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Iraq’s Problem Lies in its ‘Necktie’ - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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[Iranian Supreme Guide] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s stated that Iraq’s main problem lies in the foreign interference that hinders Iraqi progress and fails to provide a decent living for its people. The truth is that Iraq’s problem is simpler than that, yet more complicated. The Iraqi State’s problem is summed up by the “necktie.”

As the photos of the Iranian supreme guide’s meeting with the Iraqi prime minister showed, Nuri al-Maliki removed his necktie when he met Ali Khamenei even though he did not do this with Ahmadinejad. The Iranians see in the “necktie” a symbol of “Western imperialism.”

The photo’s symbolism has more credibility in our region than what is thought. Since Nuri al-Maliki was unable to wear the “necktie” in front of Iran’s supreme guide, how can he be frank with Tehran and confront it with the facts as he says?

Iraq’s problem is Iran, and the necktie summarizes many things. As for the foreign presence that al Sayyed Khamenei referred to; it is the one that toppled [former Iraqi president] Saddam Hussein’s regime, which allowed Mr. al Maliki to reach his position and which is something that neither the Iranians nor the Iraqi opposition could have accomplished on their own – that’s a fact.

Iraq’s real problem can be summed up in the words of Iran’s Supreme Leader when he said: “Assisting Iraq is our duty in accordance with Shariah [Law]”. This pompous statement entails much; it indicates interference in Iraqi affairs, which is what the Iranians are currently doing and it could mean seizing control of the Iraqi state, an endeavor that Iran is rapidly pursuing.

However; before all this, this statement embodies the reality of exploiting religion for political purposes and unfortunately Iran is increasingly contributing to fueling the sectarian divide.

The danger of Iran’s presence in Iraq is that it draws some through sectarian motivation and others through political money, economic ties and more. Iraq today is vastly different from yesterday’s Iraq; in the past it was a threat to its neighbors whereas today the danger lies in how easily it can be penetrated.

If the Iraqis seek to crystallize the security agreement, which is expected to be signed with the US; it is critical to achieve Iraqi-Iraqi reconciliation and to put the sons of the nation first before the Iranian neighbor or any other neighboring states.

Building a unified Iraq with a solid internal front is the solution; an Iraqi state based upon religious maraja’a (references) will be no different from Lebanon; in fact, it will be much worse and more dangerous for the Iraqis as a whole and for the state’s neighboring countries, including Iran.

In this scenario, the Iraqi state will be a disruptive factor in regional stability and it will no longer make intellectual, cultural and economical contributions; instead, it will become a sectarian trap that spews evil. Today, the black cloud of sectarian sedition on the region’s horizon is visible to all no matter how some people try to minimize it or deny its presence.

This is why if we see Mr. Nouri al Maliki dressed in a necktie in front of al Sayyed Khamenei then we’ll know that Iraq has recovered and discarded the necktie of Iranian subordination. However, if the situation continues as it is, then it is very likely that we will see many politicians in the region without neckties when in the presence of Iran’s Supreme Guide!

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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