by Nasouh Majali/ The Jordan Times
A new, peaceful uprising is taking place in Al Anbar and other Sunni governorates in the east and centre of Iraq, with citizens demanding equality and a change in the Iraqi government’s hostile policy towards Sunnis.
The presumption that democracy can be established under foreign occupation is a fallacy of our time.
After the Oslo accords, Israel tried to convince the world that the West Bank Palestinians are freer and enjoy more democracy under occupation than the citizens of other Arab countries.
This trend continued in 2003, when the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq, Paul Bremer, drew a new constitution along sectarian lines, shifting the political power from nationalistic Sunnis to sectarian Shiites, loyal to Iran.
The Iraqi Sunnis, who form almost 40 per cent of the population, are treated with suspicion. They are considered opposition, loyal to former president Saddam Hussein’s regime which was toppled in 2003.
Special laws were issued to hunt down members of the Baath Party, and officials and military men who served under Saddam Hussein. Hundreds of thousands of Sunnis have been expelled, imprisoned or killed since 2003.
Ten years after the occupation, Nouri Al Maliki’s government has shown no change of policy; it still takes revenge on those who served under the previous regime.
The present Iraqi government serves Iran’s interests and considers the Iraqi Sunnis political enemies not worthy of trust.
The Americans must have realised that the war they waged in Iraq to serve the ambitions of Israel to destroy the military power of the Saddam regime, and to serve Iran’s ambitions to control Iraq and play a role in the affairs of the Arab world came at a steep price.
Al Anbar uprising could herald either a new struggle or a new national dialogue and reconciliation in Iraq.
It does not benefit the Iraqi regime to treat almost half of the country’s population as outcasts, or suspect the Sunni community of being disloyal to the state.
Sunnis are demanding respect and protection by law, as well as fair treatment. They demand real political change: the resignation of Maliki; a new constitution; new, fair elections; and reconciliation of the different sects in Iraq that should enjoy equality.
Maliki ignores the uprising and threatens the demonstrators with the worst. Instead of adopting a conciliatory policy that could end all hostilities and divisions among Iraqis, he accuses demonstrators of sectarianism, which is bound to drag Iraq into a serious political conflict.
Change in the Arab world does not always mean smooth transition to democracy, dictated by the free will of the people.
It could mean exchanging one tyrannical regime with another, just like in Iraq, Egypt and Tunisia.
The political situation has become an obstacle to unity, progress and peace in Iraq. It led to more conflicts and internal divisions.
It is the responsibility of the Iraqi government, which has the political power, to change the course of events and to avoid the rift in Iraq.
Maliki has the authority to do so, but it seems he lacks the will to make the needed change for reconciliation.
The writer is former minister of information and media expert. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.