Friday, July 17, 2009


The Big Elephant in the room...

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Peace be upon you….
I was on a visit to America that lasted about a month; I went again to attend a course about “ Peace building and Conflicts transformation”,
in an institute at Vermont, called (, which is a private, non-governmental institute that has a lot of programs for study, among them is a program about solving conflicts. Once again I was acquainted with new people and learned many things; it seems that humans are created to learn, and shall remain so until the last moment of their lives. This is a beautiful thing; it makes life so renewable.
The last week of this training course is usually kept for one subject only, and I chose:
(Conflict and development).
Actually I love this subject very much, I want to study it deeply and thoroughly, because I think Iraq needs people who have such talent in solving conflicts and developing all society, in a political, economical, cultural, educational, health care, or any other side. We also need to find a mechanism to reduce the atmosphere of violence and spread the atmosphere of national reconciliation, to respect all sides and allow them to join on all levels. When the professor explained the theories of the direct violence, evident on surface in any society, he drew a triangle with three heads; an upper head on which is written- Direct Violence, and two heads on the lower base, one representing the- Systematic Violence, and the other is-Cultural Violence. I mean, the terminology is:
• Direct violence.
• Systematic violence.
• Cultural violence.
Meaning- any apparent violence among two sides has deeply hidden reasons other than the outward and those reasons stir up the fire of that violence.
Here, I remained distracted in class… I quickly recalled the events of war, the occupation, and the aggressive tone that spread among the Iraqis, trying to separate them, dividing them into factions with conflicting sectarian and ethnic identities. I entirely comprehended that whoever waged the war against Iraq has consulted sociologists, took from them all the theories and applied them in a country like Iraq; a country whose historical and geographical formation is colored with all hues, for thousands of years.
Violence against the Saddam regime and Al-Ba’ath were kindled; there were campaigns to kill, assassinate, and displace the Ba’athies from all over Iraq. The cultural violence between the Sunnies and the Shia’ats, the Arabs and the Kurds was inflamed, (by using negative events of the past), and so these were like the fuel that feeds the fire of violence, and the torch of the Parties and Sectarian conflicts in Iraq after the occupation. The culture of violence, hatred, and the love-of- revenge was created among the Iraqis, broadcasted everyday through the foreign and Iraqi media alike. This reminds me of the novel- (1984); when the regime addressed two minutes of hatred every morning through the audio and visual systems, to stir people, so they would remain patriotic and hate their enemies. Thus were the minds of people programmed in the famous novel of “George Orwell”, and here are the Iraqis, who were programmed by the Saddam regime. But now there is a small diversion in the programming, and new terms were inserted; like- the extinct, entombed regime…
I myself was never a Ba’athie nor liked Al-Ba’ath Party, but I am ashamed of, and refuse to use these terms, because I see them carrying in their depths a lot of unhealthy violence and aggressivity that isn’t appropriate for a civilized society. ******************************************************************
When I returned to Iraq in 1991, I felt like a stranger; people were programmed to a vocabulary used by the state, like- Al- Qadisiya war, the Thirtieth Aggression (that was after the Kuwait War), the Crossing, the Victory, the Victorious Leader, the Extinct Regimes,…etc… terms used by the people, put in their minds by the System- regime. And now, unfortunately, I also find myself in disagreement with the Iraqis inside Iraq, whose minds were also filled with expressions of violence and aggression against the Other.
There are also some of the Ba’athi Iraqis who have an aggressive way of thinking against the present government and Parties, dealing with them all as traitors, that Iraq will not be saved unless the Ba’ath Party comes back to power… And the new Parties in government enjoy using very aggressive expressions against the Ba’ath Party and the past government before the war. A lot of people call the TV on air or write in the newspapers and magazines about how the former regime used to oppress them, drive them away, torture them,…and so on, as if they enjoy these stories that would add a holy halo around their persons, because they were strugglers against the former regime….etc…
After six years of invasion: I see these as shameful stories and it is about time to stop telling them. There are thousands and thousands of shameless Iraqis who composed stories about an oppression that never happened, exploiting them to get an asylum or emigration right to Europe and America, or to get jobs and positions inside.
By God, if I wanted I could have acted like them, and I had a lot of stories concerning my family that I could have used to get a job or a position, but I feel ashamed of all this; these are behaviors not worthy of a human who has dignity and respects his being. This is my conviction. *****************************************************
Now comes the question: how to create the atmospheres of a true national reconciliation in Iraq, so it would become the first step to produce stability in the country, a start to reconstruction, for we all know that steps of reconstruction cannot take place while the country has disputes and conflicts. Development and reconstruction are natural steps after the national reconciliation. The political leaderships are supposed to be mature enough to accept each other, to work together to collect national focal points to turn into a ground for the dialogue among them, to lay down fundamental principles, like a pact of honor for all parties to commit to, on to providing a healthy and peaceful atmosphere in the country to receive the idea of national reconciliation. Based on all this, people would follow them, act like them, and give up the narrow way of thinking and the mentality o:”…these are our rights alone...”. For people do follow their kings- meaning: they imitate their leaderships; if the leadership was a national one, not a sectarian, ethnic, or an extremist racial, a leadership that believes in every Iraqi’s right to have equal rights with the Other Iraqi, regardless of their religion, sect, ethnic race, color, or gender, this means the country shall live in a healthy state in understanding human rights, the constitution, and having the Law above all.
But as to a constitution or a state that puts down conditions, specifying the shares of each sect or ethnic race- well; this is a catastrophe; this is a state based on conflicting foundations, where each side wants to gain the biggest privilege for his sect, Party, or ethnic group, in a legitimate or illegitimate way. Then, an administrational corruption will occur, there will plundering and theft of the country’s wealth, in the absence of a law that says- Justice is for all, that all Iraqis have a right to the wealth of their country, regardless of their orientation; meaning- in this case there will be no conflict between the Kurds in the North and the central government in Baghdad because each side doesn’t trust the other side, believing that the other wants to devour up his right in the oil revenues invested by foreign companies, and in turn, this makes the Parties or leaderships fight over signing public or secret contracts with the oil companies.
Also in new Iraq, the occupation planted time bombs in the draft of the new constitution, points that remained until now as conflict-issues, like the Karkuk issue, and to whom it should belong? The Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen all claim they have an historical right in the city, and of course, they are all right.
But the city has oil wells and investments. and that is usually the reason of the conflict. the true, invisible reason, for each side wants to claim the oil revenues for their own.
In the new, ugly constitution, there is a clause that say- a referendum can be carried out there in Karkuk to determine which is the greater faction in the city, and of course this led to a series of bombings, killings, displacement and violence, because each side wants to say they form the majority of people in town. Who created this ugly story, making the city sitting on a volcano, until now?
The occupation that came to liberate Iraq, to build the state of law and justice?
The same story threatens Al-Mousel Province in the north; it is an issue of conflict between the Arabs and the Kurds. And the same story goes for the northern Iraqi Provinces: Arbil, Al-Sulaymaniyah, & Dahuk.
A referendum of the population is needed there to vote about a suggested constitution for an almost independent state for the Kurds; this issue is a constant worry for the central government in Baghdad, about the range of this planned independence? The borders of that alleged state are also undecided yet, there are conflicts and objections from the central government, the Iraqi Parliament, and the councils of other Iraqi provinces adjoining the Kurd’s region. This means that even if the occupation forces leave Iraq, they will leave behind complicated and thorny agendas, enough to keep the Iraqis in a state of conflict and fighting for decades ; agendas planted by the occupation, and will make sure to keep them hot and fought over, just like what happened now when the vice-president Biden came to solve alleged conflicts between the Kurds and the Baghdad government.
That is on top of the threats of Iran, Turkey, and the other neighboring countries, where each has their own agenda, and if the relations between America and Iran became tense, the Iraqi field will always be the victim of violence and bombings, I mean- it is to the interest of Iraq that Iran should be peaceful and quiet, and Iraq shall be harmed if things were tense there, it will not be to the benefit of Iraq, ever. *****************************************************

