Arab states urged to benefit from Iraq's experience

ABU DHABI — Distribution of natural wealth on an equal footing and the differences among political forces on how to root out the already ousted Baath Party can affect the course of democracy in Iraq, according to the former representative of Iraq in the UN, Dr Adnan Pachachi.

By Wael Yousef

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Published: Tue 14 Mar 2006, 10:32 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:29 PM

In a televised address to the 11th Annual Conference of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), currently being held in Abu Dhabi, Pachachi cited the model of Iraq as an example for spreading of democracy in the Arab world.

He spoke in depth on the problems in his country in the second session titled 'Democracy in the Arab World', which was chaired by Emirates News Agency (Wam) Director-General Ibrahim Al Abed.

He described the elections as successful despite being marred by violations. "Despite rigging and other negative occurrences, and insufficient number of international observers due to threats by militiamen, elections were by and large successful," he said.

The recent elections, he said, featured the dominance of sectarian influence. The point is that democracy could not be sustained if people voted for their representatives on ethnic or sectarian lines and not according to their political orientation, he added.

Dr Pachachi voiced concern over three main issues, which could affect democracy in Iraq, on top of which is the federation. "The Iraqi constitution has recognised the right of the Kurds to set up a federal region," he recalled, adding that since the Kurds are different from the Arab majority, they should have a special status and political and cultural rights.

Citing the history, he said the Kurds had set up a government in the north of Iraq over the last 14 years, and we had decided in the constitution the continuity of the federal experience in the north, but there are differences over the implementation of the same in other parts of the country for fear that this would lead to the disintegration and division of Iraq.

The second issue, he said, is the distribution of natural wealth, which the constitution says is the property of all the Iraqi people. The constitution has given a distinctive status to the wealthy and producing provinces provided that the central government should share in running and distributing it. The issue, he explained, required a constitutional amendment to redress the defect.

The third issue, which needs more attention, is the differences among political forces over eliminating the already deposed Al Baath party. The step towards rooting out the deposed regime was taken by the foreign administration, which ran the Iraq affairs immediately after the war. Now many Iraqi citizens believe that it should be abolished for it had exploited the country for long, he pointed out.

He said these matters could be addressed in the constitutional amendments after submitting a report to the Council of representatives. He called upon Arab countries to benefit from the Iraqi experience.

Dr Gary Hart, former US presidential candidate, spoke about the emergence of what he termed "Islamic Fundamentalism and Civil Protest Against the West Post 9/11." He said September 11, energy price increases, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and militancy had brought the wider Arab world to crossroads as to whether to join the larger secular world or reject engagement with Western culture.

On the issue of security, he said its nature must be enlarged to include secretary of livelihood (income), community, environment and energy, as well as security of borders. "This will require a broader vision than simply waging "war on terrorism," he noted.

The hot issue "Political Islam and Terrorism" was the title of the last session, which was presided over by Dr Hassan Al Ansari, Director of the Gulf Studies Centre of Qatar University.

Dr Omar Hamzawi from Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace spoke in depth about the political transformations in the Arab world.

Dr Mohammed bin Ali Koman, Secretary-General of the Arab Interior Ministers Council, ended the session with a lecture on the causes of terrorism in the Arab region, and ways to counter the menace.

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