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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Patience has limits

by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

© AP Images

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al- Nahyan spoke the truth when he placed Iraq’s Hashd Al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilisation) militias (along with Badr Corps, Hezbollah and the Abbas Brigade fighting in Syria) in the same terrorist camp as the Islamic State and the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front.

They are all driven by sectarian interests and each is as ruthless and bloodthirsty as the other. They are all different types of cancer that must be eliminated. The difference is that Shiite militias working with Iraq’s feeble military, advised by Iranian Revolutionary Guard, are legitimised by the government of an Arab country – or rather what used to be an Arab country before it fell under the ayatollahs’ domination through the agency of pro- Iranian quisling prime ministers.

The so-called Popular Mobilisation militias and the Badr Corps have slaughtered untold numbers of Iraqi citizens and destroyed their homes after freeing Daesh-held areas purely because they were Sunnis. Hezbollah and the Abu Fadl Abbas Brigade have done the same in Syria. Mosques have been turned to rubble. People forced with their children into tent cities or to take the dangerous route to Europe seeking asylum. They are, along with ISIS, two sides of the same vicious coin.

Instead of extending our hands to militias, we should be fighting them. Iraq, a true Arab heartland, needs our support to free itself from Persian occupation. Only then, will the soil be fertile to enable this stricken land to get back on its feet. As long as it is under Iranian influence it will never be peaceful and prosperous.

The first step is to close our diplomatic missions in Iraq as long as it behaves like an enemy state. At the same time Iraqis working in GCC countries should not be made to suffer for the sins of their rogue government and its armed bands. Most left their homeland on the dream to rebuild their lives that were lost to them.

We have known this sorry state of affairs for a very long time but because of the struggles of the Iraqi people to recapture their country’s equilibrium after 10 years of merciless sanctions, foreign occupation, sectarian conflicts and terrorism, we have given Iraqi governments the opportunity to lift Iraq out of its complex quagmire – and, as it has turned out, all for nothing.

Iraq’s leadership has run out of chances to prove its on the side of the people, regardless of their ethnicity or sectarian affiliations, and has done little to consolidate its place within the Arab World.

The time for coddling and diplomatic-speak is over. Kudos to Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed for saying it like it is. Enough pretence in a turbulent region threatened by Iran’s power struggle. Iraq must understand that its pretend fence-sitting will no longer be tolerated. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi must be challenged. Is he setting his country on a road to becoming a de facto Iranian province or will he respect its Arab roots and identity? It is probable he has already chosen.

Al-Abadi wasted no time in defending his ragtag armies on Iraq’s Samaria channel while accusing the UAE of launching “a flagrant intervention into the Iraqi affairs”. Ironically, he is also asking GCC States to stand with Baghdad’s anti-terrorist positions. The day that our finest young men risk their lives to fuel Iranian ambitions will be a cold day in Hell!

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry put out a statement reiterating, “The Popular Mobilisation has come from the Iraqi components and was formed as an official body works within the umbrella of the government and under the command of the Commanderin- Chief of the Iraqi armed forces.” I would like to ask him how many Sunnis, Christians, Kurds and Yezidis are members of those government sanctioned militias? And what kind of government relies on gunmen for its defence!

Al-Abadi’s message to the UAE has been pounced upon by Iraqi TV networks that have evidently been given the green light to spew insults and threats in our direction. However, such vindictiveness on the part of the government and media is not the people’s; it is one that has been spawned by the Prime Minister’s puppet master, Tehran.

Those of Iraq’s limbs plagued by Persian sickness must be amputated at their roots. Our hearts have been open for the Iraqis. I was deeply upset knowing that 500,000 Iraqi children died since the end of the Gulf War as a result of economic sanctions imposed on Iraq. I was distraught watching flames rise from the Baghdad skyline during George W. Bush’s ‘Shock and Awe’ and when coalition troops finally withdrew, I prayed that a brave new Iraq would soon emerge from the ashes.

Instead, what has arisen is a virtual Persian enclave. We can no more blind our eyes to reality. Iraq must understand that the patience we have shown was not weakness but rather tolerance for the actions of a sibling trying to get out of a maze strewn with boulders. And all we receive in return is insults!

Saddam Hussein was an Arab nationalist, fiercely proud of his country’s heritage as ‘the Cradle of Civilisation’, and of its contributions to Islam’s Golden Age. Most importantly, he preserved his country’s Arab identity, chipped away since the US-led invasion and occupation.

The Al-Maliki government’s sectarian bias and oppressive tactics against Sunnis is responsible for the rise of terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda and Daesh, where there were once none. His cleansing of experienced Sunni officers from the army to be replaced by Shiites loyal to his regime resulted in a force that shamefully took to its heels leaving its weapons behind when confronted by a small group of Daesh fighters in Mosul.

Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi succeeded Nouri Al-Maliki pledging to work for the benefit of all, but until now there has been little sign he is any different from his predecessor. His ‘Made in Iran’ stamp is merely less visible.

Those days when Iraqis of all faiths and ethnicities lived together in harmony are unlikely to return because the loyalties of successive Shiite governments rest primarily with a foreign power. That is the bottom line in black and white. The hundreds of thousands of Iraqis martyred during the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War must be turning in their graves.

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