The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman wrote an important article in the form of an open letter directed to the Iraqi leadership from American President George W. Bush, written in Friedman’s unique style. The conclusion of the article was that the Iraqis must realize that Washington does not have the capacity to spend one billion dollars on Iraq daily.
Friedman states that the Americans are now more preoccupied with building their economy than building Iraq, indicating that America is now a different country to what it once was. This means that Baghdad is one of the losers of the American and international financial crisis.
We face two issues here: The first is filled with dreams and slogans and will center on the losses incurred by Americans in Iraq. The other can be summed up in the words of a poet:
Issues that make fools laugh
And the wise cry
The Iraqi leadership − Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish − must mature and understand the gravity of the upcoming days.
The best description of the fear that grips Iraq was given by Friedman in his article: “The Shia are still afraid of the past, the Sunnis are still afraid of the future and the Kurds are still afraid of both.” Of course, the average Iraqi citizen is scared of the Sunnis, Shia and Kurds, and of the past and the future.
In light of the current financial situation, which has coincided with the transition period of the new US administration and the international tug-of-war with Iran, Iraq is at risk of collapsing once again but this time it will sink into the unknown and the worst scenario is that will become similar to Iran.
What the Iraqi leadership doesn’t understand is that its duty today, more so than ever before, is to protect the country in light of the tense circumstances that may destroy the unity of Iraq. It is important that the Shia leadership realizes that Iraq is for all Iraqis, not for one denomination only.
It is crucial that everybody is incorporated in Iraq and the first real test of this concerns the Awakening Council leaders and members who secured Iraq’s safety from “Al Qaeda” and terrorism. The Baathist issue must also be settled decisively especially regarding those who are not embroiled in crimes against Iraq.
The Sunnis, just like the Shia, must realize that an Iraq based on religion cannot be implemented and they must work for an Iraq based on institutions, doctrinal differences and various religions. Moreover, they must understand that the era of Saddam Hussein and Sunni domination is over. Today, control is in the hands of those who serve Iraq alone.
As for the Kurds, they must be aware of the danger that lies in accomplishing their dreams at the expense of Iraqi unity. What they want will turn all Iraqis against them as their dreams would harm the unity of Iraq. They must protect their identity, history and their gains but within a united Iraq.
The Kurdish problem is not exclusive to Iraq; it is a regional problem. The wise amongst the Kurds must realize this and deny others the opportunity to strike a fatal blow against them whether they are Turks or Iranians or even Syrians. Regionally, there is suspicion of a consensus to snap the Kurdish thorn.
The Shia will forfeit a great deal if they do not take a stand against Iranian ambitions in Iraq and work according to a constitutional method rather than in line with a [religious] guide and Iranian cover. The Sunnis will suffer a great deal if they do not realize that today’s Iraq is based upon a constitution and social participation, not the use weapons and boycotting for the sake of boycotting. The Kurds must understand that many parties are waiting for an opportunity to rise against them.
In conclusion, the American financial institutions will find support in Congress whilst Iraq will find nothing but crocodile tears! This is the truth even if it is upsetting.