Don’t Blame Bush or Obama, Blame al-Maliki

For every catastrophe a blame game always ensues and in Iraq, where hardcore Islamist militants are slowly taking over the entire country, the finger pointing has already begun.

The country is in shambles today, with hardcore extremists under the name of ISIS – or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – on the verge of capturing the capital and with it, the entire country as well.

We see this scenario despite President Obama’s speech in 2011 boasting that the US would be pulling troops out of Iraq because the situation is peaceful and they would be leaving behind a sovereign nation.

That description in 2011 is far from the Iraq of today. The situation at present is nowhere near peaceful and is reminiscent of the scenes of the 2003 invasion. Which begs the question: what happened to the gains achieved during almost a decade of occupying and stabilizing Iraq?

The liberal media swiftly put the blame on the invasion by the administration of President Bush. The leftist rhetoric goes that by invading Iraq in the first place the entire region was destabilized and a power vacuum was created for extremists groups to take over.

But they are forgetting that for the invasion to go through it had to go through an approval by the US Congress, wherein 59% of Democrats were in favor of the invasion. That gives them half the blame for the entire fiasco.

Concurrently, on British television the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – Tony Blair – defended the invasion of Iraq and said this current crisis is bound to happen anyway and would be worse if Saddam Hussein was not removed from power.

While it’s true that Saddam was a madman who had to be evicted from power, he also excelled at keeping an iron fist and maintained order in Iraq. He was also distrustful of Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, contrary to theories suggesting that the latter formed an alliance with the Iraqi dictator.

Let’s not also forget that the Coalition that invaded Iraq disbanded the Iraqi defense forces, who at that time were among the most disciplined and advanced in the world, which is often cited as the ‘biggest mistake’ in this saga. If the Iraqi army was kept in place, insurgent groups would not have had the chance to gain this much strength to attack.

Both sides of the argument merit their own points, but the fact still remains that Iraq is in a complete disarray and there has to be an underlying cause for it.

It’s no secret that the Western media can be narcissistic, hence their accusations limited among themselves as well. The truth is that President Obama was technically correct in 2011: Iraq was stabilizing, albeit sporadic assaults from militant groups the government showed signs it was prepared to run an entire nation and the military looked well-equipped to handle external threats.

The only reason this once war-ravaged nation was showing promise to be a legitimate, sovereign nation was because its’ stakeholders were at a compromise. Iraq’s two largest religious groups – the Shia and the Sunnis – had been in truce thanks to a treaty that gave the Saddam-oppressed Shia sect power as long as they made their administration inclusive of Sunnis and other factions as well.

Sectarian conflict between these two Islamic sects has always been the problem for Iraq, in fact it was due to Saddam Hussein’s oppression of the Shia majority that made the 2003 invasion of Iraq popular and garnered support of many Iraqis.

A check-and-balance system was put in place before the Americans left, ensuring that no single sectarian group could dominate the entirety of Iraqi governance and democracy would flourish.

Sadly however, this current Iraqi Prime Minister by the name of Nouri al-Maliki has become the Shia version of Saddam Hussein, turning on the terms of that truce and being impartial towards the Sunnis.

He has been accused of cronyism and nepotism, as well as deliberately excluding Sunni politicians from any decision-making rendering the check-and-balance system pointless.

Maliki has sought to convict Sunni politicians and figureheads for dodgy criminal allegations. His former vice-president, Tareq al-Hashemi was sentenced to death for murder charges and had to flee Iraq. The Minister of Finance, Raffi al-Isawi, was also slapped with criminal charges and his bodyguards were tortured.

He has also failed to integrate Sunni militias as full Iraqi soldiers and neglected to devise a revenue-sharing scheme for oil profits with Sunni regions.

In other words, al-Maliki is divisive and it is his alienating policies which has provoked moderate and peace-loving Sunni Muslims to support extremist groups and push the nation into the brink of a civil war.

Not invading Iraq in 2003 and letting Saddam stay in power to infuriate the Shia majority would only see a reverse scenario where it is the Shia provoked taking up arms against Sunnis. Hence Tony Blair was right, the fault does not rely solely on them.

Today the country faces dark days ahead, as hundreds of thousands of civilians flee and the United States is pondering of returning military presence in the country. Which is a shame, because one point six years ago the nation had a golden opportunity to seize the destiny meant for them as a wealthy oil-producing nation.

Yet if Nouri al-Maliki is the only wedge that is blocking Iraq from uniting then perhaps his immediate resignation would help ease the scenario. But of course, as history have taught us, getting rid of the dictator does not guarantee peace.

Although it’s good to set the record straight and know just exactly who caused pandemonium to break loose.

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