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

Kadhimi...No Room for His Ambitions?

This time, the accusation cannot be thrown at “the remnants of Saddam Hussein”, nor can it be associated with ISIS or the “Great Satan.” The story is a fabrication of what Muqtada al-Sadr calls “the forces of no state.” The fingerprints are clear.

The assassination attempt against Mustafa Al-Kadhimi was not surprising. The man stood in the eye of the storm. He cannot be considered innocent. He did something that deserves severe punishment. He is the leader of the coup, which aims to restore the capabilities of the Iraqi state.

The mission is neither easy nor simple. No one expected the turbulent forces to lower their flags and cede their privileges and greed.

Mustafa Al-Kadhimi came from the world of information and analysis. He knew the story with its local, regional, and international thorns. He is not an adventurer or a gambler. He understands the difficulties and traps. He advances slowly and wisely. He acts as a demining expert. He stops the thunders, and when it is too complicated, he circumvents the threat, without forgetting the road and the conditions for driving in the minefields.

He advances and then retreats. He puts forward initiatives and waits. He offers solutions and makes compromises. In any case, he does not give up his battle, which is the restoration of the Iraqi state.

With thoughtful sentences and calm manners, he tried to use a player that the forest of guns succeeded in crushing over the past years: The ordinary Iraqi citizen, who sits with his fears and bitterness, with no affiliation except with the silent and patient majority.

The dream of a normal state has resurged among quite a few citizens. In the normal state, where the policeman assumes his duties, justice is justice… where the Iraqi decision is made in the elected legitimate institutions, and its first goal is to defend the security and interests of Iraqis and the stability and prosperity of their country.

Kadhimi suffers when he hears that an Iraqi drowned after boarding the “death boats” trying to reach the European paradise; or that one of his compatriots was arrested in this or that country after escaping from the Iraqi hell. He suffers because Iraq already possesses the conditions for prosperity and a decent life if its state regains its presence and role, and joins the train of progress.

Kadhimi knows that the catastrophe began with the consolidation of the idea of the “Iraqi arena” instead of the Iraqi state. He is aware that the arena is a recipe for failure and abuse. It allows moving the pawns on the Iraqi scene and turning it into a theater for alternative wars, a platform for missiles and a card in a regional coup, in addition to destroying opportunities for stability, investment and prosperity.

The arena means Iraq remaining broken and threatened by internal strife, poverty, and rupture with its natural surroundings and the world.

Instead of this image, Kadhimi sought to present Iraq as the bridge between regional powers. A land of dialogue, partnership of interests, and a project of stability in a region that has bled for years, and has been left behind by the world caught up in the train of progress and successive technological revolutions.

In harmony with President Barham Salih’s orientations, and relying on Iraq’s importance to the Arabs and the world, Al-Kadhimi began to weave the country’s Arab and international relations.

Some militias looked with great concern at a policy aimed at restoring balance, and enabling the state to address with one voice to the region and the world - the voice of the institutions free of the control of the factions and their dictionaries.

Kadhimi does not see Iraq’s interest in provoking Iran. He knows his country’s geography and composition. But he also does not see an interest in an Iraq affiliated with Iran and attached to its decision.

Realistically and calmly, he promoted Iraq’s right to address the countries of the region and the world from state to state, refusing to submit to the game of moving cards on the outskirts of the “Green Zone” and the echoes of stray missiles in the space of Baghdad or Erbil.

On the internal level, Kadhimi committed another “crime”. He denied the shadowy yet very blatant powers the right to kill anyone who disagrees with their positions. His policy contributed to uncovering the forces that deal with the protesters with silencers and daggers. His insistence on conducting proper investigations exposed the identity of the “death squads” that were chasing activists. It also revealed that some of the killers were hiding in uniforms and behind security posts. This is awful.

Some forces were betting that they would not leave their mark at the crime scene, and that the state would not dare to trace their fingerprints. The quiet man disappointed the gun barons’ expectations, enabling the average Iraqi citizen to recognize the perpetrators.

Kadhimi used the weapon of persuasion and patience. He was firm in restoring the morale of the military and security in the face of the various dangers facing the country. His conciliatory personality succeeded in reducing the level of sectarian tensions.

The country’s image at home and abroad improved. But it was necessary to let the Iraqis choose their representatives and clarify their orientations. He organized the elections in response to the demands of the Iraqi youth, and to test the citizens’ longing for a state project.

Some militias were surprised that their arsenals have failed to force the voters to pledge allegiance to them. They questioned the integrity of the elections, contrary to what Iraqi and foreign observers said. Those militias accused Kadhimi of manipulating the elections, knowing that their attempts to challenge the results lacked convincing arguments.

This is how the process of intimidation on the outskirts of the Green Zone began. The militias believe in guns and missiles, not in persuasion and votes. They use force to overturn facts and punish the citizen and the state.

The insistence on keeping Iraq as a regional arena explains the use of drones in the attempt to assassinate Kadhimi, who resides on the Iranian-American earthquake line. Fortunately for the Iraqis and the friends of Iraq, the attempt did not succeed. It is obvious that Arab and international reactions will double the isolation of those who use the dictionary of bombs and assassinations, but this does not mean that they will not try other means.

After the elections, Iraq stands at a crossroads. The new government will either pursue the restoration of the state project or concede to the logic of the arena. Kadhimi, for his part, committed the crime of awakening the state project, a crime that deserves the people’s praise and the militias’ severe punishment.

Some people believe that Kadhimi set the path for the return of the Iraqi state. Others see him as a dreamer whose ambitions have no room.