Kadhimi and Dialogue between Fighters
Kadhimi and Dialogue between Fighters
By chance, I met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi during the most difficult forty-eight hours Iraq has endured during his term, as Mesopotamia was split into two camps, each with its own narrative about how it is right and the other side is wrong. Baghdad was on the brink, and if Pandora’s box had opened, Iraq would have been turned upside down.
The warring factions were themselves preparing for their sacred battle: our dead are in heaven, and their dead are in hell. It did not occur to them that they are all victims of politicized violence, systematic incitement, and institutionalized corruption.
Some of them were not too concerned with the potential costs of confrontation, behaving as though blood was cheap, and they had not learned from those who had previously fought such wars among members of the same sectarian community.
It did not cross their minds that those who start wars within a home and among a family do not necessarily have the capacity to end them when they want to and on their terms and that even the victor in such wars is only the strongest loser. Moreover, such wars cannot be contained within a particular place, community, sect, or ethnicity; the virus is transmitted from this one home to others near and far.
That evening, Kadhimi was cool, exploring his options and writing the sentence with which he began his speech, “preventing bloodshed.”
“Violence is not my field, so if I were given a choice between blood and leaving, I would leave.”
He was not ready to see a single drop of blood spilled, and at that moment, Kadhimi got back in touch with his civic side, relying on it to bridge the gap separating him from Iraqi factions and parties, especially the Shiites hostile to him because of his civility. They behave as though he bears responsibility for losing their position at the top, i.e., as though the prime minister’s office slipping from the hands of the Shiite political elite is the result of a conspiracy orchestrated by Kadhimi and his team.
Since these Shiite political elites were forced to appoint him Prime Minister, they have been plotting to pounce on a mistake, and only once it became too late did they discover that they could not turn back the clock and go back to a time before October 1, 2019 (the day the uprising began) and that April 9, 2020 (the day Kadhimi was appointed PM) imposed standards and criteria that most of them can no longer meet.
Some members of the household have become sick with denial as a consequence. Their arrogance has blinded them, and they do not want to see that he came to occupy this position because of their abject failure in managing the Iraqi state and its wealth.
Kadhimi may have woken up to the fact they had been in crisis early on and prepared himself to succeed them; that is her prerogative and the prerogative of any Iraqi who sees himself as a worthy alternative.
He was aware that political parties and factions are not the only elites in Iraq. Kadhimi’s rise is no exception to the rule; his appointment is one of the junctures on the path to change laid by the October uprising. Since the beginning, he has been part of the generational battle to overthrow the regime, in which the only constant is change, and this shapeshifting change is religious, cultural, and political.
When I saw him, he seemed to be caught between a rock and a hard place. A faction entered the Green Zone, and another party was organizing a protest behind its walls and hinted at climbing those walls. Kadhimi, who was targeted from both sides, stood strong. Aware that the state lacks the tools needed to impose order and security, he gave his speech “dialogue,” which opened the door to de-escalation.
In fact, Kadhimi seemed more genuine and conscious of his strengths and weaknesses after calling for dialogue and pleading with everyone to use their brains instead of flexing their muscles. He hoped for courageous concessions and accepting compromises that take into account the political shift in Iraqi national politics since the October uprising.
And so, Kadhimi is an interim or long-term shapeshifter, but no faction can sideline him or impose keeping him. His mission has not yet been accomplished, and this battle between the two fighters will be put off through dialogue.