16 minutes ago[/size]
Former Iraqi President Barham Salih wrote an important article in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, in which he stated:
On this day, the ninth of April, Iraq turns twenty years of change, in an event that changed the country, the region and the world, and the debate about this turning point still exists today. It is fair to say that salvation from a tyrannical regime that has committed crimes against the Iraqis and the region cannot be underestimated. It was hoped that this transformation would be achieved by the Iraqis, who did not skimp on huge sacrifices, over decades of time. However, in the end, the matter required international intervention to accomplish the task. The irony is that the equations by which the regime used the power of the Iraqis turned against it and brought it down in the end.
The year 2003 was a major turning point that was considered a unique opportunity to build a political system that would rectify the tragedies of the past and set out to build a future that achieves coexistence, security and stability for its citizens, and in which the country lives in safety with its neighbours. High hopes were pinned on this change and the transition towards a civil democratic system. After decades of tyranny, Iraq has opened up to important positive political transformations. The adoption of the constitution in a popular referendum was a remarkable development after decades of temporary constitutions and martial law. During this period, power was transferred peacefully, and six governments were formed, in a precedent at the level of the region. The constitution was approved to solve many problems, despite accusations of violating it and neglecting its provisions by the various parties.
It should be noted, here, the role of the religious authority in Najaf during the past two decades, as it was an important and decisive role in ensuring civil peace and protecting the state in situations and disasters, in which the country almost slipped into dangerous labyrinths, with its constant and explicit calls for the necessity of reform and overcoming failures.
Today, after twenty years of the new regime's life, the structural problems that accompanied the transition process cannot be denied. It is wrong to take it lightly. Failures have accumulated, which makes the demand for an urgent review to secure the rights of Iraqis and their aspirations for a free and dignified life.
It goes without saying that overcoming the tragedies, problems and tyrannical authority of the Iraqi state, before 2003, was not possible with the expected ease. One of the results of this is that the new regime was built on fears and misgivings about instability, rifts, and serious setbacks experienced by the Iraqi state since its establishment. These include the involvement of the military in politics, coups, temporary constitutions, practices of discrimination and repression, absurd wars, extermination campaigns, the Anfal, mass graves, the use of chemical weapons in Halabja, the draining of the marshes, terrorism, and sectarian and national tensions and recurring crises.
The tragedies of tyranny and the entrenched national and sectarian concerns that dominate the political process coincided with the establishment of the quota system, which was imposed by fears of exclusivity and tyranny, and produced sectarian and national tensions that were reflected in the performance of the political system.
Today, as we are on the cusp of two decades of regime change, we find that attempts to round corners to solve the existing system crisis are no longer valid. The formation of governments is becoming longer, and constitutional provisions are suspended, and quotas and corruption have become real problems that cannot be overcome by traditional methods, just as it is not possible to bet on the patience of the Iraqis more, and it is no longer possible to give justifications to deny the escalating popular resentment. The boycott of more than 50 percent of the voters in the recent elections is a serious matter, which should not be an ordinary matter. Rather, a pause and contemplation of its repercussions on the crisis of the legitimacy of government is necessary.
The culture of violence that is rampant in our political, social and cultural life is not met with violence, and the weakness of good governance cannot be addressed by insisting on proven wrong paths, and there is no escape from frank dialogue and comprehensive understandings within the principles, rules and peaceful democratic mechanisms of the constitution, to discuss improving the political, social and economic situation, and expanding participation, and modernizing its constitutional structures.
Accordingly, the need for a new national political and social contract is today an inevitable necessity, not only imposed by the current reality and the deepening crises, but also in order to avoid an existential threat to the entity of the Iraqi state since its establishment. A national contract that guarantees civil peace and consolidates good governance, by reviewing past experiences and mistakes.
The time has come for a historic settlement between the state and society, between the political, cultural and economic elites, and between the Iraqi components, and for reconciliation and frankness that puts the country on the right path. In the end, neither the Shiites, nor the Sunnis, nor the Kurds, nor the rest of the components are satisfied with the status quo and acknowledge the impossibility of its continuation.
At the top of the agenda of the required dialogue is to review and amend the constitution, in accordance with the constitutional and legal contexts, and in a way that secures national understanding and harmony. The constitution was written on the basis of fears from past experiences, and to ensure that they will not be repeated. The Shiites are afraid of the past, the Kurds are afraid of the past and the future, and the Sunnis are absent, despite the promises given to them to amend it a few months after its approval, and this has not been achieved for two decades, and certainly the Turkmen, Christians, Yazidis and other Iraqi components are not satisfied with the consequences of the status quo. Today, we are faced with articles that bear interpretation, and others that contradict each other, and the result is that it is no longer possible to implement its provisions, nor meet its timings. Rather, the current constitution, with the contexts of applying its provisions, has become an obstacle to the establishment of good governance commensurate with the aspirations and privacy of Iraqis.
I was clear and frank, and in many declared and official positions, from my position as President of the Republic in the previous session, by calling for a new political contract, based on the fact that the current situation requires structural reforms. At the time, we formed a legal committee of experts from all regions of Iraq in the Presidency of the Republic to discuss the constitutional amendments, after the October demonstrations, which represent a popular societal movement that came against the background of grievances and the general feeling that the country needs reform. On that day, the committee concluded with important recommendations, at least in approving solutions to ambiguities in some constitutional provisions. The recommendations were presented to a broad political, social and cultural spectrum to ensure national consensus, in the hope of reaching the desired amendments in accordance with the agreed upon constitutional contexts.
