OPINION

Letter from Thessaloniki

«Upon his arrival in the capital, he was asked by one of his comrades if he would be willing to assassinate X. He accepted at once as he considered the assignment to be an honor. He immediately began to train in the use of automatic weapons, having already mastered the use of the revolver. The plan was to shoot X as he passed through Blank Street at his official headquarters. Y began to explore the city and to familiarize himself with the area in which the operation was to take place. The plan was drawn up, a password was chosen and everything was ready.» But the man who had been posted as lookout for the victim was too slow in transmitting the password, so the operation was postponed to a later date. You could bet that those lines refer to some November 17 action, couldn’t you? No, not if you replace X with the name of Abdel-Karim Qassem, Y with Saddam Hussein and Blank Street with Rashid Street. As a matter of fact, the above-mentioned paragraph is from a book I was proudly offered by some state official some years ago in Baghdad with the title, «Saddam Hussein – The Man, the Cause and the Future.» It was written by the Lebanese author Fuad Mattar for the Third World Center in 1981 and was «devoted to the life and work of S.H.,» the dust jacket tells us. The naive portraits of statesmen convince rather more than sophisticated journalism might have done. During the last 20 years I have been a frequent visitor to Iraq, first as a correspondent – for the daily Apoyevmatini – in which capacity I visited the country during the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, and later, during the Gulf War in the early ’90s as a reporter for ANT1 TV. Now that I think of it, I wouldn’t mind going again when things get really serious, and if the Iraqi charge d’affaires in Greece, Farouk Alfiyan, consents to give me a visa. Because they are indisputably going to get serious, not necessarily because of any imminent Security Council resolution. (By the way, not all UN resolutions are just. Last year United Nations’ members voted the United States off the Human Rights Commission. Yes! Of all the states in the world, they voted off one of the few countries with a seat on the commission since its inception in 1947, and undoubtedly possessing a far better record than others on the matter. Obviously in this case UN members seemed to consider that human rights are better guarded by Pakistan, Sudan and Sierra Leone – to name but three successful candidates…) No. The attack on Iraq will take place if only to fulfill the prophecies. What prophecies? The Old Testament ones of course. Religious imagination and the role of collective fantasy have always been one of the most common motivating forces in world politics. Varieties of secular and quasi-religious ideology have had hellish consequences not only for the «impious superprefect,» New Democracy’s candidate for Attica, Yiannis Tzannetakos, who, because of religious insubordination, is doomed to disappointment at next Sunday’s elections, but, also, for the whole of humanity over the preceding centuries. Pastor Joey Faust, for instance, in his article «What can we expect in the Middle East?» published on the End-Times-Prophecy site plainly predicts that «…Iraq is able to unify the whole Arab world against Israel. Israel is attacked. Jerusalem and the temple are completely destroyed. Jews are led captive into all nations (Lu.21:23,24). Iraq grows into a mighty kingdom (Da.7:3,4,17), only to be destroyed by Iran (Jer.51:11).» In addition, one N.W. Hutchings, with priestly eloquence, spoke in 1998 at the Southwest Radio Church on the false Messiah: «We read in Revelation 13:7 that this person, called the Son of Perdition and the Antichrist, will have power over all races, nations, and languages – this will be total political power over the earth. In Revelation 13:8 we read that everyone who is not a saved person during the Tribulation will worship this world dictator as a god. We also read in Revelation 13:15-17 that it be mandated by the Son of Perdition that any person who does not worship him as the ‘messiah’ in order to get a mark and number, will be killed. This is total economic power.» This does not sound like Saddam Hussein. This sounds more like globalization. In another article titled «Iraq, Iran, Greece and Rome in Prophecy,» Pastor Joey Faust writes that the Bible clearly states that in history, Babylon (in Iraq) was followed by the Medo-Persian kingdom (2Chron. 36:20). The Persian one was succeeded by that of Greece (Dan.8:20,21) which was finally followed by that of Rome (Lk.2:1). The effect of the article is phantasmagorical – colliding cultures, marvelous ancient kingdoms, strange names, and amid all this, quotes from Daniel. «The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.» The author comes to awesome conclusions. What about the Greeks? The author mentions Daniel 8:21. «And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.» According to Pastor J. Faust’s interpretation and synthesis of biblical facts: «It is noteworthy that Iraq (i.e. Babylon), Iran (i.e. Persia) and even Greece are showing up in the news more and more.» On the other hand, the gospel according to Saddam Hussein’s biographer Fuad Matar preaches, «He is a national leader with an international reputation associated not only with industrialization but also with a strong state possessing a powerful army…» Interviewed in the book the Iraqi leader concludes: «We must consolidate our struggle and strengthen our purpose to push ever forward. Ours is a great nation, and it will be even greater in time.» This is food for thought. For those, and I am one, who have been totally mystified by Saddam Hussein who, then and now, envisions himself as a modern Nebuchadnezzar to restore the glory that was once Babylon’s, or by American presidents who believe the world is there to be conquered, or by permanently demonizing seers, the only plausible explanation comes from that even better book, the New Testament: «O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!» (Luke 24.25).