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Sipping Coffee on the Euphrates By: Dr. Walid Phares
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, September 29, 2005

The following is a virtual chat, taking place between two Iraqi brothers after watching TV. The arguments are real, but the names have been changed. The dialogue is adapted from a combination of actual discussions that took place between two brothers sipping coffee late Saturday on the Euphrates river.

Hassan: So, Majid, what’s going on in the world today?

Majid: Well, we are still terrified by those terror attacks by Zarqawi (may Allah take him away). As usual, he killed civilians, kids, women, and elderly.


Hassan (deep breath): That is our destiny. We have no choice but to resist the terrorists, whatever the price. For there is no higher price than the one we paid under Saddam Hussein. We will suffer all what the terrorists would do, but we will not return to what was here before April 2003. The most important thing that happened to us was the removal of the monster. I can’t even think back and imagine the days of massacres, torture, and oppression. Let all the Zarqawi of the world come here. Ahlan wa sahlan ("Welcome" in Arabic), because eventually no one will want his regime of the Taliban to take root in Iraq.


Majid: But there is one thing I don’t understand.


Hassan: What is it Majid?


Majid: Those people in London and America.


Hassan: What’s with them, Majid?


Majid: They are organizing these marches..


Hassan: What’s wrong with that? These are democracies, Majid. And in democracies you demonstrate, express yourself, say whatever you want. That’s why we’re struggling here. That’s what we want here...That’s why we’re dying..


Majid: But Hassan, these demonstrations are not calling for democracy.


Hassan: What are they calling for ,then?


Majid: They say they want peace.


Hassan: Azeem ("Great"), we all want peace. Where is the problem?


Majid: They say they want to stop the war in Iraq..


Hassan:  Tamam  ("Perfect"). Isn’t it what we all want in Iraq? Aren’t we sick and tired of this war, this terrorism?


Majid: Yes, Hassan, it's true. But that is not what these people want.


Hassan: I don’t understand, Majid. Don’t they want peace and the end of war in Iraq?


Majid: That’s what they say but...


Hassan: But what Majid?


Majid: ...they say they want the U.S. troops to pullout immediately.


Hassan: Like this? And to abandon the Iraqi people, leaving them alone against Zarqawi, Iran, and the terrorists coming from Syria and Saudi Arabia? That’s what these demonstrators want?


Majid: Yes. They say it is not America’s business to be in Iraq.


Hassan: But it is we Iraqis who want them to stay and help us...our government  is asking them to help us. What’s with those demonstrators?


Majid: They are saying our government is not legitimate. That is was formed under American occupation.


Hassan: But we elected our government. Didn’t they see 8.5 million people voting, including old women?


Majid: They don’t care. They say the Iraqi people are fighting U.S. and Coalition forces. They say the insurgents are the Iraqi people.


Hassan So Zarqawi’s terrorists are the Iraqi people and the 9 million voters are what?


Majid: They don’t talk about the Iraqi voters.


Hassan: How about the Afghani voters?


Majid: They think the Taliban are more legitimate.


Hassan: You must be joking! How about the American voters? Do they count?


Majid: Well, they want to influence them...to bring down the Blair and Bush governments and bring in governments that would pull Coalition forces from Iraq.


Hassan: How about our government here? They want our government to fall, too?


Majid: Yes, some of the activists wants that, too.


Hassan: And whom do they want to see in running Iraq?


Majid: Some of them say we had no business toppling Saddam, so I assume they’d want him back. One of their main leaders is British MP George Galloway, who came to Iraq when we were in prison and supported Saddam.


Hassan: Do you mean those Europeans and Americans who came here on red buses and wanted to protect the Saddam regime from the U.S. and Britain?


Majid Yes, many among the red buses people are among the demonstrators in London and Washington..


Hassan: They still want to protect Saddam’s regime even after he is going on trial for massacres?


Majid: They never answer that question.


Hassan: They don’t want Saddam on trial?


Majid: They say it is not their problem.


Hassan: Did they wanted Hitler and Mussolini on trial?


Majid: They say that was different.


Hassan: Why?


Majid: Because Hitler and Mussolini massacred people....


Hassan: How about Milosevic?


Majid: They’re OK with him on trial -- except the group called International ANSWER, which supported him, because he was a Socialist.


Hassan: But they don't want anyone to try Saddam?


Majid: They say that is up to the Iraqi people.


Hassan: But the Iraqi people decided.


