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A new café in Baghdad’s neighborhood

The recent Baghdad Dialogue was full of men from outside Baghdad selling their rhetoric

Adnan Hussein

Published: Updated:

As expected, they brought the curtains down after they ate and drank until they were full. They expressed the hope that they would meet again for another “dialogue”, strike conversations in the company of good food.

The recent Baghdad Dialogue ended on time. It was full of men from outside Baghdad selling their rhetoric. There were also Iraqis doing the same. They have mastered eloquence over the course of 13 years but their long experience did not add any value.

At the end of the dialogue, participants did not propose any serious idea that can help save us from financial and administrative corruption. They did not show us the path to achieving reforms, which has been promised for years.

They also did not suggest ways to end the quota system which the ruling political class agreed on, continue to hold on to and which they’ve used to replace the 2005 constitution. Iraqis were excited about the 2005 constitutional referendum and defied terror attacks.

Missing billions

Those at the dialogue did not enlighten us about the secret behind the disappearance of over $600 billion of the state’s annual budgets. The disappearance of these sums is what made the state and its services deteriorate to what they were a century ago when the state was under the control of the Ottoman empire and later an arena for World War I.

The only thing we understood at the end of the conference is that it will become an annual feature, perhaps like the Arabs did in the past organizing Souk Okaz, Souk Majna, Souk al-Majaz and others

Adnan Hussein

Iraqi Member of Parliament Najiba Najib said on the day of the conference that 35 percent of the Iraqis now live under poverty line – the highest percentage in 100 years. On the eve of the conference, the ministry of planning had estimated the percentage to be at 30.

Those at the dialogue also failed to enlighten us about the details of the fall of Mosul and how one third of the country slipped into the hands of ISIS. In other words, how territories were handed over to ISIS over two days and two nights. They also did not tell us what must be done to prevent the threat of another third terrorist organization, after al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Ending terror

They did not propose the right path to reconciliation which they (i.e. the conference organizers and its backers) keep talking about as they don’t really want it. They did not provide us a roadmap to decisively end terrorism and violence which many of them stand behind and incite through hate speeches. They have mastered nothing else but lying to people and stealing their money and dreams.

The only thing we understood at the end of the conference is that it will become an annual feature, perhaps like the Arabs did in the past organizing Souk Okaz, Souk Majna, Souk al-Majaz and others.

In brief, all what the Baghdad Dialogue did was add another cafe to Baghdad’s cafes – the traditional ones which are about to go extinct like many of Baghdad’s beautiful landmarks or the new ones. However, it will be a very private cafe as those who go there belong to a new and political class surrounded by their disciples.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Adnan Hussein is the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Mada newspaper and head of the National Union of Iraqi journalists. Previously, he has held the position of Managing Editor in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. He tweets under the handle @adnanhussein

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.