‘No Difference’ Between Bush And Obama Policies Towards Iraq

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SHEIKH Harith al-Dari, secretary-general of the Iraqi Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), has said, speaking from Amman, that there is no difference between the Bush and Obama policies towards Iraq.

Al-Dari said that ‘The AMS assessment of the recent elections held in Iraq in March is summed up in the fact that these elections were held in the same manner in which the first and second elections were held after the occupation and based on the same foundations that were before.

‘These elections were marred by a lot of irregularities, which exceeded past irregularities.

‘The party supervising the elections is one that is competing with the other parties.

‘It dominated these elections. Therefore, it did everything it could so that the results will be in favour of the current government, specifically in the interest of Nuri al-Maliki.

‘Al-Maliki was not satisfied with this; his military and security agencies intimidated many residents of the areas which he thought would not support him and were tired of his governance to prevent them from voting.

‘This increased through pressure on the Independent High Electoral Commission and the so-called Justice and Equality Commission to issue lists to expel or uproot, as is known in the terms of the political process, a good number of people who compete with his list, specifically from the Al-Iraqiyah List.

‘After the results were issued – which were close – and the victory of one of the lists with a larger number of votes, Al-Maliki demanded recounting the ballots in some districts, specifically in Baghdad.

‘When all these things failed to produce any results, he resorted to a coalition with the rivals of yesterday in the Unified Coalition, which is now called the National Alliance.

‘In addition to all of the above, the Iranian interference was working on this line as well. Iran put pressure on the two coalitions (the so-called State of Law and the National Alliance) to form the biggest bloc in the face of the opposing bloc in parliament.

‘Lastly, people close and far testify that the elections were not fair, and were dominated by several parties.

‘Many sons of the Iraqi people were not allowed to vote for the parties that they wanted to vote for and that they wanted to represent them.

‘The upshot is that the elections were not popular, not fair, and not democratic as the occupation and those who stand to benefit are promoting.’

Al-Dari continued: ‘The results of the elections produced four main blocs, which are close in number or in influence.

‘No bloc can form the next government on its own. Also, it does not look like a coalition between two blocs or more could lead to the formation of the government for reasons created by the political process in the first place.

‘Therefore, in the nearest estimates, the government will be formed in the end from four blocs, which are the State of Law, the National Alliance, the Kurdistan Alliance, and Al-Iraqiyah.

‘As such, this quadripartite coalition will be weak and will not bring a strong government that could contribute to solving the problems that Iraq is facing and that could bring security and stability for its sons, or at least reduce its problems and the suffering of its sons, for the following reasons:

‘1. The mechanism of making decisions in it will most likely be through agreement, and this will often be at the expense of the interest of the country and its people.

‘2. The decisions of the government will be subject to foreign intervention because this government will face numerous obstacles, which will force it to go back to the two sides that dominate Iraqi affairs at this stage: America and Iran.

‘3. No party that claims to be patriotic and that it came to solve the problems of Iraq and provide security and stability and a decent living for the sons of the Iraqi people can offer anything worth mentioning because this party will collide with the approaches of others, who do not want security and stability and a real peaceful coexistence for Iraq.

‘In a nutshell, the elections and the government that will result from these elections cannot lead to a change in the situation in Iraq; this will only contribute to deepening the crisis more than any other time in the past.’

Al-Dari added: ‘The ongoing struggle among the blocs and parties that won in the elections has many reasons, although some people might try to hide these reasons.

‘They include the desire to dominate the government in any way, even if it is by force.

‘This is shown in the behaviour and practices of the outgoing government.

‘Also, some blocs have sectarian programmes, while others have ethnic or political programmes. These are different and do not meet. There are also foreign hegemony and external interventions.

‘The Americans are eager for the process to be an appropriate cover for their interests in Iraq after their withdrawal.

‘The Iranians want the government, through their allies, to keep their strong influence in Iraq, and do not want Iraq to be reunited or to stand on its feet as a free and independent country that has its status in the region.

‘There are also internal forces that do not wish for Iraq to enjoy this status because Iraq’s return to its normal status could prevent these forces from achieving their interests and schemes in Iraq.

Al-Dari then explained why the Muslim Scholars did not support participation in the elections.

