From Afar - 3
- 92: The Future of Iraq
José, October 1992
I. Iraq Today
A. Our Ordeal
B. The Iraqi Opposition
II. Iraq Tomorrow
A. Towards Perpetual Peace
1. Breaking the Circulus Vitiosus
3. Abolishing the Army
4. Reforming the Security Institutions
5. Abolishing the Death Penalty
6. Education for Peace
B. Shaping Our Future
1. Some Fundamentals
2. The United States of Iraq
3. Towards an Iraqi Community
C. The Value of History
D. Iraq will Survive
Copies of this document were sent to parties
and organizations of
the Iraqi opposition, to international organizations and
institutions, to scholars, and to my friends. I would greatly
appreciate receiving critical remarks about the ideas discussed
in this document. My mail address is:
Al-Ghassani, Apdo 823, 2050 San Pedro, Costa Rica
Tel.: (506) 234-6975 (home), Fax: (506) 243702 (University of
Costa Rica), email: email@example.com
is a dream of a future Iraq : a neutral, peaceful and
prosperous Iraq, capable of continuing its productive role as
the builder of civilizations.
A dream is an ideal, neither a final solution nor a blueprint
for application, it is a vision to trigger fresh thinking about
our problems, a proposal to encourage discussion and research.
It should give us courage and hope and the raw material necessary
for effective policy-making. It serves as a criterion for
evaluating policies. A dream sets the maximum and policies deal
with the realizable minimum.
we have to create the dream. Later, political technicalities
would customize a dream according to the conditions on the
ground and distinguish between what is applicable and feasible
and what is not.
the present situation in Iraq is tragic we should not
become pessimist realists but rather realist dreamers. I have
tried to dream like a politician and to think like a poet. It
is up to the reader to judge whether this difficult combination
was achieved or not.
Dr. Anwar Al-Ghassani
San Jose, October 18, 1992
I. Iraq Today
the last two and half decades we, Iraqis, have been
subjected to torture, assassination, genocide, exile, and wars.
Almost every family in Iraq has lost one or more of its members.
Vast resources have been squandered and Iraq's development
damage has been done under the regime of Saddam Hussein to the integrity
of Iraq as a multinational country. The Iraqi
society has been culturally and morally mutilated by a systematic
process of indoctrination in the only permitted ideology in the
country: the ideas of Saddam Hussein. Even the ancient history
of Mesopotamia and the Arabic and Islamic heritage of Iraq have
been misused as an asset in that process.
a result, a totalitarian regime has emerged in Iraq with one
man dominating a whole country.
Saddam Hussein continued to consolidate his reign of
terror, the world remained deaf to the continuous calls of the
Iraqi opposition. Geopolitical and strategic interests, the greed
for contracts and profits, made governments and companies in
East and West, and in the Middle East, insensitive to our
suffering. They remained silent watching him on usual business:
genocide. He became, de facto, their ally.
soon it became obvious that Saddam Hussein was not a
comfortable ally. They decided to teach him a lesson. The
aggression against Kuwait delivered the golden pretext.
war was organized and carried out. The allies attained, at
the cost of the destruction of our country, what they wanted:
to have a weakened Saddam Hussein in power.
Hussein's futile policies delivered the allies with all
the arguments necessary to apply their hidden war agenda. This
process is still going on. Now and then, the UN Security Council
adds new resolutions to its already lengthy list of punitive
resolutions, inflicting unbelievable suffering on our people.
the past, those dominating the Security Council refused to
consider any measure less than war to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.
Today, and if it is at all true that their ultimate goal
is the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, they are again
refusing to consider any measure, which would lead to his removal
and spare us unnecessary hardships.
sovereignty is being breached under diverse pretexts. The
interference in our internal affairs has reached unprecedented
and alarming dimensions.
The removal of Saddam Hussein is an internal Iraqi issue. We
have to decide on that. No foreign power has the right to take
that decision for us. This is a fact which some like to ignore.
They continue to identify Iraq and its people with Saddam Hussein
and his regime. This is an error. Saddam Hussein's wars have
never been and will never be our wars.
