IRAQ and THE ARAB WORLD

Iraq without America

Sovereignty without security

The departure of American troops has already been followed by a resurgence of sectarian hatred

Dec 31st 2011 | BAGHDAD | from the print edition



ON DECEMBER 18th America withdrew from Iraq, as the last convoy headed south into Kuwait, where around 4,000 of its troops will remain for an undisclosed length of time. An optimistic Iraqi government had recently begun to remove some of the capital’s checkpoints and blast-walls, easing traffic and boosting morale. But the better mood did not last long. On December 22nd at least a dozen car bombs exploded within two hours of each other in Baghdad, killing more than 60 people and injuring another 200—one of the highest death tolls of the year. With security as patchy as ever and politics entering a new phase of sectarian hatred, few Iraqis now think the American withdrawal heralds a joyful new era. Some even wonder whether, without a ring-holding American military presence, the country will even stay together.

The latest wave of violence followed hard upon a row between Nuri al-Maliki, the Shia who has been prime minister since 2006, and two of Iraq’s most prominent Sunni politicians who were supposed to be helping him maintain a sectarian balance in government. After one of them, Saleh al-Mutlaq, a deputy prime minister, had called Mr Maliki a “dictator”, the prime minister swiftly called for a vote of no confidence in him in parliament; tanks surrounded his house.

Then, even more menacingly, Mr Maliki declared that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of another leading Sunni, Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq’s vice-president, on charges of terrorism. Mr Hashemi fled to Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish area. Mr Maliki told the Kurdish authorities to send him back to Baghdad, which they refused to do. In the absence of an American military presence, the American vice-president, Joe Biden, telephoned Mr Maliki and several other leading Iraqi politicians to urge compromise, evidently in vain. No independent analyst suspects Messrs Hashemi or Mutlaq of involvement in the dozen bombings on December 22nd, which had the hallmark of al-Qaeda, ever eager to exploit sectarian divisions.

Mr Maliki has been gradually consolidating his position and that of Iraq’s new Shia-led establishment since he became prime minister. In March 2010 his mainly Shia front narrowly lost a general election, winning 89 seats out of 325 in Iraq’s parliament; a rival front led by a secular Shia, Iyad Allawi, with broad support from Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, pipped him with 91. But after eight months of drift as various shifting alliances failed to accommodate each other, Mr Maliki eventually managed to patch together a majority a year ago, on the understanding that a number of leading Sunnis, such as Mr Hashemi and Mr Mutlaq, as well as the aggrieved Mr Allawi, would be granted influential posts.

But many key positions were never agreed upon, and the powers of jobs with grand-sounding titles, such as Mr Allawi’s proposed chairmanship of a strategy council, were never clarified. Meanwhile, for the past year, Mr Maliki has been acting as justice, interior and defence minister, concentrating ever more power in his own hands and ensuring that the security forces, in particular, are run by his men. Sunni leaders say that their co-religionists are unfairly singled out for detention and intimidation. Troops loyal to Mr Maliki are said to have recently carried out a string of arrests of people linked to the opposition.

Sunni Arabs, loth to admit that they number only around a fifth of Iraqis, yet still mindful that they ran Iraq since the country’s inception under British tutelage nearly a century ago, are again becoming fearful. In Dora, a mainly Sunni suburb in south Baghdad that is still surrounded by blast-walls and speckled with bullet holes, a woman puts a brave face on the future. Security, she says, is much better than it was a few years ago, when sectarian cleansing was rife and mixed neighbourhoods were torn apart. For sure, she admits, explosive devices still go off occasionally at checkpoints; “sticky” bombs sometimes blow up cars; a mysterious branch of the security forces is still liable to make random arrests. But she is afraid that even this relative calm may not last. “Fear still plagues Iraq,” she sighs. “Honestly, I didn’t want the American forces to go.”

Meanwhile a radical cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who already holds the balance of power in parliament, is flexing his political muscle anew. It was he who insisted, against Mr Maliki’s initial wish, that all American troops should be out by 2012—or face a new insurgency from his Iranian-armed militia, which Mr Maliki has curbed in the past but which still frightens many Iraqis, especially Sunnis. Mr Sadr’s people now want parliament dissolved and fresh elections held. If he came out on top, Iraq would be even less palatable to the United States and to Sunni powers in the region.

But it is not all gloom. Since the American military “surge” of 2007, which ended the worst period of sectarian bloodshed, security has improved enough to let the economy start growing again. Business is thriving in Sadr City, the most densely populated Shia part of Baghdad. The place is crammed with foreign-made cars. Markets are bustling. Iraq’s GDP per person before the fall of Saddam Hussein was estimated by the IMF at $518. Now it is said to be $3,306.

