Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Next Step, National Reconciliation

Now that the euphoria of elections day has worn out, many Iraqis sense that the political future of the country is a bit more clear than it was before January 31. Immediate steps should be taken by the interim government, with the assistance of the international community, to arrange an urgent conference for Iraqi national reconciliation.

Invitations should be open to all Iraqi political and social groups, regardless of their repsective ideologies and their current stand from the occupation and the ongoing political process in the country. It is also essential that this conference includes elements of the former political order if possible, provided that they have not committed crimes against Iraqis whether in the past or in the present, as well as delegates from the largest and most influential tribes in the dissident areas and senior clerics from all over the country, encompassing religious and sectarian differences.

Many political groups that boycotted the elections are now softening their tone and are sheepishly asking for a role in the political process, trying as much as they can to save face at the same time. The Association of Muslim Scholars, the Pan-Arab, Nasseri, and Socialist movements, the Khalisi group and the Sadrists are among the first groups to call for such a role. Had there been no elections, this could not have been possible.

There is already a consensus among the different political powers that drafting the permanent constitution should not be done solely by the elected National Assembly. This in order to safeguard the interests of the part of the population that did not participate in the elections and to reassure Iraqis that everyone has a say in their future. No longer will one group, no matter how large its support base, dominate over others.

I truly hope that Iraqi politicians realise this and can work to achieve it, leaving aside their personal interests and differences for one moment, putting the prejudices of the past behind them, and listening to what Iraqis have to say. For it is Iraqis, and Iraqis alone, that are the key to solving this whole mess.

Apart from a minority that would rather burn down the country than see someone else in power, I am confident that most Iraqis are weary of all the violence, chaos and bloodshed. It is therefore the utmost duty of Iraqi politicians, the occupation authority and the international community to seize upon the moment and to quit beating around bushes.

It is time to involve the Iraqis themselves, to give them the final word. Iraqis do not wish for their country to be a "frontline on the war of terror", as Bush recently stated. Iraqis do not wish for their country to be a battleground for reactionary bearded cavemen waging their holy wars. Iraqis do not wish to be fuel for the wars of neighbouring countries. Iraqis want to live and let live. Iraqis want what you have.