19 October 2017
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PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release 5 March 2017

 EIFA strongly condemns Iraq's membership of the

UN Human Rights Council

 

The European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) strongly condemns Iraq's membership of the UN Human Rights Council. This will seriously harm the cause of human rights in the world today as Iraq  is practically under the control of the theocratic dictatorship ruling Iran and according to the reports of the United Nations and international human rights organizations, its judiciary is influenced by political factions and collective and arbitrary executions are carried out on a daily basis. On the international stage, Iraq continually supports the crimes of the Iranian regime.

According to the IRNA state-run news agency, Abbas Araghchi, the Iranian regime’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, in a meeting with Iraq’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ibrahim Jafari, on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council, “praised Iraq’s positions in opposing anti-Iranian resolutions in the General Assembly and the Council." In return, Ibrahim Jafari said: "The government and people of Iran are victims of terrorism, including the Mojahedin (PMOI/MEK). .... Iraq continues to oppose political moves against Iran in the field of human rights. " (IRNA, March 1, 2017).

Jafari accuses the main Iranian opposition PMOI of terrorism, while this movement has itself been the largest victim of state terrorism in Iran and Iraq. The Iraqi government at the behest of Tehran, in three bloody attacks on defenceless Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf and four deadly attacks on Camp Liberty, killed a large number of PMOI members.

Iraq prevented the transfer of over $550 million worth of Ashraf residents’ property and assets and tens of millions of dollars from Camp Liberty and despite promises from the US and the UN, did not allow the sale of even a single dollar’s worth of property, all of which has been looted and stolen by the Iraqi regime.

The US and UN, who were responsible for the safety and security of Ashraf and Liberty residents, must convince Iraq to return the property of the residents or its equivalent value to them so that they can cover their heavy and crippling living costs in Albania.

War and insecurity in the region began with the opening of Iraq’s doors to the mullahs after the US invasion of Iraq, and culminated with offering Iraq to Iran's rulers on a silver platter. Today the United States can restore peace and tranquillity to the region only by taking Iraq back from the clutches of the Iranian tyrants and returning it to the people of Iraq.

 

Struan Stevenson

President

European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)

 

 

 

Struan Stevenson was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), President of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and Chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is a lecturer on Middle East policy and President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).

 

 

Published in Press Releases
Monday, 28 July 2014 21:08

Let Sunnis Defeat Iraq’s Militants

The New York Times

ERBIL, Iraq  -   THE situation in Iraq today is perilous, particularly for Sunni Muslim Arabs. Their prospects for inclusion in Iraq’s government and fair treatment from it have been declining since 2010, when Iraqiyya, the nonsectarian coalition to which we belonged, drew more votes than any other parliamentary bloc but was denied a chance to form a government. We might not have succeeded, but letting us try would have built public trust in democracy.

Instead, Iran and the United States used their influence to insist that Nuri Kamal al-Maliki remain prime minister. A sectarian-minded Shiite Muslim with authoritarian tendencies, he also pressured Iraq’s judiciary to decide in his favor. Since then, Mr. Maliki has detained thousands of Sunnis without trial; pushed leading Sunnis out of the political arena by accusing them of terrorism; stopped paying members of the Sunni Awakening, the movement that fought Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007; and labeled all Sunnis as terrorists.

A request by provincial councils in Salahuddin, Diyala and Nineveh to hold votes on how to reorganize as more autonomous regions — as the Constitution allows — was rejected, and for a year peaceful Sunni protests were met by violence. As Iraqi security forces killed dozens of unarmed protesters, Mr. Maliki again bent the judiciary to his will, leaving Sunnis to feel they could not receive justice.

Now the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has burst onto the stage well organized and funded: In Falluja early this year, then Mosul last month, it seized territory, claiming to defend Sunnis against Mr. Maliki’s Iranian-backed government.RAFE AL-ESSAWIATHEEL al-NUJAIFI

The group’s ideology is a perversion of Islam and an affront to our culture. Yet the group gets local support. The Sunni tribes defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq, its predecessor, less than a decade ago. Today, they cooperate with ISIS (which now calls itself the Islamic State) — not as fanatics, but because they see it as the lesser of two evils, compared with Mr. Maliki.

Meanwhile, the government murders Sunni detainees and bombs civilian areas. The killing of Sunnis by Iranian-backed Shiite militias and the presence of Iranian military advisers on the ground deepen suspicion that Iraq’s government serves Iran, not Iraqis. This pushes more Sunnis toward ISIS, increasing the threat it poses to Iraq’s people and neighbors.