There are also some more mysterious, hanging agendas, the positives and negatives of which are not yet clear, like the Oil and Gas Laws. It is still mysterious, some defend it and some object to it, but I personally think there are many things hidden from people, there isn’t enough transparency to make people believe that what is going on in secrecy is to the best interest of the country and the people, because there are some corrupt figures in the government, especially in ministries; and these figures exploit their present positions to sign contracts and gain commissions, and naturally, these people plan to run away from Iraq and live abroad, like so many other ministers have done since 2003, and were not accounted .
It is really a sad thing what is happening in Iraq, and what happened until now. We always say that we cannot give up hope that tomorrow will be better, but we also do not like to be naïve or fools; we totally realize that reality in Iraq is still sad and black; that the challenges are big and many, and the dangers also.
But hope remains that some leaderships- more national, more experienced, more mature and brave, will come to take the leading of Iraq into the path of peace, independence, and rosy future. These things need tens of years to be achieved, and that is the optimistic vision. Those who lost hope see that Iraq is smashed like glass, and it cannot be put back as a whole again.

I say that as long as the fingers of the occupation are in the matter, the country’s whole future will remain threatened, along with its independence and stability.
As soon as the big elephant gets out of the room, there will be space for clean, fresh air to come into the room, and the sunshine will also get through the window.
who is the big elephant in the room now?

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