The capture of Saddam Hussein was not a real surprise to many observers -it was only a matter of time. But no one should think this will bring an end to the bloody situation in Iraq. The fall of a dictator like Saddam, in a country like Iraq, with all its social and ethnic complexities, will only open the door to fiercer fighting than that we have already seen. Those who fought for Saddam may give up, but those who did not fight for him will be encouraged to fight for their own sake. No one will take victory from them. Those who can be hired to fight for cheque-payers will do that as long as there is someone willing to pay.
Iraq will be a greater attraction for dreamers and adventurers of all kinds; fundamentalists and nationalists alike - those who have nothing to lose or nowhere to go. It will remain unstable there for many years to come. President Bush, who claimed he came to Iraq to bring freedom and democracy, has already realized the heavy price the Iraqi people are paying for something they may never get. The misery Bush has brought to the Iraqi people must be a lesson for the future. The US has returned the world to an era of colonialism, exploiting the resources of the colonized countries. We have all witnessed the arguments about the contracts for "the rebuilding of Iraq", but we all know that at the end of the day, Iraq will pay the bills.
Stability, security and democracy are still a long way off for Iraq. The capture of Saddam Hussein will open the race for all those who feel their dream of ruling Iraq is becoming more realistic. This could be the beginning of the end, but that end is still far off.
While the US sinks further and further into the mud of Iraq, the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is getting worse. The widespread impression is that Israel is using American involvement in Iraq to act with a free hand in the Occupied Territories. The recent calls by some Israeli leaders to take unilateral action and withdraw should be a source of fear for everyone. These calls are not meant to solve the problem but to further complicate it. These leaders have realized this is an historical opportunity for Israel to establish its borders according to it's own vision, regardless of Palestinian interests. The US presidential elections are approaching, reminding President Bush of his need to curry favor with the Jewish Lobby and the Christian Right. Israel is advancing its colonial policy, expanding Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories, building the separation barrier and making unilateral decisions.
The suffering of the Palestinian people is beyond endurance. The systematic humiliation of an entire population has became normal Israeli behavior in the Occupied Territories. While there may be a flurry of new initiatives and peace plans, there have been no changes on the ground.
The new Palestinian government is making serious efforts to change the status quo, but its hands are tied by closures and curfews. It is obvious nothing will move without American support, but it is equally obvious that the US is too busy to do anything on the ground. The rest of the international community should participate more in the efforts to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The US needs to push the Road Map forward, backing up words with action. This administration has done nothing that could remind us of Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East after the 1973 October War, or James Baker's efforts after the first Iraqi war in 1991.
It is time to end the Israeli occupation, to end the suffering of the Palestinian people, and to bring peace and security to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Allowing Israel a free hand to continue building its apartheid wall and dictating a unilateral settlement will make peace and security impossible for either side.