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Iraq Must Become a Country of Laws - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Iraqi provincial elections were a glimmer of hope, and indicate that Iraq may be on the right path, at the same time they are a timely message that everybody must pay attention to.

The election results suggest that the mood of sectarianism is no longer rooted in Iraq, but it is [still] possible to imagine it [sectarianism] causing the dissolution of the state and its organs, for the sake of survival, promoting its interests, and preserving its identity. And so it is up to the Iraqis to go to the polls not for sectarian motives but in order to choose those who will provide better essential services [for them].

The Iraqi elite and the Arab world must play a large role if they wish to avoid making the same mistakes that were made following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The Americans committed serious mistakes, as did the Iraqis and the Arabs, and after the collapse of the regime many ran to shelter under the umbrella of sectarianism. The Sunnis boycotted the political process – which we often warned against – and we were accused of taking the side of the occupiers. And so, with the help of the enemies of Iraq and the Arab people in general, Al Qaeda thrived within the Sunni ranks, but the Anbar Awakening Council [Sahwa Al Anbar] has corrected this.

This is how the Anbar Awakening [Sahwa] Council has become a political awakening [movement], and it must be alert, especially as it faces the Muslim Brotherhood that has been discovered, not just in Iraq, but in numerous regions of the Arab world.

On the other hand the sectarian death squads have swelled, and Baghdad has been carved up into grids, and ill-portentous alliances have been formed between Baghdad and Tehran. While today [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Al-Maliki is presenting himself as a man of law, after he has struck at those of his own sect [Shiite] who operate outside the law.

However the sovereignty of the state lies not only in the iron-clad fist, but also in an open-hearted approach that sustains dialogue and reconciliation, and which will solve many issues that Iran needs to resolve, such as the Debathification law [The Account and Justice Law] which must not be a retaliatory measure [against former Baathists].

There is another final and important issue in Iraq; it is necessary to resolve the Kurdish issue in a way that does not rupture the country’s unity. It is important for the Kurd’s to understand the reality of the region and its conflicts, and it is their duty not to become a playing card to be used in this conflict. The Kurds have made large gains; it would be a mistake to endanger them.

And then we come to what many are saying, which is that Iranian influence [on Iraq] has suffered a large blow, however this blow is closer to a soft tap, and Iran will certainly seek to do the impossible in order to revive its influence and strength before the forthcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections.

It is this danger that the Arabs – led by Riyadh and Cairo – as well as the Iraqis must pay attention to. Baghdad must be independent and stable; it must not be a disciple or a tool in the hands of a bloc. This is in order to benefit the future of our region.

Therefore there must be more Saudi and Egyptian involvement in the Iraq issue, through the strengthening of relations with its political ranks, and its government, and even involving economic issues. However first and foremost there must be the foundation of full [Arab] embassies on Iraqi soil.

There are suspicious and misunderstandings from all parties, but communication is capable of solving these problems, and the Iraqis, at least, still continue to show a high degree of sound judgment, more than others who claim this [sound judgment] but who sidetrack efforts and cause division by aggravation and exhibition.

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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