Thursday, June 10, 2004

Can The Iraqis Become Democratic?

Mohamad Al Rumaihi Al-Hayat 2004/06/9

The answer depends on your priorities in Iraq, whether you are looking for a story about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), or wondering whether the U.S. was right in occupying Iraq. Alternatively, if the U.S. president's rhetoric regarding Iraq was sincere or not, or if one considers the former Iraqi president, who is expected to be prosecuted, a hero or a criminal.

I think that the priorities in discussing the Iraqi issue are to see if Iraqis are able to accept, on the short term, the democratic "game" with all its achievements. In order to answer this question, the future of the Arab region depends on the countries neighboring Iraq.

Many, states or individuals, welcomed the appointment of the new Iraqi president and prime minister, each for different reasons, and many criticisms came from inside and outside Iraq, also for different reasons.

However, it was noteworthy that the new Iraqi government thought that it reached power in Iraq through its own struggle, far from any international initiatives; including the war that liberated Iraq. Some people found that "thanking" the U.S. for this matter is an unforgivable national mistake.

I do not know if those people read the famous British philosopher Bernard Shaw who said: patriotic pretense is the last thing an impostor resorts to!

Patriotic pretense, similar to what Mr. Chalabi said: "Get out of my country" or Mr. Pachachi who said: "there is a conspiracy against me and the Americans did not suggest my candidature." Similarly, other hot statements delivered by some Iraqis all mean the same thing; everyone wants to forget that had it not been for the American forceful intervention in Iraq, Saddam Hussein's intelligence would have still been suffocating the Iraqis.

Hence, the golden rule for every Iraqi is, if he truly wants to build a new Iraq, he has to admit that without American intervention, the oppressor would have remained in his palace and Iraqis would be either exiled or dead.

True, the Americans committed many mistakes, which they themselves admit them. However, ignoring what happened means that the former discourse is still the same and that there is a slight hope to improve it.

The former Ruling Council was a suggestion and a creation of the occupation authority; it was supported and criticized at the same time, but it is not a substitute for elected Iraqi institutions that enable the Iraqis to determine the future of their country without ignoring or controlling any group. If the members of the former Ruling Council thought that they are able to exercise hegemony over Iraq, this will be the beginning of the road to the new dictatorship.

I recall that Mr. Lakhdar Al Ibrahimi was coming back from a famous visit to Iraq in the mid-1990s and I asked him what he thought. The experienced diplomat answered with a few expressive words that Iraqis are the worst people to defend a cause! He was pointing out to the former regime. This theory might be applicable today if the leaders and elites do not shift to serving the public interest.

Some of the Iraqi ministers in the former government imposed a uniform on their employees, others consider that Iraq is given to them, or their sects, to control.

No reasonable person can imagine that all the sacrifices, bloodshed and the political efforts that led to Iraq's liberation, could lead to a theocracy, like Iran, for each country has its own circumstances. I do not think that after all the sufferings, one Iraqi group might impose its agenda on the others under the banner of patriotism.

Those who think they have the privilege of hegemony over others should look at Ahmad Chalabi, who wrote an article last September in which he called on the occupation authority to isolate not only those who were related to the former regime, but also, their families and relatives. At that time I was concerned about such an inclination and I wrote an article to criticize it.

Today, the coalition leadership, along with the western and Arab media, blames Chalabi for the failure of a number of policies in addition to falling in a trap he should have avoided.

There are no ambiguities or secrets when it comes to what peoples want these days; whether on the local or international levels. The Iraqis are no exception, their demands are:

- National security

- Social security

- Personal freedoms

- Personal security

- Environmental security

These are the main demands of most Iraqi citizens. The capacity to realize these five demands is deemed political rationalism that is required to rebuild the new Iraq, which is not short on qualified people.

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