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The US Administration, through its ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, is directing a new play represented by the formation of the new government, whose features are clear from the beginning; namely, a government of sectarian and ethnic quotas that would pave the way for dividing Iraq and wasting its human and economic resources.

First of all, I am saying that we, the people of Iraq, never understood the homeland to be merely a farm that can be divided when rivals differ or when they want to differ. For us, Iraq is a sacred historical and religious concept, which represents our existence, which is a genuine symbol of the existence of our ancestors, and which is dedicated to our coming generations. It has been so since it was liberated by the rightly guided caliph, Omar Bin-al-Khattab, and by commander Sa’d Bin-AbiWaqqas from the Persians. We do not understand the homeland to be a land that can be divided among tribes. We did not and will not reduce the concept of the great Iraqi people in a naive manner by dividing them into Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians, Turkmen, Sabians, and Yazidis. This is because the Iraqi people, as God created them on this land, are a combination of all these components. I am not coming up with anything new when saying this; I am just affirming (a fact).

When the US and British forces occupied Iraq in April 2003, the occupiers repeated what British General Maude had said when he entered Baghdad in 1917. He said that they came as liberators, not colonialists — that is, they came to liberate us from a dictatorial regime. They came with a suit of democracy, which they tailored to their size and wanted our people to enjoy wearing it although its size, form, and color do not befit the Iraqis. More than three years after (2003), the features of this suit became clear after it was torn up here and there, thus exposing its shameful defects, despite the US Administration’s attempts to patch up this or that part.

Who said we are against democracy? Our old and modern history testifies that the Iraqis were among the first people to build democratic and state systems and establish the rule of law on earth, beginning in the Sumerian city of Ur, from which the Father of the Prophets Abraham came. They did so when they built the obelisk of Hammurabi, the Babylonian King; when Imam Ali Bin Abi-Talib led the Islamic nation in Kufa and when his son, Imam Al-Hussein, was martyred on the land of Karbala in defense of the noble values of Islam, and even the sublime human values; and when they created the modern Iraqi state in 1921, which witnessed new chapters of democracy and freedom.

Excuse me, for I do not want to talk about history as much as I want to link this glory and human achievement of the Iraqis to the present so that no one would think that we are far from the civilization of laws, democracy, and state. When the Abbasid state was established as the most prestigious Arab Islamic state in the region, the world was slumbering in ignorance and backwardness. If the west planned for our civilization to decline, this does not mean we should accept whatever the west wants that is inappropriate for us.

We want Iraq to be a historical depth linking the present to the future. We want it a country of peace and progress that relates to its Arab and Islamic depth and opens up to its neighbors and the world with utmost strength and self-confidence, relying in this on the creative minds of the Iraqis and its human values, not on the force of weapons, which are destroying humanity. We experienced the logic of wars and lost thousands of our youth for nothing.

The solution for our country and people, for the countries and peoples of the region, and for the people of the world, is that our country should be viewed as an undividable historical, geographic, social, cultural, and civilizational fabric. Any tendency to tear up this fabric would have negative repercussions for the world peace movement.

Iraq has turned into a fertile ground for terrorism and terrorists. The biased people are trying to shuffle cards to brand as terrorists the honorable national resistance movements, which should have a peaceful role in building the country and preserving its economy, unity, security, and the dignity of its people. We cannot give peace, because someone cannot give what he does not have. What is required of the allied forces — which disbanded an Iraqi Army of a heroic and glorious history and state institutions that are no more than 80 years old — is to eradicate terrorism, which came with the occupation in the first place. The United States, which, as came in one of President Bush’s speeches, wants to fight terrorism on the land of Iraq, not on its land, should keep the danger of this war away from our people, who bore a lot and can bear no more. Wagering on the anger of the tolerant person has severe consequences.

The picture has today become clearer to the world public, who are aware of what is happening in Iraq and what kind of democracy the United States achieved — a democracy which brought the Iraqi people to the abyss of a civil war. We start our mornings with the news of the discovery of scores of bodies thrown on the roads. Those are the victims of sectarian strife, which we did not know. This fighting will spread to our houses, because of intermarriages among the Sunnis, the Shiites, the Arabs, and the Kurds.

We, the non-sectarian advocates of a national, moderate trend, who do not advocate ethnic or religious discrimination, called for the formation of a national unity government, in which all segments of the Iraqi people would be equally represented. This is in order for everyone to have the chance to participate in decision-making and expel the specter of civil war and division of Iraq, and to open a dialogue with the Iraqi resistance and the non-Saddamist Baathist to involve them in the political process and stand as one front against terrorism, which is alien to our society.

The signals from the US and British administrations for going in this direction were clear and encouraging. But we were surprised, from the beginning of the work for forming the government, that the government is heading toward sectarian quotas; those despicable quotas which US Ambassador Bremer introduced when he was the absolute ruler on Iraq on behalf of Bush and based on which he formed the Governing Council. Governments were established based on these quotas, which became a binding law against our wishes.

Today, Ambassador Khalilzad is following the same approach in forming a government of sectarian quotas. It is known that the US ambassador in Iraq interferes in the details of the government formation, and no one denies that.

The US Administration found itself drowning in the Iraqi problem, because it entered Iraq based on tourist information about the country, with which it was supplied by some Iraqi opposition figures close to it. That is why it committed grave mistakes, which it finds itself today unable to solve. This is especially true since the Congress elections are approaching and will be held within six months. That is why the US Administration had to press for the formation of an Iraqi Government to convince the US voter that it is a government of national unity elected by the Iraqi people.

The US and British administrations want to convince the voters in their countries that the Iraqis are composed of Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds, and want to reduce the cultural structure of the Iraqi people to this insignificant image. That is why Bush is today telling his people that he is pleased because the Iraqis formed a government representing all the components of the Iraqi people, which is completely untrue. The truth is that the US Administration managed to form a government on sectarian and ethnic bases, which would pave the way for igniting a civil war and for dividing and weakening Iraq, especially since the dangers of the interference of regional countries in the Iraqi affairs are visible.

All we are asking for is to reconsider this (government) configuration, which will not stand for long and which will even lead the country to more massacres and strengthen the presence of terrorists, thus posing a threat to the region and the world.

We are calling for the formation of a government of a true national unity that serves the interests of the Iraqi people and opens up to the countries of the region, to the Arab and Islamic nations, and to the entire world with a spirit of amity and joint cooperation to revive the Iraqi identity and Iraq’s influential cultural role and to create a balance of powers in the region.

Saleh Al-Mutlaq

Saleh Al-Mutlaq

Saleh Al-Mutlaq is an Iraqi politician and head of Iraqi Front for National Dialogue.

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