They, allies of yesterday, are the adversaries of today. We
refuse to be the victims of their quarrels.
in the wild West of the "new" world order it is wise to
remember that national sovereignty must be respected.
we consider all resolutions, decisions, and measures
taken in our absence, and forced on us at gunpoint, illegitimate
in their present form. They should be renegotiated with the
legitimate future government of Iraq. We don't consider the
present regime as our legitimate representative.
refuse to be treated as voiceless and faceless mass. We are
not going to have all this misery anymore. We will resist the death
sentence passed on our country.
are in an ordeal, facing fatal dangers from internal and
external forces. Our existence as a nation is in jeopardy. Our
nationalities, Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans, Armenians, Assyrians and
others, Iraqis of diverse religions, Moslems, Christians, Yezidis,
Subis, Babis, Bahais and others, must unite to rescue Iraq. Only with
unity we can avoid chaos and disintegration.
have to reflect on who are we? Where do we come from? Why
did this tragedy come upon us? How can we achieve effective
national unity? What are the major problems of Iraq? How to
solve them? How to build a democratic Iraq? How to face the
consequences of the war, the present and those yet to come? How to
alleviate our suffering? How can we ban pain from our life?
How can we revive our natural and healthy sense for life?
Iraqis have to depend on ourselves. We have to take our
affairs in our hands. We welcome all forms of unconditional help,
but we should resist all forms of external interference. We have
to change the monstrous regime and start building a peaceful and
path to real independence, democracy, and social justice is
long and difficult. There will be numerous obstacles. Iraq has
survived unimaginable perils throughout eight thousand years of
documented history since Iraqis invented agriculture in the
region around Jarmou. Iraq will survive.
The Iraqi Opposition
there is a large number of parties and organizations in
the Iraqi opposition, but none of them represents a major force,
an overwhelmingly dominant force, a catalyst. This, per se, is a
positive sign. It is the expression of our diversity. But, on
the other hand, it faces us with a challenge: to learn to dialog
and achieve compromises.
are some disturbing symptoms in the Iraqi opposition. For
instance, its organization in parties. Parties can hardly be
considered adequate structures for our time. We need looser,
broader, freer, horizontal mass movements consisting of a variety
of micro organizational components capable of flexible
disintegration and regrouping according to necessity. Rigid,
sectarian, and vertical party frames and patterns are really
antiquated. Their operational performance is poor because of
their incapability of fresh and dynamic interaction with reality.
The discourse of the opposition is in general either stiff and
authoritarian, conveying a black-and-white narrow-minded vision
of reality, or is pathetic and sentimental, and therefore,
fuzzy and ambiguous.
opposition has achieved certain progress but the dialog among the
parties is still far from maturity. The opposition has still
to produce compromises, elaborate the democratic alternative to
the present regime, and a program for an effective government.
is running out. External interference is increasing. There
are nowadays organizations and parties artificially created for
the sole purpose of channeling external influence into the
opposition. Any delay in agreement on the principal issues will
increase the vulnerability of the opposition and prolong the
suffering of our people.
present Iraqi opposition has but one single sane option:
dialog, compromise, coalition. Otherwise time will work against
it, and it might even disappear as a sterile force, incapable of
presenting an alternative to the current misery, leaving the
stage for other forces which will certainly appear to occupy the
Towards Perpetual Peace
Breaking the Circulus Vitiosus
have a long, rich, stormy, and in some aspects, very tragic
history. A history of outstanding achievements and almost
permanent wars and conflicts imposed on us by tyrants, invaders
benefits of peace are too obvious to be mentioned. War and
oppression go hand in hand and create submission, fatalism, and
the erroneous belief that they are inevitable.
we could believe in peace, in the feasibility of peace, then
we would be able to liberate our creative spirit and find the way
out of the crisis. Courage is needed to break the circulus
vitiosus of war - no war - war. If we liberate ourselves from
this addiction to pain and suffering we will be able, for the
first time in our history, to concentrate our energy on producing
culture and civilization.
