Militias, crumbling institutions and the idea of Iraq as a model

Khairallah Khairallah
Khairallah Khairallah
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Iraq is at a dead end. What confirms this is a very simple question that has emerged these days as the popular protests which erupted in Basra have expanded to Baghdad. Can anyone predict the country’s future and conclude anything other than that it’s become impossible to re-establish it as a unified state like it was before 2003?

The US has decided to finish off Iraq and not the Saddam Hussein regime. There is no other explanation to what the George Bush administration did in March 2003 when American troops launched the operation to invade Iraq.

On April 9, 2003, American troops entered Baghdad without any resistance worth mentioning. Saddam Hussein later escaped from Baghdad to his hometown of al-Awja, near Tikrit, and the Americans eventually found him in a ditch which he thought it will protect him from those who wanted to settle their accounts with him.

Saddam was waiting for a better day to get out of that ditch but that day never came. His only consolation is that some people are nostalgic to the time when he ruled despite all the atrocities he committed.

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Not only the Americans wanted to settle their account with Saddam as there was also Iran which carried an old vendetta against him and Iraq. The American-Iranian aim, which Israel hides behind, was Iraq itself. It turned out that the American administration which wanted to turn Iraq into a model of what the region’s countries should look like was in fact ignorant about everything in the country.

It was normal for Iraq to reach the phase it has reached. It was never possible to imagine that Iranian-backed sectarian militias can build a modern state in Iraq. Iraq is currently paying the price of a hellish idea that the neoconservatives had in the US.

This idea is based on finishing off Iraq under the bright slogan of establishing a model for a democratic state in the region, a state that also has one of the world’s largest oil reserves.

No rational man with the minimum sense of sympathy can disagree that getting rid of Saddam Hussein’s regime was a necessity. This regime which was established on the basis of killing off others, beginning with executing rivals from among Baath comrades, in 1979 only understood the language of oppression inside Iraq.

What Iraq is going through today is the repercussions of the phase post the American-Iranian war on Iraq

Khairallah Khairallah

Regional formulas

As for outside Iraq, it never possessed the capability to comprehend regional and international formulas. There is plenty of evidence that show how ignorant Saddam and his aides were in terms of understanding what is happening in the region and the world. There is the war with Iran which he forcefully fought and which at the beginning he thought it will be a walk in the park.

There was also the mad adventure in Kuwait. This is in addition to Saddam’s belief that the Soviet Union can do anything for him, specifically in 1990 when he sent his troops to Kuwait to cancel an independent Arab state, that’s a UN member, from existence. Back then, he did not know that the Cold War had ended and that the Soviet Union had entered the phase of internal collapse.

These are only few examples of Saddam Hussein’s practices which may only have one good thing about them and which is the fact that he did not completely destroy state institutions, particularly the Iraqi army which was established in 1921 during the era of King Faisal I.

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Dissolving the army and security apparatuses was one of the first decisions made by the American administration after its invasion of Iraq. The US did this without thinking of an alternative and without realizing the threat of having the Iraqi army be a group of militias affiliated with parties that fought alongside Iran on a sectarian basis during the 1980-1988 war.

How can these militias build a modern Iraqi state that’s a model to the region’s countries when these militias’ leaders who control governance and vital economic facilities in the country work to serve Iran?

Iraq is currently paying the price of having militias replace the state and its institutions. Therefore, there was no point of holding the legislative elections on May 12. It was enough that Iran did not like the results of these elections to obstruct political life in the country. Iran has its own interpretation of the elections as it thinks that the Iraqi government must be under its command regardless of these elections’ results.

After the 2010 elections, Iran imposed Nuri al-Maliki as prime minister to replace Ayyad Allawi and this was in agreement with the Barack Obama administration.

The Iraqis did not rise to demand electricity and eliminate the corrupt but they practically stood up to take back their country from Iran which seeks to impose a government that receives its orders from Tehran and which is headed by a leader of a militia that’s affiliated with the Popular Mobilization or so.

Iraq practically collapsed when the US decided to get rid of the Iraqi army. There’s plenty of talk about rebuilding the army, which showed the limits of what it’s capable of doing when ISIS seized Mosul in June 2014.

What Iraq is going through today is the repercussions of the phase post the American-Iranian war on Iraq. In the end, it’s not possible to rely on sectarian militias to build a state with modern institutions.

Sectarian militias

The Kurds were right when they tried to exit the state of Iraqi sectarian militias. The failed miserably, at least till now. Will the Iraqi people who do not belong to the Kurdish ethnicity succeed where Masoud Barzani failed in September last year?

All indicators show that there is no political horizon for the popular activity that began in Basra. The worst fear is that what neoconservatives planned in Washington following the September 11 terror attacks, i.e. get rid of Iraq, is fulfilled.

In 2001, al-Qaeda carried out terror attacks in New York and Washington. Iraq did not have anything to do with these attacks but this did not prevent the Bush administration from launching a war on Iraq before they complete eliminating Taliban in Afghanistan. What made it take this decision at this particular timing?

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Amid what’s happening in Iraq, it’s clear that the desired result has been achieved. Iraq has become a model to what the region’s countries should be. It’s become a country that’s controlled by sectarian militias, which receive their orders from Iran.

Militias can build everything except a state and a country. Those who doubt this can come from Iraq to Lebanon. There is an Iranian interpretation of the Lebanese parliamentary elections’ results, and Iran wants to translate this via a Lebanese cabinet that’s formally headed by Saad Hariri but that actually follows it.

This is why a cabinet has not yet been formed in Lebanon. And now all this is happening in the era of sectarian militias which destroyed Iraq and led it to this dead end which threatens the country’s fate – that is if this fate has not been decided yet.

This article is also available in Arabic.

Khairallah Khairallah is an Arab columnist who was formerly Annahar’s foreign editor (1976-1988) and Al-Hayat’s managing editor (1988-1998).

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