Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Real Struggle for Iraq

An article by Amir Taheri, found here in the New York Post. (emphasis mine)


So the "insurgency" in Iraq is going nowhere fast. It will be as roundly defeated as were its predecessors in so many other countries. The danger for Iraq's future lies elsewhere.

It comes, in part, from Americans who want Iraq to fail because they want President Bush to fail. Some 81 books paint the president as the devil incarnate; Bush-bashing is also the theme of three "documentaries" plus half a dozen Hollywood feature films. Never before in any mature democracy has a political leader aroused so much hatred from his domestic opponents.

Others want Iraq to fail because they want America to fail, with or without Bush. The bitter tone of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan when he declared the liberation of Iraq "illegal" shows that it is not the future of Iraq but the vilification of the United States that interests him.

Add to this the recent bizarre phrase from French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. The head of the Figaro press group went to see him about the kidnapping of two French journalists in Iraq; Raffarin assured him they would soon be freed, reportedly saying, "The Iraqi insurgents are our best allies."

***

Immediately after Saddam's fall, some of us had urged the Bush administration to transfer power to an interim Iraqi government and organize elections as quickly as possible. Sistani endorsed that view as early as August 2003, calling for a transfer of power to the Iraqis and the holding of elections.

His position has not changed. Sistani wants elections, and wants them as soon as possible. All he asks is that the international community, including the United Nations, play a role in organizing and supervising the series of elections planned for next year. His hope is that Iraq would not only have a new constitution, to be approved in a popular referendum, but also an elected parliament and a government with a clear electoral mandate before the end of 2006. That, he knows, is the fastest way for the Coalition forces to leave Iraq in peace and with dignity.

Sistani insists on international participation, beyond the U.S.-led Coalition, for two reasons. First, he knows that divisions among the big powers over Iraq are harmful for all concerned. He wants them to unite in helping the people of Iraq make their true feelings known through free elections. Second, he knows that the elections will enjoy greater legitimacy if the international community unanimously endorses the results.

Iraq...have a new constitution, to be approved in a popular referendum, but also an elected parliament and a government with a clear electoral mandate before the end of 2006.

That is our exit strategy!

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