Nouri al-Maliki still doesn’t get it
Saturday, 23 August 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
Nouri al-Maliki, who had described the appointment of Iraq’s new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as a “conspiracy” and that removing him from office violates the constitution, is today offering advice on how to save the country from a crisis he had created! Maliki, the prime minister who was pulled out like a bad tooth, wants Iraq to continue bleeding. He is now advising Abadi on how to govern! Don’t let them overrule you, don’t accept to be commanded, use the majority to impose the government you want, so goes Maliki’s advice.
What a twisted man, haunted by personal, trivial conflicts. Maliki wants his successor to carry on personal political battles, at a time when Iraq is going through its most serious crisis in 10 years. The crisis is even more serious as there is no longer an international force supporting Iraq nor is there an internal force that can be relied upon. The only solution is a successful national salvation project that safeguards the regime and an integrated Iraqi state.
It is not mandatory that Haider al-Abadi form a government made up of the parliamentary majority because the parliament does not reflect the true majority of Iraq, it would not be able to prevent the risks of disintegration and nor would it ensure the support to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al-Qaeda and rebels! So, what would a government formed by the political majority, like Maliki has advised, be able to do? Nothing. It is just a legal statement that cannot exist on the ground.
What really exposes Maliki’s ignorance is that he is actively seeking to form a parliamentary “majority” that ensures designating him for the formation of a government and ensures a majority of raised hands in parliament. It does not matter how people think outside the walls of the Green Zone. His main concern is on concocting a “majority,” buying votes and preventing opponents from winning; this is the axis of his political project.
Maliki has sunk into the despotism that eventually blinded him. He can no longer see that the country is sliding toward disintegration and terrorism because of his insistence on excluding all those who are not of his team and all the teams that he cannot control.
The narrow-minded Maliki is now urging his successor Abadi to reject what he described as “dictates,” advising him to resort to the formation of a majority government!
If the parliamentary majority was a successful project, Maliki would not have been forced to step down. How can he advise his successor to do so?
The demands of Iraqi citizens are not dictates. The Iraqi people are speaking out to express their desire to cooperate. Otherwise, these forces would have been entrenched in their regions, holding on to their weapons. It is not wrong for these angry groups to ask for the release of the detainees who are still without trial, and for the re-examination of the cases of those who were sentenced in suspicious circumstances under the Maliki’s clampdown. These are not dictates; they are trying to redress past mistakes and create a healthy and united Iraq. Under Maliki’s term, one third of the country was lost to terrorism; another third wanted separation, and the remaining third wanted Maliki out and does not want a another tyrant in power.
The man who ruined Iraq
Abadi should not listen to the man who ruined Iraq. He should see how all the Iraqi forces, even the opposition, are willing to cooperate with him; a scene that has not been witnessed since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Only a fanatic man like Maliki will not be able to see this positive spirit because he believes that Iraq is the Green Zone, where he works and sleeps.
“Maliki wants his successor to carry on personal political battles, at a time when Iraq is going through its most serious crisis in 10 years”
The political process pledged by the prime minister-designate is not math. It is not just counting the number of raised hands in the Iraqi parliament; rather it seeks to bridge the gap, instill confidence, persuade opponents to participate, prepare for reconciliation between Iraqi parties and form a national government uniting the Iraqis. This is not a recipe that would work for Maliki whose euphoria of ruling Iraq made him unable to think rationally.
In his opinion, the parliament became limited to those who voted for him; justice prevailed through security investigators and judges who were appointed by him; and whoever disagreed with him was a rebel who was immediately accused of treason and conspiring.
Those who listened to his speech last Wednesday realized that Maliki does not understand why he was forced to stand down, nor does he understand that al-Abadi has come to save Iraq from his mistakes.
Syria and Iraq crises are joined at the hip
Saturday, 23 August 2014
Eyad Abu Shakra /Al Arabiya
Has the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) become the only phenomenon that sums up all the problems and complications of the Middle East?
I am not one who is keen to look for excuses for ISIS and its like, nor do I spend sleepless nights searching for mitigating circumstances and helpful explanations for its heinous crimes. No, there are no excuses and no mitigating circumstances for those whose only means of control, government, and communication is murder. I do not believe that in the 21st century, amid an information technology revolution, we can allow an extremist group that belongs in the Dark Ages to hijack Islam and claim monopoly over it. Its brand of Islam has nothing in common with the enlightenment and scientific achievements given to the world by the alumni and scholars of Gundeshapur, Baghdad, Fez and Cordoba.