peace we need and seek is not the lull between wars and
conflicts. We need perpetual peace, peace for ever, the natural
state of things.
should be declared once for all a neutral country. The
constitution should prohibit the abolition of neutrality under
means to renounce violence. It means to work for
peace, democracy, human rights and progress on national, regional
and international levels. Neutrality means to care about the plight
of other nations. It is contrary to indifference and
means that we will abstain from participating in
aggressive actions for any reason whatsoever. It means that we
are not going to attack what the others are defending, and if
necessary, we will not defend what the others want to attack, we
will resist passively so that violence is dispersed, absorbed
and lost in vacuum.
international congress should be convened to declare Iraq's
perpetual neutrality. Arab, regional and international
guarantees should be obtained to secure the observance and
respect of our neutrality and the territorial integrity of Iraq.
Abolishing the Army
Iraqi army has played a significant and patriotic role in
the modern history of our country. Many officers and soldiers
have rendered great services to Iraq. Even today, under the cruel
indoctrination, the majority of officers and soldiers are silent
opponents of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.
army has changed in the last three decades. It became
instrumental in numerous conflicts, coup d'etats, and more
recently, in wars and aggressions. The trouble with the army is
not with its rank and file of soldiers and officers but with the
immediate and perpetual abolition of the army, as an
institution, and the prohibition of its reorganization under any
circumstances must be among the first urgent decisions of the
future free parliament of Iraq.
have created this institution and we have to dissolve it. We
are not the first country to do that. Costa Rica was the first
and till now the only country. It abolished its army in 1948.
Combining neutrality with the existence of an army goes against
the logic of neutrality. This is true, even if there are some
examples of such combinations (Switzerland is one ).
the army is not a solution. This can be easily
overridden and we will soon be back on the old track. The army,
any army, is by definition unreformable. It is an unnecessary
institution for a truly democratic and peaceful country.
argument that we need the army to confront external
aggression does not stand serious scrutiny. In the case of a
neutral country, enjoying regional and international guarantees,
an external aggression is a remote probability. But if we are,
nevertheless, to face such a danger in the future we can
confront it by organizing a temporary defence force. History
shows that peaceful nations, unaccustomed to aggression and
humiliation, can indeed be ferocious in confronting invaders.
They are capable of organizing themselves at short notice and of
facing the invaders aggressively and effectively.
the decision on abolishing the army is taken, some
additional measures have to follow:
The abolition of the army should be accompanied by a general
internal disarmament under international supervision. All
parties, groups and organizations, without exception, should
disarm completely. The weapons should be collected and destroyed.
Carrying arms and trading in arms should be made illegal.
Violations should be severely punished.
Arab, friendly, and neutral countries should be asked to
provide troops to keep law and order for the duration of the
process of disarmament and the abolition of the army.
Reforming the Security Institutions
should take significant decisions on internal security
The perpetual abolition, as institutions, of the secret police,
the military espionage, and the intelligence organizations. Their
reorganization should be prohibited under all circumstances.
The organization of a new police force with the following
(1) The force should not have a united and centralized commanding
The force should comprise of various specialized types of
police. Each with a civilian commander.
Each type should belong to a ministry (traffic police to the
transport ministry, customs police to the finance ministry,
migration police to the interior ministry, etc.)
A special parliamentary commission should supervise the
We are capable of taking such decisive measures. We should not be
afraid of peace.
Abolishing the Death Penalty
have to reform our justice system. The first reform should be
the immediate and perpetual abolition of the death penalty.
Representatives of Saddam Hussein's regime, accused of crimes,
must be brought to justice. Regular, civilian courts should
decide on their cases. No more special, "revolutionary",
military, irregular, or secret courts. All court processes should
be open to the public and the media. Individual executions,
summary executions, terror, torture, illegal detention, are
crimes and should be prohibited by law.
hunt against collaborators of the present regime must be
prohibited. Only those notorious for their past activities
should be brought to justice not the rank and file of the
regime's machinery. The dignity of individuals who served under
the regime must be respected. Those who were subjected,
threatened or forced to cooperate, tortured, imprisoned, or went
voluntarily to internal exile deserve the sympathy of our people.