But Iraqis can change that. First, we need a new prime minister. The Shiite parties must nominate a replacement for Mr. Maliki; there are a number of capable candidates. Iraqi politicians also must agree on a new balance between central authority and regional autonomy. The formula should include arrangements satisfactory to Iraq’s Kurds, who already have considerable local power; increased decentralization for the rest of the country; and a new arrangement for managing and sharing the proceeds of Iraq’s natural resources, particularly oil. Any agreement must include amnesty for the tens of thousands of Sunnis detained without trial, the release from detention of the Sunni politician Ahmed al-Alwani, the end of the counterproductive de-Baathification program, and the repealing of the counterterrorism law, which has been used as a pretext to arrest Mr. Maliki’s Sunni rivals.

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In addition, Parliament must reverse Mr. Maliki’s politicization of the security forces and establish new local forces to safeguard the population in Sunni areas, modeled after the Kurdish pesh merga. Only Sunni forces, with local support, can defeat ISIS in the areas it has seized.

The only armed forces permitted in Iraq would be those officially sanctioned by the government. ISIS would be banned as a terrorist group; so would Iranian-backed Shiite militias like Asaib al-Haq, Kataib Hezbollah and the Badr Corps.

America’s support is crucial. A senior American official — someone who has worked with our politicians, tribes and reconcilable insurgent groups — should be appointed to reach out to Iraqi Sunni leaders in and outside the country. We also need assistance to reform the Iraqi security forces, in which America invested so heavily. The framework remains, but the command and control structure must be restored. Americans can also help vet Sunni recruits for the local forces.

Lastly, a regional conference should address the threat to nation-states like Iraq caused by nonstate forces like the ISIS and Shiite militias. Another concern is the hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqis. The government has given help to displaced Shiites but not to Sunnis, who have gotten help from Saudi Arabia and the Kurdish regional government.

Above all, we must move quickly. ISIS keeps recruiting in Nineveh, and threatening anyone who won’t pledge loyalty. It has displaced Christians from a province where they lived peacefully with Muslims for over 1,400 years. But our diverse peoples can live together in harmony, as they have in the past, and it is imperative that Iraq’s leaders start now to build institutions to assure that.

Despite the horrors of our recent history, we can pass through this difficult period — with help from our American friends.

Rafe al-Essawi is a former finance minister and deputy prime minister of Iraq. Atheel al-Nujaifi is the governor of Nineveh, a northern Iraqi province.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/opinion/Let-Sunnis-Defeat-Iraqs-Militants.html?_r=1



Published in Articles

Speaking at the annual rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Dr Alejo Vidal-Quadras, vice president of the European Parliament (1999-2014), compared the media coverage of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in 2003, which drove the US military into a decade-long war in Iraq.

Rejecting the notion that the Iraqi uprising is driven solely by sectarian motives, much less by extremism, Vidal-Quadras assured the crowd that majority of the people fighting the Maliki government want only to remove him from power and to have a nation defined by democracy and freedom.

The message of many participants and speakers at Friday’s event was that such freedom in Iraq can never been achieved as long as its government remains allied with the Iranian regime. Presenters such as former US Speaker of the House declared in no uncertain terms that Maliki is simply “Iran’s puppet.”

The US officials including Secretary of State John Kerry have signaled that they may be willing to cooperate with Iran to confront what are perceived as common interests in Iraq.

Earlier in the rally’s program, US Army General George Casey, who commanded the US forces in Iraq for several years flatly dismissed this notion of shared interests, claiming instead that “The Iranian regime will be destabilizing the region for some time to come.”

While Vidal-Quadras suggests that ISIS is not a significant portion of the conflict in Iraq, many analysts have concluded that the extremist wing of the conflict has actually grown in response to the Shiite threat that is headed by the Iranian regime. These two claims are not mutually exclusive.

In attendance at Fridays event were two delegations unique to this year’s event: one from the moderate Iraqi resistance and one from the moderate Syrian resistance.

So long as these groups do define the conflict and are not overtaken by the extremist fringe, according to Vidal-Quadras, “democracy in Iraq triggers the destruction of fundamentalism.”

