Saturday, June 27, 2015

Excellent article on "who is to blame" in Iraq by Sinan Antoon and Zaid Al-Ali

"By 2003, the United States’ record of supporting dictatorships and authoritarian regimes in the region and its history of aggression against Iraq through war and sanctions had diminished any credibility or trust. The duplicitous case for the invasion and the United States’ behavior in Iraq after the occupation did not change this perception. But this seems to escape U.S. officials such as Jeffrey and Khedery, whose comments on recent events somehow assume that the United States was or should have been an “honest broker” and that it was the United States’ decision to support Maliki in 2010 that ruined its bona fides. In fact, it would have been virtually impossible to find anyone in Iraq in 2003 that would have attributed positive intentions to the United States given its sordid history of involvement. In addition, although Iraqi actors made their lack of trust clear from the start, the United States worsened its already toxic reputation in the country through its own political, military and financial misdeeds for the following years.  As soon as the U.S. occupation commenced in 2003, the former exiles (who were supposed to be its closest allies) capitalized on the United States’ unpopularity to force it to hand over partial political and administrative authority far sooner than it would have preferred. The result was the establishment of the Governing Council and its associated executive offices, the first officially sectarian government in Iraq’s history. A few months later, the United States proposed a plan to draft the country’s new constitution, which involved indirect elections through a caucus system. The plan was immediately rejected by the country’s most influential actors (including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani) not because it was unworkable but because of the justifiable concern that the United States would manipulate the process. In the end, the United States did interfere in the constitution drafting process and contributed to creating a divisive and unworkable text. The political system that it designed and installed in Iraq was based on the understanding that Iraqis are sects and no more. It institutionalized sectarianism, injected it with political power, and made it the only political currency. It handed the country over to untrained, unworthy and corrupt former exiles, most of whom at the time had no credibility in Iraq."