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Iraq…Reconcile, Don’t Forget - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The most pressing matter in Iraq today is the issue of Debathification. Because of this, US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad and for the same reason Iraqis took action on all levels – the supporters and the rejecters, as well as the region – because the method followed by the process of Debathification indicates that the future of Iraq will be even more complicated.

In this regard, our dear colleague Dr. Jaber Habib Jaber wrote an important article and one that provokes discussion amongst Iraqis and non-Iraqi Arabs because if Iraq bordered Mexico for example there would be no Arab or Gulf concern but it would be a topic for periodicals or academic papers in order to learn from the lesson. However Iraq today is a concern for us all because if it is repaired it will reflect on us and if it collapses, God forbid, we will all pay a price.

The conclusion of Dr. Jaber’s article, from my understanding, was about uprooting or not uprooting Baathism, or let us say getting through Iraq’s crisis today, even though he did not use the term ‘Baath’ at all in his article. It concluded with a very intelligent question that was also the title of the article: “Will we reconcile with the past or forget it?” and was published on Sunday, January 24, 2010.

Therefore, the answer to the intelligent question is: reconcile, don’t forget. We say this to Iraq and the Iraqis, as countries are not built on revenge and eliminating opponents because that would mean that the doors of hell would remain open and that the invitation is still valid to anybody who wants destruction in that country. History tells us that the most important element of the building and preservation of the state is clinging onto internal national unity and having faith in the value of the state, [and it would be] like a protective umbrella sheltering everybody and for all components of one nation, as Iraq does not want to be another Lebanon, where each faction has its own form of foreign support.

“Reconcile, don’t forget,” means that Iraq must break with the past with real reconciliation between all components on the condition that there is a constitution that prevents history repeating and that there is a collective memory through education, law and the media and the constitution (as mentioned previously) in order to guarantee that the absurdity of the past does not creep into the present. The main way to guarantee all of this is by Iraq building its most important component i.e. the Iraqi citizen without [using] the description Sunni, Shia, Christian or Kurdish. Everybody has the right to be proud of his sect and origins but not at the expense of the nation as the nation is above everything and because “what is Caesar’s is Caesar’s, and what is God’s is God’s.” This requires real reconciliation between the people of one nation, not through seeking to gain strength from abroad whatever [country] that may be.

Iraq’s problem today, or let us say the problem with those who are influential in Iraq today, is that they want to take revenge on the Saddam regime whilst forgetting that that regime was not fair in anything but its oppression, inside and outside of Iraq. Saddam did not seek glory for the Sunnis at the expense of the Shia, or [glory for the] Arabs at the expense of the Kurds; rather he sought to keep his regime in power even on the remains of Iraq. Consequently, there is no hope today or tomorrow in Iraq as long is there is no real reconciliation in accordance with the principle of “reconcile, don’t forget.”

Reconciliation will guarantee Iraq not slipping into an abyss of dictatorship and absurdity because of the Baathists. When we say “don’t forget” it means don’t allow history to repeat itself and it is not a call for hatred and enmity as states are not built on revenge.

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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