Published in News

Aljazeera TV- June 20, 2014 (Translated from Arabic)

Muzhir al-Qaisi:Today the revolutionaries from the Iraq tribes have flared up the flame of a revolution that will never be extinguished. This revolution started when our people demanded their legal rights and based on the constitution they resorted to sit-ins. However, They were responded with fire and iron. As a result, weapon was chosen as the last shelter for implementing our demand. But thanks God and thanks to our social grassroots that are growing day by day, we managed to take control over Mosul, Salahaddin, Fallujah, Garma, Biji and most of northern areas, and we are now near Baghdad’s walls and its surroundings, meaning Baghdad’s belt.

Q: What draw you to this point? I mean from the self-defense stage to the stage of controlling over areas in north of Iraq.

Muzhir al-Qaisi: It was Maliki who draw us to this stage. It was Maliki who forced us to do so. When he dispatched his military units to our areas and set up checkpoints, the goal was to create horror among the people.

Q: When we say there is control over these areas, it is not just on behalf of tribe’s armed men, rather there is ISIL too. To what extend this organization has control over areas that are under the control of tribe’s armed men? (If I put it this way) have influence on?

Muzhir al-Qaisi: In fact ISIL exists and nobody can deny them … but this revolution, is not that organization’s revolution, rather it is the revolution of tribes who have risen up against tyranny, and Military Councils are part of those risen forces.

Q: To what extent the tribes are in contact with ISIL? Is there a direct relationship and is there coordination?

Mozhar al-Qaisi: There is no coordination or relationship. As I said, this organization exists and it has some combatants and has some places where it has movements, but this revolution is a tribal revolution and this is something that we want to let the whole world know. This revolution is a new Iraqi spring. This is an armed revolution to end tyranny and has no relations with any other plan or program; it has no relations with terrorism or any other party. This is a revolution of genuine Iraq’s tribes who have risen up against a tyrannical government.

Q: What is your evaluation of the number and strength of ISIL organization?

Muzhir al-Qaisi: We are not in contact with them to know their number. This number and this magnification of the number of combatants has not been mentioned by any official news agency or by any official side or military side. But what I wanted to say is no matter how big the number of any armed force may be, is it comparable to the tribes’ population? That is the whole people of Iraq. It is not comparable at all. The tribes are the people of this country and the inhabitants of these same cities that have been freed. They have taken arms to defend their cities and beliefs. The size of other organizations that claim are with the revolutionaries or the revolution, no matter how big it is and how many organizations, their size cannot be as big as the size of masses’ revolution.

Q: Do you treat ISIL based on the rule of the enemy of your enemy is your friend?

Mozhar al-Qaisi: Never. We are bound to the nation’s goals. Our weapons have been given to us by our people. There might be numerous guns pointed at the main target, but it doesn’t mean that there might be coordination and cooperation among them.

Q: So ISIL organization affects your goals?

Muzhir al-Qaisi: Not necessarily, it has no effect. We plan ourselves and we act ourselves…

Q: But now the western community, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Maliki’s government and many parties generalize what is going on in areas under your control and what is being done by the ISIL elements. Does this matter affect what you are trying for and your just rights in the absence of a certain stance on your behalf?

Muzhir al-Qaisi: It sure affects; but we have to think more clearly. There are surely individual treatments these days from this or that which are in contrast with our principles and treatment and even with human rights. But who is spreading such things and attributing them to us. This is a big question. These currents do possess extensive media and propaganda facilities. Let me tell you an example. If you visit U-Tube now, you will find very many clippings footage with specific scenes in them.

Q: Like trampling human rights and shooting in the head and ….

Muzhir al-Qaisi: In order to damage our project. Well do you know that when we post a statement on YouTube, they do not let it be there for more than 48 hours and delete it? Even our publications are deleted on YouTube and are removed... So why these footages remain only this much? Isn’t there anybody to defend them to remain?

Q: What is your position regarding the violations that exist in YouTube right now? What is the position of tribal revolutionaries in this regard?

Muzhir al-Qaisi: We do not agree with any action that is against human rights, from any side. We condemn these actions and reject them. We do not agree with such actions. We don’t agree with trampling rights whatsoever. Others have their own opinion, but we don’t absolutely approve it and do not use it even against our enemies either.

Q: Is it possible for us to witness conflict between the tribes’ revolutionaries and the ISIL like what happened in Syria?

Mozhar al-Qaisi: personally, I hope we do not have to do it.

Q: What solutions do you think may be exist?

