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February 10, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-02-10

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OPINION

Page 4

Tuesday, January 10, 1981

The Michigan Daily

Iraq:

Hotbed

of o litical

upheaval

All America was shocked to learn that during
their imprisonment in Iran, the American
hostages were tortured. The methods sounded
gruesome and barbaric, but torture of plolitical
prisoners is commonplace in the world. Indeed,
the concept of equality of all peoples is not
universally accepted.
The Middle East is full of dictatorships whose
leaders use torture and terror to maintain
power. Iraq is a perfect example. .
UNTIL ITS WAR with Iran, Iraq was, to most.
Americans, simply one of those Arab oil coun-
tries. Currently, more interest is being taken in
this state built upon the foundation of ancient
Mesopotamia. Iraq's leader Saddam Hussein
has set himself up as a cult figure for his
people. His picture reportedly adorns
everything in Iraq from buildings to book
jackets. He has shuffled and purged the Iraqi
political system numerous times, making him-
self Iraq's unquestioned boss.
The Ba'ath is Iraq's only legal political par-
ty,. and its ideology is the only approved
ideology. The Ba'ath raises Arab nationalism
above all else in importance. Its narrow,
xenophobic chauvinism is frightingly
reminiscent of fascist Italy and Germany.
Iraqis are "encouraged" to join the party.
Those who do not are held up from promotions
in their jobs, are verbally and physically
harassed by Ba'ath members, and are subject
to the caprices of Iraq's powerful secret police.
THE MOTTO OF the Ba'ath is "One
Socialist-Arab Nation." For them the Middle
East is the Arab homeland; the two terms
being entirely synonymous. Yet, the Middle
East is not strictly Arab domain. This fact is no

more readily evident than in Iraq where
Ba'athist ultra-nationalism and reality come
crashing together.
What is very poorly publicized about Iraq is
that this Arab state is over 30 percent non-
Arab. In this state of about 15 million people
live about 4 million Kurds who are Muslim, but
not Arab; and well over 1 million Assyrian-
Chaldeans who are Christian, non-Arab and, in
fact, pre-date the Arabs in Iraq by over 2,500
years.
But how did such a large number of non-
Arabs end up living inside an Arab state? We
must look back about 60 years for the answer.
AFTER WORLD WAR I, the victorious
Allied powers had the unique opportunity to
make the Middle East a region of freedom and
democracy where all peoples would be free to
control their own affairs in their ancestral lan-
ds. The Kurds and Assyrian-Chaldeans had
been promised autonomy for their support of
the Allied cause.
Ignoring these promises, and with the
knowledge that the region was rich in oil, the
British and French arbitrarily created states
which bore no parallel to the demographic
realities of the region, but which the colonial
powers felt they could control. Iraq was one of
these artifically created states.
The British installed Faisal, a prince from
the Arabian peninsula, to rule Iraq. (Faisal, in'
cidentally, was the great uncle of the present
king of Jordan.) All hopes of autonomy for the
Kurds and Assyrian-Chaldeans were crushed.
SINCE THAT TIME, it has been the policy of
the Iraqi government to make "Arab Iraq"
truly Arab; to suppress the national identity

By David Holzel
of Kurds, Assyrian-Chaldeans, Jews; and other
large non-Arab groups. Their progress towards
this goal has met with stiff resistance.
The Kurds rebelled against their Arab
masters for most of the period 1960-1975, aided
by the Shah of Iran. Iraqi Kurdistan lies in the
north of the country. This is also the area where
most of the Assyrian-Chaldean people live. The
Iraqi government, in its fights against the Kur-
ds, bombed Christian villages also.
Eyewitnesses tell stories of families being
herded together and shot by Iraqi troops. Un--
der these severe conditions, many thousands
of Assyrian-Chaldeans fled from their northern
mountain villages to the cities of Iraq, and to
safer havens outside Iraq.
THE KURDISH rebellion collapsed in 1975
when the Shah and Saddam Hussein signed a
treaty in Algiers. In return for withdra.wing
support for the Kurds, the Shah was given the
Shatt al-Arab waterway and three Persian Gulf
islands. (Last September, Hussein reneged on
the treaty and attacked Iran with the intent of
regaining control of the waterway and the
islands.)
Sad to say, the flow of refugees didn't stop.
Spokespersons of the Assyrian Universal
Alliance, a worldwide body organized to
protect the rights of the Assyrian-Chaldean
people. say that about 3000 refugees are
currently waiting in Athens and Rome for per-
mission to enter the United States.
The stories of these refugees, and the
thousands who have reached America, show

