, he was Under-Secretary-General of the League of Arab States (Arab League), an organization preoccupied with defending Arab dictatorships and paying lip service to the Palestinian cause (while doing nothing material to help the Palestinians living in Arab countries, let alone those elsewhere). This is the same Arab League that declared the elimination of Saddam's genocidal regime to be 'a threat to world peace' in March 2003. This is the same Arab League that has consistently supported the rights of Arab dictators to oppress the peoples of the Middle East, Arab and non-Arab alike.

"It is most curious that Brahimi was a high official of the Arab League at the height of Saddam Hussein's genocidal campaign against Iraq's Kurds. While persecution of the indigenous Kurds of Iraq continued through 1988 and 1989, the Arab League remained silent on the mass murder committed by Saddam Hussein and his regime, meeting months and hundreds of deaths later in May 1990 in Baghdad to express support for the Iraqi dictator's renewal of a strong anti-West stance. The disregard for genocide of the Kurds and the non-Kurdish people of Iraq, as well as the explicitly pro-Saddam Arab League conference both took place when Brahimi was a high official of this club of dictators."

The "USA Today" profile also notes Brahimi's intense dislike of Ahmed Chalabi, the secular Shia political powerbroker in Iraq. Our unimpressed Kurd has this to say on the topic:

"Now Brahimi's 'dislike' of Dr. Chalabi is supposed to mean something in post-Saddam Iraq? Anyone familiar with the background of Brahimi, a man who embraced former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz on Iraqi TV in 1997, should not be surprised that Brahimi 'dislikes' Dr. Chalabi. Indeed, Dr. Chalabi should recognize this dislike as a badge of honor and a confirmation of his pro-democracy credentials. I can only assume that Dr. Chalabi would rather not be embraced by the same arms that once warmly received Tariq Aziz."

Once again, a fox has once again been put in charge of a hen-house. Don't say we haven't been warned.


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