Majid: They say Iraq is under occupation.


Hassan: But so were Germany, Italy, and Japan when their dictatorship were on trial.


Majid: Yes, but they say the invasion of Iraq was illegal.


Hassan: And the invasion of Germany was legal?


Majid: They say Iraq didn’t attack us first


Hassan: And Nazi Germany did? How about Milosevic? Did he attack the United States?


Majid: At the time, the Nazis massacred peoples. Milosevic massacred the Muslim minority in Serbia.


Hassan: And the Baathists didn’t massacre the Shi'ites? Saddam didn’t massacre the Kurdish Muslim minority?


Majid: Hassan, why are you asking me? They said it, not me! 


Hassan: OK, so what kind of peace are these protestors calling for?


Majid: Immediate withdrawal of US forces


Hassan: But that is war, a bigger war...Zarqawi, al-Sadr, and others will wage wars elsewhere, not just here.


Majid: They say it won’t be their business. Besides it was Bush and Blair’s problem: Had the invasion not taken place, there wouldn’t have been an insurgency.


Hassan: And what would have happen had no invasion taken place?


Majid: Nothing, peace.


Hassan: So before the removal of Saddam Hussein. there was peace?


Majid: They say there were no pictures of bloodshed on TV


Hassan: So there was no bloodshed in Iraq before the toppling of Saddam?


Majid: They say Saddam was no angel, but there are many dictators around the world? And why is it up to the U.S. to pick one dictator and remove him?


Hassan: But he had killed 400,000 Shi'ites and 200,000 Kurds, plus another 100,000 Sunnis, Chaldo-Assyrians and others. That wasn’t enough to intervene?


Majid: They say the U.S. should not change regimes..


Hassan: How about Haiti? Didn’t the U.S. change the Cedras regime? How about Milosevic? Wasn’t he brought to justice? How about Noriega?


Majid: They say these dictators were oppressing their people..


Hassan: And Saddam wasn’t?


Majid: Why are you upset with me? I was in prison for years. I’ve got my share. It’s them you need to question.


Hassan: I really don’t understand these people. They say they want war to cease, and they encourage the terrorists to win. They say they want peace, and they wish the dictator and the radicals to reign over us. They say they are Progressives and secularists, and they allow the fundamentalists to massacre us. They say they promote liberties, and they want ours to vanish. They say they demonstrate for the Iraqi people, and their actions are aimed at plunging the Iraqi people under terror and oppression. What on earth do they want with us?


Majid: Hassan, we’ve got to be fair. These are their soldiers, their equipment, and their money. They want them out. It is their right, no?


Hassan: Yeah, it is their right to do what they want with their soldiers and money. But it is not their right to deny us ours.


Majid: And how are they denying our rights?


Hassan: Galloway came to Iraq during the presidency of Saddam Hussein to support him. Saddam was massacring us. What was his business coming here with all these red buses to support the oppressor? Why didn’t these buses visit the mass graves or the victims of chemical attacks? Why did they position themselves around Saddam palaces and not around the Kurdish and Shi'ia villages?


Majid: I don’t know. Maybe they thought America is the aggressor and Saddam is the nationalist?


Hassan: Did you say America was the aggressor and Hitler the nationalist?


Majid:  I didn’t say that. You said it.


Hassan: How about Sudan? There were no red buses there, where there? One million black people were massacred there. Where were the demonstrators of Washington and London?


Majid: They say that was a civil war.


Hassan:  Wasn’t Yugoslavia a civil war?


Majid: Let’s quit talking about Yugoslavia and Sudan. These demonstrations are about Iraq. Besides, there are many mothers and relatives of American soldiers killed in our country. They are saying that the troops should go home.


Hassan: Are they saying that the U.S. army should go home, because their children were killed in combat?


Majid: They are saying U.S. forces shouldn’t have been in Iraq in the first place.


Hassan: So, had their sons and daughters not been killed, they would have asked for the withdrawal of U.S. forces?


Majid: They say U.S. forces must withdraw, because it was and is an illegal war, regardless.


Hassan: So, do they want to pull the troops because soldiers were killed or because the troops shouldn’t have been sent in the first place?


Majid: Don’t be cynical Hassan, these soldiers are their children and relatives.Would you send your children to be killed in another country?


Hassan: Our children were killed in our own country.