Muzhir al-Qaisi: War tactics and philosophies in armed struggles always ended to political solutions. It is not possible that revolutionary movements last without weapon unless; all political goals that they fight for them are achieved. We want to gain this goal with fewer casualties; we were forced to take weapon. We are not alone; we are backed by a people that obliged us to take weapon.

Q: Is Baghdad among your goals? What is your plan?

Muzhir al-Qaisi: we have planned for regime change and its overthrow, if overthrowing the regime requires overthrowing its army and militants that have entrenched in Baghdad, and when it is appropriate, this goal would be in our planning and our priorities. Today, we try to eliminate the tyranny imposed on Iraqis. I would like to repeat that we are not warmongers. We do not try for fighting; we do not want more casualties, either in governmental army consisting of militants or those civilians that are trapped in fire line. So, I am saying that we have planned for everything; the initiative is at our hand. We determine the timeline and extend of the assault.

Q: Saudi Arabia has issued a statement about Iraq’s development, how do you look at Gulf States’ position toward Iraq’s crisis?

Muzhir al-Qaisi: We welcome this position; however, it is late and too late. We have been marginalized for a long time. I am saying that on TV, we are not representative of one sector of the society. We are the representative of all Iraqi people; all Iraqis are important for us. Maybe, one sector of the society has endured more tyranny than the other sectors, because it has been targeted in a larger project, a project that comes from Iran. Iran intends to change the demographic composition and also demographic map in the region to approach Mediterranean. We do not ask these countries for help, except their approval and paying attention to our demands.

We seek a democratic Iraq that all people enjoy democracy with an elected government ruling people; where people live in justice, live with each other and protect Iraq’s unity. We do not accept any disintegration, neither geographic nor social.

Published in News

By Struan Stevenson MEP, is President of European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq

BRUSSELS, June 14 (UPI) --The popular uprising continues unabated in Iraq, with the successive liberation of its cities and the collapse of Maliki's forces as they retreat and desert en mass in the face of coordinated tribal opposition.

Following the shock of dramatic changes that have taken place with lightening speed, a question keeps surfacing: Is what we are witnessing in Iraq an uprising by Iraqis or an attack by a terrorist group?

Maliki and his patrons in Tehran are insistent on the claim that regions of Iraq have fallen into the hands of extremist terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL). But this claim is ludicrous and defies logic. The liberation of approximately 100,000 square kilometers of Iraqi territory with a population of several million in a matter of a few days could not possibly be the work of an isolated extremist group with no more than several thousand, and probably no more than several hundred members. There are increasingly many indications that it is tribes and ordinary Iraqi citizens who have risen up in anger against Maliki.

The contrary claim is not the result of a simple misunderstanding of the situation, but has clear ulterior motives. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, Maliki and the Iranian regime are attempting to justify the interference of the Iranian terrorist Qods Force and the invasion of Iraq by the revolutionary guards. At the same time, they are trying to encourage the United States to militarily interfere in favor of Maliki, in an even more dangerous repeat of its previous blunder in Iraq.

This angle on the latest developments is very revealing. The Iranian regime is now poised to save Maliki. In a telephone conversation, President Hassan Rouhani has promised Maliki every kind of cooperation. Fox News wrote on June 13: "Some 150 fighters from the Revolutionary Guards elite Quds force have already been dispatched by Tehran, and the division's powerful commander, Qassem Suleimani, met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Thursday and pledged to send two notorious Iranian brigades to aid in the defense of Baghdad."

On June 12, the Wall Street Journal wrote: "At least three battalions of the Quds Forces, the elite overseas branch of the Guards, were dispatched to aid in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, an offshoot of al Qaeda rapidly gaining territory across Iraq." The article went on: "One Guards unit that was already in Iraq fought alongside the Iraqi army, offering guerrilla warfare advice and tactics and helped reclaim most of the city of Tikrit on Thursday; two Guards' units, dispatched from Iran's western border provinces on Wednesday, were tasked with protecting Baghdad and the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf."

One can safely assume that this is only a partial reflection of the reality regarding Tehran's direct involvement to save Maliki.

In addition to the IRGC, Maliki is using the paramilitary forces associated with the Iranian regime
such as Asai'b Ahl al-Haq and Kata'eb Hezbollah to suppress the popular uprising.

Reports on Nineveh and Salahaddin provinces filed by journalists from CNN, al-Jazeera and BBC, among others, supported the claim that no violence or aggression has been carried out against the indigenous population. This does not fit the pattern of random violence and spread of intimidation that is the trademark of terrorist groups. The residents of these areas are happy that Maliki's forces have fled and public and private properties now enjoy relative security. The mass exodus of refugees from these cities is due to the bombardment by Maliki's forces, although 48 hours after the liberation of Nineveh, the wave of refugees has markedly ebbed and some have already begun to return.

