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Arab-American War Profiteers Benefit from US Occupation of Iraq

by Qasim Lutfi

The American Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC) recently hosted an event to discuss “investment opportunities” with the Iraqi government. That is, the sectarian, illegitimate, puppet Iraqi government that was installed in the wake of the illegal US invasion of Iraq.

While the massacre of Iraq and destruction of its ancient civilization should be cause for humanitarian alarm and antiwar activism, Iraq is simply another business opportunity for these vultures. At the time humanity sees in Iraq a horrifying number of widows, orphans, maimed, displaced, birth deformities as a result of depleted uranium and white phosphorus, AACC and its ilk somehow manage to overlook the carnage to focus on how to make a buck.

While Field Arabs like Muntadhar Zaidi and Ahlam Mohsen throw shoes and pies at their oppressors, House Arabs exploit the colonizer-colonized relationship by siding with the colonizer. Though racist, the empire isn’t purely white. It has Arab ambassadors, and the AACC is one such example.

The AACC represents the Arab-American community’s capitalist arm with all the immorality and opportunism that go with such a designation. It is no surprise that US-based House Arabs would collaborate with Iraq-based House Arabs like the Iraqi government and its National Investment Commission Chairman Sami Al-Araji, who delivered a speech at the AACC event. Al-Araji’s background is rich with examples of cynically taking advantage of war-torn Iraq for immediate personal gain disguised as “reconstruction.” At one business meeting in 2009, Al-Araji encouraged the US, which has been pounding Iraq for decades, to invest in Iraq, ignoring the US’s history of sanctioning Iraq for 13 years and murdering and torturing Iraqis en masse.

“I say to the US, there are countries that are competing with you,” Dr. Sami replies. “India and China could come in and get many of the opportunities. You might find yourself waiting for a long time.”

He has excitedly described the establishment of a clothing store in Mosul that is owned by a West Point graduate:

It will be a great deal,” Al-Araji said. “For the first time, our product produced in our country will be in American stores. … And if Iraq succeeds in this, it means Iraq will be able to capture a percentage of the American market for our products.

Al-Araji has no qualms with dismissing the ongoing suffering of the Iraqi people: “Now that we put the military page behind us, I think the most important page that we should cooperate on is the economic page. Hopefully that we can get American businessmen to enter into Iraq in the different economic sectors, oil and gas industry, agriculture, tourism.”

To accomplish “new free-market economy in Iraq,” Al-Araji expresses utter disregard for the plight of millions of Iraqis who are still displaced and thousands who are still grieving by simply asserting, “Life is moving on.”

Hundreds and thousands of Iraqis continue to die, disappear, and leave their homes as the violence continues, but apparently Al-Araji thinks the “military page is behind us” because the mainstream media does not cover the ongoing tragedy. Yet the level of ongoing violence the Iraqis continue to endure would warrant 24 hour news coverage had it been taking place in any Western country. This is not the first example of House Arabs adopting the sensibilities and underlying racism of a white supremacist culture.

Business opportunities like this are meant to contain the fury of an occupied, besieged population against the occupation, as the occupiers themselves admit:

“If people are out of work, and you’ve got a population that’s disenfranchised and not part of the process, they’re going to become part of the problem,” says Col. Steve Boylan, a spokesman for Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military leader in Iraq.”

It is only appropriate for the AACC to work with its counterparts in Iraq. Its website makes no secret of its sponsorship by the CIA, the FBI and the US Army.

Incidentally, Yahya Basha is on the boards of both AACC and the Arab American Institute. One doubts we’ll be hearing James Zogby’s denunciation of AACC’s “investment” in Iraq anytime soon. On the contrary, we expect Zogby to welcome the efforts, and describe them as Arab-American political empowerment.

It’s disgusting enough when Halliburton and Chevron exploit Iraq’s tragedies. It’s particularly abhorrent when Arab-Americans, who should know better by virtue of supposedly knowing the area’s language, history and culture, collaborate against their brethren. It is regrettable that instead of assuming the leadership of the antiwar movement and doing everything possible to cease the criminal occupation of Iraq, the AACC’s House Arabs attempt to bestow legitimacy on the US empire by giving it an Arab face.

This is not only a betrayal of the homeland they left behind, but a betrayal of other Americans who bravely opposed the invasion of Iraq, and reject the imperialist warmongering that takes place in their name.

This article was first published in Dissident Voice
Qasim Lutfi is co-editor of www.ikhras.com

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