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Hooman Majd

Hooman Majd

Posted: February 22, 2006 12:05 PM

"Sovereignty Means No One Interferes..."


This week, in a truly astonishing one-two punch to any remaining notion of Iraqi sovereignty, first the U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad publicly lectured (and warned) the Iraqi government on what might be an acceptable make-up of that government to the U.S., and second Jack Straw, British FM, flew in to Baghdad to publicly express his public disapproval of Shia attempts to dominate Iraqi politics. It's humiliating enough for the Iraqis that they're under foreign occupation; imagine how humiliating it is for them to hear foreign ambassadors and ministers telling their government what to do. The U.S.-U.K. occupation of Iraq has managed to alienate the Sunnis to the point of supporting the insurgency; now it seems that the occupiers are out to alienate the Shias too. Well, I guess we'll always have the Kurds.

Jack Straw's statements that "We had the elections on Dec. 15," and "We've now had the final accredited results. What they show is that no party, no ethnic or religious grouping, can dominate government in Iraq" (emphasis mine, but Iraqis will notice the "we") betray the true nature of the U.S. (and U.K.)-Iraqi relationship as one of masters-servant. I'm sorry, Mr. Straw, you did not have elections, and neither did the British public. Iraqis did, and a majority (who happen to be Shia) voted for Shia candidates, and they seem to think that means that they can dominate the government. (Isn't that what the purpose of a national election is? To see who people want to form their government?) Sorry you and Khalilzad aren't happy with their choices, but despite Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn" analogy, I'm afraid you don't own Iraq, even though you did liberate it from the clutches of a monster and then break it. Had you and your American masters given one moment of thought to a post-Saddam Iraq, you might have considered that a free Iraq means a Shia Iraq.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, angry at both U.S. and British interference in the Iraqi political process, responded to the pressure by saying, "We think that sovereignty means no one interferes in our affairs." I guess that means he's going to pick his own ministers. (Quite oblivious to any irony, Ambassador Khalilzad this week also accused Iran of "interference" in Iraq. )

Foreign governments insisting that the Iraqi Shia parties have to include opposition members in their government (after they've won a free election) is akin to a foreign government insisting that President Bush, after winning either of his elections, include opposition democrats in cabinet positions because the elections in the U.S. showed, certainly as much as the Iraqi elections (and perhaps even more) that, to use Mr. Straw's words, "no party can dominate" government in the U.S. On second thought, maybe that would have been a good suggestion.