Iraq’s towns have become richer since 2003, the year of the American invasion. Government salaries have rocketed. Public-sector workers have started to spend more money. Foreign companies have swarmed in. Turks build housing estates, Italian oil-service providers create jobs in Basra, the southern capital. Iranians run new hotels in Najaf, a Shia holy city that pilgrims visit en masse. Foreign and local businessmen complain about corruption, Iraq’s impenetrable bureaucracy and weak work ethic, but concede that such defects are outweighed by the profits. The electricity supply, cited by Iraqis as the worst of all their country’s public-service deficiencies, remains patchy, but imports of such goods as refrigerators, televisions and air-conditioners have soared.

Lubrication at last

In the past two years the world’s big oil companies, eyeing the world’s fourth-largest reserves, have begun to invest heavily as the government has offered old fields for renovation and new ones for exploration and exploitation. Foreign companies are again operating in the oil-rich south. But oil production has yet to match its peak under Saddam Hussein. And foreign firms are taking risks if they make oil deals in the Kurdish north, since the government in Baghdad and the Kurds’ regional authorities have failed to agree on how to divide the spoils, despite years of acrimonious negotiation. After ExxonMobil decided, in frustration, to sign a deal with the Kurds in October, the central government responded furiously, threatening to penalise any company that dealt with the Kurds without its agreement.

Iraq has yet to find its place in the Arab world. Sunnis, who dominate it, are deeply suspicious of the new Iraqi order, often singling out Mr Maliki for derision. The Saudis, most hostile of neighbours, have yet even to send an ambassador to Baghdad, saying that Iraq is already a cat’s paw for Iran, the region’s leading Shia power. Many of Iraq’s prominent political, religious and militia groups are indeed close to Iran, which will surely seek to strengthen its influence with Mr Maliki and his Shia allies. But most of Iraq’s Shia religious and political leaders are keen to stay independent of their theocratic neighbour; ordinary Iraqis often resent Iran’s apparent eagerness to interfere in their politics.

The prospect of Iraq sliding into an Iranian orbit clearly rattles the American administration, which had wanted to keep a residual force in Iraq of at least 10,000 troops. Instead, the Americans will retain one of its biggest embassies in the world, with some 17,000 diplomats and advisers, secured by a military force of fewer than 200 troops. It also expects to sell a lot of weapons, including F-16 fighter aircraft, to the newly sovereign country. America still has some 40,000 troops spread around the Gulf region. But its ability to influence events in Iraq has plummeted.

In a new political departure, some of Iraq’s Sunni leaders in the provinces, such as Diyala, north of Baghdad, are pondering the possibility, provided for in the constitution, of creating autonomous Sunni-led regions, with powers akin to those of Iraqi Kurdistan. Hitherto, most Sunnis have loathed the notion of federalism, much vaunted by the Kurds, portraying it as a Western plot to divide and weaken an Arab nation. But Mr Maliki has made plain his distaste for the idea that Sunnis, despairing of wielding power at the centre, might set up their own federal fiefs.

Iraq’s own government now threatens to undermine the democracy imposed on it by the Americans. Saddam Hussein’s security men, informants and torturers have gone, and several sets of elections have been held that were free and fair within the constraints of civil strife. But Iraqi freedoms look far from guaranteed. Newspapers, magazines and websites abound, but journalists have been imprisoned and beaten, both in Baghdad and in the Kurdish region, for reporting on anti-government protests earlier this year that sought to echo Arab uprisings elsewhere.

One law recently presented to a parliamentary committee proposes life imprisonment and a fine of $40,000 for actions (including on the internet) that “affect the country’s interdependence and unity”. Another would make it illegal for a group to gather in a university or mosque for any reason other than study or worship. Religious laws may also be more strictly enforced. A human-rights activist says that, during Ramadan in August, rules were brought in to punish anyone who publicly broke the daylight fast, with brief jail terms. As the Arab spring spread, an Iraqi protest movement flourished briefly but fizzled in part because of intimidation and curfews that prevented demonstrations.

Many Iraqis, however much they hated Saddam Hussein, would surrender some of their hard-earned freedoms and comforts in exchange for real security. On balance, the Shia Arab majority that numbers some 60% probably prefers the new status quo. And the Kurds, safer than other Iraqis in their autonomous zone, are enjoying a golden age, albeit amid growing corruption and now without Americans to watch over Kurdish-Arab fault lines. But Iraq will not be fully democratic or truly prosperous until its three main components—Sunni Arab, Shia Arab and Kurdish—genuinely come to terms with each other. That prospect is still woefully remote.

http://www.economist.com/node/21542200


Iraq’s Arab League Representative: Iraq will become the leader of the Arab nation soon

BABYLON MAY Rise from the ASHES of civilization, but not without a stronger CURRENCY!