We need reconciliation not a new cycle of violence.
Education for Peace
in the spirit of peace, democracy and human rights and
the preparation of our children for a life in peace is essential
and should be among the priorities of our future reformed system
Shaping our Future
experience shows that the future political order in Iraq can
not be based on monolithic ideologies of any kind. The political
renewal of Iraq depends on our ability to avoid political and
ideological monopoly and dogmatism in our political life and way
is the only way out of the present crisis. But Iraqi
democracy should operate on the basis of consensus as far as our
principal issues are concerned. Voting is vital, but majority
vote cannot be the sole democratic practice to decide upon
paramount issues such as the nature and composition of the future
order. Consensus is needed in such cases because a majority vote,
though legal, could alienate important sectors and may cause dangerous
conflicts. Majority vote and minority vote should serve as a criterion
for measuring public opinion tendencies,
consensus, however, should be the basis for decision-making.
other words: any attempt by a single party or movement, even
with the mandate of a majority vote, to dominate the political
power in a monopolistic manner, will lead to the suppression of
other forces. This would mean the replacement of Saddam
Hussein's totalitarianism by a new tyranny.
future parliament should adopt democracy, human rights, and
Welfare as guiding principles for the Iraqi state. This should
be anchored in the constitution.
implementation of Democracy and pluralism in Iraq is not an
easy task. But we have no other choice. It might help us to
remember that our ancestors created the first civilization on
earth based on agriculture, that we were the first nation to
recognize human rights at an advanced level for the time,
exemplified in the code of Hammurabi, the first legislator in the
history of mankind.
will be a tragic error to accept anything less than full freedom.
diversity of Iraq is a source of cultural and moral
strength. But if we don't understand to manage it, we run the
risk of destroying the fibre of our society by creating
interminable conflicts. All our nationalities have suffered from
discriminative practices in the last decades. But it is
interesting to note that discrimination was never adopted at
popular level. Fanatics ruling from Baghdad or at local level,
chauvinistic and narrow-minded elements belonging to different
nationalities, inside and outside the power structure, exercised
discrimination not primarily because of ethnical hatred, but
rather as a habitual day to day repression against all Iraqis.
are not race-sensitive. We cannot be racists since we are
of a multi-ethnical descent. Many among us speak more than one of
the various languages of our nationalities. In fact, Iraqis are
the product of ancient and recent successive assimilations.
Iraq is the crucible of civilizations and nations. When an
Iraqi reflects consciously on this, he (she) feels proud of
himself, and of each of our nationalities. He realizes that such
a diverse heritage and culture is a wealth.
to religion, there are no deep disputes between sects of one
religion or between the followers of different religions. What
Saddam Hussein tried to introduce in this respect is not typical
for our way of thinking.
We should remember that in the Middle Ages Persian and Turkish
empires meddled, for centuries, in the affairs of Iraq. They
hypocritically exploited religious sentiments and encouraged
disputes between Shiites and Sunnis. Iraq was turned to a
battle field for those powers, and we became victims of
outrageous atrocities. Fortunately, this did not lead to
everlasting sectarian hostilities and divisions in our society.
conflicts resembling those in Northern Ireland or in
the former Yugoslavia are less probable in Iraq. Perhaps because
they would be incompatible with the logic of our history.
in its original purity is, in essence, the religion of
equality between races and tolerance among individuals, nations,
and religions. The principle of tolerance in Christianity, our
second religion, is well-known.
It is safe to say that, after the bitter experiences of recent
history, we are now prepared, more than in any time before, to
adopt ethical maxims of tolerance, as a foundation for our
national life. However, this is only a general disposition. We
still have to work very hard to educate ourselves in this spirit.
Religions can have a decisive role in such a process since they
all, in essence and free from demagogic frames, adopt tolerance
as their major maxim.
can only flourish in freedom. In a free and democratic
Iraq the freedom of expression and other basic rights (cultural,
religious, secular, political, etc.) should be extensively exercised,
encouraged and protected.
