Ghassan Charbel
Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Kadhimi… Decision, Stability, and Investment

Mustafa Al-Kadhimi cannot be a mere copy of his predecessors. The results do not encourage repetition. He doesn’t belong to the same school. He does not carry on his shoulders partisan weights. His readings are not based on old perceptions about the way the country should be managed.

The years he spent reviewing information and reading between its lines convinced him that the Iraqi situation no longer tolerates more confusion, squandering, loss, and corruption.

He certainly knows that saving the map itself lies in the establishment of a country that deserves to be named as such. There is no hope but in the shadow of a state that safeguards national values, defends its own institutions and protects its land and the dignity of its people.

Only a normal state is the safe bridge for Iraq to connect with the region and the world. Only a serious state can persuade investors to come and to convince ambassadors to abide by the rules governing relations between countries. Iraq needs partnerships, not trusteeships.

Since taking office on May 7, Al-Kadhimi has awakened the talk over a normal state and the battle to search for it. Terms of non-interference in internal affairs returned to the forefront. They were expressed yesterday on the occasion of the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

It is obvious that Kadhimi is dreaming of getting Iraq out of the storm. Residing on the Iran-US line of confrontation has been so tough.

Kadhimi does not carry a project hostile to Iran as a neighbor. Such a project does not solve the problem. It is neither required nor possible.

He is proposing a plan that could strengthen Iraq’s position in dealing with Iran, Turkey, and other surrounding countries. Restoring Iraq’s relations with its Gulf and Arab environment is essential to reinstate the country’s ability to regain its natural position in the Iraqi-Iranian-Turkish balance.

Naturally, this direction would receive understanding and support. Iraq regaining its sovereignty and stability is a Gulf, Arab, and even international need.

Kadhimi knows that fate assigned him an extremely difficult task. The premiership came to him at an explosive time. It is enough to note that the Iraqi year began with the killing of Qassem Soleimani, commander of al-Quds Force, with an American missile on Baghdad’s land.

The mere decision to punish Soleimani personally meant opening a sharper page between Washington and Tehran. It wasn’t surprising to see the Iraqi parliament asking the government to end the presence of coalition forces on Iraqi soil and that militia missiles target military bases accommodating Americans.

This critical period revealed that the policy of “maximum pressure” adopted by the Donald Trump administration has seriously affected the Iranian economy and Tehran’s ability to finance its regional project.

Another aspect has emphasized the difficulty of the Iranian position at the current stage. Successive Israeli attacks on Iranian targets in Syria are turning into a kind of war waged in installments.

Tehran has so far been unable to organize any deterrent response. The Russian presence may be an obstacle on the Syrian soil, but the fear of a broad confrontation in the presence of Trump may be preventing the use of the Lebanese front.

It is no secret that damage has been done to the image of Iran, which has always been threatening to retaliate harshly against anyone who targets it.

That is why Iran is in a high degree of tension. The engagement is open with the outside, and the results of the US presidential elections must be awaited. At home, tension is mounting due to high unemployment rates, the decreasing value of the national currency, and the increasing number of residents who live below the poverty line. The regime fears renewed protests that have no solution other than repression and excessive bloody cruelty.

Along with the difficulties of the Iranian file and Tehran’s open engagement with Washington, Kadhimi inherited a very bad internal situation.

There is no exaggeration in talking about the blatant failure of the governments that came after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The failure to restore the Iraqi decision and the normal relations between the components. The failure to prevent factions and militias from violating the state. The failure to protect electoral practices from the temptation of sectarianism and the power of money.

When people were fed up with the fragmentation of the decision and the daily living difficulties, the killing machine did not hesitate to target activists, as if it announced the rejection of any call for the release of Iraq’s sovereignty, freedom, and stability.

The truth is that Kadhimi is demanding basic rights that Iraq cannot be deprived of. Is Iraq considered rude if it asks to live without regional or international mandates? Is Iraq considered hostile if it demands the neighboring powers to reside within their own maps rather than violating its borders?

Is Iraq considered annoying if it demands to be regarded as the “Iraqi state” and not the “Iraqi arena”? That is no longer a mailbox for regional or international explosive messages?

Iraq needs to succeed in the battle to restore its own decision-making. It needs a drop of stability to open the door for investment and resume the dream of prosperity.