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The Eighth Pillar: You are mistaken, Plasschaert

Ali Hussein

Published: Updated:

Exactly three years to this day, Iranian official Ali Akbar Velayati delivered a speech at the Founding Conference of the Iraqi Assembly of Islamic Unity, announcing openly that “the Islamic revival will not allow liberals and communists to regain power.”

This statement could have passed unnoticed had the Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament at the time, Humam Hamoudi, not declared his agreement with Velayati. Some may scoff at this development, namely those who see me as someone restlessly digging through old news, refusing to be satisfied with reality and cannot see that we are living in the golden age of democracy.

However, Velayati’s statement foreshadowed what is happening today. How else can you look at the trip to Iran made by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Antoinette Plasschaert?

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, UN Special Representative for Iraq and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), speaks during a press conference following a meeting with Iraqi Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraq's holy city of Najaf on November 11, 2019. (AFP)
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, UN Special Representative for Iraq and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), speaks during a press conference following a meeting with Iraqi Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraq's holy city of Najaf on November 11, 2019. (AFP)

How else can you view her waiting for a signal from Tehran to hold trouble-free elections, while, at the same time, politicians and officials negotiate with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the very issue of the elections?

After 17 years, some still do not want to see any change happen in Iraq. All they want to change is the roles they play occasionally. The result is that we live in the shadows of politicians’ problems and their sectarian tendencies.

For several days, everyone has been pleased that Biden will negotiate with Iran. Everyone is following Sultan Erdogan to see what he has to say about the Iraqi elections. And yet, who knows exactly why Iraq is absent from the minds of its own politicians but very much present in the midst of fights over titles and privileges.

US President Joe Biden, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AFP)

The first time I saw Plasschaert, I could tell that she had a sense of humor and an extraordinary ability to catch “amusing puns.” She could find humor in the most depressing and gloomy situations. With that in mind, she gave a statement emphasizing the need for neighboring countries to be informed of election preparations in Iraq.

She seems to have missed that Iranians head to the voting booths every four years to elect their own president and representatives without any Iranian or UN official discussing the matter with Iraq, and without Iran allowing any foreign intervention in its internal affairs.

Perhaps Iraqis today need to play dumb or be stricken with amnesia to be able to believe Plasschaert’s broken record on electoral integrity, the role of the UN, and its support of youth-led protests. Ms. Plasschaert, people are well aware that the role of the UN is to offer Iraq to its neighboring countries on a silver platter.

Iraqi protesters gather on Al-Jumhuriya Bridge in the capital Baghdad on October 25, 2020. (AFP)
Iraqi protesters gather on Al-Jumhuriya Bridge in the capital Baghdad on October 25, 2020. (AFP)

How else can we describe a UN mission that is still waiting for a signal from Iran to prepare for the elections?

What do we call politicians and officials who gather in Istanbul to form the future electoral bloc?

Ms. Plasschaert, Iraq deserves better. Iraqis need a United Nations that supports the demands of the people, rather than these constant “backs-and-forths.”

This piece was originally published in, and translated from, Iraqi outlet al-Mada.

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