Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

Reestablishing Trust Is a Historical Necessity

Reestablishing Trust Is a Historical Necessity

Saturday, 26 June, 2021 - 11:45
Mustafa al-Kadhimi
Prime Minister of Iraq.

First, we must affirm that, to reestablish trust among Middle Eastern states as a basis, and, on the other hand, trust between our region and the rest of the world is not an easy task. This would not seem such an intractable problem had it not been for the complexities surrounding the region and the discrepancies, divergences, skepticism and divisions that accompanied the course of its development.


Recognizing this reality and its complexities, as well as mapping interests and their political ventures, which use means and tools that do not facilitate the cooling of hotspots of tension and crisis and do not take into consideration the other’s interests or their freedom to choose the path of independent construction and development, is a positive framework for building bridges, a foundation for mutual understanding and respect for all sides’ will and national interest.


This kind of understanding and appreciation for interests does not imply a failure to recognize divergences, and indeed disagreements and a plurality of opinions, ideas and attitudes. This necessarily embodies the strategies states adopt for managing their relationships; the logic with which they deal with emerging crises – especially when interests clash; and the means for building agreements that respect the other’s wishes, particularities and national interests. More importantly, these agreements should develop options for how to lay the foundation for peaceful relations, using the soft power of diplomacy, and avoiding any actions that could turn emerging or emergent crises into a state of confrontation and conflict.


It is regrettable that conflicts have taken an opposite direction to those positive developments, as they have been characterized by a penchant for confrontation and waving challenges, and threatening to bring the region to the brink of chaos. These conflicts have led to the perpetuation of tensions between states of the region, and thus created a climate that encourages interference in the internal affairs of other countries and transforming questions of foreign policy into sources of tension that exacerbate the crises surrounding our region. This has left our countries exhausted as they seek to emerge from their crises and has disrupted the paths to finding solutions that fulfill the aspirations of our peoples and provide what they see to be needed for the improvement of their living conditions and awakening a spirit of optimism and confidence in their future.


There are compelling indications that a positive future is on the horizon for our region, persuading political leaders to begin alleviating the crises that have wreaked havoc on the region, and to make every concerted effort to eliminate them. This requires prioritizing what we share and what unites our peoples, restoring the historical depth and engagement that served as the basis for the production of moral values; scientific and philosophical heritage, and knowledge in language; culture, the arts, and astronomy that enriched human existence and enabled the human civilizations that sprung from it. Humanity was then capable of making the leap towards the shores of the Renaissance and Enlightenment in Europe after it had extracted itself from the Dark Ages.


This region has turned cultural and religious diversity and pluralism into an incubator for human development that is rich in detail and crystallized in its identity, not only for the peoples of our region. This understanding of the direction our region is headed, and the challenges it faces, demands that we agree on a clear and accurate explication of the notions of enemy, friend and neighbor, and that we define what we mean by the common destiny of our peoples and countries. All of this requires concerted efforts, the will to work and the tools needed for the job.


Iraq, as nation and a state, has undergone bitter experiences, the repercussions of which did not only reflect on us but also on the countries of the region, leaving regional and international ramifications no less dangerous that their implications and complications on the Iraqi scene.


Because of the lessons of their historical experiences, our Iraqi people are wary of any deficiency in the region, whether it strikes its balances or its relations. A deficiency in the latter left Iraq, with everything it represents, without regional weight, especially over the past few years, which has certainly had significant implications for the Arab and regional scene, not in isolation but in conjunction with the domestic crises and conflicts that left Iraq on the brink.


We can no longer coexist with such crises, and this is what pushed our Iraqi people to hand us the immense task of healing our national wounds to avert the inflammation and metastasization of this problem. In our pursuit, we realize that the recovery of our beloved Iraq is only a contribution to the wellbeing of our Arab World and its revival.


Among the reasons for our wellbeing in all fields are our unified efforts to fend off our common enemy, after we identified it and confronted it with all means available, uprooting it along with its incubators in our countries and across the region.


It is now clear that this shared enemy of ours is terrorism, with all the forms and faces it adopts, and its takfirism and its misguided offshoots.


Those who live on hate, spite and rejection of the other are foreign to the era they live in. They distort the heritage of the prophet’s Sunna, they take verses from the Book of God, the Quran, and abuse them for their misguided aims, which are an offence to the values of the tolerant Islamic religion. They utilize all methods to mislead and deny every manifestation of tolerance and coexistence, which have been ingrained in the conscience of our peoples over thousands of years by the bonds of love, cooperation and mutual respect among our region’s communities, all of which has been enshrined in the framework of our region’s diversity, and pluralism, leaving humanistic ideals and values prevalent and enriching the heritage of its authentic culture.


We are looking to promote the values of dialogue, forgiveness and sincerity amongst ourselves as peoples and nations, neighbors and friends. Such cohesion can frame an understanding of the world and move towards progress and development at a fast pace, whereby we gain a better understanding of what induces our anxiety about the reasons for our lagging behind other nations and peoples. It is an anxiety that demonstrates the immense gap that leaves us at the bottom of the pecking order of peoples rising to the graces of civilization, and it clearly demonstrates the scale of the challenges facing us and every one of the inability of any one of the countries of the region to confront them alone.


The COVID-19 pandemic has come as an unprecedented warning, confirming the incapacity of the entire world, despite developments in science and technology, to banish the specter of this deadly virus, had it not been for common will to overcome this pandemic. Doubts persist, however, as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic will ever be completely defeated.


In this region, we have endured an absence of common will that unites us, and our countries suffer from various epidemics while lacking the necessary means and capacities to address them.


There is a way to be vigilant, and to remedy the dangers that require us to conjure the strength inherent to the will and determination of our peoples. This will has not failed to make massive sacrifices in defense of our peoples’ dreams, aspirations, values and future.


It is time for us to assert aloud that we, as Arab peoples, deserve to remember our common denominators and our origin, and to support each other in rising to face tomorrow’s challenges – even those unknown to us today.


It is time for us, as peoples with a rich human legacy, to apply our authentic values and expansive religious and cultural heritage brimming with wisdom, and the balance of historical experience, and unite in order to create a state of common civilizational advancement in a manner befitting of our contributions to the enrichment of human civilization.


It has now become necessary for us to interact with our neighbors from other nations, to engage in honest dialogue about our fears and concerns and to listen openly to theirs as well.


These are some of the questions that call upon us as we follow our youth throughout our region racing to expand communication with each other and with the world. In this, the Arab youth is joining generations that preceded in building bridges, and our hope is that their path in this endeavor is more expedient. These youths strive to assimilate the treasures of knowledge, science, culture and human values based on the principles of coexistence and mutual acceptance.


As Iraqis, we are inspired by our authentic values, and we strive to represent the ideas and aspirations of our youth.


From our perspective, this is a defining historical moment in which we observe two basic facts: First, that there is no path to a future in the Middle East without us all joining hands to preserve the dignity of our peoples and future generations’ right to a dignified life that befits us. Secondly, this can only happen by restoring the balances of the region of which Iraq is an essential pillar. Brotherly, neighborly and friendly countries also form the pillars of our common home.


Stability, peace, cooperation, growth and common security in our region are strategic goals that will frame the next stage not as isolated perceptions or readings, but as an expression of a fateful necessity, the key word for which is “reestablishing trust.”


Other opinion articles

Editor Picks

Multimedia