We deserve more than this minimum, but we have to make a start
and work towards the continuous expansion of our freedom.
this involves, among many other things, an unprecedented
development of the media and the introduction of new information
and communication technologies. We should not only guarantee the free
and balanced flow of information, but also recognize the
right to communicate as an universal human right. This right,
not yet a reality in any country in the world, goes far beyond
the freedom of expression. Exercising this right requires a new
type of media, more advanced than the current conventional
private and state-owned media. We need a fresh approach, a
developed infrastructure and new, innovative, and alternative
means and procedures.
need a new development model. A model which goes beyond
has good perspectives. We have sufficient resources: oil,
water, fertile soil, minerals, a small industry and a moderate
level of mechanization in agriculture. There is also the
geographic and climatic diversity of Iraq: snowy mountains,
plains and deserts. Its cultural richness and the wealth of
historical sites permit the development of tourism as an industry.
these are adequate conditions for pursuing an ecologically
healthy and sustainable development. Our natural and historical
environments should be protected, conserved and preserved. Our
traditional way of life and our handicraft deserve protection.
The historical centres of our cities are disappearing. They are
being converted into concrete deserts. We will have to deal with
the disastrous consequences of Saddam Hussein's arms research
programs. For decades, development fanatics considered groups
like Bedouins, tribes, gypsies, peasants, etc. as backward and
tried to "develop" them. They never felt the necessity to
legitimize their action. This should not continue. Nobody
should be forced to "develop" against his will and without
previous consultation. Major projects should be discussed in
public, approved or rejected through popular vote.
need a model in which more than half of the resources and
investments remain in social property. An economy with broad
popular participation in the decision-making process. An economy
organized and looked after by a government under the strict
control of parliament. We need a genuine mixed economy with a
strong state sector. Imaginative incentives and a totally
reformed salary system, and full exposure to market competition
should bring a reasonable level of efficiency into this sector.
need a strong private sector with high social commitment, a
well-defined space, and broad possibilities of growth. It should
function as a counterbalance to the state-sector.
sectors should be complementary to each other to guarantee
fair competition and social commitment.
to priorities, it is essential to consider information and
high-tech industries as our first priority and as the main
branch of economy to be developed. Other priorities include:
chemical industry, agriculture and tourism.
constitution should state unmistakably that the welfare
state based on social justice is our model.
should allocate part of its oil revenue to support
development efforts elsewhere in the region and in the world,
particularly in the so-called "Third" world. An Iraqi
international aid fund can serve this purpose. The fund would
further international cooperation. In addition, it will be used
to help our brothers and sisters wherever they are in the world.
This means to assist, in particular, development efforts in the
Arab countries as well as helping the Kurds, the Turkomans, the
Armenians and the Assyrians in Iran, Turkey, Syria and the former
Soviet Union because of our special relationship with them. Aid
should be channeled to them, as far as possible, through social
organizations, NGOs, and international bodies not through
governments. Aid to governments should depend on their human
this equals to a new economic culture which we have yet to
The United States of Iraq
republican order is too centralized to cope with the
diversity of our country. It has another major defect: it can be
easily converted to a one-man dictatorship. Saddam Hussein's
regime is a startling example for what this mean.
viable alternative to this is to convert the present Republic
of Iraq to a United States of Iraq. We have various models which
can serve as examples: The Swiss Confederation, The United Sates of
America, The United States of Brazil and The United States of Mexico.
basic idea is to have states with legislative bodies, state
governments with extensive executive powers, a federal
government, a federal legislative body, and a federal council
elected for four-year or six-year terms, with one council member
serving as president each year.
reorganization in states will guarantee among other things:
Full political, national and cultural rights for all.
- Adjusting policies to conditions and necessities on the ground.
- Equal distribution of resources.