Yesterday, in its 12-article statement, the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, which plays an important role in developments in the country, called on the insurgents to treat people well, help solve their problems, treat the ethnic groups well, refrain from taking hostages, forgive and forget, and treat believers of all religions without prejudice. In this framework, the armed tribes refrained from entering Samarra in Salahaddin Province where the shrine of two Shiite Imams is located.

They are instead trying to gain control of the city through negotiations with the government forces in order to prevent any killings and bloodshed.

What we are witnessing in Iraq is the eruption of years of popular loathing and disillusionment brought on by Maliki and his clique. The West in general and the US in particular facilitated Maliki's ascent to power. So it is time for us to see the bitter reality as it is. Maliki has been a total failure, a disaster. The more he insists on staying in power, the more the Iraqi political system will become a quagmire.

In order to avert further bloodshed in Iraq, Maliki must be removed from power, Iranian meddling in the country must come to an end, and the international community must oversee the formation of a nationalist, democratic and non-sectarian government that encompasses all segments of Iraqi society. This solution is widely supported by Iraqi nationalistic and democratic forces. Instead of assisting Maliki, which would only lead to more blood being spilled, the United States and the European Union should force Maliki to accept the only viable solution and immediately step down from power.

Struan Stevenson MEP, is President of European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq

See Also On UPI(United Press International)

Published in Articles
Monday, 16 June 2014 00:00

Iraq's Revolution

By Struan Stevenson 


The current uprising in Iraq has come as no surprise to those of us who have watched the deteriorating situation over the past 18 months. Residents of six Sunni provinces of Iraq staged sit-ins in December 2012 to protest against widespread repression and executions by the government of Nouri-al-Maliki. The Shiite Prime Minister completely reneged on all of his commitments and agreements after assuming the US-brokered Premiership in 2010, thus fuelling sectarian strife by purging and marginalizing Sunnis and Kurds. The peaceful protests in Sunni provinces and in parts of Baghdad were confronted by suppression and lethal attacks by the Iraqi military under direct orders from Maliki. If the early warnings were not enough for the West, they were enough for people and tribes in these provinces, especially al-Anbar, who have been forced to defend themselves.

Many of Iraq's wounds are self-inflicted, resulting from failed political leadership. The World Bank lists Iraq as having one of the worst qualities of governance in the world. 'Transparency International' lists Iraq as one of the world's most corrupt countries. It has a dreadful human rights record and now is in third place after only China and neighbouring Iran in the number of people it executes. In spite of vast oil revenues, per capita income is only $1,000 per year, making it one of the world's poorest countries.
Nouri al-Maliki has focused all of his efforts on remaining in power, steadily becoming more authoritarian and repressive and implementing sectarian policies that led directly to ethnic polarisation. By tightly controlling the military and security forces from his own office, he has ensured that the very forces that could have guaranteed stability and an end to conflict have contributed to the exact opposite.

He has used those forces, with direct assistance from the fascist Iranian regime, repeatedly to attack, kidnap and murder the innocent and defenceless minorities in some of Iraq's major provinces. The predictable result has been a violent reaction by these citizens, notably the Sunnis and the alienation and growing disillusion of the Kurds. Maliki's genocidal campaign against the Sunni population of al-Anbar province has raged on for many months, inevitably sucking in spillover elements from the Syrian civil war, including factions of Al Qaeda and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq & Greater Syria), who have capitalized on the fear and loathing of Maliki by the Sunni population.

Neither is it surprising that the popular uprising of the Sunnis followed immediately after the Iraqi elections, which were held on 30th April. It is widely believed that the results of the election are a sham. Few people accept that Maliki's 'State of Law' Party could have won 92 seats - three more than last time - following years of violence, venal corruption, repression and economic failure. There is also considerable skepticism about the alleged 62% turnout at the elections. With vicious shelling and barrel bomb attacks on schools, hospitals and civilian targets in Fallujah and Ramadi and more than 4,000 deaths so far this year in Iraq, many political leaders think that such a large voter turnout was a fiction.

