Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The price of al-Maliki’s ticket to Washington | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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On the eve of his visit to Washington, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on the people to assume their responsibilities and stop tyrants who carry out brutal practices against their own citizens. These words came in a speech al-Maliki gave marking international Human Rights Day in Baghdad. So from where did al-Maliki find the inspiration for this wisdom, and why now?

Until a few days ago al-Maliki was warning of the danger of the fall of Bashar al-Assad, suggesting that the ouster of the tyrant of Damascus would mean that the region would suffer from a sectarian crisis. Al-Maliki expressed his fears regarding how this would impact upon Syria and Iraq, and Washington responded by saying that fear of a civil war breaking out does not justify defending Bashar al-Assad. The strange thing here is how Syria is considered a sectarian threat in the region as it borders Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey, and overlooks the Mediterranean, in other words it is nose to nose with Europe. However, this is better than Europe having its back to al-Maliki’s Iraq, as the future of Iraq itself is in danger with the approaching U.S. military withdrawal from the country. Iraq, in fact, borders six countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, Syria and finally Iran. Iran is a country that you cannot even trust when you are face to face with it and shaking its hand, let alone when you have your back turned, particularly as half the Iranians themselves do not trust their regime; a regime to which we can truly apply al-Maliki’s words, namely that people must assume their responsibilities and put an end to tyrannical rulers who terrorize their own people. The Ahmadinejad regime quelled the Green Revolution with brutal violence, and two of the most prominent Iranian opposition leaders are still under house arrest. So how can al-Maliki fear for Syria should the Bashar al-Assad regime collapse, and not fear for his country following the U.S. withdrawal? The only plausible analysis is that the Iraqi regime is fuelled by sectarianism, and that Iran is playing a strong role in Iraq.

Therefore, from where has al-Maliki drawn the inspiration for his wisdom, and why does he feel for the Syrians all of a sudden, when his regime has sought to disable every Arab effort to stop the killing machine in Syria? The answer is simple of course, al-Maliki’s comments about the people, and his call for them to stop tyrants – which at first glance appear to be a transformation in the official Iraqi stance towards what is happening in Syria – comes within the framework of his visit to America. It is also remarkable that it is easier for al-Maliki to visit America or Tehran rather than visit neighboring Arab countries, but that’s another story altogether!

Thus, the Iraqi Prime Minister’s comments on tyrannical rule should be seen as nothing more than the price of his ticket to Washington, and his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama. The comments are not intended to stop the bloodshed of innocent Syrians at the hands of the al-Assad killing machine, as some in Iraq are trying to imply today. Otherwise, where was Nouri al-Maliki a week ago, or let us say two weeks ago, to stand against a tyrant in Syria who has accumulated nearly 5,000 victims until today, not to mention Homs that is under threat of invasion at any moment, and is currently besieged by thousands of troops from the al-Assad regime’s armed forces?