Towards an Iraqi Community
have to start promoting a sense of belonging, of togetherness
among ourselves, the sense of belonging to a community and of
being an Iraqi community. The concept of community implies a
pattern of social coexistence wider, freer, looser and more
advanced than that of the formal concept of society. Our task for
the future is to become a community.
cultural patterns and traditions are rich and diverse due
to its multinational composition. This is the most valuable
asset we have. Nationality policies of the Iraqi governments
have been up to now either repressive or inadequate. It is time
to rethink and reshape these policies.
the course of thousands of years, our nationalities have lived
together. They have shared pain and suffering. Together they
resisted repression by foreign invaders and local tyrants. This,
our joint life, has produced, during some of the darkest periods
of our history, a sense of togetherness.
are not always aware of this fact. Some of us, due to bitter
experiences in recent history would even reject this fact or
deny it. It is the responsibility of our generation to develop
this togetherness and create an Iraqi community, i.e. a
conglomeration of people, who in spite of their natural
individuality and distinctness are deeply respective of each
other. Dialog, compromise and solidarity, are the supreme
principles reigning over their joint life.
our free community of the future grievances of all kinds
will surface and should be expressed, communicated and properly
addressed. Such a situation demands more freedom. We have been suppressed
for generations. Our need to express ourselves is
extremely strong and urgent. This might take chaotic forms in
the beginning. We don't need to be afraid of that. Let us
dialog to find the best ways to put our country in order. It is
essential to trust our feeling of belonging to each other, our
togetherness, that we are indeed a community.
the world is a city ( a town , a village) then Iraq is a barrio (a
neighborhood, a residential district, a suburb, a quarter.)
people would like to imagine Iraq as a home with our
nationalities sharing its space. Some of those who governed Iraq,
including those of the present regime, used to distribute that
space in an arbitrary manner, moving people from one spot to
another, even by force if necessary.
policies are doomed to failure. We are not a single family.
We are many families and we are different. The natural way to
visualize our way of life is to think of us, not in terms of one
family sharing the space of one home, but in terms of many
families living in separate houses of a barrio. Such an
arrangement ensures that each family gets the opportunity of
organizing its life independently and relating itself with other
families through a broad spectrum of visible and invisible
relations and interests. This is perhaps how the Iraqi community
of the future should be organized if we indeed want it to
is a peculiar country. As the country of the Arabs we belong
to the Arab nation and to the Arab world. As the country of the
Kurds we belong to the Kurdish nation and to the Middle East. As
the country of the Turkomans we belong to the Turkish nations, to
the Middle East, and to Central Asia.
can go on establishing similar relations with respect to our
remaining nationalities. What we mean is this: We have a unique
situation which enables us to have brotherly relations with many
nations because our culture is multinational and multilingual.
conclusion from all this is that we cannot limit our
affiliation to one single nationality. All attempts to force
such a tendency on us have failed and brought suffering and
misery. The "arabization" policy of Saddam Hussein in the
against the Kurds and Turkomans is only the last of such
attempts. Similar attempts in the future will also fail because
they go against the logic of thousands of years of our historical
this mean that there is an Iraqi nation consisting of a
variety of nationalities? Is there an Iraqi nationalism? Yes. But
we are not chauvinistic nationalists. We are nationalists and
internationalists in the same time due to the very nature of our
nation. We are first and above all Iraqis, and then we are Arabs
or Kurds or Turkomans. This means that being an Iraqi is our
common denominator. In this sense the concepts of Iraqi
community and Iraqi nation are almost equivalent.
imagination is needed to capture these complex
relations. We have to deal with them in a sophisticated manner to
ensure having a harmonious frame for our complex and
heterogeneous nation. This is the starting-point for tackling
our nationalities issues.
nationality should get full political, administrative,
cultural and religious rights. A United States of Iraq should be
the frame. If the practice demands the creation of states,
autonomous areas, regions, counties, etc., then we have to create
them. If the interests of our people are better served in a
looser union, then this should be the choice.
the constitution should recognize the collective
self-determination right of all Iraqis, including the right of
any nationality to secede from Iraq. However, the implementation
of this right should be postponed. Modalities to this effect
should be negotiated and defined through consensus and not
is not the place to discuss this issue in details.