Majid: Yes, but they don’t like to have their soldiers killed in our country


Hassan: Did they demonstrate against their government on June 7, 1944? They sent their sons to liberate Europe: 4,000 died in 12 hours in Normandy. Another 6,000 died on one island in the Pacific. They brought freedom to nations around the world. Is our freedom a lesser one? I understand that parents suffer for the loss of their children. But is there a draft in America?


Majid: No, it is a voluntary recruitment.


Hassan: Why do they go to the Army then? They know that they are risking being killed.


Majid: I don’t know. But one of their activists, Cindy Sheehan, lost her son in Iraq and is leading the campaign against President Bush now.


Hassan: Was she against his decision to join the armed forces?


Majid Apparently yes. That’s what she says.


Hassan: Did she try to convince him not to enroll?


Majid: Yes, that’s what she said.


Hassan: So, her son refused to obey her


Majid: Yes.


Hassan: He disagreed with her?


Majid: Yes.


Hassan: So he had different views than she did?


Majid: Well, he joined the Army, and she didn’t want him to join.


Hassan: Was she against the War in Iraq before he joined?


Majid: She was against the removal of Saddam.


Hassan: And now she is acting as a mother who lost her child who refused to obey her and was killed in a war she opposed?


Majid: Exactly. She considers the war that liberated us a war that killed her son. She was against regime change in Iraq. I also heard she criticized Bush, Chirac, and Blair for removing the Syrians from Lebanon.


Hassan: Why is she against our peoples’ freedoms?


Majid: She says removing Saddam wasn’t a good cause.


Hassan: Did she ever meet with Iraqi mothers who lost their children, husbands, and babies?


Majid: Not that I know of.


Hassan: So stopping the genocide in Iraq is not enough of a noble cause for her?


Majid: She and her movement say no.


Hassan and Majid both sip their coffee and take a deep breath.


Hassan: If Mrs. Sheehan were elected president of the United States, not George Bush or Kerry, and she would be informed that 400,000 sons and daughters were in the mass graves in Iraq, that 8,000 Kurds were gassed to death, what would she do? Would she order U.S. troops to rescue the survivors or not? Would she be willing to use the resources of the U.S. to save more children from Saddam?


Majid: If the American people would have elected her president and it was established that Saddam had murdered close to a million people, a majority of Americans would have asked any president to intervene.


Hassan: Even militarily?


Majid: Well that’s what they did in Bosnia and Kosovo, and it wasn’t Bush. It was Clinton. The American people intervened in Europe twice to save nations from genocide. Close to one million U.S. lives were lost for what was perceived as a noble cause: Unless Arab blood is not considered worth saving.


Hassan: So Majid, you’re telling me that the lady who is protesting the American presence in Iraq today – if elected as a President - would have sent troops to remove Saddam?


Majid: If she was informed by her Administration about the genocide, and the pictures from Iraq’s mass graves would have been aired by CNN, as they were in the 1990s from the Balkans, the American people would have demanded she send the troops. Whether she would have sent them, or suffered their repudiation, is hard to say.


Hassan: And if she sent troops, her son would have been part of these troops?


Majid:  Yes. Ironically, he would have been a soldier in Iraq and could have been killed.


Hassan: And had he been killed, would his mother have withdrawn the troops?


Majid:  Allah knows, Hassan. Only Allah knows. When President Clinton was in the White House, he sent the army to Bosnia, Haiti, and Kosovo. When he left the White House, he opposed sending forces to Iraq. He had plans to remove Saddam when he was in the White House.


Hassan: But whatever our politics, Hassan, we need to respect the feelings of people. Mothers’ feelings are the fabric of society.


Majid: Yes, Hassan. All mothers. American mothers, who mourn their sons, accept their sacrifices, and consider them heroes, and those who like Sheehan, who have different views: All mothers, Hassan. Our Iraqi mothers, too. They have lost their children in mass graves. They certainly feel with those American mothers. They appreciate their sacrifices. At least their sons had the freedom to choose to live or die. Our mothers’ sons had no choice. Saddam massacred them. Casey Sheehan was a hero whose sacrifice saved the lives of many Shi'ites and Kurds. In Iraq and to many Iraqi mothers, he is a hero.


Hassan: I hope his sacrifice won’t be dishonored. He died to give life and freedom to others. That is a noble cause. The worse that could happen to his memory is to destroy the nobility of the cause he died for.


Majid: More coffee?


Hassan: Well, just one more cup….


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Dr Walid Phares is the author of the newly released book Future Jihad. He is also a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington DC.

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