For immediate release 19thMay 2016
In the absence of real reform,
IRAQ LURCHING TOWARDS CATASTROPHE
“If real and comprehensive reforms are not carried out, Iraq will lurch towards catastrophe.” This was the view expressed today by Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) and a former President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014). Stevenson strongly condemned the recent explosions in Baghdad and other cities and said it would be impossible to sort out the current crisis unless the Iranian regime and its cohorts are expelled from Iraq and the true representatives of the Sunnis are allowed to have a share of political power and to be seriously involved in the fight against Daesh (ISIS).
He added: “The Iraqi population is sick of those politicians who use their power systematically to rob the nation and fill their offshore bank accounts, while the country’s infrastructure and public services rot and the struggle to survive intensifies. Plummeting oil revenues have shattered the Iraqi economy and the combination of venal corruption and political instability has made Iraq a high-risk zone even for bailouts from the IMF.
“The recent events have simply reinforced the view that Prime Minister Abadi is running out of time and must stop Iran from manipulating the situation His attempts at reform have been resoundingly rebuffed by political factions who are determined to keep their hands in the national cash register. When he tried to recall parliament last week so that he could issue an ultimatum on his reform agenda, the politicians simply stayed at home, boycotting the proceedings. The main obstacles to reform are former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and his men who are under the absolute control of Tehran and act in full coordination with the militias affiliated to the terrorist Iranian Quds force.
“In an interesting development, Tariq al-Hashimi, the former vice president of Iraq and a prominent Sunni leader, who wassentenced to deathin absence in a disgraceful show trial by Maliki, was taken off Interpol’s red notice list on Monday. This move by Interpol clearly exposes the level of corruption that prevailed in the Iraqi government under Maliki. It also highlights the need for al-Abadi urgently to restore the integrity of Sunni leaders who were arrested or sentenced in absentiaby Maliki.
“The political vacuum has created a seething sense of unrest and rising tension, which some commentators believe could herald a revolution and the overthrow of the Abadi government. Such a catastrophic event would play directly into the hands of the Iranian regime and Daesh, whose ultimate aims are to seize control over the whole of Iraq. Daesh has held Mosul, Iraq’s second city, for almost two years. The long awaited campaign to recapture the city began in March, but was quickly repulsed by the jihadists. Mosul’s two million Sunni inhabitants now nervously wait for the next onslaught, fearing the brutal pro-Iranian militias and the random air strikes by US and other Western bombers, almost as much as they fear the barbaric savagery of Daesh.”
“The Sunni inhabitants of Mosul may have a long wait. Abadi has recalled most of his Iraqi military forces to provide a protective cordon around Baghdad, following the series of Daesh suicide bombings that last week killed scores of civilians. Any further deterioration in national security could pave the way for a Daesh assault on the Iraqi capital, which would inevitably suck in the Americans and potentially the British too. Obama’s reluctance to put US boots on the ground in Iraq, particularly during the dying days of his presidency, has paved the way for this crisis. But his obduracy could well be overwhelmed by a battle for Baghdad.”
Struan Stevenson concluded: “The only possible solution to the growing unrest is the formation of a government of national salvation to pacify the nation and unify Iraq. If Prime Minister Abadi is to survive, he must sweep away all of the corrupt ministers and replace them with technocrats who are prepared to work for the benefit of the country rather than to enrich themselves. He must evict the Iranian regime from Iraq and declare his liberation from their meddling. He must bring the Shi’ite militias under the immediate control of the Iraqi military and put an end to their sectarian campaign of genocidal slaughter. The US, UN and EU should quickly use their power to persuade Abadi on this course of action before it is too late.”
Office of Struan Stevenson
President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014.)