Nevertheless, some few general remarks might be useful:
have to give ourselves the above-mentioned right but we should not
demand its immediate implementation. Such an implementation involves
are those demagogues, fanatics and opportunists of
different ethnical and ideological backgrounds who will oppose
such a proposal. Not because they care so much about Iraq's unity
and our welfare, but because such a frank, sincere and effective way
of dealing with our problems undermines their plans for creating their
own "kingdoms" on the soil of a disintegrated
are also those separatists who are already talking about
the independence of regions, nationalities and groups. They are
talking about Kurdish, Turkoman, Shiite, Sunni republics. If
we allow such people to mislead us we will be sentencing
ourselves to death. These people who dream of small kingdoms,
these warlords of a future disintegrated Iraq either pretend to
be ignorant of the fact that Iraq, with its present boundaries,
safeguards a delicate balance for the region, or they are insane,
or they don't know what they are talking about.
for instance, that a Kurdish independent republic is
created, this will invite immediate intervention from Arab and
non-Arab neighbors and non-neighbors. We know that Iran and
Turkey oppose such projects. Both have Kurdish populations
larger than our Kurdish population. Both countries are opposed to
the self-determination right of the Kurds. Such a separatist
republic will be dead on birth. It would means war with our
are not going to allow adventurers to expose our Kurdish
brothers and sisters and the rest of us to such dangers. This is
not the kind of self-determination right Iraqis would like for
it make any sense to recognize a right and demand
immediately the postponement of its implementation ? Yes, it
does. Here are some considerations:
We don't mean a formal self-determination right. We mean a
right to be agreed upon within our community and used, or not
used, according to the supreme interests of our community. We
cannot continue forever denying ourselves this fundamental right.
It is essential to have this right even if we decide to suspend
or delay its implementation. The mere knowledge that we possess
it will have a tremendous psychological impact on all of us. We
want to cement a relation of confidence among ourselves. It is
almost like a genuine, new, or renewed declaration of our
independence. We want to recover, regain and acquire something we
were not allowed to have in the course of this century. Britain
established a monarchy for us after World War I and declared us
independent. Our opinion was never needed. This is not a gift
from a "major" nationality to a "minor" one or
vice verse. This
is a gift we would like to make to ourselves, to all of us.
are talking here about the Kurds as an example. We can equally talk
about Arabs or Assyrians etc. Did we ever have this right for anyone
in Iraq? No. That's why we have to make a correction. We have to possess
this right and realize, nevertheless, that only together we can safeguard
our individual and collective interests, including our right of self-determination.
This might be difficult to understand but such is our complicated
Let us first heal out wounds. Our suffering has been
continuous since centuries. Let us apply a collective therapy to
ourselves. Let us calm down for a long while and be kind to
ourselves. First we have to create our union of states,
introduce democracy to Iraq, make it a neutral country and
abolish the army. We should give ourselves the opportunity to
live in peace and democracy, to attain clarity about ourselves
and our future, before any of us takes the decision on remaining
in the Iraqi community or leaving it.
This should be definitely the way of treating our problems
and each other. we should not object to anyone of us wanting to
leave our barrio. But we should not deliver ourselves to the
demagogues and extremists immediately after our liberation from
the present horrible regime.
We are accustomed to apply a "Baghdad approach" to the issue
of nationalities, i.e. Baghdad deciding matters for the rest of
the country. Let us decentralize our thinking. Why don't we try
( Kurds, Turkomans, others ) to consider such an issue from the
perspectives of Sulaimaniya or Kirkuk or Basrah for instance.
Suppose you are a Kurd. So you might tell yourself the following:
" Here is Kurdistan, and there is the rest of my country, Iraq.
Iraq is an extension of Kurdistan, and Kurdistan is an extension
of Iraqi territory where my other brothers live. My destiny is
related to their's. I should safeguard my/their/our interests.
Now that we all have the right of self-determination, I know
that I HAVE the right to do what ever I want with my life, but I
also realize that this is not everything."
with approaches in this fashion will liberate us
from outdated, one-sided and, de facto, dogmatic thinking. We
have to liberate ourselves from the dominator-dominated/ master-
slave complex. We have to learn to think as persons who are
really proprietors and masters of their country as a whole.
