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Iraq in a Week: An Air of Reconciliation and a CPA Scandal PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 12 February 2005 11:54
I was hoping that by now the final and official results of the recent Iraqi elections have been declared, to allow me to analyze the results and compare them with the predictions I have made in an earlier letter.  The election results are critical in the way they are going to affect the development process of building a new, free, democratic and federal Iraq.  We were told that the results will be declared by about the tenth of February and that would have allowed me a few days to finish my weekly letter.  I have said that I will be sending one letter a week, which should have come today, but the situation in Iraq is so fluid and unpredictable that the authority in charge of the election process suddenly decided that the results will be announced a few days late.  I decided to fill the void with a letter about some of the major events which have happened inside and outside the country, these new events have affected the situation here to a tremendous extent.

The preliminary projections about the results of the elections which were tending to show a tremendous success for the Shiites with predictions of up to a 70 percent margin.  The Shiites were emboldened to raise the ante and started to demand a larger role in the rebuilding process which would start by writing the constitution for the new Iraq, when they started to insist that Islam should be the ONLY source of legislation in future Iraq.  Islam as I have already made myself very clear about it in a previous letter is a great religion, with very clear ideas on the organization of the society and the way it is run, this demand by the Shiites who have not yet seen the final results of the election was seen by a lot of people in this country as a demand to create a state on the Iranian model with mullahs controlling every aspect of the state.  Those who were advocating that role for Islam might not have been advocating that kind of government, but that is how their demand was perceived at home.  This resulted in a storm of protest which involved some of the leading political and religious figures, for the simple reason that Islam and here I mean the Islamic Shariaa has always been a very important source in the legislation and the consensuses inside the country was that it should always be like that, because Islam can provide extremely important guidelines and principles for running a modern state.  But in the 21st century, there are other sources beside religion, which also provide useful principles and guidelines.  The uproar lessened a bit as a result of a statement by the very wise Shiite cleric the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, who advised in relatively strong terms the need to refrain from creating unnecessary controversies at a time when even the final results of the elections have not been declared yet.

The impending release of the results of the elections had a seemingly very positive effect on the Sunni¬ís position, they seem to have realized that by continuing to boycott the rebuilding process after boycotting the elections they would risk being completely excluded from the political process and in danger of loosing whatever influence is left to them.  The opposing groups also realized that by treating the Sunnis that way, was really nonproductive and would have increased their alienation, that would have been an invitation to more trouble and more serious problems in the future.  There were genuine and very active attempts at reconciliation which were led by some of the older and more moderate and experienced politicians and some senior members of the current government in an attempt to bring the Sunnis into the political process, and to involve them in the work which is scheduled to start soon on the writing of the constitution and also bringing them in the new government which should take office after the end of the mandate of the current one.  Even with all those promising moves, the security situation never improved, the bombings and trapped cars continued only after a lull which lasted a few days after the elections.  In fact, they bombings were more frequent and much more devastating. There were 70 Iraqi deaths on Thursday the 10th in different parts of the country.

The other major story which was the talk of the town that week was the release of the report of the US inspector general for Iraq reconstruction was the missing 9.9 billion US dollars of Iraqi money or was it 8.8 billion?  I am not sure which is the right figure, but we are not going to haggle over a billion US dollars.  At any rate, the inspector general reported that those billions have simply gone missing, and they were never accounted for during the reign of Paul Bremer which lasted from April 2003 to June 2004 when he was heading the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which was administering the affairs of the country after the fall down of the Saddam regime.

The general impression during the days of Paul Bremer was that his administration was severely ineffective and grossly incompetent.  I myself has described the Bremer regime as a catastrophe after the ill fated Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) there was a general agreement that Paul Bremer was not the man for the job.  Bremer did not have the administrative and political credentials to rule Iraq after its 35 years of its very severe oppression under Saddam.  There were rumors of a certain degree of corruption, but no one suspected that it was that at such a level and involving so many senior officials and the amount of money plundered would be of that magnitude.  The problem is that the American authorities do not seem to be taking the matter as seriously as they should.  The US department of justice refuses to assist those who pushing for serious and legal investigations.  No one from amongst the suspects have been punished or charged, all of which has not been useful to America¬ís image and did not enhance its standing in the views of many people inside and outside the country.

During the week there was another equally astonishing development namely the initial report by Paul Volcker of his ongoing investigation of the handling by the UN of the oil for food program, which was evidently an even worse case of corruption involving some of its highest officials.  I feel I have said enough today, I will be reporting on the United Nations soon.

Dr. Najeeb Hanoudi
Baghdad, Feb., 12, 2005
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