Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Iraqi view of Syria

Iraqi taxi entering Syria. "May God protect our country." Ulrike Putz photo. Der Spiegel

This report is from Ahmad Fadam, an Iraqi journalist working for the New York Times in Baghdad who recently passed through the neighboring country.

After spending three weeks in Syria with my family, I can say that it was a very strange feeling to be in that country. It is so similar to what Iraq used to be when Saddam was president -- the same order, the same political system and of course the same government and Baath party slogans, like to stand against the colonists and Zionism and liberating Palestine, which I used to hate. ...

A cab driver named Abu Zaki said to me: "We used to hate Bashar al-Assad, we used to hate having the son sitting on the chair and ruling after his father [Hafez al-Assad] but after what we saw happening in Iraq, we started thinking 'We don’t want to be in the same situation as you, and thank God we are not.'"

So what happened to Iraqi[s] was in the interest of the Arab rulers hated by their people.

This means that if what happened to Iraq had happened instead to some other Arab country, then maybe Saddam would still be alive. The Iraqis would have said that bad is better than worse, and accepted what they had. They would have said that dictatorship is not so bad after all.

So much for Bush's excellent adventure in democracy promotion. Fadam writes lots more about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees now in Syria. Their condition sounds a lot like what we heard in Damascus two years ago. Go read it all.

H/t for Syria Comment for pointing to this.

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