We have to rethink / rediscover the identity of our country.
Iraq is not only our fatherland, native country, our Patria in
the conventional sense. It is above all our project of liberty.
If we realize this project then we will get a good proposal, a
source of hope, an example, for our brothers and sisters
(Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans, others) in other countries. How should
we understand this in terms of the region's dynamics:
After organizing our Union, our community, our barrio, and
obtaining full rights for all of us, we should assume our moral
obligation to help our people elsewhere. The future of those
brothers and sisters is, for obvious reasons, a major concern for
us. Our neutrality should never mean indifference towards their
destiny. However, we will strictly abstain from interfering in
the internal affairs of other countries. We will use peaceful
means to help our brothers and sisters. We will support them
by all possible and acceptable means (economic, cultural, moral,
etc.) This applies to the Arab and non-Arab countries, neighbors
We can do that only if we remain together. That's why the
last thing we should do is to hastily apply our formally
recognized right of self-determination. The example of Iraqi
Kurdistan should explain this. Iraqi Kurds alone will not be able
to do anything significant to alleviate the plight of the Kurds
in Iran and Turkey. Much more can be achieved if they have all
the resources of their country, Iraq, under their disposal and
try by peaceful noninterventionist means to help our people
help from our side is a long-term process. It will take a
long time for conditions in Iran and Turkey, for instance, to
mature and permit that the Kurds attain their freedom and the
recognition of their right of self-determination.
will happen when they reach that stage. What would be the
shape of our relation with them? What would be the shape of our
relation with our brothers and sisters in the Arab countries?
There is no answer to that question at present. But let us dream
and say that our United States of Iraq will always be open for
them. This is an option. But everything depends on their
decision. We should be sufficiently flexible to be able to
dismantle our union and reorganize it, if necessary, to
accommodate our brothers and sisters in our community, if they
The path towards that future is long and difficult. Meanwhile
our brothers and sisters, wherever they are, should always
consider Iraq as an extension of their community.
sum up: It is possible to build a democracy and provide
equality and prosperity for a nation consisting of diverse
nationalities and languages. We should study and learn from
successful attempts - Switzerland- and of failures - former
Yugoslavia-. We should be open to all practical and reasonable
solutions which serve our Iraqi nation. Iraq should become the
community of our nationalities. We believe in the common sense of
our people and in the spirit of mutual solidarity and respect
among our nationalities. The rulers have never permitted a normal
development in this respect. We believe that prosperous
nationalities in a prosperous Iraq will remain together.
are a country with the potential of giving an example for
peaceful coexistence of nationalities and nations towards which,
as we believe, the world is heading.
The Value of History
are thousands of historical sites and testimonies
everywhere in Iraq. Only a fraction of these sites has been
excavated and studied. They remind us of our achievements during thousands
of years. They remind us of the importance of
studying our history.
Iraq has seen tyrannies and invaders. All were overcome or
assimilated and vanished. This is a truth of particular
significance and should help us overcome our current crisis.
our history, Iraqi women and men of different
nationalities and religions, have made valuable contributions to
the progress of humanity and to world culture. They have
contributed to the continuous struggle for freedom. We still
don't know their work in its entirety. To know and study this
work is a major task for us.
current regime will pass and disappear, but it will leave
physical and psychological traces. Monuments and ritualistic
objects created by the regime should not be destroyed. The
destruction of these objects is vandalism. Their material
disappearance does not ban them from memory. It will only
deprives us from valuable objects for the study of our history.
History is continuity. History does not start anew every time a
regime is changed.
Iraq Will Survive
the gulf war a journalist remarked that the allies were
bombing Iraq back to the 19th century. This might be true is some
aspects. Others are foreseeing civil wars and disintegration,
a "Lebanization" of Iraq. Admittedly, the dangers are there.
the consciousness of our people, deeply rooted in history, in
this century's struggles for independence, and in the aspiration
of a better future, is ultimately the guarantee for our survival.
will survive and prosper.