‘The AMS did not support participation in the last elections because it knew in advance the results of these elections and it predicted what the outcome of the elections would be.

‘We in the AMS expected the elections to produce four or five or even six close blocs from which the government would be formed, and that this government would be weak and subject to two terms of reference, which are America and Iran.

‘Consequently, this government would not be able to change anything in Iraq or fix anything that has been spoiled over time.

‘This is why the AMS does not want to be held accountable for supporting a process, which it knew in advance would be a failure, let alone the fact that this process is happening in light of the occupation.

‘The AMS has said from the very beginning that there is no legitimacy for any government in light of the occupation and that any political process in light of the occupation cannot lead to ending the current situation in Iraq and leading it to a safety shore.

‘We ascertained, praise be to God, after the elections that the majority of the sons of our people and a part of the people involved in the peace process acknowledged that the opinion of the AMS of the political process in general was a correct opinion and that this process was nothing but an umbrella to serve the project of the occupation and the projects of the intervening forces from outside Iraq and the forces that dominate authority inside Iraq. This is why we do not pin any hopes on it.

‘The AMS views the future of Iraq in the near future as a bleak future, regrettably, and that it could be marred by some hurtful incidents and junctures.

‘In the long-term, it hopes that it could return to its sons and that it will recover and will emerge from all the obstacles and barriers set up by the occupation and those who collaborate with it and its agents.

‘In the event of the withdrawal of the occupation, we do not expect major events.

‘However, the withdrawal could be accompanied by some abnormal circumstances because of the rifts and gaps it has caused in Iraq.

‘But in our assessment, this will not affect the course of the correct path for solving the problems of Iraq and for the return of Iraq to its people because many of the outstanding problems in Iraq today are caused by the occupation.

‘If it leaves, the road will be open for an understanding among the sons of Iraq and for reconciliation and coexistence among them because the occupation is the biggest obstacle to this.

‘In fact, it is the main cause for strife and for exaggerating differences among the Iraqi parties through its allies and agents in Iraq.

In our estimation, there is no difference between the two US administrations: The former Bush administration and the current Obama administration.

‘We had expected Obama to learn from the mistakes of his predecessor, and the atmosphere was right for that and was conducive for him to benefit from it and to conduct a change in the US policy in Iraq.

‘However, he pursued the same way of the previous administration on the military, security, and political levels. The US forces are still pursuing the same policy; the occupation of cities and villages, bombing, raids, and killing of innocent Iraqi civilians in the street are continuing the way they were under the previous administration.

‘In fact, some of the incidents that occurred during this administration are much worse than what happened under the previous administration. On the security level, the situation has become worse in Iraq.

‘Assassinations and arrests by the US and government forces have caused the death of more than half a million Iraqis.

‘Those who have been arrested are in the prisons of the occupation and the government. As for the political situation, the Obama administration and the Bush administration relied on the same puppets that ruled Iraq or controlled it through these two administrations despite their knowledge about the corruption of these puppets politically, administratively, and financially, let alone their criminality against the sons of their people.

‘Along with the occupation, they have caused the death of more than 1.5 million persons. Therefore, the Obama administration was not different from the one of his predecessor. In fact, it could outdo it in terms of its confusion and the weakness of its will and decision in Iraq.’

Al-Dari added: ‘If this new, and, God willing, last government under the occupation, comes and follows the path of the previous governments, our position will continue to be that of clear and explicit opposition to it.

But if the situation in Iraq changes in a clear and firm manner whose effects reflect on the sons of the people, such as changing the constitution, ending the occupation, removing what its occupation has left in terms of the destruction and ruin, compensating the sons of its people for what they lost and suffered, respecting the opinion of the political forces that oppose and resist the occupation, and recognising and appreciating the efforts of! these forces, then the AMS might have a different stand. We will cross that bridge when we come to it . . .’

He concluded that the AMS is demanding

‘1. The complete departure of the occupation.

‘2. Conducting real reconciliation among all the sons of the Iraqi people.

‘3. Removing the traces of the occupation, including its political process and what it included, such as the constitution, quotas, security agreement, and other things.

‘Then, the Iraqis would surprise the world with their unity, tolerance, and reconciliation. This is what will eventually eliminate every harmful foreign intervention, including the Zionist intervention, the Iranian intervention, and other interventions.’