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الأربعاء، 6 مارس، 2013

Iraq and the Shattering of the Icon!

Iraq and the Shattering of the Icon!

Jameel Theyabi



March 4, 2013
When you ask the majority of Iraqis about the situation in their country, you get the following sad reply: "It is not fine as long as Nouri al-Maliki is practicing sectarianism and racism and trying to settle scores, in the total absence of social justice, the spiking of nepotism and poverty and unemployment rates, and Iran’s interference in our affairs."

There are many slogans and banners which were recently raised by Iraqi cities and provinces in the face of Al-Maliki’s government, including among others "Iraq comes first," "We are coming Baghdad," "For the toppling of Iran’s government in Baghdad." This is due to the fact that they have run out of patience, have had enough, and have lost confidence in a government adopting sectarian policies, and trying to please Tehran at the expense of Iraq’s interests. Al-Maliki is not the first icon it fabricates and promotes in the Arab countries with false slogans, before discovering – although belatedly and after he reaches power - that these slogans were lies and that his principles are fake, which requires the people to correct the situation and shatter the icon!

The current Iraqi prime minister did not reach power following the last elections, but through the secret deal between Washington and Tehran. Back then, Al-Maliki did not face Saddam from within as others did, but rather escaped to Iran then Syria, and returned to Baghdad via Syria on an American tank in 2003. And during the 2010 elections, Al-Maliki refused to surrender power and held on to it with his teeth, despite the victory of the Iraqiya Coalition headed by Iyad Allawi. And during the Arab revolutions sweeping the tyrannical governments, he appeared to be supportive of them in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. But when one erupted in Syria, he started to downplay it and reiterate what is dictated to him by Iran, thus announcing that he stood alongside Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Al-Maliki is a failure at the level of domestic policy and too slow at the level of international relations. He has already ruined his country’s ties with many states, including the neighboring ones, except for Iran. As for the last calls of the demonstrators who asked him to leave, burned the Iranian flag in Salahuddin, and asked the United Nations to interfere while threatening with escalation and dire consequences, they were the product of his sectarian and racist policy that is practiced against the entire Iraqi population, with all its components and factions.

Last Friday, live and active demonstrations were staged, despite the threats issued to suppress them and prevent any gatherings. People took to the streets in Al-Anbar, Mosul, Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Diyala and the Sunni neighborhoods of Baghdad, without raising one sectarian slogan. This meant that these demonstrations were different than the ones seen on previous Fridays, thanks to the calls of Sheikh Abdul Malek as-Saadi. Indeed, the latter addressed the demonstrators in a televised statement, urging them to organize their ranks and not to put forward "words and terms which might be misunderstood and could hint to sectarianism." This pushed demonstrators in Al-Anbar to follow his instructions and to tear apart leaflets calling for the formation of a Sunni province.

As-Saadi’s calls are wise and patriotic, and the man seems to have become the most prominent figure and the spiritual leader of the demonstrators, who showed commitment, high spirit and an insistence on the greater nation of Iraq. And the biggest proof for the non-sectarianism of the protests is that the demonstrators in Al-Anbar ousted Saleh al-Mutlak when he visited them in Al-Ramadi, knowing that he is from Al-Anbar, from the Al-Duleim tribe and - above all - a Sunni politician.

Iraq should remain united and unified and should reject division and dismantlement, or else division will not spare any Arab country. Hence, the political and religious movements, as well as the clans, should focus on maintaining a unified Iraq that rejects the secessionist calls, while continuing to demand rights, freedoms, and social justice and to insist on the release of the detainees, the annulment of the Debaathification Law and the secret informant, and the rejection of Iran’s interference in Iraq’s affairs.

Throughout his term as prime minister, Al-Maliki never tried to reduce the unemployment and poverty rates or to eradicate terrorism which is worrying the entire country. He rather worked on the enhancement of sectarianism and factionalism and on besieging the Sunnis and their command. In the meantime, Vice President Tarek al-Hachemi is being pursued on charges of supporting terrorism, an order was issued for the arrest of a number of bodyguards affiliated with Finance Minister Rafeh al-Issawi, while recently, reports emerged about the issuance of an arrest warrant against him and a number of politicians from the Iraqiya bloc who are supporting the demonstrations. But what can be expected from Al-Maliki and his likes, seeing how he described his country as a "brother" during the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting on March 28, 2012? Indeed, he said at the time: "Terrorism has no religion, no nationality and no sect. Terrorism has targeted the foundations of stability in more than one state, and the brotherly Iraq to which you have come has likely suffered a lot due to terrorism."

What is certain is that Iraq cannot be governed by one sect, and Al-Maliki’s government is a sectarian and racist one which constitutes a disaster for Iraq and the Iraqis. And raising the ceiling of the calls for the departure of Al-Maliki’s government is a popular necessity to eradicate the disease, after this government has become slow and started to reek of sectarianism and corruption. This should be done while continuing to reject sectarianism and division, remaining distant from the political conflicts destroying Iraq and serving those lurking for it and Iran, and staying away from those advocating sectarian projects aiming at ripping Iraq to pieces.

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