Iraq missed out on the Arab Spring, but it not late for its youth to rise up against their government and turn Iraq, now a failed state, into a prosperous, functioning democracy, Iraqi veteran politician, Adnan al-Pachachi, has said.
The 90-year-old Pachachi, former Iraqi foreign minister and representative to the United Nations, reflected on his longtime political career in memoirs titled “Adnan al-Pachachi in the Eye of the Storm,” published in Arabic in early December 2012.
Pachachi, a secular figure, expressed “sorrow” over the current situation in Iraq. “Sorrow fills my heart that the Arab Spring has skipped Iraq.The wind of change that toppled regimes and rulers didn’t reach the country,” he wrote in the book’s prologue.
The veteran politician, who retired officially from politics three years ago, was part of the secular yet Sunni dominated Iraqiya List party led by Shiite Ayad Allawi.
Al-Pachachi told Al Arabiya English that Iraq is a “failed state by all means,” citing corruption, sectarianism and the Iraqi administration’s incapability to protect civilians and offer them the simplest of all services, including electricity.
“Terrorist militias freely operate in the country, petrifying people, making their lives a living hell,” he said. “Iraq, a wealthy country, has become one of the most backward countries in the world.” Bombings against civilians, while subsiding from their peak in 2006-2007, continue to terrorize Iraqis.
On Monday, a wave of attacks targeting both Iraqi security forces and civilians killed 48 people. The attacks came only a day after another set of deadly blasts killed 25.
While sanctions and wars exhausted Iraqis to pursue a fully-fledged revolution like their counterparts in Arab Spring countries, the politician said “there is hope that the Iraqi youth will walk similar peaceful steps as their Arab brethren.”
But he warned that “the path is long, difficult and there are no magical solutions for complicated problems.” He also urged the youth to stand “strong and resilient” against politicians and others who work to divide Iraq into sectarian and ethnic groups and for intellectuals to build bridges and communicate with the Iraqi people.
In defense of the Iraqi people, he wrote “they (Iraqis) love life, freedom, culture. They are also naturally open and not as closed-minded as other countries can be.” Pachachi said he believed change in Iraq is inevitable.
“The influence of sectarian and ethnical political parties will die down sooner or later, because Iraqis are holding on their national identity.” During the country’s Baathist rule, Pachachi spent most of years in exile.
After his return to Iraq in 2003, he tried hard to explain to the Americans that Iraq shouldn’t have a sectarian-based political system, according to him. “Americans allowed a sectarian-based political system due to their beliefs that Iraqis are divided by their sectarian and ethnic background and that the political assembly must represent this truth.”
What Americans did not understand, he said, was that Iraq “long witnessed intermarriage between Sunnis and Shiites.” “At least the majority of well-educated people in Iraq are not sectarian, nor do they believe in such a divide,” he added.
Pachachi expressed regret to be drifted into Iraq’s sectarian politics when he accepted nomination to become Iraq’s vice president in 2005 as the post was only listed for Sunnis. “Today I admit my mistake when I accepted my nomination [for vice presidency].I failed myself and others who supported me for having democratic, liberal and secular orientations,” he said.
The United States backed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, believing that he was accepted by the majority Shiites. “For the Americans, Maliki is the most preferred choice. After all, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq [a Shiite political party] is far closer to Iran than Maliki’s Islamic al-Dawa party.”
In the memoirs, Pachachi chronicles his life from birth, education, to the final stages of his diplomatic and political career. He is also in the process of publishing his memoirs in English.