that oppression by the Ba'ath and forced
Arabization of non-Arabs continues in Iraq
today.
ARABS ARE BEING settled in the north on
lands where Kurds and Assyrian-Chaldeans
have predominated for centuries. Christian
parochial schools which taught the language
and culture of the Assyrian-Chaldeans were
nationalized. Arabs then were sent to register
in these schools so they would form a majority
which, by Iraqi law, would mean that Arab
language and culture would predominate.
Oppression, torture. and terror continue. The
Amnesty International report on Iraq outlines
the various human rights violations committed
on a day-to-day basis in Iraq, including:
* widespread arrests
* routine inadequacy of political trials
* routine and systematic torture 'of political
detainees
" death penalty used for political reasons
* prisoners held incommunicado
" no right of defense
" no right of appeal
" confessions obtained under torture.
THE BILLIONS of dollars Iraq has earned
from its oil has allowed Saddam Hussein to
turn his state into a military power. Money is
no object when it comes to supporting causes
that are worthwhile to Hussein and the Ba'athist
ideology he espouses.
Reportedly, $500 million goes to the P.L.O.
annually to aid that group in its program of
genocide. One wonders why, with all this
money to spend, Palestinians are still
languishing in refugee camps, and haven't
been settled properly, as have all the other vic-

tims of the massive post-World War II world
population shifts.
France, in her endless search for oil, has sold
Iraq all the ingredients necessary to construct
a nuclear arsenal. Saddam Hussein recently
admitted that nuclear ability is on the way.
The instability of this region (conflicts bet-
ween Iraq and Iran, Syria and Iraq, Syria and
JordaA) and. the almost unbelievable im-
maturity of these nations' foreign policy
decisions (eg., the monumental destruction of
Iraqi and Iranian oil production facilities by
each others military at the start of their war)
shows that an indiscriminate use of an Iraqi
bomb is a virtual certainty.
In conclusion,;Iraq is a police-state dictator-
ship whose government espouses an inflexible
ultra-nationalistic ideology that seeks to sup-
press and destroy the culture, language, and
legitimate national aspirations of the sizeable
minorities within its borders.
Iraq has succeeded in the almost total
emigration of its 135,000 Jews, and now it is
pressuring the much larger community of
Assyrian-Chaldean Christians to either forget
their heritage, or leave the country. After
breaking relations with the United States in
1968, Iraq has been armed by the Soviets and
the French, and has consistently attacked
American foreign policy, and America's peace
initiatives in the Middle East.
David Hozel is a recent University
graduate with a degree in Radio,
Television, and Film Production.

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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCI, No. 112

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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Avoiding MSU's mistake

M ICHIGAN STATE University,
attempting to grapple with a
budget crunch even more severe than
that facing the University, has resor-
ted to a cost-cutting procedure that will
probably have a devastating effect on
the future of that institution. MSU
President M. Cecil, Mackey has suc-
ceeded in declaring a state of financial
crisis at the university, a move that
will give him much greater - some
say excessive - freedom to deal with
the fiscal dilemma.
The declaration, of crisis, pushed
through the MSU Board of Trustees
over the fierce objections of several
faculty groups, will allow Mackey to
lay off tenured professors and enjoy
greater power in decisions to cutback
and completely eliminate University
staff, programs and departments.
Although this will certainly expand
Mackey's ability to cut costs fast, MSU
will likely pay a-high price in the long
run for its speed in; addressing the
crisis in the short run.
As faculty members have wisely
pointed out, Mackey's declaration may

well deeply damage MSU's ability to
maintain its academic quality in the
future. Prospective professors may
join the faculty of other universities
where tenure truly ensures job
security. MSU may also find it more
difficult to attract students and to
secure federal research grants.
It could take decades, the professors
argue, for MSU to regain the confiden-
ce of the academic comrunity.
It is reassuring that University of-
ficials here have not similarly over-
reacted to our own fiscal crisis. Gran-
ted, the financial crunch here is not as
severe as MSU's, but even MSU's
crisis does not warrant the sort of
response that will likely cause serious,
long-term damage to the university.
Officials here have wisely ap-
proached the budget-cutting process
with caution and have made an effort
- if not ideal - to include the input
and accommodate the concerns of
faculty members. We must learn from
Mackey's mistakes and move to fur-
ther include the participation of
faculty members and students.