Political leaders in Iraq have also expressed their dismay at widespread vote rigging during the elections. Ayad Allawi, leader of al Iraqiya, claimed that two million ballot papers were missing, raising deep suspicions that major electoral fraud took place. News that all Iraqi police and army personnel were issued with two ballot papers each, one in their camps and the other sent to their homes, compounded fears that the election was rigged.

The tribes-people of al-Anbar, Nineveh and Salahuddin decided enough was enough! They rose up in anger and frustration against Maliki's military forces whose troops quickly threw down their weapons, tore off their uniforms and fled. In a panic, Maliki claimed that terrorists had taken over Iraq's second largest city Mosul, pleading with the US for military intervention. He even invited Iran to send additional aid to bolster their elite Revolutionary guards Corps (IRGC) and terrorist QUDS force who are already on the ground in Iraq.

For the mullahs in Tehran, the fall of Maliki and his replacement with a non-sectarian, fully democratic government in Baghdad would be anathema and the Iranian President Rouhani has already stated that he will intervene in Iraq to stop the terrorists.

There is no doubt that the disruption and mistakes made by the US and UK following the 2003 invasion have contributed to Iraq's current predicament and its years of failed governance. Constant interference and manipulation by Iran has exacerbated this situation and helped to divide the nation further. The US, UN and the EU must now face up to their responsibilities. Instead of helping Maliki, they should insist on his replacement by a non-sectarian Prime Minister who can lead a government of all the Iraqi people. Iraq's survival depends on the willingness of its leaders to turn away from a narrow focus on their own power, wealth, ethnicity and faction.

Published in Articles
Tuesday, 24 June 2014 00:59

U.S.-Iraq, all over again

By Struan Stevenson, McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 6:30 am


Will Washington make the same mistake on Iraq twice?
We tried to evade it, and pretend the crisis is over or never really existed. But as John Adams said: “Facts are stubborn things.”
Iraq, a war-torn country that preoccupied all of our minds throughout the first decade of the 21st century, but that we tried to forget in the last few years, is now at a serious turning point and with it the West is once again at a major geopolitical crossroad.
While the world was focusing on some other troubled areas, residents of six Sunni provinces of Iraq staged sit-ins in December 2012 to protest widespread repression and executions by the government of Nouri al-Maliki. The Shiite prime minister completely reneged on all of his commitments and agreements after assuming the U.S.-brokered premiership in 2010, thus fueling sectarian strife by purging and marginalizing Sunnis and Kurds.
The abuse of human rights and women’s rights became rampant (Iraq has the third-highest number of executions in the world). Corruption was commonplace, sectarian violence a daily staple.
During the same period, Maliki grew closer than ever to Tehran’s ayatollahs and followed their policy initiatives even on regional issues like supporting Bashar al-Assad in his brutal massacre of Syrian civilians. The bitter reality is that after the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the Iranian regime filled the power vacuum in Iraq. In service of that new power, Maliki repeatedly attacked unarmed Iranian refugees, members of the opposition group — the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran — at Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.
The peaceful protests in Sunni provinces and in parts of Baghdad were confronted by suppression and lethal attacks by the Iraqi military under direct orders from Maliki. If the early warnings were not enough for the West, they were enough for people and tribes in these provinces, especially al-Anbar, who have been forced to defend themselves.
