Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Prof: Resistance transcends Saddam

By Jeremy W. Steele
The Cincinnati Enquirer

OXFORD - Even capturing Saddam Hussein will not, by itself, be enough to quell growing resentment among Iraqis of the U.S.-led occupation, an Iraqi-born professor and Middle East expert said Tuesday.

With U.S. forces pursuing leads in Iraq on the ousted leader's whereabouts, Miami University political science professor Adeed Dawisha said reconstruction efforts are moving at a "snail's pace," frustrating millions of Iraqis still without electricity, running water or employment - especially in Baghdad.

"Whatever goodwill we had when we went in has almost dissipated," said Dawisha, author of the book Arab Nationalism in the Twentieth Century: From Triumph to Despair.

Dawisha said the United States needs to establish order by October, easing fears that the former regime could return to power, by re-establishing basic services and bringing order to the nearly lawless capital city.

The professor said the Iraqis he's in contact with are disenchanted by the coalition's failure to stabilize the country.

"If we have caught Saddam and at the same time made some real steps at allaying the fears and frustrations of the people, I think we will have turned a new page," Dawisha said.

Although the killing of Saddam's sons, Udai and Qusai, last week eased some worries, many Iraqis still fear retribution if they help U.S. forces.

"These are people who have lived for 35 years under one of the most barbaric, sadistic regimes in the 20th century," Dawisha said. "That barbarism has implanted a belief that the regime is indestructible.

"If the head of the snake is finally taken into custody or killed, that fear will dissipate and that will release the people from this nagging fear that Saddam and his henchmen will come back."

But equally important, he said, is making sure Iraqis can support their families.

Nearly 3 million former Iraqi soldiers no longer get government paychecks.


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