Thursday, May 24, 2007
Al-Maliki's Speech Shows Courage & Determination
There has been much criticism of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Most of it revolves around how long it seems to be taking to get some of the laws passed that the American government considers “benchmarks”.
On the other side of the coin, we should remember that al-Maliki is a courageous man to take the mantle of a country that is torn from within. He must walk a daily tightrope between political and religious factions while facing the possibility of assassination each day.
One of my Baghdad friends sent me the following which is the text of a speech made by Al-Maliki on the first anniversary of Iraq’s new government. This speech was on Baghdad’s Al-Iraqiyah Television in Arabic. It is a positive statement from someone who clearly loves his people.
Not surprisingly, I have heard nothing about this speech from our own mainstream media. It is a little long, but so is the task the Iraqis must accomplish:
Iraq's Al-Maliki Reviews Government's Accomplishments on First Anniversary
GMP20070522617001 Baghdad Al-Iraqiyah Television in Arabic 1458 GMT 22 May 07
[Speech by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki 'on the occasion of the first anniversary of the formation of the national unity government;' in Baghdad; recorded]
"In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate, dear Iraqi people -- people of the two rivers -- brothers and sisters: God's peace and blessings be upon you. A year has passed since the formation of the first elected government in Iraq's modern history, a government which has won the support of the parliamentary blocs taking part in the political process, which unanimously supported the national plan and granted confidence to the government.
Based on this unanimity, we depended on God and the people's confidence to implement the government's program. This is a task you undoubtedly know is difficult and complicated and is facing huge challenges.
The year 2006 was a real test of the will of the government and people. We were at a crossroads -- either Iraq will remain united and its social fabric cohesive and strong or it will slip into a sectarian war, which is the dirtiest of wars throughout history.
Praise be to God, we have succeeded in avoiding the danger of sectarian war after the holy shrine of the two Al-Askari imams in Samarra was blown up. That ugly crime was committed by the takfiris and their allies the henchmen of the dictatorial regime. The sectarian war which threatened our national unity is now behind us.
The year 2006 also witnessed the end of the dictator and his abominable rule, which dragged the country to wars and reckless adventures. That was a dark era during which we suffered the worst of tragedies and pains and offered hundreds of thousands of martyrs in prisons, detention centers, and mass graves, and in Al-Anfal and Halabjah. The rule of the one party, one faction, and the indispensable leader, and the policy of discrimination, exclusion, and marginalization have ended for ever.
Our success in avoiding a sectarian war and putting an end to the dictator was not without great sacrifices. We have sacrificed blood, shed tears, and faced difficulties. This is a heavy price we are paying today in our fight against terrorism. It is the same price we paid in 35 years. The road to freedom, justice, democracy, and equality cannot but be difficult and tough.
Brothers and sisters: Since the first day of the formation of the national unity government, which I had the honor of heading, I launched an initiative for national reconciliation and dialogue. The initiative was not launched on the basis of political, party, or sectarian considerations, but on a strategic vision to rebuild the state and consecrate the culture of dialogue and tolerance, renounce secondary differences, and close the past chapter.
We have placed the issue of national reconciliation at the top of the government priorities and devoted all resources to it. We said on more than one occasion that national reconciliation is a lifeboat for all Iraqis and it is the only way to overcome the ordeal and cross to the shore of safety. Regrettably, some have rebelled against dialogue and reconciliation. We will deal with them firmly and in accordance with the law.
The national reconciliation initiative led to conferences held by tribes, civil society organizations, political forces, officers, and intellectuals all over Iraq. It also provided the appropriate background to introduce constitutional amendments in which the authority of law has the final word. We did so by presenting the draft law of Accountability and Justice to the Council of Representatives. This draft law guarantees the rights of martyrs and distinguishes between those whose hands were stained with the blood of innocent people and those who were forced to join the dissolved Ba'th Party.
