European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
May 6, 2016
Members of the Security Council,
On the eve of the UN Security Council session on Iraq, I am writing to you on behalf of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) to draw your attention to a number of points concerning the current crisis in Iraq. I have closely followed Iraq ever since 2003 and as the President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014, I travelled extensively to Baghdad, Erbil and other capitals in the region.
Today, the international community is greatly concerned about the deepening crisis that has enveloped all of Iraq. Large swathes of the country are in the hands of Daesh terrorists with no clear prospect for their liberation, while there is a popular demand for reform and an end to the prevalent corruption. The Iraqi people are calling for a totally technocratic cabinet irrespective of political parties’ allocated shares. But considering the conflict of interests, prospects for such a cabinet are indeed dim, which in turn markedly diminishes the chance for success in the fight against Daesh.
There is an international -- and even a relative American -- consensus today that the Second Gulf War in 2003 has been a mammoth mistake giving rise to the present problems in the region. This mistake was aggravated and rendered even more dangerous with the lethal mistakes that followed, such as the dissolution of the Iraqi army and Iraq’s civil service and the policy to reshape a new country. However, the deadliest mistake of all was the opening of Iraq's doors to the clerical regime ruling neighbouring Iran.
Since 1979, the Iranian regime has sought to dominate the region; a matter that is enshrined in its constitution. In articles 5 and 11 of the Iranian constitution the leader of the regime is considered the ruler of all Muslims worldwide and the Islamic Republic of Iran should endeavour to realize political, economic and cultural unity of the Islamic World. For the Iranian regime, this is not just an expansionist agenda but an imperative for its very survival. The survival of this regime depends on its expansion outside its borders or the creation of a Caliphate. In continuing its war with Iraq in the 1980s, Tehran’s objective was to realize this very goal.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq led was a windfall for Tehran that offered the regime an opportunity to achieve what it had failed to achieve on its own in its costly eight-year war. The regional balance that was a pillar for regional stability tilted in Tehran’s favour overnight thanks to the war waged by the United States. Tehran is now acting aggressively against other countries in the region after securing its position in Iraq.
This regime has instigated a religious and sectarian war by cultivating the religious and demographic texture of Iraq. Tehran’s objectives require its absolute dominion over Iraq and if that proves unattainable, then it needs to marginalize the Sunnis and sustain a religious war in Iraq, which is what we are witnessing today.
It is huge mistake to think that the Iranian regime and Daesh are locked in a serious confrontation. The principal objective of both is one and the same: “The establishment of an Islamic government and the imposition of Sharia law through coercion.” They do have conflicts of interest in many areas, but ultimately their common interests outweigh their differences. Khamenei has numerously declared that the enemy is the United States and that the Takfiris (Daesh and Qaeda) represent sedition, but not the enemy.
Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and mercenaries in Syria number 70,000, but never and nowhere have these forces fought Daesh; instead, they have always fought the moderate opposition and the Free Syrian Army and on many occasions the two have played a complementary role. Similarly, in Iraq, the regime has not confronted Daesh except in limited areas. There is a prevalent belief in Iraq that in many mixed Shia-Sunni regions of Iraq such as Diyala, Daesh has handed over territory to the revolutionary guards in return for money from Iran. In these areas, not many from the two sides have been killed; instead, following the retreat by Daesh, many Sunnis have been killed by the revolutionary guards and their paid hands.
The extensive presence of the revolutionary guards in Iraq and their shocking atrocities against the Sunnis has created the greatest motive and the vital climate for Daesh to thrive. In tandem, the dominion of the Iranian regime on many political, military and security centers of Iraq and the dominance of political groups associated with Iran have drastically marginalized and suppressed the Sunnis. Through its political and military levers, the Iranian regime prevents the training and arming of Iraqi Sunni tribes in the effort to confront Daesh.
Moreover, there is ample intelligence that in many regions it is the Iranian regime, the IRGC and the Qods Force that are aiding and abetting al-Qaeda and Daesh. Many leaders of al-Qaeda and Daesh were living in Iran and under the control of the Iranian regime. They were sent out by the regime to form the terrorist gangs in Iraq and Syria.
While the U.S. and the international community have not abided by their commitments to secure the protection of members of the Iranian opposition (residents of Ashraf and Camp Liberty), the Iranian regime has done its outmost to suppress and slaughter them in an attempt to do away with its main opposition. Additionally, by suppressing Ashraf and Liberty residents the Iranian regime paves the way for the spread of fundamentalism.
The present crisis in Iraq is a consequence of the Iranian regime’s meddling. Iraq is the richest Arab-Islamic country, as it is the only country that has both abundant oil and water, which are not found together in any other country in the zone. Nonetheless, in the fourteenth year after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq continue to suffer from poverty, starvation and unemployment. The Iraqi people consider the sectarian allocation -- with Iran as its principal beneficiary -- as the cause of the present catastrophic situation and are demanding radical reforms. These reforms are the last chance for Iraq to avert partitioning. If true reforms are implemented in Iraq, the losers will be none other than the Iranian regime, along with the political parties and militias affiliated with it.
Therefore, the Iranian regime is doing its outmost to divert the process of reform and prevent it from taking place. Nouri Al-Maliki, the former Prime Minster and Iranian regime’s cohort, leads the way to prevent any real reform from taking hold in Iraq. The Iranian regime is working to prevent the formation of a technocratic cabinet since it would lose its levers of power in Iraq or find its leverage severely weakened.
In such circumstances, the key political objective of the reforms in Iraq must be to cut off the long arm of the Iranian regime and its elements. Therefore, the international community, the UN Security Council, and the U.S. government have resolutely to halt the Iranian regime’s interference in Iraq if they wish to rein in the crisis in that country and the disintegration of the government. The illusion that the U.S. can bring reforms to Iraq with the help of the Iranian regime and by so doing create
stability and tranquillity is but a mirage. Such cooperation will only strengthen the Iranian regime’s hand against the popular demand for reform and would thus intensify and deepen the crisis in Iraq.
In view of the above, we call on the Security Council to work toward the following goals that are a prerequisite not just for peace and stability in Iraq, but in the entire region:
a. The Council should endorse comprehensive reforms for the formation of a totally technocratic government rid of political parties and factions affiliated with the Iranian regime;
b. The Council should strongly condemn the Iranian regime’s meddling in Iraq and should impose the necessary punishments on Iran for its continued interference;
c. Iraq's judiciary must be reformed and overhauled. The influence of the Iranian regime and Nouri al-Maliki in this apparatus should be eliminated.
d. The militias affiliated with the Iranian regime should be disarmed and evicted from Iraq’s security and military organs;
e. Iraq's Sunni tribes need to be organized on a large scale to confront Daesh without any prejudice;
f. The United States and the international coalition should provide for the security and wellbeing of Camp Liberty residents until they are all transferred out of Iraq to countries of safety.
With Iraq falling into the hands of the Iranian regime, the whole region has been engulfed in crisis and chaos; with its eviction, the path to peace and tranquillity for the entire region will be paved.
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.)
European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA), 1050 Brussels, Belgium
President: Struan Stevenson, Chairman of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014), Members of the board: Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament (1999-2014); Stephen Hughes, 1st Vice-President of European Parliament Socialist Group (2009-2014); Giulio Terzi, Former Foreign Minister of Italy; Ryszard Czarnecki,Vice-President of the European Parliament; Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC; Paulo Casaca MEP (1999-2009); Kimmo Sasi, MP (Finland); and honorary members including Tariq Hashemi, former Vice President of Iraq , Sid Ahmed Ghozali Former Prime Minister of Algeria
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