A quick survey of editorials in Arab nations (I was actually looking for anything concerning Turkish intentions) reveals a thoroughly scathing abandonment of Saddam Hussein, couched in expressions of concern and solidarity for the Iraqi peope. But the most consistent thread is condemnation for American high-handedness. This item from Jordan Times (Opinion Section) is typical:
"What came out of yesterday's summit in the Azores was not an ultimatum to Iraq. It was an ultimatum to the world that it had 24 hours to jump on Washington's war bandwagon. [...] The Azores summit might go down in history as one of the lowest moments ever in diplomacy. It was a summit anticipated as a "war council." It was a summit whose duration was calculated to the second. It was a summit that had little to do with diplomacy and a lot to do with public relations.."While the most simplistic in the international community continue with the theme of "you're with us or you're against us", the splits are increasing: first England and France, now Turkey and the US. (The US and Canada? The mindlessly right-wing here are practically begging Uncle Sam to spank us for having remained consistent in our support of multilateral operations in keeping with international law and the mandate of the United Nations.) And those most immediately impacted, the Arab nations, are thinking regionally with an eye to process:
US President George W. Bush told Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that he still had 24 hours to leave his country. But Bush's message was not to Saddam. It was first and foremost to French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin. In Bush's logic — the "you are either with us or against us" doctrine — France, Russia, Germany and the majority of governments all over the world that are not willing to lend their support to war are either to make a 180 degree turnaround today or else. Or else what?
In yesterday's press conference after the hasty summit, Bush launched a not too thinly-veiled threat to the pro-peace camp that the US will review its ties with those who oppose it on Iraq. He laid the first stone of the fortress in which America risks to relegate itself for years to come. US isolation was not only palpable in Bush's words, but it was apparent looking at the four leaders standing on the podium. Only four of them, but talking on behalf of the international community, of the UN, speaking a language alien to international legitimacy and collective imagination. They did not manage to go to war with the cover of international legitimacy, with a UN mandate, so they are going ahead on their own.
From a political point of view, Bush last night was already talking about a postwar Iraq. He sketchily laid out his plans for the "liberation" of Iraq, said the US will supply humanitarian relief — most likely, if historic precedents are to be taken into account, through the military, and as a means to reduce the independence and self-reliance of local communities.