by Amer Araim
As polls have indicated there is a deep concern in the United States public opinion’ on the recent Iraqi crisis as well as the response of the Obama Administration on the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Yes, there is a commitment by the Administration against the group the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as a realization of the urgency for ending the sectarian policies of the Iraqi government, and the need for policies aimed at inclusiveness in that country. Despite the importance of such utterance, there is a fear that after the Iraqi government takes advantage of the United States air power including drones, then the same old ugly sectarian policies as well as corruption and inefficiency will be the norm in Iraq. Therefore, the Obama Administration should not engage in combat activities in Iraq, because that will lead to increasing US presence in Iraq. As previous situations demonstrated, the United States had begun with a small presence, and later on such intervention became full military operations. The United States must not become the Shiite air force to attack Sunni areas because such action will have serious consequences for the United States in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
It is hoped that instead of military engagement, the Obama Administration should deal with this serious threat to the security of Iraq, and the region by urgently convening a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, despite the disappointment with the latter latest statement on the recent Iraqi crisis. It was very weak and represented a compromise between the five permanent members of the Council rather providing guidelines to resolve this serious conflict. In the light of the inability of the Secretary of State to Iraq to convince the Iraqi Prime Minister to step down, and to forge a unity government, there must be a new course of action. The Obama Administration should first consult with its partners including European and Arab states. Then there should be a comprehensive plan providing practical steps for resolving the internal conflict in Iraq, which should be presented to the Security Council for adoption, with enforcement measures to ensure its implementation. On the bilateral level, the United States should take advantage of the desperate need of Iran to be integrated in the international community, and press the Iranian government to stop its intervention in Iraq, rather than collaborating with Iran on the Iraqi conflict to enable the Shiites to suppress the Sunnis.
Despite the fact that Russia and China, as permanent members of the Security Council have not played a constructive role regarding the Syrian conflict, the Arab and Western states should exert meaningful pressure on both to cooperate to resolve these two conflicts. Many observers expected that the failure of the Security Council to deal with the Syrian crisis as a result of the positions of Russia and China would have serious consequences not only in Syria but the entire Middle East. Any plan by the Security Council for Iraq will not succeed unless the present Iraqi government is convinced that it should end its sectarian policies, and fully cooperate with international efforts to ensure democracy, respect for human rights and decency in Iraq. The last eight years of the performance of this government has not indicated any desire for change. Therefore, its replacement with a new unity government must be seriously considered.
It is important to stress that Sunni Arabs in Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East just like people everywhere are not supporters of terrorism. However, their isolation, and the failure of authorities to recognize their genuine grievances have created desperation, which might be exploited by extremist groups. Let the United Nations Security Council help the Iraqi people to end their ordeal, which has lasted for many decades, and particularly after the United States occupation of 2003. I am confident that once a new government representing all Iraqis is established, Sunni Arabs will play an important role in preventing the extremists from controlling their areas.
Amer Araim, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Diablo Valley College,