Iraq: Reconciliation or Partition?

By Tariq Abdell. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

…The ultimate test of statesmanship is what to do in the face of war…”   -- Thatcher’s statecraft

The upsurge in Sectarian violence across Iraq underscores the blatant failure of Iraq’s consensual democracy and the vulnerabilities of its security forces as result of a host of daunting and intricate constraints: A sectarian commander-in-chief, lingering ethno-sectarian loyalties, politicized security apparatus; and the regions geopolitical tensions, namely Syria’s civil war and Saudi-Iran’s rivalries.

Irrefutably, the cumulative effects of Maliki’s sectarian-based policies – marginalization and disenfranchising of Sunnis in particular- are to blame for exacerbating Iraq’s sectarian violence and, subsequently, entrenching Iraq’s centuries-old ethno-sectarian schisms as evidenced by ISIS’s recent offensive, supported by Sunni tribes, in north-central and northern Iraq.

For Washington to help Baghdad fend off a protracted sectarian war and a total chaos, it must first devise a set of benchmarks as a precondition of U.S. military and financial support. The endgame of such benchmarks it to force Maliki to renounce his sectarian-based policies, espouse a genuine and inclusive democracy, and form a government of national unity that heads to the people’s aspirations regardless of their political and religious beliefs; to include an action plan that reflects the country’s pressing priorities:

  • Genuine national reconciliation to overcome interfaith communal distrust and sectarian violence.
  • Overhauling of Iraq’s security apparatus namely the forces reporting directly to Maliki -SWAT and CTS in particular- to curb sectarian loyalties, rein in corruption, and build a cohesive and effective Military.
  • Repealing of the Anti-terrorism law - Article 4 in particular- and the use of secret informants and coerce confessions.
  • Reversal of targeted and unjust De-Ba’atification law.
  • Merit-based appointments to promote efficiency and accountability.
  • Providing access to basic services (e.g., potable water, electricity, running sewer, etc) and equitable distribution of oil revenues.
  • Investing in human capital through education and training to fend off societal and political unrest.
  • Advancing the principles of human rights and rule of law.
  • Diversifying and reviving of Iraq’ strategic industries to curb its dependence on a single commodity – fossil fuel.

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