There can be no excuses, either for ISIS or similar gangs, that—without consulting the rest of the world’s Muslims—are hell-bent on distorting their religion, destroying their lives and the future of their children, and pushing them into an unequal fight with the international community. The latter could easily eliminate them were it not for the oppositions of two distinct blocs: the first, made up of progressives and liberals who in principle refuse to meet violence with violence, and a second, comprised of racists and extreme conservatives who believe that the societies that produced Islamist extremists deserve to live with their atrocities as “punishment” for incubating them.
Poisonous regional climate
With all of the above in mind, I believe we must not allow unacceptable and dangerous extremists – or so-called “Takfirists” (those who declare rivals as infidels) —to be the one and only face of our region and its complications. We must also draw attention to the fact that the poisonous regional climate has allowed dubious agents, thugs and despots to recruit brainwashed youth and use them in a battle with an aim to derail Syria’s popular uprising and undermine its credibility.
“Had the international community forced Assad to abdicate like it did with Maliki, it would have spared Syria political collapse”
Eyad Abu Shakra
Unfortunately, one has to admit that the leaders of the Syrian uprising were too slow to distance themselves from those who infiltrated it, extremists who crept in under the pretext of aiding it before turning their weapons on it. It must also be admitted that some states and media organizations in Arab and Muslim countries are indeed looking for excuses and explanations. They have been publishing and broadcasting foolish and irresponsible comments claiming that atrocities “are natural reactions against the injustice” suffered by Muslims and “Islamists” in our countries. I think this is poorly conceived demagoguery, as well as attempts to pander to those frustrated by the Palestinians’ suffering under heavy-handed Israeli occupation, the unease others feel about Iranian expansionism – with the American and Israeli blessing – throughout Iraq, the Levant, the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula, in addition to the failure of some Islamist political parties to hold on to power after their short-lived success in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring.”
The developments that have unfolded over the last few weeks have proven beyond doubt that there are some practices that cannot and should not be tolerated, especially when they reopen old religious, sectarian and ethnic wounds that the world has never really forgotten. Here we need to recall how the criminal Syrian regime claimed to be a protector of minorities in order to hide its crimes and corruption. Indeed, it has succeeded in portraying the uprising as an “extremist Takfirist movement,” and has promoted this lie to a Western audience willing to believe it and a ruling Israeli establishment that has been interested in playing this card for decades.
As if all this was not enough, even Iran has joined the fight against the Takfirists—the same Iran that specialized in seizing Western hostages in Iran, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East during the 1980s and early 1990s; the same Iran that gives arms and money to the same Islamic groups in Palestine, that it is currently fighting in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, where it regards them as “incubators of Takfirism.”
Attacking ISIS in Iraq
Where do we stand now? Well, after Barack Obama’s pronouncement that the Iranian thinking was “strategic” and not “suicidal,” which paved the way to serious regional cooperation between Washington and Tehran, he recently revisited his derogatory description of Syria’s moderate opposition as “former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth” who could not defeat a regime supported by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. Furthermore, after Washington and other Western capitals ignored Bashar Al-Assad’s destruction of Syria’s cities, his use of chemical weapons and barrel-bombs, covering their betrayal with empty threats, they are now moving against ISIS… in Iraq.
Washington has moved swiftly and decisively—and rightly so—to put an end to ISIS’s brutal genocide against Christians and other minorities in northern Iraq. It also acted swiftly and decisively to stop Nouri Al-Maliki’s political blackmail, which made the assault by ISIS and its allies on Mosul, Sinjar, and even Jalawla near the Iranian border, possible.
It is absolutely right for Washington and Paris to attack ISIS, and to work to save Iraq from the abuses of the ex-premier Maliki and his associates. What is not right, however, is to pursue two different approaches and adopt double standards vis-à-vis Iraq and Syria, as the political and security atmosphere is the same in both countries.
Assad to abdicate like Maliki?
Enabling Assad, whose regime is dependent on a blatantly sectarian regional project, has helped the creation and development of an extremist counter-reaction. Had the international community early on shown more willpower and decisiveness, and forced Assad to abdicate like it did with Maliki, it would have spared Syria political collapse, sectarian fragmentation, and massive devastation, not to mention the emergence of ISIS, whose fighters entered its territory from all over the world.
What the international community is currently doing in Iraq is necessary but by no means sufficient. Attacking ISIS, and saving what can be saved of Iraq’s identity through a broadly based government, excluding those with blood on their hands, must be the prescription for Syria too.
In Syria there is lethal civil strife as well as a land that has become a destination for foreign extremists. This means it will be impossible to achieve a humane and viable political solution if a regime that has committed genocide and ethnic and sectarian cleansing remains.