March 23, 2003April 27, 2003Meeting Report

April 4, 2003

Dr. Ayad Al-Qazzaz
Perspectives on Iraq

Dr. Ayad Al-QazzazDr. Ayad Al-Qazzaz is a native of Iraq and is a professor of sociology at California State University Sacramento (CSUS).

Dr. Al-Qazzaz spoke on the objectives of American foreign policy in the Middle East as they focused on Iraq, both during the 1990s and post-Sept. 11. After the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf War, we had a policy of containment towards Iraq. He gave some geopolitical reasons for allowing Saddam Hussein to remain in power after that war. He said that we needed a credible villain to scare the other oil-rich Gulf States into buying US-made weapons and to allow us to set up bases on their soil. Our military presence there would then serve to guarantee a continuous flow of Middle East oil to the West. During this time period, economic sanctions and no-fly zones were imposed on Iraq to keep that country from becoming too powerful. This policy was carried out by both the George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations, in spite of the hardships it created for the Iraqi people.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, American policy changed. George W. Bush was strongly influenced by neo-conservative advisors, who favored a much more aggressive approach that could now succeed politically. Dr. Al-Qazzaz said that if we got rid of Saddam Hussein, we could settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel’s terms. Saddam’s removal would also send a strong message to other countries in the region to not trample on American interests. It could also lead to the weakening of the power of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and enable the United States to control the oil spigot to the rest of the world.

Dr. Al-Qazzaz clearly opposes the war with Iraq. He looks on it as undemocratic, a terrible precedent as far is international law is concerned, and likely to fragment Iraq. It would confirm the suspicions of many in the Middle East that it is a war against Islam, in spite of protestations to the contrary. It is also guaranteed to create more Osama bin Ladens.

Dr. Al-Qazzaz was introduced by Phil LaZier, of the Program Committee.

Report prepared by Wayne Luney, HAGSA Recorder

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