Posted: December 18, 2011 

Baghdad (NINA) – Arab League’s Secretary General’s Representative in Baghdad, Naji Shalgham, said Iraq will become the leader of the Arab nation soon.

He added, in a statement to NINA “Iraq will retrieve the former glory, and will receive the Arab leadership, as it is one of the founders of the AL, in addition to being the country of history and civilization that could not be forgotten or ignored.”

He added “Iraq will take the right track in its external relations. The participation of 62% of Iraqis in the last elections is enviable because it is not found in most of the major countries.”

He pointed out that “Iraq will be one of the most important countries of the world for its great natural and human resources,” stressing the necessity that Iraqis’ feel their greatness, and avoid all the occurring problems.

Regarding the situation in Iraq after the US withdrawal, Shalgham said “Iraq is capable of protecting its land and its borders after the withdrawal, for the security stability in it.”

As for the differences between the political blocs, he went on saying “these differences are democratic and healthy; they are evidence on Iraq’s practicing first class democracy, in addition to being a beautiful mosaic.”


Prime Minister Maliki: Iraq today is living spring of freedom and pluralism

Posted: December 18, 2011

Said Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said Iraq now living spring of freedom and pluralism, as has been the Arab spring.

The sovereignty in his speech today in Matmralathad-General of the Arab journalists held in Baghdad could not have meet here today in Baghdad three years ago, booby was exploding everywhere, and Baghdad were not capable of years ago to host the Arab delegations and journalists, leaders and the bleeding and suffering severely from terrorism, murder and vandalism was a ghost town and the streets, schools, universities and hospitals are all disabled and kill the human-sacrifice in which free speech and the idea is good and dominated its equivalent notion of terrorism, extremism and sectarian killings.

Mr Prime Minister that Iraq had secluded himself because of his wounds the Interior, but the Iraqis take responsibility in the envelope hard and fought hard all the components of the country and discourage the security and political forces and civil society organizations, writers, poets, scholars and imams of mosques, preachers, and rose up and stood face the challenges and sectarian killings, stressing that sectarian killings strange the country and we know what the ingredients and communities.

He also stated that today, rose the flag of Iraq over all the territory of Iraq after the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the ground, pointing out that what has been achieved by the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, no one dreamed of before, and that Iraq is liberated and return the country’s institutions to function.

And the price of Mr. Prime Minister, the role of journalists and the media in Iraq and the sacrifices that they made in the face of terrorism, calling on them to be outstanding role in building the foundations of sound.

http://bit.ly/s112BM


Wealth of Iraq could reach $ 400 billion annually through 2018

Posted: December 18, 2011 in Iraqi Dinar/Politics

12.18.2011 | (Voice of Iraq) – Add comments – Baghdad (news) report said the UN mission in Iraq for the International Organization of the United Nations launched the Global Compact network in Iraq, Makdta that the launch was organized within the program prepared by the United Nations for economic development and Social Commission for creating a favorable environment for the start of private sector companies within the principles outlined by the UN to highlight its role in the next stage.

The specialist programs in the United Nations Development Aruna Rochenyan (for the Agency news) on Sunday: that the tools through the launch of the network, which consists of ten principles which recognized internationally and that support and initiate a set of fundamental values ​​in the areas of human rights and standards of work and the environment and the fight against corruption, she said that in the application of these principles there will be a strengthening of the role of these companies in the economic and social development and create competition among the companies that will be part of a global network in Europe and the Middle East.

and officials expect the Iraqi network to increase the proceeds of Iraqi wealth by the year two thousand and eighteen to four hundred billion U.S. dollars. The representative of the network of the International Charter in Iraq, Abdel-Hamid ornaments (of the Agency news of the sons) that Iraq is on the verge of wealth or revenue of the great wealth may up to $ 400 billion during the year 2018, indicating that the community will come forward and will need a designee, a private sector, adding that the Iraqi network is now a partner of the international networks of other countries of the world that has become their number some 16,500 companies worldwide in more than 140 countries.

Charter and principles imposed by the International Charter was welcomed by the private sector companies who see him as a guarantor of their rights, says Managing Director of the company dormitory agricultural Sarmad Moez religion Qazwini (of the Agency news of the sons), the Charter guarantees to business owners not to manipulate with each other, stressing that if the United Nations in this Charter and any damage was caused to any company Fbalamkan demand that the United Nations, which is the highest policy in the world to enter as is borne by the principles and application of the Charter. but to ensure the rights of companies, according to experts requires the government to enact laws that would guarantee the rights of Iraqi factor in the private sector, at least such Maeetmta by public sector employees, as it shows an economist and human rights, “Said Yassin” (the news) that is supposed to be a law to work, which is part of the conditions or from within the targets that are supposed to achieve, noting that the labor law has to do with the private sector and private sector management, adding that the state must initiate these laws that would end the pressure on the government to provide jobs for the unemployed and the private sector will play this role but to ensure social including enjoyed working in the public sector.

