The UK, having invaded Iraq 11 years ago on a very questionable pretext and having left with Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister obviously brings us some responsibility for what is happening there today. Amidst a rising discontent against Iraqi prime minister Maliki and his blatant human rights violations, and at a time when the public as well as both Shiite and Sunni leaders including Maliki's own allies were asking him to step down, the news came out on Tuesday 10 June that Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, had been captured and Maliki's army had fled the city in a matter of just one hour leaving most of their weaponry and uniforms behind.
The first question coming to mind was, "Mosul .... captured - by whom"? "The Military Council of Iraqi Revolutionaries" my contacts told me. "It's a general uprising against the Maliki misrule and the up to 1,000 killings every month for the past decade". Perhaps, insofar as Jihadists and criminals seem to attract greater headlines than the suffering community, first media reports tried to simplify the incident down to an unreal but perhaps an easy-to-understand theory that Mosul was overrun by "Islamic terrorists". In a little over one hour and with this surge rapidly spreading into other cities in various provinces of Iraq like Al-Anbar, Salahuddin and Kirkuk!! The call by Sunni leaders for the removal of Maliki and the formation of a new (pluralist) government immediately cast serious doubts on the presumption of "An attack by Islamic terrorists".
What a potential lifeline for al-Maliki if the world should simply accept that these are Islamic terrorists belonging to a breakaway Al-Qaeda group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)! Curiously, the ISIL was immediately branded by Maliki and by the mullahs in Iran as a frightful and horrific body. That was simply meant to scare everyone - Maliki, who is hated right across the sectarian divide by most Iraqis, could be the saviour of Iraq!
Rafe'i-o-Refaie, one of Iraq's highest Sunni religious leaders, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV on June 10: "We are dealing with a state-sponsored terrorism which accommodates the real terrorists. We often hear in the news about ISIL doing things in Al-Anbar, Falluja, Samera and Mosul but is ISIL not conveniently the name given by Maliki to everyone who is not prepared to capitulate to him."
Mr. Rafe'i-o-Refaie went on to condemn what has been going on in Iraq as a game directed by the Iranian Ghasim Soleimani (Chief of the terrorist Quds force) and his deputy, Masjidi, who is based in Baghdad. This game is being played out under Maliki's direction at the behest of the clerical regime ruling Iran.
Hence, we need to be careful not to be duped again by Maliki and his Iranian masters. Let us put aside the ISIL and focus on what Maliki has done and is doing to that country. Iraqi people have been victimised for more than 11 years. Up to 1,000 people are being killed each month and up to 4,000 injured. The Maliki-government has been unable to deny that it carries out collective executions. Iraqi women have been raped and tortured in prisons run by Maliki's forces. 52 unarmed Iranian refugees were gunned down by his forces in Camp Ashraf on 1st September last.
Iraq's economy is in shambles. Despite the fact that Iraq is one of the leading exporters of oil and receives billions of dollars in foreign aid which brings enormous revenues to the country, Iraqi people even in its capital Baghdad, have to live with long hours of electric power cut-off. In a country which has the highest amount of water in the region, people have to put up with water-shortages. Unemployment and poverty run rampant. Corruption in the government and those affiliated to the government is almost unimaginable with billions of dollar embezzled and laundered, thus crippling the country's economy.
Maliki has created a Mafia-like network of criminals and assassins to eliminate the voice of opposition at every level. In a certain step-by-step scheme, Maliki has tried to bring all bodies of power under his dominance. For instance, In Iraq, the President is devoid of any executive power, though constitutionally many matters need President Talabani's approval. But President Jalal Talabani has been severely ill for almost two years and has, from abroad, been unable to play any role in Iraqi affairs.
Yet Maliki has been preventing the legislative branch from electing a new president in the absence of Mr. Talabani. Only his deputy Khazali who is from Maliki's political party plays a role and thereby, all power is effectively in Maliki's hands. But Iraq had two Deputy Presidents? The first deputy was from the Iraqi Sunnis and two and a half years ago Maliki framed him, illegally prosecuted him, and had him condemned to death in absentia despite the fact that he had legal immunity. Only Khazali, from Maliki's own faction, is in position and pliant.
Maliki has marginalised the Sunnis and suppressed his opponents for eight consecutive years in order to maintain power. People of Iraq as well as the Iraqi dignitaries and religious and tribal leaders are clearly demanding a change to his premiership and yet he does not want to step down.
This is the kind of man who is ruling Iraq today.
James F. Jeffrey, US former Ambassador to Iraq, who was in Baghdad for more than two years after the 2010 elections and as U.S. troops withdrew said to Associated Press that "it is time for Iraqis and Americans to consider alternatives." Responding to those who are worried if Maliki's departure would create a power vacuum that could foster even more political infighting and instability, Jeffrey said: "That might well be. But at some point in a quasi-democratic system, there has to be accountability."
It is indeed a question of accountability. What happened in Mosul and is now spreading towards Baghdad is a demand for accountability in Iraq. This is what the West including the UK and the US should be actively promoting. Maliki wants to declare a state of emergency in the country. One must immediately ask, "A state of emergency for whom, given that this uprising is a surge by the people of Iraq. Associated Press reported that the city of Mosul has a Sunni Muslim majority - so be it but the West should not be giving tacit support to a dictator against whom an overall deeply embittered population wants and deserves other than a Maliki's government.
Where it is possible the West must fulfil its responsibility to assist promote democracy and Rule of Law in Iraq by pushing for an alternative to Maliki's reign of terror. He has already been given far too much time. It is now time for the urgently needed change towards Democracy, peace and the Rule of Law in Iraq. The painful alternative will be if and when the mafia and criminals (and, yes - the Jihadists too) once again divert such a spontaneous uprising as we are witnessing to their own Maliki-like purpose.