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Arabs Sneer At US 'Iraqi Freedom' Label For War

by Claire O. Voyant Wednesday, Apr. 02, 2003 at 11:04 PM

Commentators in the region say the name Operation Iraqi Freedom, apparently meant to win over public opinion, has backfired to become grist for sarcasm and scorn as word of the wounded and the dead flows from Arab television channels.

Arabs Sneer At US 'Iraqi Freedom' Label For War

By Christine Hauser


AMMAN (Reuters) -- From street protests to newspaper columns, many Arabs in the Middle East say the only liberty they see so far in "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is that of the United States and Britain to wage war at will.


"The Bush-Blair war can be called a lot of things, but it cannot be called a war to free Iraqis," said columnist Taher Al Adwan in the independent Jordanian newspaper Al Arab Al Youm.


"A better name is the `War of Lies,' because it is through lies that they think they can fool all the people all the time," he wrote in a recent column entitled "Freedom to Kill Iraqis."


Nearly two weeks into the war, many Arabs bombarded with images of bombings in Baghdad and handcuffed Iraqi prisoners say they are not buying into the stated aim of what US President George W. Bush's government callsOperation Iraqi Freedom.


Street demonstrations in Arab capitals burn American flags and chant support for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair say they intend to overthrow to "free Iraqis of an oppressive regime."


Commentators in the region say the name Operation Iraqi Freedom, apparently meant to win over public opinion, has backfired to become grist for sarcasm and scorn as word of the wounded and the dead flows from Arab television channels.


"How can they call it that?," said Ali Naim, an Egyptian in Cairo, after last Friday's Baghdad market bombing which an Iraqi doctor said killed 62 people. "They aren't liberating Iraq. They are killing people in markets. You call that liberation?"


A political cartoon in Egypt's opposition Al Wafd newspaper shows Bush at his desk talking on the phone. "Hello, American forces command? I tell you what: Don't kill all the Iraqis.


"Leave some alive because we are saying that we are freeing them from Saddam's rule."


American forces have not met with the surrender of Iraqi forces or popular uprising against Saddam's rule to the extent that they had planned for when they launched war on March 20.


US came in peace


US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview with National Public Radio last week that after the US Army defeated the Iraqi government "...the Arab public will realise that we came in peace. We came as liberators, not conquerors."


"It is not Iraqi Freedom. It is Iraqi slavery," said Metwali Ibrahim, a Palestinian teacher in Gaza.


"Freedom should start from the people, not from a foreign force killing them," Shahir Qawasmeh, a medical student, said at a protest in Amman. "If this is freedom, we do not need it."


Operation Iraqi Freedom has been mocked on the Internet. Chat room participants suggested "Operation Iraqi Murder Death Kill" and "Operation Wacky Iraqi Attacky" were better alternatives.


One quoted American television host Jay Leno making the name the butt of a joke at the start of his show: "They're calling it Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were going to call it Operation Iraqi Liberation until they realised that spells `OIL'."


Dan Plesch, a senior research fellow for the London-based Royal United Services Institute, said the American habit of choosing "public relations" operational names was unusual, noting Britain uses names randomly picked by computer.


"The principal intention behind it is to sell the operation to the American public, who after all pay for the operation and are responsible for it," he said.


"A great many people in different parts of the world will simply regard it as "Operation Conquest" rather than Operation Freedom."


Such a comment seemed like an understatement judging by a recent student protest against the war at the University of Jordan.


"The demonstrators here have come out in force today and the day after someone else will," said student Ali Abu-Shakra. "The time is coming, not right now, maybe not even in a day or two. But America will collapse by our hands, not someone else's."

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 4 posted about this article.
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Operation Iraqi Liberation - the Energizer Bunny of Death Sarah N. Dippity Wednesday, Apr. 02, 2003 at 11:06 PM
American Foreign Policy... Diogenes Wednesday, Apr. 02, 2003 at 11:24 PM
Freedom is a relative term UI Wednesday, Apr. 02, 2003 at 11:36 PM
The New X The New X Thursday, Apr. 03, 2003 at 9:01 AM

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