The Iraqi government’s war on terror will not diminish the suffering of the Iraqi population, writes the author [AP]
|During his visit to Iraq on January 14, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern about the deteriorating security situation. In his joint press conference with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Ki-moon urged all political leaders to “address the root causes of the problems”, calling for “political cohesion” and “political dialogue, inclusive dialogue”.
Ban Ki-moon was immediately rebuffed by al-Maliki, who said: “Talk about dialogue in Al-Anbar is rejected because we do not hold dialogue with al-Qaeda”. He seemed to be saying there is no one in the province worth talking to. In doing so, al-Maliki resorted to his usual rhetoric accusing Anbar’s population of being ‘terrorists’, despite the fact that protesters, along with five other provinces, have been peacefully demonstrating since December 2012. His statements were obviously intended to legitimise a sectarian-inspired brutal military campaign against the protestors.
The question is: Will the siege, bombardment and military onslaught on Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar province , put an end to the terrorist acts and frequent car explosions taking place in markets, cafes and mosques and in various Iraqi cities? Will the highly publicised US-Iraqi franchised “war on terror” in Anbar put an end to the endemic suffering of Iraqis?
Hardly so. Explosions continue unabated in many cities, even with the launch of Maliki’s military assault on Falluja and Anbar. And despite the countless official statements of arresting and killing scores of “al-Qaida emirs” (leaders), as well as members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In Arabic, the ISIS has an acronym that reads as Daaish, which sounds comical, and in Baghdadi dialect is close to “Dagash” that translates to “phoney”.
What Maliki chooses to ignore and what Ban Ki-moon has singled out is precisely what the protest movement has been demanding all along: looking at the root causes of the problems. In Iraq’s case, they are sectarianism, corruption, lack of basic services, violations of human rights, increasing unemployment and organised gangs and militias flourishing under a kleptocratic government.
The Maliki government has been harvesting over $100bn a year for some time now, from the nation’s oil wealth.That amounts to about $20,000 a year per average Iraqi household of 7 people, except that Iraqis are left deprived of basic commodities. The wealth is squandered or stolen, a situation illustrated by Transparency International as: “Massive embezzlement, procurement scams, money laundering, oil smuggling and widespread bureaucratic bribery have led the country to the bottom of international corruption rankings, fuelled political violence and hampered effective state building and service delivery.”
Terrorism thrives through official corruption, since any officer has a price for letting go of a car or a convict. The officers themselves pay to get their positions, and they have to cover the costs for acquiring them. The Maliki regime blames all terrorist acts on al-Qaeda, and recently on Daaish. Iraqis, however, suspect an abundance of diverse actors according to where and when a terrorist act is committed, including the regime itself, its security officers who strive to increase their funding and its officials who resort to covering up tracks, burning documents and eliminating rivals.
Al-Maliki also selectively chooses not to mention the regime’s own militias: Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Iraqi Hezbollah, the Badr brigades, factions of the Mahdi army and the Mokhtar army. The latter’s leader has bragged on Baghdadiya TV, about their responsibility for several attacks. No investigation has been done and no one was arrested. There is also hardly any mention of the Iraqi Special Forces inherited from the occupation, especially trained by Colonel James Steele under US ambassador John Negroponte and attached now directly to al-Maliki’s office.