Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The US and Iraqi Reconciliation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Following US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Baghdad as part of the internal reconciliation mission, many Iraqi politicians rushed to take a stand and make public statements against US intervention in Iraq.

Biden said that he received a message from Iraqi officials that they fear that Baghdad will no longer be a priority for Obama and that one Iraqi official said, ‘We were concerned we were moved to the bottom shelf.’ In response Biden said, ‘No, that won’t happen.’ Biden added, ‘They’re very concerned, very anxious that we pursue a strategic agreement with them, which has nothing to do with the military.’ The New York Times published a report from Baghdad saying, ‘[In interviews] more than a dozen Iraqi policy makers felt Iraq had been displaced by concerns about Afghanistan and Pakistan.’

What should we believe? Should we believe what is being said publicly in Baghdad or what is being said behind closed doors?

It seems that we are facing three possibilities; either some Iraqi politicians want to appear to be heroic in front of the Iraqis and are saying something different to the Americans; or they are attacking the Americans publicly out of fear of another party exerting pressure so that reconciliation will not be achieved and to get even with all those in Baghdad who seem to have friendly ties with Washington; or that some people in Iraq don’t want reconciliation for other reasons but want to maintain Iraq’s ties with the Americans.

Iraqi-US ties cannot be based upon Nizar Qabbani’s poem entitled ‘Love Me Unconditionally,’ [Ahibini Bila ‘Aqd] as politics is based on interests and it is impossible that America’s interest in Iraq will always be threatened by civil wars and sectarianism. This is what the Iraqis must realise, especially as we have read statements that suggest that people are trying to be smart and avoid [reconciliation]. The clearest example of this is what MP Jalaluddin Saghir of the United Iraqi Alliance and leading figure of the Supreme Islamic Council said in response to Joe Biden’s statements: “I don’t know what he means by national reconciliation!” It is obvious that Saghir is ignoring the important issue here that reconciliation is a fundamental pillar of Iraq’s stability and solidarity. No one is asking for Izzat Ibrahim to be appointed a minister to the foreign ministry but that innocent Iraqis are not oppressed because of narrow-minded motives.

Here we must refer to what was written in a previous article. Some people believe that we were exaggerating when we said that Biden’s mission would not be easy, especially because Iran intends to form a three-way alliance comprising of the Islamic Dawa Party, the Sadrists and the Islamic Supreme Council. In that article, I quoted a senior Iraqi official who said that the maestro behind this tripartite alliance was the Commander of the Iranian Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani. Therefore, it is expected that the idea of reconciliation in Iraq will be met with resistance, especially before the upcoming elections.

As a result we can see that there is open rejection in Iraq of US intervention in Baghdad to accomplish reconciliation whilst the Americans are quietly being told, “Don’t put us on the bottom shelf.” The problem with some people in Iraq is they have not yet mastered reading into history and what is happening around them; nor have they mastered understanding their country’s real interest.