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January 23, 2007

A tale of two Iraqs

Tribune 19 January 2007

Abdullah Muhsin argues that progressive forces can prevail and it is possible to build a democratic and secure Iraq.

There are two tales to tell about post-totalitarian Iraq and they are both true.

The first tale is familiar to anyone who watches the news and involves death and destruction. The other is less-known and concern hope democracy and human rights.

The future of Iraqi freedom and security development depends on the outcome of this battle being fought across between the friends and enemy of democracy.

It is far from clear who will win. The commitment of most Iraqis and their elected representatives to forge a new democratic state suggests that they still have the initiative. But for how long? The viciousness of the enemy’s attacks means they are running out of time and patient.

Those who oppose a democratic Iraq seek the restoration of extreme form of nationalism or, the balkanization of the country, and the establishment of a Taliban- like al Qaeda Islamic state. This is coupled with deliberate proxy regional interferences in the internal affairs of Iraq by foreign powers funding extreme nationalists with arms and money and allowing terrorists to cross into Iraq unchecked. These countries are supporting sectarian militias from both side of the religious divide who are committing heinous crimes against innocent Iraqi civilians.

Iraq’s security depends on constructive engagement with neighbouring countries. The alternative is social and economic instability for all concerned. A secure and stable Iraq is in the best interest of whole Middle East, so Iraq’s must stop all active and passive support for armed militias and terrorist groups.

Extremist nationalists and Islamists seek to formant a civil war to achieve their aim of dividing Iraq. The atrocities of November 23 in Sadar City (Althowra) in which more than 200 innocent Iraqis lost their lives were followed by sectarian retaliation and the attacks on Iraqi intellectuals.

The British Council for Assisting Refugee Academic (CARA) estimate that more than 230 Iraqi prominent academics have been so far murdered since the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US, UK and their allies.

The failure of the democratically elected Iraqi Government to restore basic security, delivering essential services and advance national reconciliation has encouraged much of the western media to describe the violence in Iraq as a civil war.

The scale of violence is devastating. Iraqis are being massacred in their thousands. But in my view, the country is yet in a state of civil war. The violence in not being perpetrated by mainstream Iraqi political forces but a tiny minority with external backing. The violence has not engulfed the whole nation. It is concentrated in confined if very important area of Iraq. Iraqi Kurdistan is safe and the South of Iraq is relatively secure-Although the cost of this has been the independence of civil society organizations and there has been accusation that a blind eye has been turned to some of the activities of the militias and Islamist hardliners. The violent physical attack on university student picnic of male and female in Basra late

The second reason why I argue that there is not a yet civil war is that the state in the form of government, its institutions and bureaucracy is functioning. It is all-too evident that it is weak. But the key Iraqi political parties are still working together to steer Iraq towards calmer waters. If the Iraqi government buckles under the pressure and collapses then civil war would almost certainly follow. So, too would humanitarian catastrophe for Iraq and its neighbours.

Iraqi patriotic and democratic forces are holding their ground to give the second tale of the post-totalitarian Iraq its chance. This tale finds less room in the liberal media but in it lays the great hope for my country-the tortuous creation of a new, modern and democratic Iraq of human rights, democracy organized as a unitary state with a federal structure for Iraqi Kurdistan.

But so far, Iraq’s democratic forces are holding their nerve to give their post-totalitarian country a chance. There is still hope for the creation of a new, modern Iraq of human rights and freedom, organized as a unitary state with a federal structure for Iraqi Kurdistan.

Despite everything, the march towards democracy in Iraq proceeds. It started with the first open national elections in our history. The January 2005 election saw millions of Iraqis braving the threats of extremists and casting their vote to elect Iraq’s first democratically accountable government. Ordinary people then defied extremists again to ratify Iraq’s first permanent constitution. It may be flowed, but remains the most progressive constitution in the region.

There are other democratic achievements such as the move towards a free press and the development of a multiparty system and civil society. This includes a free trade union movement which has soared from a small underground movement to a significant force. It is not driven by ideology or religion. Its motivation by the improving is to improve the lot of ordinary Iraqis and work with other progressive forces to build a free and open society.

All these suggest that the vast majority of Iraq want a brighter future of democracy, prosperity and human rights. But nothing is ordained, and the international community can still make huge difference. The support of the United Nations and the European Union is vital. The alternative is misery and death on a massive scale that will haunt humanity.

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