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A Message to Those that Want to Help Iraq - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Despite everything that is happening in Iraq with regards to the details surrounding the formation of the government, there is a more important and urgent issue and that is the need to work to protect Iraq from the forthcoming days, ensuring that Iraq does not become easy prey for Iran and its allies following the 2011 US withdrawal in 2011. We must also guarantee that there is no repetition of what happened following the most recent elections, with the country remaining without a government for a period of 8 months, not to mention the ballot box results being ignored.

There must be a clear strategy put in place by the Iraqis who are concerned by this issue, with coordination between the moderate Arab countries and the West, particularly the US, in order to ensure that the Iranian infiltration of Iraq is halted. This is something that will only be achieved by recognizing an important truth, and that is we should not be working to support sectarian interests, but rather to strengthen patriotism; supporting Iraqi figures including Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and all other components of Iraq. There is also a need to strengthen national reconciliation and amend some constitutional articles to ensure that these act as a guarantee and assurance to all Iraqis, rather than for one party at the expense of another.

Washington says that it has not sacrificed the lives of its soldiers to allow the Iranians to form the Iraqi government, however this does not go far enough, for the fact is they should not leave Iran anything in Iraq, not just the formation of its government. As for the Arabs, and particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt, they must not allow Iraq to become a basket of concerns like Lebanon. Therefore, there must be serious work to come up with a clear strategy with the international community under the umbrella of the United Nations in coordination with the Iraqis who are keen to build a sovereign and independent nation. This must begin today; we must not waste time until it is too late and the axe has fallen.

As a result of this we must not listlessly follow slogans, welcoming the US withdrawal [from Iraq]. This is a delusion and deception, for there are parties who is preparing to fill the void [vacated by the US withdrawal], such as Iran and its allies. Therefore we must work quickly to ensure that an international force until the umbrella of the UN remains in Iraq to guarantee that the country does not slide into violence, as well as to protect Iraq from covert occupation by Iran, in the same manner what is happening today in Lebanon by Hezbollah.

Therefore what is required is for an allied force to remain in Iraq along the line of what happened in Germany following World War II, and a package of proposals must be put forward in Iraq with the UN monitoring its implementation. These proposals would include political reform, ensuring media freedom to monitor corruption, educational reform, and abolishing all forms of sectarianism.

None of this can take place without strict control and phased international supervision. There must also be no leniency on Iraq with regards to its debts and lifting international sanctions unless these reforms are implemented.

In conclusion, Iraq is in need of direct and technical support, [international] monitoring of the situation there, the presence of an international force, and support for all of Iraq’s patriotic figures from all groups, rather than relying upon sects which only strengthens the sectarian division or [relying upon] certain figures that could easily be killed or threatened.

This is the message to all those that want to help Iraq and return the country to a semblance of normalcy. This is also a message to the Americans who are concerned about the blood of their soldiers, and the money and time they spend, being sacrificed and wasted, and who want to ensure that their project in Baghdad has a positive impact on the region at large.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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