Maliki resorted to the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians with barrel bombs, missile strikes and repeated air attacks in these areas. According to scores of witnesses, these operations are carried on under the command and monitoring of the Iranian regime’s Quds Force, the extraterritorial arm of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The recent elections further exacerbated the crisis, since they were neither free nor fair. While most of the Iraqi political factions oppose Maliki, he is desperately trying to buy or bribe his way to becoming prime minister for a third consecutive term, as well as relying on intimidation and threats and the support he receives from Iran.
In the last phase of this saga, reacting to the continuing attacks and oppression, the Iraqi people and tribes took control of Nineveh province and Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. They released hundreds of political prisoners and drove out the Iraqi military, routing forces in Nineveh and more than half of Salahadin Province, with additional fighting reported near Baghdad.
Maliki misleadingly pretends that the terrorists, particularly the group known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have taken control of Nineveh province. Such assertions serve to pave the way for bombings and missile attacks that can be dubiously justified to the West. Maliki has also asked Iraq’s neighboring countries to help him suppress the so-called terrorists in these areas.
This is tantamount to an open invitation to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Quds force to intervene. While there is no doubt that elements of ISIS from Syria have infiltrated this popular uprising, the majority of the forces opposing Maliki’s beleaguered military are local tribesmen and members of the Sunni population.
There are reports that Mosul has been relatively calm and some resemblance of normalcy has come back since its takeover by the insurgents, a fact that defies Baghdad’s claim regarding the terrorist nature of the uprising. Also, it seems that the advancing insurgents are refraining from taking over the holy city of Samara, where the majority of residents are Sunni, but Shiite shrines are located there and any armed conflict would enable the Iraqi government to beat the drums of ethnic strife.
The current crisis has escalated, which was not foreseen by the Western capitals. No one can predict the exact future trend of events, but if one is interested in preventing Iraq from falling into a complete civil war, the crisis can only be resolved by an urgent change of leadership. The first step toward this change would be the ousting of Maliki, who has turned into a totalitarian dictator monopolizing power and capital under his control.
This should be followed with the complete eviction of the Iranian regime from Iraq, through the creation of a national and democratic government that rejects sectarian tendencies and represents all parts of Iraqi society. The Western countries, in particular the United States and the European Union should stand with the Iraqi people in order to realize this goal and to avoid providing any further support for Maliki.
Western countries, especially the United States, Great Britain and other countries that played a key role in toppling Saddam Hussein, bear serious responsibility for the current situation. For the last eight years the United States has provided unilateral support to Maliki and has maintained silence about his atrocities against Iraqi citizens, particularly the Sunni population and other religious and ethnic minorities as well as foreign refugees.
The United States has also turned a blind eye to the increasing domination of the Iranian regime in Iraq, which has played a major role in creating the current crisis. The United States and Russia have been supplying Maliki with arms to help him suppress the popular uprising, on the false assumption that it is being led by ISIS and al-Qaida. This should come to an end immediately.
Developments in Iraq have dramatically affected the entire region. For example, if a national government, not dominated by Iran, were in place in Iraq, Bashar Assad would have fallen long ago. This crisis presents the West with its latest opportunity to reinvigorate its failed policy in the Middle East. As ironic as it may seem, Iraq is a good place to start. Washington effectively missed its opportunity to stabilize the country in the past, but an opportunity to do so has presented itself once again. Will Washington make the same mistake twice?
Struan Stevenson is a Conservative Euro member of parliament for Scotland and is president of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq.

