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الخميس، 11 سبتمبر، 2014

Is this the end of the barren years in Iraq?

'The Dawa Party has not only handed over Iraq to Al-Abadi, one of its own officials, but has also handed him a country that resembles a sieve due to the many holes in all the basic levels that constitute the state.'


Has the Prime Minister and leader of the Islamic Dawa Party, Nouri Al-Maliki, handed over Iraq to his fellow member of the Dawa Party, Haider Al-Abadi, as he told a meeting with the leaders of the security and military forces on 13 August? As they sat around a long table he said that he has many achievements; they were dumbfounded, writing down everything he said, like school children.
On the day that he was forced to step down, August 14, Al-Maliki claimed that everything in Iraq has improved under his party's rule. "We have launched initiatives and made a qualitative leap in all areas," he said, thus limiting the reasons behind all the catastrophes that have hit the Iraqis during his premiership to the betrayal and treachery of the politicians who joined him in the political process; this is an accusation he always repeated in his weekly speeches. He also made the second reason the presence of terrorists, Al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State (ISIS). The crimes committed by ISIS have overshadowed the Dawa Party's crimes, giving the party a media pardon that may have some people believe that replacing Al-Maliki with his partisan companion Haider Al-Abadi, while keeping the same corrupt and sectarian regime, is a good omen and an optimistic sign. Although I want to stand, with all my heart, in the ranks of those who are optimistic about the albeit superficial change, my knowledge of the personalities participating in the political process and their continual changing of colours depending on the will of the master, makes our hopes and wishes, of which we have been in desperate need during these barren years, mere illusions.
The Dawa Party has not only handed over Iraq to Al-Abadi, one of its own officials, but has also handed him a country that resembles a sieve due to the many holes in all the basic levels that constitute the state. Some may say that this was the state handed over by the Baath Party to the Dawa Party, but I answer by citing the report written by Anthony Cordesman, titled "Iraq in Crisis". Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and is a recipient of the Department of Defence Distinguished Service Medal; he is a specialist on energy, US strategy and defence plans, defence programming and budgeting, counterterrorism, security in the Middle East and the so-called conflict in Iraq. In other words, he is not a Baathist, terrorist or Islamic State Islamist. The report, issued in early March, before the Iraqi elections, addresses the situation in Iraq under Al-Maliki's government and raises a number of recommendations that were mentioned in previous reports, in favour of the government; they had the potential to improve its performance if it had followed them. It bases its assessment of the situation and its analysis on a number of other reports and statistics issued by international institutions and organisations, including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Global Integrity organisation.
The report also addresses the failure of the Iraqi regime, represented by the leader of the Dawa Party and the coalition working with the government, in the aspects that the media does not call attention to because, despite their extreme importance, they do not fit the consumer media mould of "exciting" news. These aspects include education, the economy, energy, state administration and gender. Having knowledge of and understanding these aspects is necessary for any party that wants to find a real solution to Iraq's problems.
The key points in the report confirm the following:

  • Despite the fact that Iraq has oil riches and a significant increase in exports, it has not grown in a developmental manner, remaining poor; the per capita income is the lowest amongst the GCC states, with the exception of Yemen.
  • Iraq is one of most corrupt countries in the world and its government has the least integrity in the region, according to the Global Integrity organisation.
  • The World Bank ranks the Iraqi government as one of the least efficient in the world, stating that it has not made any real progress between 2008 and 2012, despite the end of the first round of the civil conflict.
  • It is the least stable and most violent country in the world, and is worse under the Maliki government than it was under Saddam Hussein's regime, again according to the World Bank.
  • The financial body ranks Iraq at the bottom in terms of countries that enforce the law and classifies its performance under Al-Maliki as worse than it was under Saddam Hussein.
  • The UN ranks Iraq as the 131st country in human development, considering it the worst in the region, with the exception of Yemen, despite its large oil wealth.
  • The average schooling in Iraq last just six years and the rate of improvement is no better than Syria, despite the devastating civil war there.
  • The government's policy led to a serious change in the distribution of the population.
  • Iraq is in the top ten countries with the most number of terrorist acts committed therein.
  • The involvement of the government, security forces, the police and the judicial system in systematic violations of human rights has increased the number and extent of terrorist acts and sectarian fighting according to the US Department of Defence's annual report.
  • The report issued by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in March 2014 confirms the details of the human rights violations.

Reading the human rights reports issued by official US and British bodies must be done cautiously and readers must keep a critical eye. The details should be compared with other reports issued by independent international human rights organisations, such as the Geneva International Centre for Justice and Human Rights Watch, which indicate that the documented details are true beyond a shadow of a doubt.
This report is a compliment or a qualitative addition to the report issued by the International Crisis Group titled "Iraq: A deal with the devil in Fallujah", translated and published in the Al-Mustaqbal Al-Arabi Journal. Perhaps the most important point in its recommendations is to break the cycle of violence and expel the Islamic State organisation (ISIS) from Iraq by the Iraqis themselves, without resorting to the occupation forces again, as the government has done. Instead, they must stop all sectarian aggression and the pitting of the people against each other; more importantly, they must stop the indiscriminate use of the term "terrorism" and the arrests, torture, and executions it warrants in reference to the junta, the rebel tribes demanding justice, and ISIS.
In addition to this, the condemnation of sectarian, religious, and ethnic cleansing crimes, whether committed by a state, ISIS or militia terrorists, must be upheld as a prioritised human value. Without this, the replacement of Nouri Al-Maliki with Haider Al-Abadi will be nothing more than a tragi-comedy in which one torturer, who exhausted his role, is simply swapped for another.
Translated from Al Quds Al Arabi, 20 August, 2014

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