Eyad Abu Shakra
Arab”, a resonating cry that shook me to the bones, when uttered by Iraqi men
and women as they rose against hegemony and submission.
rush to regard this as some kind of ‘chauvinism’ in brandishing Arab identity.
I can understand that those may have lingering bad memories and reservations
about the outcome of past ultra-nationalist attitudes. However, what is before
us now is a painful state of affairs that any rational individual must not only
reject but also strive to change.
friends may confront me with a rejection of ‘change’ in principle. They may
point out how certain groups ‘rode the wave’ of the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011, and
then ventured to divert the main thrust of the peoples’ uprisings to their own
ends. That is also understandable, as I share with them their refusal to
condone exploiting the masses’ natural tendency to rise against despotism,
stifling freedoms, and corruption to serve ideological or theological agendas
unrelated to these masses’ grievances.
response to the issue of ‘Chauvinism’ is that the ‘Arab Identity’ is neither an
accusation nor a problem if espoused with open mindedness, acceptance of
diversity, and respect for non-Arab populations. On the issue of ‘change’, I
also see no problem if it brings to power tolerant, ambitious, young, and
‘institutionalist’ leaders, who govern fairly, and shun dogmas,
narrow-mindedness, and time-buying ‘problem-management’.
advanced countries, there are broad consensuses as regards the national
identity. Sometimes, they are shaken, as we see around us today. However, in
general, they are there to provide a ‘safety net’ to constituent groups and
social classes. Also, in these advanced countries smooth change through
devolution of power alleviates political, sectarian, and economic grievances,
and dissipates accumulated disagreement before they become deep and painful
grudges that when explode could destroy society. Thus, if a certain brand of
despotism is unacceptable, counter-despotism, especially one whose raison
d’etre is bitter and revengeful, must neither be tolerated nor allowed to
people who claim that ‘The Iraqi Character’, due to its complex geographic,
demographic, religious, and political environment, has always been prone to
violence and bloodshed.
the centuries, they have claimed that the land of today’s Iraq has witnessed
wars, revolts, fall of ruling dynasties, and the rise of intellectual
movements, ideologies, and radical currents. Some of these died out, others
simply went underground awaiting a more suitable time to resurface.
context, Iraq has passed through various eras that provided many opportunities
for cultural coexistence and exchange; although, some brought about serious
conflicts up until the late 20th century, and even, after the US-led invasion
of 2003. Perhaps, many still remember a pro-Tehran Iraqi Prime Minister calling
the population of the once-richly diverse city of Mosul as ‘The descendants of
Yazid’. (Yazid Ibn Mu’waiya, the caliph many Shi’ites accuse of ordering the
murder of the Prophet’s grandson Al-Hussein Ibn Ali).
neither Iraq nor any neighboring Arab state, will have a future in the presence
of those who allow themselves what they prohibit to others, who use religion
and historic injustices as an excuse to plunder their respective countries and
people, and who accumulate wealth through corruption. If the latest popular
uprising has provided any ray of hope, it is that despite 15 years of dominance
secured by foreign intervention, blatant sectarian incitement has failed to
hide corruption and abuse of power. Relying on sectarian militias and imposing
them as de facto ruler, along the lines of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC),
is not enough to shield and protect the ‘thieves’ under the banner of making
right the old wrongs, and ending injustice.
of Iraq have been in the center of the uprising. Most likely, they are the ones
who know most about why it has erupted, and how the regional expansionist
conspiracy is hell-bent impoverishing one of the Middle East’s richest
the US invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime, many things
have taken place, among which are certain realities that should always be kept
Saddam’s tragic mistake of invading Kuwait, most Arab states – including those
friendly to Washington – were against the US ‘inept’ and geopolitically
damaging invasion; given that Iraq is the Arabs ‘Eastern’ border gate, opening
to two major non-Arab powers, i.e., Iran and Turkey.
Iran and Turkey have always had territorial ambitions and historical interests
in Iraq. These only effectively ended with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire by
the end of WW1. Furthermore, Iraq’s two largest religious sects are Shiite and
Sunni Islam; thus, Iraq’s two great neighbors, Shiite Iran and Sunni Turkey,
have always had enough excuses to interfere and meddle in the country’s
3- In Iraq
exists an important constituent that dominated the country’s north and
northeast; which is the Kurds. In fact, the Kurds have provided the Iranians
and Turks and with a rare, if not the only, common goal; as it is in the
strategic interest of Iran and Turkey to prevent the emergence of a single
independent Kurdish state. Such a state would effectively threaten the national
unity of both countries, as there are around 15 million Kurds in Turkey and
around 8 million in Iran, in addition to about 6 million in Iraq. Actually,
many analysts believe that the strongest reason for not partitioning Iraq,
after the US-led ‘Coalition Provisional Authority’ had systematically destroyed
the Iraqi state institution – including the army – , was Ankara’s strong
opposition to Kurdish independence, which would also further marginalize the
the ‘Death To America’ and ‘Great Satan’ slogans, and as soon as Baghdad fell
to the invading US troops, exiled pro-Tehran Iraqi leaderships flew from Iran
back to Iraq, where they took over as ‘victors’. Moreover, within a very short
time of Washington’s acceptance of the ‘victors and vanquished formula’, Iran’s
followers and henchmen assumed power in Iraq. Later on, to make matters worse,
former US President Barack Obama decided that handing over Iraq alone was not
enough; so he allowed Iran’s ‘Mullahs’ to take over Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen,
through a nuclear deal that focused only on technicalities, while leaving
Tehran free to expand and invade at will.
above, Iraq’s recent uprising is entirely ‘Iraqi’, as it really should be. It
is necessary to stop the major regional collapse throughout the area extending
from Iraq to the Mediterranean and Red Sea, whether the major world powers are
still unaware, or are in full collusion!
Headline: For an ‘Iraqi’ and ‘Arab’.. Not an ‘Iranian’ Iraq