Published in Articles

At a time that the international community has broadly concluded that the removal of Maliki and the establishment of an inclusive nationalist government is the only solution to Iraq's present crisis, the Iranian regime has summoned all its might to save him.

1. The U.S. government has acknowledged that Maliki himself is the main cause of the current crisis. 
AP reported that on June 19 those who were working to remove Maliki from power "received a massive boost from President Barack Obama. The U.S. leader stopped short of calling for Nouri al-Maliki to resign, saying ‘it`s not our job to choose Iraq`s leaders’. But, his carefully worded comments did all but that. ‘Only leaders that can govern with an inclusive agenda are going to be able to truly bring the Iraqi people together and help them through this crisis,’ Obama declared at the White House." 
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking at a senate hearing on June 18, said: “This current government in Iraq has never fulfilled the commitments it made to bring a unity government together with the Sunnis, the Kurds and the Shia”. And General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the hearing, “he is disappointed by the siege of the militants in Iraq… Iraq's leaders failed to unite for the good of their people”.
The White House spokesman Jay Carney said on the same day that Maliki had not done enough “to govern inclusively and that has contributed to the situation and the crisis that we have today in Iraq”.
2. Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton told CNN on June 18: “Maliki forced out a lot of the commanders who were the most able commanders….. I know that the commander of the Quds Force is in Baghdad right now, meeting with Maliki and his advisers and supporters. They want to do for him what they did for Assad, namely… to envelop Maliki in the Iranian embrace, maybe even use their own troops in Iraq, as they did in Syria.”
3. Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, said on June 20 that France is hoping to see a nationalist unity government in Iraq which may be formed with or without Nouri al Maliki who has not only refused to unify with the Sunni groups, but has prosecuted them as well.
4. This same perception prevails in the U.S. House and Senate that as long as Maliki is in power this crisis can only deepen. 
Senator Feinstein (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told the Defense Secretary: “The Maliki government, candidly, has got to go if you want any reconciliation”.
And Senator McCain (R-AZ) urged Obama to “make it very clear to Maliki that his time is up”.
5. United States generals who have been involved in Iraq since 2003 offer the same opinion. General Petraeus, former Director of the CIA and former Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq, endorsed the need for “a government of all the people that is representative of, and responsive to, all elements of Iraq” and said, “This cannot be the United States being the air force for Shiite militias, or a Shiite on Sunni Arab fight.”
General Garner, the first civil governor of Iraq after the occupation of that country said, “we turned our backs on the Sunnis, who helped us in 2007-2008. Then we backed Maliki in 2010 with full knowledge that he's going to disenfranchise the Kurds, persecute the Sunnis and was really a puppet of the Iranians”
6. Countries in the region are also on the same page looking at the situation. Reuters reported on June 16: 
“In the government statement, Riyadh said it was necessary to ‘preserve Iraq's sovereignty’ and rejected any outside interference in Baghdad's internal affairs. It also urged the ‘quick formation of a national consensus government’. The crisis ‘would not have happened if it wasn't for the sectarian and exclusionary policies that were practiced in Iraq in past years and which threatened its security, stability and sovereignty’, official news agency SPA cited Information Minister Abdulaziz Khoja as saying.
“Earlier on Monday, Qatar's foreign minister blamed the ‘narrow’ Shiite sectarianism of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government in Baghdad for the crisis.
“On June 18th King Abdullah of Jordan highlighted, ‘the necessity to preserve the unity and stability of Iraq through a political process comprising all the components of the Iraqi people without exception".
7. Iraqi leaders also emphasize the same facts. Ayatollah Sistani, the Shia supreme religious leader, criticized Maliki for the first time and through his representative on June 20 and called for “the formation of an active government that enjoys widespread national support to correct the past mistakes and open a new horizon to all Iraqi people for a better future”. 
President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani stated on June 18: “For a long time I have been warning that the situation in Iraq is on the edge of a precipice due to the flawed and exclusionary policies of those who have taken over all power in Baghdad. And presently these same people are directly responsible for this situation. … Since 2003 we have been against driving the Sunnis to the sidelines.” 
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told VOA: “We need to establish a national unity government; a government to rebuild; a government that has a two-fold responsibility. First, an immediate reconciliation in the country… Second, the establishment of non-sectarian institutions to be eventually transformed into a credible government that would encompass all Iraqis irrespective of their religious beliefs and their ethnic backgrounds… Regretfully, U.S. surrendered Iraq to Iran. In 2010, the United States and Iran were against the winner of the elections to form the government which was the Iraqiya Party -- composed of Shiites and Sunnis. There we had a real opportunity but we missed it.”
8. In such conditions, the Iranian regime is doing its outmost politically and militarily to save Maliki. Ali Akbar Velayatee - the advisor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told VOA on June 20: “Iran has offered assistance to Iraq. Any assistance that Nouri al Maliki’s government, as the lawful representative of Iraq, would request, we shall oblige without any restrictions… Iran trained the Syrian army and can do the same in Iraq.” Velayatee said that he has known Maliki for 30 years and that compared to others, he is the most capable leader in Iraq and as such all groups ought to help him out.
9. Khamenei has ordered the terrorist Qods Force to employ its command resources for the suppression of the Iraqi people and to save the Iraqi prime minister. Khamenei has stated that hegemony over Iraq is of strategic importance for Iran and that the governance of a ‘Shiite government’ in that country plays a decisive role in the survival of his regime and that the “defeat of Maliki will be a strategic setback for the Islamic Republic system”.
Qassem Soleimani, the Commander of the notorious Qods Force, together with 200 Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officers of various ranks, are stationed in Iraq to supervise the developments up close. These elements, along with the Iranian regime’s Iraqi paid hands such as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Kata’eb Hezbollah, are inspecting different places in Diyala and Salahaddin. 
Previously, we have stated time and again that the Iranian regime and its puppet prime minister Maliki, are the main sources of the problems in Iraq and through genocide of the Sunnis, the barbaric suppression of dissidents and prevalent state corruption, have left the country in ruins and are pushing it to an internal sectarian war. We also constantly reminded that any election conducted by Maliki would be neither free nor fair. We had called for ending the meddling of the Iranian regime in Iraq, the removal of Maliki from power, the formation of an inclusive government, and the holding of elections under UN supervision. This had been the will of the Iraqi people for a long time and it has been regrettably ignored. Now that it is abundantly clear that any solution requires Maliki’s removal, the USA and the EU should cease all assistance to him, not allowing him to prolong the war and genocidal massacre of his own people using Western assistance.

Struan Stevenson, MEP 
President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq
President, European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)

22 June 2014

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