Chalabi - On Iraq
Posted 20 February 2003 - 10:51 PM
By Ahmad Chalabi
While the marchers in London hope to send one message to the British Government, we, the democratic Iraqi opposition, have a different message. We call on the mandarins of Whitehall to drop their suspicion of democracy in the Arab world and to engage with the democratic Iraqi opposition now, so that we can build liberated Iraq into a beacon of hope and progress in a region of dictatorship, war, terrorism and corruption.
From our vantage point here in Iraqi Kurdistan one sees the reality of Saddam Hussein's Iraq much more clearly than from the streets of Europe. Saddam has been at war with the Iraqi people for more than 30 years. We, the Iraqis in whose name many claim to speak, are engaged in a war of national liberation. We are not calling for an Anglo-American war against the Iraqi people, but for the international community to join us in our war of liberation.
On the eve of a conference that will bring together the free representatives of our oppressed nation on Iraqi soil, we call upon the international community to join with us to discuss Iraq's immediate military crisis and plan the transition to a future representative Iraqi government.
Iraq is rich in the region's most treasured resources: oil and water. But Iraq's greatest resource is its people. Our first and most urgent task is to create a system which can restore self-respect to the Iraqi people, and empower them to have control over their destiny.
The only way this can be done is through the establishment of a democratic government founded upon the rule of law. We want a government based on a constitution that guarantees regional autonomy, the separation of powers and iron-clad guarantees of equal civil, political and human rights for all citizens.
The leadership and governance of Iraq is, without exception, an exclusive right of the Iraqi people; even so, we recognise that the genocidal repression of Saddam's Ba'athist tyranny requires international participation for the swift and effective transition to a liberated and independent Iraq.
However, there must be no gap in the sovereignty over Iraq by Iraqis. We reject notions of foreign military government or United Nations administration for Iraq. Iraqis are fiercely independent and, at the same time, are perfectly capable of governing Iraq. There are many able and talented Iraqis who are not tainted by serving the dictatorship; after all, nearly a third of all Iraqis live outside Saddam's control - four million in exile and three million in the liberated area of Iraqi Kurdistan.
These Iraqis support the individual rights and liberties that are commonly recognised outside Iraq. It is necessary to begin planning for the transition to democracy immediately, and the democratic Iraqi opposition should form the nucleus of a transitional administration. That should immediately expand to include those Iraqis currently living under Saddam's control as soon as it is safe.
This administration should be empowered to assume Iraqi sovereignty the moment Saddam is gone and to work closely with coalition military forces to meet immediate humanitarian needs, assure stability and continue the search for Saddam's illegal arsenal. We have already prepared detailed plans for areas as diverse as building civil society, de-Ba'athification, transitional justice, and rebuilding a shattered economy.
None the less, we recognise that necessity will force temporary limits on our future Iraq's freedoms. Iraqis accept military restrictions, reparations, international monitoring, international peacekeepers and other required measures as the consequences of our national tragedy; what is needed is an open and collaborative process between Iraqis and their liberators to minimise these restrictions and maximise Iraqi control of Iraqi life.
We know our country; Iraqis' desire for liberty and for their basic human freedoms - religious, political, personal, economic - is overwhelming. For the sake of social, national and regional stability these energies must be quickly united in a common Iraqi nation, as internally free and with as great a degree of control over Iraq's peaceful development as possible.
The idea that Iraq's different ethnic or religious communities will propel the country into chaos is a myth. It is a convenient preconception that fits the Western image of unruly and warring tribes but it is untrue. In Iraq there is no primary violence between communities. Communal violence in Iraq is a political phenomenon. There is no record in the history of our land of a Shia village attacking a Sunni village or an Arab quarter attacking a Kurdish quarter.
Problems that have arisen between Iraq's communities have been instigated by political forces for their own benefit. Iraq is the country that is based on the oldest civilisation in the world. Doesn't this imply some historical knowledge of how communities can co-exist with one another?
From the isolation of an outlaw nation, we yearn to participate openly in the social, commercial, and political life of the global age. The Iraqi citizen, equal before the law within Iraq and respected as a member of the community of nations, must be the foundation of such a future.
The transition to a new Iraq need not be long nor need it be imposed. Support us now in Iraq. Help us build a bridge between your world and Saddam's prison. Begin our liberation with communication, participation and partnership. No nation has ever been more directly subject to international law and the combined will of the community of nations than has our Iraq.
In no nation's future is the world's future more likely foretold. Iraq and the world are united by providence; let our joint human efforts as equal and humble servants of the almighty honour this awesome responsibility. Out of the sword of violence let us together forge, in a free Iraq, the ploughshare of prosperity and peace.
From evil, good can come; from oppression, freedom. We ask the world to support us in that transformation.
Posted 21 February 2003 - 04:19 PM
Posted 03 December 2005 - 10:49 PM
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