Uncertain Future of Iraq

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By: Sargon Sapper
March 8, 2015
The Iraqis whose lives were devastated by the conduct of a dictatorial regime were happy to see Saddam Hussein gone. Following the removal of the brutal dictator in 2003, all Iraqis – whether Shiite or Sunni, Kurd, Assyrian, Yezidi or Turk – hoped for lasting political solutions to the internal problems each group faced. There was hope that Iraq, without regard for religious or any other affiliation, would be democratically shaped and transformed into a new and secular state; and, that this new state would serve all people equally (including ethnic minorities) and advocate for reconciliation between the groups, human rights, civil liberties and justice for all. Instead, none of those hopes came true, and the Iraqi people were left with a weak state, led by the most corrupt regime in the world. Sadly, since the time of Saddam’s removal, the Iraqi people have faced dire suffering
Following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Iraq became the front line for the worst fighting between the two armed Muslim sectarian groups. While the internal discord continues in Iraq, the sectarian violence and bloodshed between Shiite and Sunni religious groups threatens to rip the country apart. Many Iraqis sense that the country is plunging into a civil war. Although Iraq has the capacity and the resources to become a successful state in a short period time, the inequality in distribution of resources and centralization power only serve to create an even greater ethnic division.
Mounting economic hardships and frustration over poor governance have given rise to greater radicalization. As a result, violence between various sectarian groups is escalating. The sectarian differences are likely to result in further conflict. The situation is critical and deteriorating by the day, and, while the complexities of the internal ethnic divisions are difficult, they are not likely to disappear any time soon. Making matter worse, the Iraqi track record in dealing with sectarian conflicts, terrorists and militants is a complete failure. The central problem for Iraq is that there is a great disagreement among the various groups about what the new Iraq should look like. Since Iraq has not been able to address the needs of the groups, the government is likewise unable to meet the urgent needs of the people. It is easy to unite the people in opposition facing a common threat, but the unity will only last between them as long as there is a threat.
The problem in Iraq has been and still is how to unite the people of different identities. The Iraqi people are disappointed and angry at the government for widespread financial and administrative corruption, and neglecting its main responsibility – to secure a safe, stable and peaceful state. For Iraq to avoid collapse, move forward in the right direction, and in favor of all the people, it has to evaluate its past priorities and establish new ones for its future.
The main priority should be keeping Iraq united, eradicating the terrorists and rescuing the country. To that end, Iraq must formulate an intensive counter-terrorist strategy that will ensure the war against terrorists can be executed and won. The strategy should also include plans for political, economic, social, administrative, cultural, educational and religious reform. Further, a successful counter-terrorist strategy is not possible without taking control of the areas bordering Iraq’s neighboring countries. The next priority should be dealing with insurgency. Any insurgents affiliated with terrorist groups should be outlawed and disarmed. However, if the insurgents have no affiliation with terrorists their lawful rights should be legislated.
Iraq must also work hard to resist the sustained threat from Iraqi extremist groups that are influenced by the conflicting religious philosophies of the neighboring countries. The fate of the people of Iraq cannot be held in abeyance anymore. The blood of innocent men, women and children cannot be allowed to flow year after year. Failing to address the long-festering sectarian dispute in the country is in no one’s interests.
I have never been an advocate voice for a divided Iraq along the line between the sectarian groups, but I have been among the strongest voices calling for decentralization of the power, and the legislation of the lawful rights for the persecuted ethnic minorities, particularly the right of Assyrian people to enjoy autonomy in a safe region.
After eradicating all terrorist groups and dealing with extremists and sectarianism, in order for Iraq to be a safe, secure, peaceful and an ideal state, Iraq must administratively divide the country into popular sovereignties for Arabs, Kurds, and all ethnic minorities (the Assyrians, the Yezidis and the Turkumans). With 6 to 8 ethno-religious stable regions, Iraq a stable country, and maintaining that stability could be the incentive to stop the sectarian conflict between Shiite Arabs and Sunni Arabs, between Arabs and Kurds, and between Arabs, Kurds and the ethnic minorities.