Despite the fact that the World Charter of the United Nations which was launched in the world in a thousand and nine hundred and ninety-nine ensures several principles relating to human rights, transparency and labor standards and the environment in the work of private sector companies to participate and the organization has, but he will not be as a watchdog on the work of these companies as it will be a mediator between the private and public companies.

http://bit.ly/rVRVSm


Specialize: Iraq will be a strategic country for the transfer of international merchandise trade and exchanges from Europe to Asia

Posted: December 18, 2011

On: Sun 12/18/2011 13:47

Baghdad (news) / report / Faleh Hussein / .. See specialists in the economic field that Iraq will be the area for the transfer of goods and international commercial exchanges from Europe to Asia, calling through Tbarham (agency news) to: the exploitation of economic pressures experienced by Turkey because of the events of the Arab region to transport their goods Abraleradi Iraq to take advantage of it by ( transit).

The head of the assembly of the Iraqi industrial Abdul Hassan Shammari: that Iraq could be launched real start towards the economies of the world through the transfer of goods Turkey through its territory to develop its economy, which Iraq would become a cornerstone of a controlled and in the Turkish economy, stressing the need to exploit the economic pressures that experienced by Turkey as a result of events experienced by Syria to push Turkey towards changing behavior of their goods through Iraq to develop the facilities of customs and legal procedures.

He Shammari told the reporter Agency (news) is that these conditions will generate the movement of large economic in the country through transport and transit with neighboring countries, which will reflect positively on the Iraqi economy, calling for the formation of the specialized high by the ministries of Iraq’s economic institutions and support them in order to exploit these conditions to build a strong Iraqi economy.

Shammari stressed that the federal government in a smart action with the Turkish side to take advantage of conditions of in order to retrieve all the rights of Iraq such as rights of water, economic and Marketing,
and continued, is through negotiation with the Turkish side in order to increase pumping water to the rivers Tigris and Euphrates.

The head of the gathering industrial to: that the transfer of goods Turkey through Iraqi territory will add to the staff and workers and Iraqi traders accumulated experience of the Turkish side, the fact that Turkey is a developed country in all areas, calling for: the exploitation of all the conditions for the interest of Iraq and its economy.

While According to a member of the Economic and MP / coalition in Iraq / Qusay Gomaa need to exploit the conditions of the Arab region to bring goods of Turkey through Iraq because it will give a positive motivator towards improvement of the Iraqi economy, noting: it is an opportunity given to Iraq to be exploited properly and positive for the interest of Iraq and its people as no major economic turnaround of the country by the “transit”, in addition to providing jobs for some of the unemployed through the Transport and Other.

The Friday in a statement reporter (agency news) to: that the Turkish initiative to open the ports, border trade with Iraq rather than Syria will stimulate the Iraqi economy to develop and give indication of a future that Iraq next will see the development in all areas.

The member of the Economic Commission representative to the need to develop facilities in all procedures related to customs and transport and the other for the transit of goods Turkey into Iraqi territory, pointing out: that the Iraqi economy, Rei, and the need to sectors of the economy bolstered.

as adviser in the Office of International Trade and Transportation Tawfiq inhibitor that Iraq will be the focus of fulcrum for the transfer of global goods, whether European or Asian as a result of conditions the region non- stable, making Turkey now Tvkrnakl cargo Abralarac instead of Syria to reach to the East Asia and the Gulf States.

and stressed inhibitor in his statement to the reporter (agency news) on the need to develop a system to activate the transit by the federal government with Iraq’s neighboring countries in order to attract all international merchandise to Tmrabr land Iraq for the development of the Iraqi economy and promotion.
and called for a region free of trade exchanges on Iraq’s border with neighboring countries as important are financial income large annual of the country, pointing out: that Iraq enjoys a strategic it deals with all the countries of the world through international trade.

and advisor in the Office of International Trade: The Arab spring will help Iraq to be the strategy for the transfer of global goods from Europe to Asia and vice versa via Turkey and the conversion of all the transmission lines from Syria to Iraq.

This may be seen in Syria, political conflicts and demonstrations continued in most cities against the regime of of government, making Turkey fears of exposure to risk their goods when it passed into Syrian territory and think to pass through Iraq

http://bit.ly/uyVAvS

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