Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Richard Falk, On Power-Sharing

Ending the Ordeal of Iraqi Occupation
By Richard Falk
February 21, 2005

The essence of the difficulty involves ending the American occupation as soon as possible without provoking a bloody civil war likely to end with the re-imposition of an oppressive form of Baathist rule objectionable to the overwhelming majority of Iraqis. (...) It is significant, as well, that only a week before the elections the United Iraqi Alliance removed from its listing of campaign goals, 'an end to foreign occupation.' No reasons were given, but it seems rather obvious that in the existing situation the Sunni-led insurgency would quickly prevail without the protection of American troops. At the same time, the earlier presence of such a goal suggests that the Shi'ia movement is united with the insurgents in its commitment to end the occupation, and recover Iraq for the Iraqis. If negotiations between political leaders representing the main constituencies could affirm this common goal, and then ask themselves how best to reach such an outcome, there might yet be found a way to end foreign occupation without initiating civil strife.

Looked at from an insurgent perspective, the persistence of bloodshed and occupation cannot be a happy prospect. Their best scenario would be more of the same, surely a road to nowhere. It seems clear that the objectives of the resistance are to end the occupation in a manner that gives to the Sunnis and their allies in Iraq a major role in shaping the future of the country. But if this role is perceived by their adversaries as leading to the reimposition of Sunni authoritarian rule achieved by violence directed at civilians it will only extend the occupation indefinitely, and might even lend it legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis and the outside world. If the insurgent leadership even now signals a willingness to deal politically with the future of Iraq, and shows an interest in working out a power-sharing arrangement at the top, then there exists at least a slim possibility for a united effort to end the occupation without confronting Iraq and the world with the prospect of civil war. (...) Delay by the resistance in entering the Iraqi political process seems likely to encourage the United States to establish a permanent military presence in the country with the acquiescence of groups under threat. It may have been justifiable for Sunni elements to boycott the elections but it is self-destructive for the Iraqi resistance to behave as if its only option is spill civilian blood of their Iraqi countrymen and innocent foreign observers.


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