Thursday, August 27, 2015




A much more important gathering was recently covered by Al Jazeera.  This was an event that the Association of Muslim Scholars In Iraq held and out of it has come their "The 'Inclusive Iraq' Scheme: The Proper Solution for Saving Iraq and the Region."  We noted a section of it yesterday.  Who else is noting this, by the way?  It should be getting major attention.  Or does the western press believe attention on Iraq solutions is only warranted if its westerners offering solutions or 'solutions'?  At any rate, we'll note this section of the report:

  Finally, it is worth stressing that the aforementioned initiative details come within the framework of the following specifics and firm beliefs:
1. Full adherence to the independence of Iraq and its territorial integrity and the preservation of its identity. Its policies on development shall be based on the common interests of its citizens. The building of the modern state shall be in accordance with the necessary foundations, constitutionally, legally, economically, militarily, socially and culturally.
2. Commitment to the pluralistic approach and freedom of opinion, based on mechanisms that are consistent with and respect our values ​​and traditions.
3. Exclusion of political revenge mechanisms and allowing for justice. This should be based on a consensual agreement between Iraqis in order for it to take its course in preserving the rights, the lives and dignities and to prevent the events that took place and currently taking place from happening again.
4. Being aware that our tragedy in Iraq is not a tragedy of a certain group, race, region, governorate or any particular place. It is the tragedy of the homeland and the nation. Giving instant attention to partial problems that arise here or there should not affect seeing the whole picture of this tragedy.
5. Rights are not given, but acquired by uninterrupted effective acts, arduous efforts and great sacrifices. Identity is the product of pride in position, mission and mandate. It is not a favour given by anyone nor the result of effect of an action event, effect and reaction, however this may be painful, harsh and long.

6. Inspiring the spirit of resistance, uprisings, protests and popular revolts is crucial and necessary in determining our path towards change and deliverance.

On the subject of protests, this morning I noted that a woman had been stabbed in Baghdad at Friday's protest and this was apparently news to several people judging by e-mails -- not that a woman was stabbed but that a woman participated.

I'm looking at Arabic social media on the protests and often forget that many have to depend on reports in the English language from western media which apparently has yet to discover that women are taking part in these protests.

For those who were not aware of that, we'll offer this Tweet from Friday (a rare one to note women in the protests but women are there at every protest).

  • Let's stay with truths and note Kevin Sylvester's This Sunday Edition (CBC) which featured Emma Sky discussing Iraq and her new book  The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.  Excerpt of the discussion about the 2010 national election:

    Emma Sky: And that national election was a very closely contested election. Iraqis of all persuasions and stripes went out to participate in that election.  They'd become convinced that politics was the way forward, that they could achieve what they wanted through politics and not violence.  To people who had previously been insurgents, people who'd not voted before turned out in large numbers to vote in that election.  And during that election, the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki, lost by 2 seats.  And the bloc that won was a bloc called Iraqiya led by Ayad Allawi which campaigned on "NO" to sectarianism, really trying to move beyond this horrible sectarian fighting -- an Iraq for Iraqis and no sectarianism.  And that message had attracted most of the Sunnis, a lot of the secular Shia and minority groups as well.

    Kevin Sylvester:  People who felt they'd been shut out during Maliki's regime basically -- or his governance.

    Emma Sky:  Yes, people that felt, you know, that they wanted to be part of the country called Iraq not -- they wanted to be this, they wanted Iraq to be the focus and not sect or ethnicity to be the focus.  And Maliki refused to accept the results.  He just said, "It is not right."  He wanted a recount.  He tried to use de-Ba'athification to eliminate or disqualify some Iraqiya members and take away the votes that they had gained.  And he just sat in his seat and sat in his seat.  And it became a real sort of internal disagreement within the US system about what to do?  So my boss, Gen [Ray] Odierno, was adamant that the US should uphold the Constitutional process, protect the political process, allow the winning group to have first go at trying to form the government for thirty days.  And he didn't think Allawi would be able to do it with himself as prime minister but he thought if you start the process they could reach agreement between Allawi and Maliki or a third candidate might appear who could become the new prime minister. So that was his recommendation.

    Kevin Sylvester:   Well he even calls [US Vice President Joe] Biden -- Biden seems to suggest that that's what the administration will support and then they do a complete switch around.  What happened?

