In a consequent reaction, the explosions in Baghdad followed Nouri al-Maliki’s accusation of Tarek al-Hashemi and Saleh al-Mutlaq of being involved in acts of terrorism.
Indeed, it would not have been possible to think that such a sectarian escalation – which erupted on the day of the American withdrawal from Iraq – could have gone by without the Iraqi civilians paying the price for it. And following a number of explosions which claimed the lives of some citizens, yesterday’s explosions in Baghdad drew up the real framework of the crisis toward which Iraq is heading.
Nowadays, we might be witnessing the greater discrepancy affecting the viewpoints over the division of power in Iraq (on sectarian bases certainly) since the American occupation in 2003, while the signs are pointing to civil war, compared to which the wave of massacres and sectarian liquidations seen in 2006 and 2007 would look like a walk in the park. Those underestimating the size of the hatred among the Iraqis – although they are still addressing each other on satellite channels by “the brothers in the Iraqi List” and the “brothers in the State of Law Coalition” – would be mistaken. Indeed, the heritage of hatred, which was only enhanced by the years of occupation, is about to explode.
Only an honest and independent judicial investigation can prove whether or not the accusations cast against Al-Hashemi and Mutlaq are valid. Still, it would be ridiculous to exclude the political dimension of the accusations made against the two men the day the Americans ended their official military presence in the country. This is due to the fact that in a country that witnessed unimaginable crimes in which political and security officials from all types and colors were involved, this link, which Al-Maliki wishes to exclusively establish between Al-Hashemi and Al-Mutlaq (and consequently the sect to which they belong) and the acts of terrorism, is silly. The sides whose hands were drenched in Iraqi blood are known by the names and dates, and they have come from all sects and directions during the past years.
Al-Maliki, who is rushing to accuse his opponents, might not care about the fact that he is depicting the former occupation as being a guarantor for the minorities in Iraq. Apparently, what is important to him is to tighten his fist around the reins of power and prevent them from slipping into the hands of the sides which are participating, only in form, in the governmental coalition that emerged in 2010 after great difficulties. The accusations cast by the prime minister against his deputy Al-Mutlaq and Vice President Al-Hashemi could be responded to with accusations from that same dictionary, namely the recollection of his relations with Iran and his total cooperation with the Iranian policies inside and outside of Iraq.
One could also recollect Al-Maliki’s insistence on taking over power, monopolizing it, and distancing all those showing willingness to collaborate with the various factions to draft a new political life - such as a number of leaders in the Iraqi List – in parallel to absolute and comprehensive failure on all services and security levels. Today, power, water and roads in Iraq look worse than they used to during the international blockade in the nineties, despite the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on infrastructure projects. As for security, it seems that it is only understood by Al-Maliki - who is holding the strings of all the apparatuses and armed forces – as being limited to the campaigns against the regions of his political opponents.
Yet, this among other things, should not conceal the overall picture of the situation in Iraq. The terms of individuals controlled by their sectarian and personal concerns must end, regardless of the faction, sect or race to which they belong. Now is the time to see the emergence of the Iraqis truly wishful to turn the page of the occupation and head toward the handling and eradication of the hatred. If this is not done, we will soon witness murder sprees that will prompt the Iraqis to feel nostalgic about the past stage.
The writer is a columist and political commentator. This article first appeared in Dar Al Hayat on Dec. 23, 2011