The draft law provides a legal framework and just accountability, and closes the bloody chapter of the past. The law which we want to be an arbiter and ruler does not mean leniency with criminal Ba'thists or ignoring the rights of martyrs and prisoners. It seeks to administer justice and rehabilitate all those who were exposed to injustice, despotism, and oppression.
O honorable Iraqi people, we consider the national reconciliation plan the strongest weapon in fighting terrorism. We were fully confident that this plan would succeed in defeating the takfiris and their allies despite the claims of some political forces, which wagered on turning national reconciliation into a bridge for the return of killers and criminals. It is impossible for this delusion to materialize.
In the new Iraq there is no place for the Ba'th Party, whose history is replete with coups, plots, and leaders of crime and mass annihilation. I will not miss the occasion here to invite the faithful Iraqi tribes and civil society organizations to form national salvation councils in all Iraqi governorates and to stand by the side of our armed forces in order to destroy the epidemic of terrorism, which is targeting Iraq -- land, people, and heritage.
The terrorists are destroying the infrastructure and killing teachers, physicians, engineers, builders, journalists, sportsmen, and artists, in addition to women and children. They are also attacking mosques, churches, and universities. Their blind grudge has reached the historical, civil, and cultural landmarks of Baghdad.
Brothers and sisters: Our war against terrorism is an open and long one. None should think that this war will end today or tomorrow. The security challenges facing dear Iraq are extremely serious. What makes the situation even more difficult is foreign interference, which is no longer a secret to anyone. Some political forces' acceptance of and submission to the influence of a number of countries has led to complicating the security file, which is no longer an internal challenge. This calls for greater vigilance and caution.
The day will come when we reveal the involvement of political groups and personalities in stirring up terrorist acts. We will not hesitate to expose the subversive role some regional and international parties are playing. These parties are not pleased to see Iraq strong and living a democratic experience and determined to establish the state of institutions. These quarters, which we know well, will pay a heavy price from their security and stability if they do not stop the policy of undermining security in Iraq so that the country will remain weak. A strong democratic and pluralistic Iraq is the only guarantee against the return of dictatorship. It is a safety valve for stability and prosperity in the region.
Any Iraqi entity that seeks support from abroad will be making a terrible mistake because this will lead to regional and international forces' conflict in the Iraqi arena. We also call on all those who care for the unity, safety, and sovereignty of Iraq to stop interfering in our internal affairs because the Iraqis alone can protect their country and defend their dignity. Our people, who recorded electoral epics in a record and critical time and established constitutional institutions on the debris of dictatorship, reject the logic of trusteeship and the logic of having others think on their behalf.
Brothers and sisters: Completing the establishment of our armed forces is a central national task we are trying to accomplish at the earliest possible time. This is a process which daily brings us closer to assuming full responsibility for security in the whole country. We have made a large stride in this regard and we are racing time in training, rehabilitating, and equipping our forces with modern weapons and military equipment so that our security services can take the initiative and assume responsibility for protecting the country and citizens, and thus pave the way for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from the country. This task will remain a top priority in our program for 2007.
On this occasion, I call on all honorable Iraqis to shoulder their responsibility and help our armed forces so that these can perform their duty under the sovereignty of the law and respect for human rights. The Law Enforcement Plan, which has entered its fourth month, is an integrated professional plan implemented in stages. We said right from the first day that the plan does not target any entity or sect, but seeks to protect the citizens.
It is an open war against the terrorists. We are determined to strike with an iron fist all outlaws -- terrorist organizations, militias, armed groups, and crime gangs which tamper with the security of the country. We cannot build a state in the presence of militias which have various allegiances, affiliations, and interests. We will give a full chance for those who voluntarily lay down their weapons and return to the national rank. We will exhaust all political solutions before we begin taking military measures, which we hope we will not be forced to take, to impose the authority of law.
Praised by God, we have succeeded in largely reducing the rate of sectarian killings and managed to restore normal life to a number of areas in Baghdad which were under the control of the terrorists. In view of the deliberate confusion some known parties and personalities are making and in view of attempts to undermine the reputation of our armed forces and security services, we call on the judicial authority to pursue these parties and refer their files to justice in order to call them to account for encouraging terrorism and inciting hatred and sectarian strife.