    Emma Sky:  Well the ambassador at the time was a guy who hadn't got experience of the region, he was new in Iraq and didn't really want to be there.  He didn't have the same feel for the country as the general who'd been there for year after year after year.

    Kevin Sylvester:  Chris Hill.

    Emma Sky:  And he had, for him, you know 'Iraq needs a Shia strongman. Maliki's our man.  Maliki's our friend.  Maliki will give us a follow on security agreement to keep troops in country.'  So it looks as if Biden's listening to these two recommendations and that at the end Biden went along with the Ambassador's recommendation.  And the problem -- well a number of problems -- but nobody wanted Maliki.  People were very fearful that he was becoming a dictator, that he was sectarian, that he was divisive. And the elites had tried to remove him through votes of no confidence in previous years and the US had stepped in each time and said, "Look, this is not the time, do it through a national election."  So they had a national election, Maliki lost and they were really convinced they'd be able to get rid of him.  So when Biden made clear that the US position was to keep Maliki as prime minister, this caused a huge upset with Iraqiya.  They began to fear that America was plotting with Iran in secret agreement.  So they moved further and further and further away from being able to reach a compromise with Maliki.  And no matter how much pressure the Americans put on Iraqiya, they weren't going to agree to Maliki as prime minister and provided this opening to Iran because Iran's influence was way low at this stage because America -- America was credited with ending the civil war through the 'surge.'  But Iran sensed an opportunity and the Iranians pressured Moqtada al-Sadr -- and they pressured him and pressured him.  And he hated Maliki but they put so much pressure on to agree to a second Maliki term and the price for that was all American troops out of the country by the end of 2011.  So during this period, Americans got outplayed by Iran and Maliki moved very much over to the Iranian camp because they'd guaranteed his second term.

    Kevin Sylvester:  Should-should the Obama administration been paying more attention?  Should they have -- You know, you talk about Chris Hill, the ambassador you mentioned, seemed more -- at one point, you describe him being more interested in putting green lawn turf down on the Embassy in order to play la crosse or something.  This is a guy you definitely paint as not having his head in Iraq.  How much of what has happened since then is at the fault of the Obama administration?  Hillary Clinton who put Chris Hill in place? [For the record, Barack Obama nominated Chris Hill for the post -- and the Senate confirmed it -- not Hillary.]  How much of what happens -- has happened since -- is at their feet?

    Emma Sky:  Well, you know, I think they have to take some responsibility for this because of this mistake made in 2010.  And Hillary Clinton wasn't very much involved in Iraq.  She did appoint the ambassador [no, she did not] but she wasn't involved in Iraq because President Obama had designated Biden to be his point-man on Iraq and Biden really didn't have the instinct for Iraq. He very much believed in ancient hatreds, it's in your blood, you just grow up hating each other and you think if there was anybody who would have actually understood Iraq it would have been Obama himself.  You know, he understands identity more than many people.  He understands multiple identities and how identities can change.  He understands the potential of people to change. So he's got quite a different world view from somebody like Joe Biden who's always, you know, "My grandfather was Irish and hated the British.  That's how things are."  So it is unfortunate that when the American public had enough of this war, they wanted to end the war.  For me, it wasn't so much about the troops leaving, it was the politics --  the poisonous politics.  And keeping Maliki in power when his poisonous politics were already evident was, for me, the huge mistake the Obama administration made. Because what Maliki did in his second term was to go after his rivals.  He was determined he was never going to lose an election again.  So he accused leading Sunni politicians of terrorism and pushed them out of the political process.  He reneged on his promises that he'd made to the tribal leaders who had fought against al Qaeda in Iraq during the surge. [She's referring to Sahwa, also known as Sons of Iraq and Daughters of Iraq and as Awakenings.]  He didn't pay them.  He subverted the judiciary.  And just ended up causing these mass Sunni protests that created the environment that the Islamic State could rear its ugly head and say, "Hey!"  And sadly -- and tragically, many Sunnis thought, "Maybe the Islamic State is better than Maliki."  And you've got to be pretty bad for people to think the Islamic State's better. 

    The 2010 decision set the events in motion for Iraq's current (and ongoing) crises.

    We objected in real time.  We called for the vote to be respected.

    The western press ignored the vote, ignored the will of the people and treated it as normal that, following an election, the outcome was decided by a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement).

    RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"