Tags: Rethinking | the | War | Iraq

Rethinking the War in Iraq

Sunday, 03 June 2007 12:00 AM

Under U.S. pressure, last month more than 50 countries attended the International Compact with Iraq (ICI) held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to make key decisions regarding Iraq.

The U.N. billed the conference as part of "a five-year peace and development plan which envisages a reciprocal relationship between peace-building and economic prosperity in the war-ravaged country."

Debt relief appeared high on the agenda, with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon claiming that some $30 billion in debt relief and pledges were made to Iraq — a claim that was made long before the conference.

Perhaps most striking about this conference was that this is the first time nations like Syria and Iran — from the "Axis of Evil" — shared a conference with the "Great Satan" since President Bush took office.

This latest initiative is not unlike other U.S. initiatives that came after the invasion of Iraq. Such initiatives surface when President Bush comes under domestic or international pressure for the failing war in Iraq. And each is void of any relevance to the realities on the ground in Iraq. Instead of aiding the flailing country, as the conference proposed to do, Iraq appears to be furthered mired in escalating sectarian violence.

All share the same fate: Each achieves nothing in terms of real improvement for Iraq's deteriorating condition.

The real question still remains: Who should be held accountable for the invasion and destruction of Iraq, a war the U.N.'s Kofi Annan labeled illegal, and for the huge loss of American lives in a fruitless pursuit to find non-existing weapons of mass destruction?

Indeed, if the United States is serious about addressing the concerns of the international community about Iraq, they should do so by talking to the main protagonist in this conflict, the Iraqis themselves, especially those who oppose the U.S. occupation.

The United States should look to history for some guidance. The British government did not resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland by talking to the French or the Germans. They did so by talking to Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA.

The situation in Iraq is no different.

Reacting to power sharing in the Northern Ireland assembly, Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein commented, "I think what today proves is that dialogue and perseverance and tenacity and persistence can bring about results."

In making the case for war, I believe the Bush administration sidelined diplomacy and deliberations in favor of an agenda of deception and disinformation. War was the goal; the facts were irrelevant.

The terrible waste of innocent lives — British, Iraqis, and Americans alike — should now weigh heavily in favor of righting the wrongs of the war.

The reason the U.S. faces such resistance in Iraq is because its national dignity, and the pride of its people, will never allow an external party to dictate its political structure Until the invasion, Iraq was a sovereign independent state.

The Iraq debacle represents a fundamental violation of international law and the right of self determination of nations. The reason for the invasion is clear: the imposition of a sectarian constitution. Regardless of the original intentions, the result of the conflict has been a greatly empowered Iran. Tehran appears poised to be the political master of Iraq.

President Bush and his administration abolished a secular Iraq in favor of a sectarian, theocratic regime that is eking out an existence today. The current Iraqi government, such that it is, doesn't represent the people of Iraq. It doesn't have the political will or support of the Iraqi people.

To restore the status quo, the political landscape of Iraq must be changed.

First, the U.S. needs to admit it failed. Then, an immediate cessation of the war must occur in order to save lives. The occupation must end sooner or later; and if the U.S. leaves sooner, it will do so with more credibility.

What would stop Iraq from dissolving into a whirlpool of chaos once the United States leaves? The United Nations could oversee an orderly transition and guarantee that a weak and fragile Iraq doesn't fall victim to Iran's regional sectarian ambitions.

Iraq needs to be given back to the Iraqis, not morphed into an entity of the United States' choosing. The Iraqis are the most qualified people to rebuild Iraq. Iraq's international debts should be relieved by a concerted effort from the United States and the nations that joined the effort.

Just like in Northern Ireland, investment and rebuilding of Iraq will provide the incentives for peace and security.

With so many wasted lives on all sides, and so much destruction, the challenge now is to have the moral courage to stop the war and end human suffering.

Dr. Burhan M. Al-Chalabi is a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and an Iraqi-born British citizen who resides in London.

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Under U.S. pressure, last month more than 50 countries attended the International Compact with Iraq (ICI) held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to make key decisions regarding Iraq. The U.N. billed the conference as part of "a five-year peace and development plan which...
Sunday, 03 June 2007 12:00 AM
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