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Jawad: Iraq's New Leader - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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We have become accustomed to calling our presidents by their first names instead of using their last names, like we did in the past; for example, Abdul Nasser and Burqibah. Yet, when Jalal Talabani, the president of the modern Republic of Iraq, forgot the first name of his companion when he was announcing the appointment of Jawad al-Maliki as the first permanent Iraqi prime minister, the new prime minister will always be known as Al-Maliki, and if God willing if he completes his term, people will get to know his full name, because he will be leading the country at the most dangerous and historically significant stage ever.

Jawad al-Maliki, the new leader will be the man to decide Iraq’s destiny, because he will have a better chance of doing that than the presidents and partners in power who preceded him. The number of persons who have ruled Iraq over the past three years exceeds the number of those who ruled it in 60 years. It is time for the man in charge to take full responsibility for his people.

Iraq has several problems, the most dangerous of which is its descent toward sectarianism. This problem deserves to be dealt with and to be given top priority. It is an endless problem that will pull the country into internal wars for many decades. Forget about Al-Zarqawi, Baathist, and the rest of the defeated remnants who failed to abort the political process, which achieved success in the recent elections. Terrorist pockets exist and terrorists will perhaps remain a pain in the country’s neck for quite a long time, as happened in Algeria. However, they will not be able to destroy the country or its political system. As for sectarianism, it has no pockets. Instead, it is a general ideology that can take the form of savage popular political trends, which are capable of destroying the entire state and of tearing society apart for generations and for epochs.

The new prime minister does not need to be reminded of the seriousness of the fast spread of sectarian gossip and the exchange of accusations on all levels, including the government level. However, he needs a push to make fighting sectarianism his top priority so he can put out the fire before it spreads.

Al-Maliki represents the majority. Yet the advantage he enjoys over those who preceded him is that he is four years ahead, thus making his decisions less dependent on momentary conditions and local pressure. The Iraqi people have great aspirations, foremost among which is security. And the absence of security still remains an unending defeat since the overthrow of Saddam’s regime. Some people have even begun to rebuke the new system by playing the tune of their longing for the days of oppression.

In addition to the maintenance of order, the new prime minister probably has in mind a government plan to build the secure, stable, and prosperous country of which the Iraqis have dreamt for 50 years. Iraq, which is rich in resources, has spent the last five decades in abject poverty, despite the fact that it has the second largest oil reserve in the world; highly fertile land; and ambitious people, who have not been given the chance to build their country. The new prime minister has the power to preoccupy his nation with plans to create a great future instead of letting his people occupy themselves with personal differences and historical settling of scores, thus falling into the sectarian trap. Al-Maliki, with the help of the members of the new government, can push forward a plan to build the country and can insist on making this plan alone the focus of government action and the center around which all groups will revolve. Moreover, everyone must be held responsible in accordance with this plan.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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