Pushed against the wall

THE endless cycle of insurgent attacks and counter-attacks in Iraq has taken a heavy toll. Insurgency has claimed hundreds of innocent civilian lives, including those of senior Iraqi politicians. Pushed against the wall, and hoping to stop the bloodshed that is tearing the country apart, the Iraqi interim government has now warned countries supporting foreign militants responsible for the violence that's bleeding the country dry that it would retaliate.

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Published: Wed 21 Jul 2004, 12:28 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:24 AM

While it did not openly mention the countries that were tacitly backing the insurgents, its Defence Minister Hazim Al Shaalanm did, however, accuse Iraq's old foe Iran of "blatant interference" and alluded to another foreign hand - Syria - of allowing guerrilla fighters to enter Iraq via its borders. Syria had agreed last month to seal its desert border with Iraq and plug the gaps through which foreign insurgents slipped into Iraq to wage war against US forces and the US-backed government.

Khaleej Times had time and again highlighted on its front pages that the wave of bombings, guerrilla wars and assassinations bore the marks of a foreign hand lending support to the infiltrators. But the question is: How is Iraq going to retaliate? Does its army - or what is left of it - have what it takes to do so? Or will it be leaning heavily on American forces to help it do its job of hitting back at Iran which it strongly suspects as being the main culprit since it has confronted them "with facts and evidence" to support their charge. Will it not be playing into Washington's hands should it team up with US forces in taking on Tehran, which Washington has accused of seeking to destabilise and gain influence in Iraq? It may be recalled that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had waged a protracted war against Iran between 1980 and 1988 in which hundreds of thousands died on both sides.

It's not just precious human lives that are being sacrificed on the altar of a inhuman war. Iraq's fragile economy is being hurt where it matters the most and any development that has been undertaken is now crawling like a tortoise on two broken legs. Iraq's rebuilding process in a long one. About 74,000 kilometres of major highways and local road systems are in disrepair and the over 32 damaged bridges do not adequately support the high volume of transportation. Hospitals too need to be built and educational institutions put in place. But the never-ending cycle of attacks by the saboteurs bent on "shaking up the social and political situation" are undermining every effort by the interim government to speed up the economic recovery and put it back on track.

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