Thursday, September 30, 2004


Looking Ahead

Over the past few weeks I have been literally bombarded by email messages asking me to discuss solutions, the way ahead and "how to get there from here". I certainly intend to. The future course of Iraq, and probably America is at stake now in Iraq. We do need to discuss possible solutions. I promise I will start doing that soon. This blog is not just about blame and grumbling!

Much of what I have written so far is about letting Americans know what has been happening in Iraq from an Iraqi point of view and how we feel. This represents necessary ground-work to discussing solutions. No discussion of a solution would be possible without defining the problem first.

Frankly, I was hoping to start a debate on religion (another extremely important issue that has considerable bearing on both Iraq and America). I enlisted the help of Bob Griffin, a regular contributor to this blog who knows a lot more than I do about the technicalities of the various sects, and he graciously consented. It seems that this issue will have to be postponed for a while. I therefore feel I must apologize to Mr. Griffin.

Just a few more posts to complete the picture… and then we will start in earnest. Meanwhile, those interested could have a look at my other blog Rapid Democracy in Iraq (Click the link: "Is There a Solution?" on the left side bar) which I had dedicated to this question. I must say however, that this is my own personal position which is not shared by most of the coalition-supported political parties – particularly those without any popular base in Iraq. It simply does not serve their ends or their quest for political power.

In July of last year, a few months after the invasion, I had a rather lengthy discussion of the proposal with a gentleman from UN who was on a visit to Baghdad (two weeks before that horrible incident at the UN headquarters). What struck me at the time was the difficulty he had in coming to terms with the idea of mixing local representation with national political issues. I fear that many in the west may have the same problem. Please remember the absence of any truly national parties or political figures in Iraq at present! US administration’s effort to “manufacture” such figures has failed miserably. Many, many wise and decent people exist in the country. They are locally known to members of their community. Let the people bring them out!


No apology is necessary. I am fairly swamped with my regular obligations, and can easily afford to wait until a more opportune time.

I am myself somewhat annoyed by posters/commenters who haven't taken the time to read what you've written earlier, and accuse you of supporting goals which you have clearly stated elsewhere you oppose. Ah well, such is the nature of blogging.

Be Well,

Hello Abu Khaleel,
I look forward to your blog on religion (and politics?).

What would be the division of powers under such a system ? What I mean is, what kind of things would the local governments control, and what kind of things would the national government control ?

The problem with the extreme localization approach is more that such a thing is totally unfamiliar to most Iraqis who have only ever lived with a strong central government. From what I understand, the US originally suggested this, but most of the Iraqis they talked to saw it only as a recipe for chaos. In fact most experts on Iraq have indicated that the only way Iraq can possibly stay unified is if the federal level is very strong. Weak federalism, which is what you are suggesting, would probably lead to disintegration of the country.

Personally, I think that it SHOULD be extremely localized, and we SHOULD let Iraq disintegrate, if that is what Iraqis want. So I am with you on that. It's just that I see no way that this is politically feasible. The US could in principle go along with it. The main reason they are supporting keeping Iraq together is out of obligation to neighboring states. Concern about stability is secondary. The problem is that this idea is almost certainly contrary to the views of most Iraqi people, and on top of that, Turkey and Saudi Arabia would FREAK OUT if we proposed a breakup of Iraq.
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