Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hudson Institute hosts panel discussion on the current and future state of Iraq

Last week, The Hudson Institute, hosted the discussion “Iraq After 3 Years: What’s Next?.” The panel of speakers included Abdel-Aziz al Wandawi, Director General of Information at Higher National Commission, and Nibras Kazimi, a scholar at the Hudson Institute and weekly contributor to The New York Sun.

While al Wandawl spoke of the necessity of a long-term de-ba’athification commission, Nibras Kazimi addressed the implication of the leaked Baker Report, claiming that the perception of Iraq in America is “deeply flawed.”

“If America is failing,” he stated, “who is wining?”

Kazimi addressed: the claim that democracy will not work in Iraq, working with the insurgency, and the possibility of a strong man option. However, the topic that sparked the most interest was the opinion shared by both speakers that Americans lack a clear understanding of the composition of the Iraqi society, and that currently there is no civil war.

According to the panelists, insurgents understand that violence makes America restless. In addition to their aversion for American support, the insurgency is unique in that it is also not interested in gaining popular support. Instead, they are only interested in propagating fear. However, despite the increasing violence, the glue that has held the Shiites and the Sunnis together remains, and the government remains functional and united under one party, Kazimi explained. Steadfast in his opinion, Kazimi stated, “What is missing from the Iraq debate is cause and effect.” Both speakers recognized that the violence has gotten worse and that civil war is a plausible outcome; however, depending on the actions of all invested parties, civil war could be a dubious assumption.

The insurgency is not maintaining territory. People are fighting back. The state has survived. Loyalty has developed; characteristics which both speakers thought were clear examples that a civil war has not arisen.

Instead of culturally dividing Iraq, both speakers believed that the more important division lies politically, between Ba’athist and non-Ba’athist. For example, neither the Iraqi government, nor the invested US government has cut aid to Ba’athist party members – money that is directly funding the ongoing violence.

Several days after the panel, the US media made the benchmark decision to refer to the state of Iraq as a civil war. However, both the Bush Administration and Kofi Annan maintain that the situation has not escalated to that degree. Whether or not the situation in Iraq is referred to as a civil war, Kazimi and al Wandawi believe that now is an opportune time to hinder ensuing civil violence by addressing the triggers attempting to exacerbate the cultural divide.

For more information on the Iraq Study Group and the Baker Report, click here.


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