Brothers and sisters: He who thinks that building the state and its institutions and various departments is the job of only the government will be mistaken. We are all responsible for Iraq's recovery, security, stability, and prosperity. There is no doubt that this long and tough mission cannot be accomplished in a short time. It is a gradual historic task requiring solidarity and sacrifice by all.
It is inadmissible for the political forces participating in the political process to take a neutral position or act as bystanders or ones looking for mistakes. We have very regrettably seen this done by some people who placed themselves in the position of observers from a distance instead of putting their hands in our hands to build the new Iraq.
Cooperation among the three authorities takes place in an integral manner without interference by any authority in the affairs of the other authorities. We, together with our partners in the political process, raised the slogan of cooperation, integration, and revision in order to reach the largest possible understanding that is based on constitutional controls with the aim of reviewing programs and laws in a manner that serves the country's higher interests.
In 2006, we established balanced regional and international relations with many countries and succeeded in developing Iraq's relations with these countries in the various domains. Iraq, together with 60 countries and international organizations, signed the International Compact Document in Sharm al-Shaykh.
This document stands for mutual commitments between Iraq and the international community. We expect Iraq to reap good results from this document. This will reflect on the economy and its infrastructure and on the building and reconstruction drive in the country. It will also encourage foreign investments and lead to security and stability.
The government, in cooperation with the Council of Representatives, ratified the investment law, which is considered an extremely important step to promote the economy, rebuild the destroyed infrastructure, and provide job opportunities. The government also approved the largest budget in the history of Iraq. Part of it was allocated to reconstruction. The government also presented an oil draft law. The parliament's approval of this law was a qualitative step in the field of reconstruction, development of the oil industry, just distribution of wealth, and consecration of the unity and sovereignty of Iraq.
Brothers and sisters: Fulfilling your aspirations and hopes is the core of our program and the center of our attention. We have made a pledge to God and to you that we will continue to fulfill them and we will spare no effort to reach that goal. We are aware of your daily life concerns. We follow them up every moment and work hard and perseveringly to improve services and raise the living standards.
Our efforts will continue and the subversive trend of the terrorist gangs will not prevent us from serving you or hearing your concerns and knowing about your suffering. What helps us continue to shoulder our responsibility is our feeling that you are aware of the size of internal and external challenges and dangers facing our beloved Iraq. This increases our insistence on continuing our efforts to build a free, democratic, pluralistic, and federal Iraq.
God's peace and blessings be upon you."
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Note Al-Maliki's use of the term "takfiri". According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Takfiri (from the Arabic word تكفيري) is the person who professes the disbelief of certain individuals or groups within the Muslim society or Islam. They are viewed as "extremists" by some of their opponents, arguing that "no one Muslim can call another Muslim a 'kafir' (infidel)".
Takfiris, on the other hand, exist in every Muslim sect, large or small, and often their fingers point not only to those who supposedly belong to a 'rival' sect, but also to those within their own; an example to that is the clear enmity between the Sufis and Salafi (both groups of which go under the umbrella of Sunni Islam.) Another example of internal 'takfir' is that occuring between pro-Saudi Salafis and the Jihadi Salafis (like Bin Ladin's group, al-Qaeda). Among Shia groups, takfir occurs as is the case toward the followers of the major Shia ayatllah Fadlullah of Lebanon (whose latest published opinions that review many beliefs deeply characteristic of Shia Islam have caused uproar and fierce opposition on the part of other Arab and Iranian clerics). There also exists the example of Twelver Shia declaring the takfir of the Shaykhi Shia small sect (found mainly in Basra, Iraq).
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Seeing the words of the Iraq prime minister helps us to understand the difficult tasks he must deal with each day.
We removed the dictator Saddam Hussein, but we also dismantled every aspect of Iraqi society from the governmental infrastructure to the army and police. We owe them a chance to work through their internal issues in order to make their government work for all of them.
SFC Chuck Grist