Of homeland, identity and occupation

He is known as the father of pan-Arab nationalism: Khair al-Din Hasib, Iraqi by birth but a citizen of 22 Arab countries. He was detained for two years in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s presidency. 

Hasib: The targets were Iraq's military and economic potential
Hasib: The targets were Iraq's military and economic potential

Hasib links the future of Palestine to Iraq, saying if Iraqis eventually succeed in driving the US-led occupation out, the existing centres of power in the region may get reshaped.


Hasib was interviewed in Doha. Excerpts:


Aljazeera.net: What is your evaluation of political life in post-Saddam Iraq?


Khair al-Din Hasib: The political process is still operated by the US occupation. Paul Bremer (former US administrator of Iraq) created the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), and most of its members were brought to Iraq with the occupation forces.

The IGC gave birth to a government similar to it in nature. Even the Iraqi National Council was created the same way – that is, a majority of its member are collaborators with the occupier.


We saw how it was boycotted by most Iraqi nationalist and Islamic movements. That means any decision that does not get the approval of the occupiers will not get the approval of the council.

But reports say many things are have improved in Iraq. So what is wrong with accepting the new status quo?

US officials are very proud to say they have established some schools in Iraq. But were there no schools in Iraq before the occupation? Iraq was honoured by UNESCO in 1981 for being the first developing country to eliminate illiteracy.

             Facts File

-Born on 1 August 1929
-BA (Economics and Commerce) Baghdad University, 1959
-PhD (National Income), Cambridge University
-1961-1965 Lecturer at Baghdad University
-1963-1965 Governor of Central Bank of Iraq
-1974-1975 chief of programme and coordination Unit of UN’s economic commission for West Asia
-1981 to date Director-General of Arab Unity Studies Centre 
-Publications: The National Income of Iraq 1961; Worker’s participation in Managment in Arab countries 1971; and many more.

If we are going to talk about this, let me make this point; in 1991 US-led forces bombed Iraq for 42 days.

The level of destruction suffered by the infrastructure was three times the destruction done in 2003.

Yet everything was back to normal in just months. Why are Iraqis still suffering from shortage of electricity and pure drinking water after 18 moths of occupation?

On 21 August, 2004 you addressed the 14th gathering of Pan-Arab National Youth and said the religious background of neocons in the US make them very interested in the security of Israel, which constitutes one of the main reasons for the decision to invade Iraq. Can you elaborate further?

Iraq’s military and economic potential were among the main threats to the Zionist entity (Israel), especially after the failure of all attempts to incorporate it in the negotiations with Israel.

Saadun Hammadi: Iraq’s chief diplomat in 1970s and early ’80s

Saadun Hammadi: Iraq’s chief
diplomat in 1970s and early ’80s

In 1975 the Iraqi ambassador to Paris hosted a secret meeting between Henry Kissinger and the then Iraqi Foreign Minister Saadun Hammadi. After some discussion Hammadi told Kissinger, “There is a deep problem between you and us (US and Iraq), which is the recognition of Israel. It is an unthinkable position for us.”


I think that is why the US was keen not to only remove the Iraqi government from power, but to wipe out the Iraqi state and the Iraqi army, which fought all the Arab-Israeli wars (1948, 1967 and 1973) although Iraq has no borders with Israel. 

The claim that oil was the motivation for the war on Iraq has been controversial. Do you think oil had anything to do with it?


The US is importing 55-60% of its oil needs, and the percentage is expected to reach 70% in 10 years. That means the US needs oil for its own use and as an economic card.

We should not forget that Europe does not follow the US as many think. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Europe is no longer in need of the US, and the US realises that.


In the eastern hemisphere we have China whose GDP (gross domestic product) is expected to overtake America’s in the future.

Knowing that Europe and other big players are trying to book a place for themselves in tomorrow’s world, the US is interested in disrupting oil flow to such huge competitive blocs.


I think it is vital for any power to control the world’s most important resource – oil.


In the 20th century, Arab nationalists rallied around the idea of a pan-Arab state. Is that vision relevant today?

Obviously, the international scene has changed dramatically in the last 20 years.

The world is no longer comprised of two magnets as it was a few decades ago. It is heading towards massive strategic blocs – that is, European Union (EU) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).


I can say that individual states will not have a place in the future. Blocs of population less than 300 million people will not be accounted for, Arabs must realise that.

An anti-US demonstration in the Sunni Muslim town of Falluja 

An anti-US demonstration in the
Sunni Muslim town of Falluja 

How do you evaluate the ongoing resistance operations against the US-led forces in Iraq?


Wherever, whenever there is occupation, there will be resistance.


Iraqi resistance is very well organised, and part of it was planned by Saddam Hussein’s government long before the war on Iraq.


Iraqi resistance includes all Iraqi parties and reports show they have a high evel of coordination.


As a veteran politician and thinker, what would you like to tell the people of Iraq?

I would like to say to them that they should differentiate between a government and a national homeland, and would like to tell them my story.

The Saddam government imprisoned me for more than two years, during which I suffered a lot. But when I was released I went to Beirut and undertook a psychological journey to get rid of all bad memories and feelings towards my country.


I have thus succeeded in preventing my painful experiences from affecting my nationalist sentiments.

Source : Al Jazeera

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