Saturday,18 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1210, (21 - 27 August 2014)
Saturday,18 August, 2018
Issue 1210, (21 - 27 August 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Unfulfilled dreams

The dream of a peaceful and prosperous Iraq is unlikely to be fulfilled by the new national partnership government, writes Nermeen Al Mufti in Baghdad

Al-Ahram Weekly

Amirli was once a beautiful and quiet town. Located in a valley near Tuz Khormato in Iraq’s Salahuddin province, the town is about 180 km north of Baghdad. Since July, Amirli has become a symbol of bravery as it confronts the jihadists who have laid siege to it.

All the inhabitants of Amirli are Turkmen. Its population used to be 29,000, but with jihadists now occupying the area around the town this has gone down to 18,000. Among the remaining inhabitants are thousands of children, women and elderly people.

In a phone call with the Weekly, Qais Talib, a cameraman from Amirli, said that the humanitarian situation inside the town “is very hard.” As he said, “There is an urgent shortage of food, drinking water, medicine and cooking gas. Every couple of days, a military helicopter comes with supplies, yet these are not enough. Two hundred and fifty children are suffering from malnutrition or sickness because of the unclean drinking water.”

Saygin Bayati, the father of several children, told the Weekly: “The hospital lacks doctors and now has only nurses. We are all ready to defend our town and our lives, however. The young people are doing their best to confront the terror. Indeed, we have become a symbol of bravery.”

In its last statement regarding the situation in Iraq, the UN Security Council mentioned the situation in Amirli, but few now remember the town amidst the ongoing discussions on forming a new Iraqi cabinet.

This has astonished many Iraqis, who wonder why the world has been congratulating Haider Abadi on being named the new prime minister.

Ammar Ali, a professor of political science, told the Weekly, “While tens of thousands of Iraqis, Turkmens from Amirli and minorities are still facing potential genocide, the political blocs, especially the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds, have been releasing their conditions for participation in the coming cabinet.”

According to Ali, the cabinet should be formed by the end of the first week of the coming month.

But Iraqis are not optimistic that the formation of a new government will lead to real change because the Abadi cabinet will be another power-sharing one, albeit under a different name.

While the new government will be a government of national partnership it is expected to be another stagnant administration, as corruption and violence continue to sweep the country.

The humanitarian situation is getting worse: 1.25 million people have been displaced, according to the Ministry of Migration and Immigration; two million according to NGOs. Most of these people are now occupying school buildings in the provinces, but the school year is scheduled to resume in September, meaning that the buildings will be needed for classes.

The displaced, most of whom are Turkmen, refuse to be relocated in the central and southern provinces. Torhan Mufti is a leading Turkmen politician and minister in the cabinet of former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Mufti told the Weekly: “The Turkmen should go back to the cities and towns they were forced from. Relocating them in the central and southern provinces means losing them in the wider population. This is another kind of war against the Turkmens, another step in the genocide targeting them.”

Ahmed Hurmuzu, a Turkmen lawyer, gets angry when the Security Council refers to “Shiite Turkmens.” “The Turkmens have been the targets of the ongoing violence and terror regardless of their sect for years. We do not accept division on a sectarian basis,” he said.

Iraqi Christians have meanwhile begun a campaign urging displaced Christians to refuse the asylum being offered them by many western states. Iraqi activists are trying to convince them to stay in Iraq.

“The Christians are components of the Iraqi nation,” said Aliya Aziz, an activist, adding, “The Christians, Yazidis, Shabaks and other minorities are, with the Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens, the builders of Iraqi civilisation and culture. All of them should stay in the country.”

A further development has been that western reports are predicting that the Iraqi Kurds will announce an independent state after the end of the conflict with the Islamic State (IS) forces.

A Kurdish political analyst, speaking to the Weekly on condition of anonymity, said, “It is our right to dream. But those Kurdish leaders who are speaking about an independent state should know that US President Barack Obama only decided to support the Peshmerga after they lost in their confrontation with the Islamic State (IS) in Sinjar.”

He continued, “Obama wanted to tell them that those who had failed to defend a small town could hardly defend an independent state.”

Princess Uroba Ismael, a leading Yazidi activist and advisor on minority issues in Mosul, said, “What Iraq is suffering now is due to the continuing clashes between the various political blocs, leaving the country at the mercy of crises and problems that encourage the terror.

“The Yazidis who are facing genocide were forced out of Sinjar when the Kurdish forces failed in confronting the IS.”    

Those Iraqis who once dreamed of a new Iraq that would enjoy prosperity have now forgotten their dreams. Meanwhile, the dream of an Iraq living in security has also gone unfulfilled.

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