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Stay tuned for '52 Questions'

Well, it's been three weeks since the
hostages were released, but you sure wouldn't
know it from reading newspapers or watching
television. As faras the media are concerned,
it's still open season on hostage reaction
stories, hostage family stories, and hostage
new-car-has-been-waiting-444-days-to-be-dri-
ven stories.
i called up a major network executive the
other day to voice my complaints about
media exploitation of the whole hostage
situation.

A 1

Witticisms
By Howard Witt

let a good thing drop just like that, do you? We
got 444 nights of special news programs out of
this hostage crisis before the damn
towelheads released 'em. Let me tell you, we
pulled in a lot of advertising bucks on those
specials. The Iranians may be done with this
thing, but we're not."
"SO YOU'RE GOING to continue the late-
night specials every night now that the
hostages are back?" I asked in disbelief.
"We're sure going to try," the chief
programmer boasted. "and if they don't
work, we've got a few other plans in our sty of
ideas."
"Don't you mean 'stable of ideas'?" I
corrected.
'-"Whatever. Anyway, this day-counting fad
has really caught on. So, we're prepared to
try out a few other series. Like 'Day 74,681:
America, An Experiment in Democracy.' Or
'Day 723,106: The World Anno Domini.'
"You could count practically anything and
make a TV show out of it," I observed with
some disdain.
"Hey, kid, you want a job?" the chief
programmer laughed. "Did I tell you about
the hostage game shows?"
I WAS SHOCKED. "You're going to have
hostage game shows?" I gasped.
"Why, of course! How does '52 Questions'
grab you?" he asked eagerly.
"I really don't think ... "
"And we'll have soap operas," he interrup-
ted. "We'll have 'All My Hostages' and 'As
the Embassy Burns.' And then," he was star-
ting to giggle, "we'll have the sitcoms. We've

"THIS ALL SOUNDS pretty crass," I blur-
ted. "These unfortunate Americans have
suffered for 444 days; their families have en-
dured untold agonies; there may yet be
seriousupsychological problems that surface.
And you people-the media-will not let them
alone!" I- was really getting warmed up.
"Every time a hostage stoops to tie his shoe,
you get on the air with a special bulletin!
Every time a hostage tries to whisper
something to a loved one, you shove a
microphone in his face! I'm surprised you
didn't show the hostages' first sex acts with
their spouses after 444 long, lonely nights."
"Oh," the chief programmer piped up..,.
"Didn't you see our TV special, '52 Minutes
in Bed With a Hostage and HisWife'?"
I was thoroughly disgusted. "You people
are sick," I hissed. "Next you're going to tell
me how perfect it is that there were 52
hostages so you can put on 52 weeks of
specials."
"That's a great idea!" the chief program-
mer jumped. He was starting to think. "Why,
yes ... . and we can use that 53rd hostage,
Richard Queen, for. . . for. . . a Christmas
special!"
I slammed down the receiver.
Howard Witt is a Daily staff writer. His
column appears every Tuesday.

already got Suzanne Somers lined up to play
an Iranian militant student in '52's Com-
pany'..."

64

"Hello, is this the Chief Programmer?" I
asked.
"It sure is," the chief programmer replied.
"Quick, now, what day will it be on Friday?"
he shot back abruptly.
I DIDN'T REALLY know what he was
talking about. "Uh. . . Friday?" I asked
meekly.
"No, silly, it will be Day 25: America Not
Held Hostage! Haven't you been counting?"
"Well, no, I haven't. Why do you have to
count the days since the hostages were
released?" I queried.
"Now, look, you don't think we're going to

al

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

A plea for Peterson for City Council

To the Daily:
On Monday, February 16, the

for City Council for the First
Ward of Ann Arbor. Mr. Peterson

Perry Bullard during 1980. He
works in Ann Arbor and has

all the interests of the First
Ward. On Monday, February 16,
vonte for Lowevll Petersn.

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