Which is why he has been pondering over the setting up of a broad-based alliance before the general elections early next year. In doing so, he not only needs to unite all divisive Shia factions on one platform, but also see to it that the minority Sunnis are also brought into the national mainstream. Such an approach can help bring about sectarian and ethnic harmony in a country that has been psychologically Balkanized for quite some time.
Such an initiative should not be politics-specific in nature. Its intention should not be power alone — rather, it should contain the determination to redress the imbalance. Sunnis, for many decades, had enjoyed a privileged status in government jobs and the army, especially under the autocratic rule of Saddam Hussein. In the post-invasion era, with the balance tilting in favour of the Shias, Iraq has undergone violent sectarian and ethnic turmoil. The Shias were earlier subjected to relentless persecution. Capitalizing on such a divisive format, Al Qaeda and the like have had a field day in pushing Iraq deep into the abyss of terrorism and instability. The moment viable sectarian harmony is attained; Iraq will emerge as a strong and progressive Arab nation. It has all the potentials to do so.
Prime Minister Maliki needs to tread the path cautiously. His initiative comes at a time when Sunni extremists have begun a new campaign of bloody attacks on Shia targets. Moreover, the withdrawal of US troops from the urban areas has posed new challenges of peace and security. What Maliki needs to do instantly is to redress the minority’s grievances, both Sunnis and Kurds, and erect in a new social contract. Necessary legislations promising a due share in natural resources and adequate representation in all walks of life can help do away with the inherent mistrust in the affairs of the state.
The endeavour to shun the sectarian emblem is most welcome. It will also help Maliki heave a sigh of relief from the dominant Iranian influence. Obliging the Sunnis and Kurds, and persuading the Shia factions to become part of national mosaic, will be a milestone in history. Maliki’s intentions, howsoever political, contain a national flavour. He only needs to harness his thoughts with patience and wisdom.
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