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Do Not Abandon Iraq - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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An article written by the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, entitled ‘Do Not Abandon Us,’ caught my attention recently. The minister is a politician for whom I hold much respect. However, the question is: is Iraq endangered by foreign withdrawal or by Iraqis themselves?

Here is where the controversy lies.

The American discourse contains disturbing oversimplifications, which is also the case with some intellectuals, where all that is required is the removal of a ruler and the emancipation of a group from the chains of suppression, and then the Arab world will become a democratic paradise. This is a distorted simplification that seems to dominate the minds of many American decision makers and those who advise them. Democracy does not fall out of the sky above and is not genetically inherited nor will it grow without cultivation.

Democracy is a practice and forces protect democratic action according to the belief that a unified country and guaranteed rights are the only key to stability.

However, it seems that warring Iraqis are still not sick of the bloodshed.

I asked someone who is close to today’s decision makers in Iraq; do you have faith in democracy?

“That which does not violate Shariaa,” he replied.

“Who decides what complies with Shariaa and what does not?” I asked.

He responded with a smile.

“Are you not saddened by the bloodshed?” I asked.

“The traditional act of Matam (obsequies) may do some good and bring people to their senses.” He replied.

I failed, however, to understand this!

“You represent an American project and presumably a turning point for the Arab world towards democracy.” I said.

He smiled and said quietly, “The Americans are crazy.”

“They ousted Saddam and gave you power,” I said.

“A raging bull,” he replied [in reference to Saddam].

“So you mounted it and reached [your position]?” I asked.

He smiled without comment.

Is this democracy?

At this point I can say what I want to say and that is that today’s Iraq is in dire need for a regime and different political and military action. Iraq needs an appropriate Turkish model. Yes, a Turkish-style state: a powerful army that commands rather than ventures, and guarantees rather than trades. It needs an army that protects the constitution and the country and maintains territorial unity and an army that brings about stability and secures the civil institutions that ensure a democratic rather than sectarian Iraq.

There are those who believe that this invalidates everything that Bush said and that this is a defeat, so I hear. But there are American voices that began to declare their wish to accept defeat and withdrawal, therefore we are on the brink of an Iraq that is being pushed towards the abyss; yet there are Iraqis who see matters differently and I know that they complain about stabilizing their country, arguing and demanding for what I am saying whilst Washington ignores these voices.

Iraq needs a stability command council rather than a revolutionary command council. It needs a representative council that would ensure the unity of Iraq and that the reins of government are handed over to the army for a definite period, when martial law is declared, during which the constitution is revised, agreements that entangle the country and the nation are codified, parties organized, civil organizations set free, and unity of the country ensured, ahead of an election that puts Iraq on the right track rather than on one of partition.

In Turkey, the army is the protector of the constitution rather than an adventurous army. In Mauritania, a military man has led the country to democracy and there are more details throughout European history. Iraq needs a central command that ensures its stability and I believe that only the army is qualified for this.

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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