Friday, April 27, 2007

Opinion (Con Coughlin): Wanted, Iraqi strongman -- Moqtada al-Sadr need not apply

Long before we invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power, anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of Iraqi history understood that, to prevent the country's disintegration as a political entity, a powerful leader was needed to keep the ethnically and religiously divided populace at bay.

Saddam's brutal dictatorship was merely the latest in a long and undistinguished line of autocracies to have imposed their will on this nation of sullen malcontents, starting with the Hashemite monarchy, which relied heavily on Britain to sustain its rule, and the succession of military dictators that established the template of brutal political repression that Saddam was only too happy to imitate.

Had Saddam not developed a penchant for invading his neighbours and threatening vital oil supplies, it is likely the West would have continued to tolerate his domestic barbarity. Even when it became obvious that Saddam's behaviour could no longer be tolerated, both Britain and America recognised he would need to be replaced by another strongman, the only difference being that the new tyrant would be our tyrant, a Mubarak rather than a Nasser.

Read the rest at the Telegraph