In this context, we recall that many political leaders have also called, on repeated occasions, for the need to organize a new political contract. Even the State Administration Coalition that formed the current government, which includes the two main Kurdish parties, committed itself in its political agreement to the need for constitutional amendments, in order to avoid a recurrence of political deadlocks. The Supreme Judicial Council also called for a constitutional amendment.
In the midst of the discussions about amending the constitution, there were calls for a return to the presidential system, with some arguing that the representative system was the cause of the crisis. It is undeniable that there is no political experience in laying the foundations of the parliamentary system. However, to blame him as the cause of all the crisis is contrary to reality. At the same time, a broad spectrum rejects the presidential system, especially the Kurds, for fear of the return of tyranny and exclusivity under strict central rule.
It is not impossible to produce realistic solutions and find effective and logical approaches through dialogue and discussion, such as moving to a semi-presidential system with a president elected directly by the people, with broader executive powers, with a strong and effective parliament that complements its incomplete structures represented by the Federation Council, the legislative chamber that is absent in the House of Representatives. And that the relationship between the center and Kurdistan be managed with a new mechanism that removes the justified historical concerns of the Kurds.
The problem of the Kurdish relationship with the central government in Baghdad, since the establishment of the Iraqi state and still exists today, is one of the challenges facing the country. Since the founding of the state, Iraq has not been able to contain Kurdistan in a clear project that respects and preserves Kurdish privacy within the framework of a single homeland. Nor did the Kurds abandon their national aspirations, and took paths that the Baghdad government considered unacceptable.
In 2003, an opportunity arose to build mutual trust between the two historically suspicious parties, and to reformulate the relationship between them. However, the narrow self-serving interests between the Shiite, Kurdish, and Sunni political elites impeded the birth of a sober political, security, economic, and social governance model that accommodates differences and paves the way for building national commons around which Arabs and Kurds gather. Although the constitution approved a federal system of government, but in light of unclear constitutional, legal and administrative measures, the situation became confused. It is not federal, confederal, or central, but rather a hybrid that affects everyone, and the files of the economy, oil, security, salaries, and people’s livelihoods remain left to jurisprudence, and subject to bargaining, in an unacceptable way.
Either the Arabs and the Kurds agree, with full respect for the rights of the other components, on a project of true and complete citizenship that guarantees the rights of all, and secures true effective partnership in governing the homeland, or to remain in the vortex of the distorted status quo, or to adopt new solutions and broader frameworks, such as adopting a confederation that will resolve Many outstanding issues and economic and security arrangements, a relationship between two Arab and Kurdish parties within the framework of a single state and its established international borders. Provided that this is accompanied by the necessary arrangements that enhance rational governance of the state, real unification of the structures of political, security and economic institutions, and unified rational management of the Peshmerga forces, natural resources, and funds, ending nepotism, narrow fiefdoms, corruption, and establishing justice.
Although the constitution approved administrative decentralization with broad powers for the governorates as a necessary path to building a balance of power and reducing the risk of the rise of an authoritarian regime, the practical application failed, for several reasons. Among them is the legacy of the strict central bureaucracy, the fear that the expansion of budgets will lead to an exacerbation of corruption, and the lack of necessary legislation that has resulted in obstructing the governorates in managing their affairs. In conclusion, the governorates are still waiting for money from the center, or even ways to spend it, similar to what was the situation before 2003.
It is necessary to organize local elections as soon as possible, as the last elections the country witnessed was in 2013. It is necessary that the elections be accompanied by A package of radical reforms in the medium and long term, such as the election of the governor by the residents of his province, directly, and the enactment of legislation and laws necessary for the work of local governments.
The dangerous phenomenon of corruption has become a wall against good governance, and has become a threat to the entity of the state. Indeed, it is closely linked to the quota system and the sustainable political crisis. There is no real reform or change without combating corruption, which has become intertwined with the status quo and its permanence. Exceptional measures must be taken based on recovering what has been looted and smuggled from state funds abroad, through necessary legislation and international coordination, and contracting with discreet, specialized global investigation companies.
In conjunction with addressing the phenomenon of corruption, it is necessary to achieve economic transformation. It is dangerous to continue our unsustainable rentier economy, which is more than 90 percent dependent on oil. With the acceleration of the global economic transition towards renewable energy through climate agreements, early planning is required for a comprehensive change in the foundations of our economy. This is related to confronting the most serious threat to our homeland represented by climate change and its economic effects and its great environmental damage on all parts of Iraq.
One of the painful paradoxes in Iraq, the cradle of civilizations, is that its distinguished geographical location in the heart of the region, its human potential, its abundant natural resources, and its human diversity, including the Mesopotamia Valley and the mountains of Kurdistan, should have made it an element of strength and stability for it and for the region, through economic, security and political interdependencies. However, the Iraqi state failed to absorb this peculiarity and unique features, and got involved in internal crises that spilled over into the region with senseless wars and disputes with its neighbors, which led to the collapse of the regional security system, and it was dominated by polarizations and divisions that did not bring the desired peace to all.
We have no choice but to promote a foreign policy that is based on staying away from conflicts and intersecting axes, and working to build balanced relations with everyone. The regional interest today is linked to supporting Iraq's return to its pivotal role, and ending the rivalries on its soil.
A stable Iraq with full sovereignty, living in peace with its people and its neighbors, is what it should be like today, after twenty years of change, a civil state based on the constitution, strong, caring, not oppressive, serving the people and capable of enforcing the law, respecting human rights, and consolidating The principle of true citizenship. The solution comes through a national dialogue in Baghdad, not in Washington, nor in Tehran, nor in Ankara. Without the foregoing, we may end another twenty years of crises and setbacks, for which the Iraqis, all Iraqis, of all sects and nationalities, will pay the price.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]