• العربية
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A Vision to end the spiral of crisis in Iraq

Barham Salih

1/7/2018 3:51:00 AM

By: Dr. Barham Salih

Translated by: MIRS

The military defeat of the Da'ash organization in Iraq, the repercussions of the referendum in the Kurdistan region and the upcoming parliamentary elections represent the momentous period in the history of contemporary Iraq. There is an opportunity to correct the path and launch the country towards the desired prosperity and stability, and certainly there are more serious challenges that needs to be remedied to benefit Iraq at this stage. The inability to take advantage of this opportunity to establish an Iraq that goes beyond its crises will have more serious consequences than the inability of the Iraqi political elite to manage a sound political process beyond 2003.

Iraq therefore urgently needs an open internal dialogue to address the structural imbalance at the heart of the political process that was formed in the aftermath of 2003, and has plunged Iraq into a whirlpool of interrelated, interdependent and contentious crises. In the end, the Iraqis in various components are critical of the performance of the government and the political system, and there a large scale resentment and accusations of corruption towards the political class from Baghdad and Basra to Anbar and Mosul to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.

Corruption is gnawing at the body of the Iraqi state, and it is the stolen money that has financed and sustained the spiral of violence, terrorism and the unrelenting crisis. And strife for prevent the quagmire of corruption is necessary to end this cycle and put off the emergence of terrorism again, this is a prerequisite for restoring the confidence of the citizen system.

It can be noted in this regard that the initiative launched by Prime Minister Haider Abadi, to fight corruption at first, can be built on a legal and scientific methodology to address the corruption inherent in the system of state and management of public funds. Ending the cycle of crisis in Iraq requires restructuring the current political process, based on the concept of a civil state, strengthening civic values, strengthening the role and rights of women, and ensuring adherence to human rights standards as a constitutional approach. The ambiguity in some articles of the Iraqi constitution, and the poor application in the light of practical experience, make it necessary to review and or modify the Constitution accordingly, but through the constitutional mechanisms that the Iraqis have accepted, the Constitution must be a focal point and the reference in resolving differences.

In this context, dealing with the Kurdish situation can not be from the position of the victor towards the defeated. The historical situation of the Kurds is that they may be defeated militarily in the plains, but they gather in the mountains and return the ball, often with external support, and Iraq remains doomed to this absurd and destructive cycle . The Kurds have a natural right to self-determination, but self-determination comes through Baghdad, not Ankara, Tehran or Washington, and is achieved through understanding with the partners in Iraq, not through political conflict and or dependence on regional or foreign powers. There is an urgent need to end corruption, nepotism and mismanagement, which have become a serious threat to the body of the regime in Kurdistan.

Perhaps for the first time in the modern history of the Iraqi state, many Kurds demand internal reform and good governance rather than national slogans, a very important variable that must be dealt with in a sound reading of the scene to produce solutions that include Iraq as a whole, not the investment of the event to reproduce the history of Kurdish oppressiveness or domination and or Arab chauvinism. The demands for reform in Sulaymaniyah and Erbil are in harmony with those in Basra, Anbar and Baghdad, and the success of reform depends on comprehensive solutions that could impede the cycle of Iraqi crises. The dispute between Baghdad and the Kurdish political leaders should not become a punishment for the people, and to ignore the constitutional rights of Kurdistan. The state is called upon to prevent harm to the citizens. The salaries of the employees of the service sectors and the Peshmerga must be paid. Federal and provincial government, and disclosure of financial and oil files, through the Federal Parliament and the Kurdistan Regional Parliament. In the context of interrelated crises, the approach to dealing with corruption or resolving the crisis with the Kurdistan Region can not be integrated without dealing with the Iraqi Sunnis who are at the forefront of the victims of the "Da'ash" stage. They are the direct stakeholders in uprooting the Takfiri ideology from its roots. Help and empower them to achieve this goal through real participation and power sharing mechanisms in the Iraqi decision and return the displaced and or IDPs to their homes with dignity.

The challenge of reconstructing the cities liberated from ISIS is the forefront of the required support, but the reality of the case emphasizes that Iraq needs a comprehensive economic renaissance leading the solutions to the interrelated crises, and establish a culture of competition and economic integration as a substitute for political discord and confrontation. This is an opportunity to look optimistically at the international donor conference to be held in Kuwait on the basis of a general understanding that must be firmly established: Iraq's unity, security and the defeat of extremism are dependent on strengthening the infrastructure and the institutions and developing integration between the country's different regions and Iraq and its regional neighborhood. The focus should be on finding common interests of neighbors in a way that does not yard the settling of accounts, in addition to creating jobs for young people.

This may be the way to establish an "investment fund" with the participation of the local citizens in Iraq first, where every Iraqi citizen has the right to participate in it, provided that the state allocates a certain percentage of oil imports (for example 5% annually) to support it. Iraqi and foreign private sector companies can also participate in the fund, as well as international financial institutions, donor countries and international monetary funds. The fund will finance economically viable strategic infrastructure projects such as Basra port, highway network, railways, airports and irrigation projects in the Nineveh Plain and Garamian Erbil, land reclamation in the south, industrial cities and dams.

In addition to its internal role, the fund can participate in the financing of infrastructure projects linking the countries of the region. Iraq is an important strategic hub in which the Arab world joins Iran and Turkey. It links the economies of the Gulf and Europe and could be the heart of the new Silk Road to the Mediterranean, Iraq is also the focus of energy production, gas and oil, and can be a safe passage for the energy export system.

Similar experiences can be seen in Thailand, Vietnam and India, which attracted investment funding from  Japan, China and the Gulf. As a reminder, the investment fund must be administered and managed by a private law, independent from the government and managed by a professional private body, free from political debates. Its administrative members shall be professional candidates from the government approved by the parliament and serve for a period of six years not to be associated with election considerations and or partisan politics. It is recommended that international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Islamic Bank participate in the management of the fund to attract foreign investment. It is also necessary for the Fund to have an accounting and financial system that is subject to financial control in accordance with international contexts, to ensure that political interference and corruption are prevented.

Dealing with Iraqi crises in a fragmented and far from tackling the root causes and the general structural context has proved to be a failure over the past years. Today, Iraq has an opportunity to put things in perspective through a comprehensive solutions. The upcoming elections in Iraq and the Kurdistan region can be an occasion in which the parties will compete in the seriousness of committing to a comprehensive solution to the spiral of the Iraqi crisis and not as another station for fragmentation and conflict.

*Dr. Barham Salih is founder of Coalition for Democracy and Justice- Former deputy of Iraqi Prime Minister and Former PM of KRG.