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Abdullah: Iraqi Sunnis ‘Want A Real Reconciliation’

By Matt Duss  

"Abdullah: Iraqi Sunnis ‘Want A Real Reconciliation’"

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Dr. Tariq Al-Abdullah is a tribal sheikh in Iraq’s Anbar province, and one of the leaders of what became known as the “Awakenings” movement, in which members of Sunni tribes — many of them former insurgents — allied with U.S. coalition forces against Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Yesterday I spoke with Dr. Al-Abdullah about the current situation in Iraq, specifically the state of Iraq’s political reconciliation in the wake of a series of battles between Awakenings forces and Iraqi government troops. Dr. Al-Abdullah offered a discouraging diagnosis. “I can assure you,” he said “that it [reconciliation] doesn’t go even slowly, it is stopped completely. There is no action regarding reconciliation.”

My dream, like any other Iraqi, we are looking for stability and democracy and freedom, and we think we cannot deliver…these things if we are not united. And because we have our own government, our elected government, they should deal — even if there are many concerns about the election as we heard, and you heard in the past time — but it’s a matter of fact that they are existing and we should deal with them and they should deal with the situation as a government for the whole Iraq. To bring stability and progress and the reconstruction of Iraq I think they should be looking for the unity of the Iraqis, and reconciliation. And here when we say we want reconciliation, we want a real reconciliation.

Watch it:

While Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had promised that significant numbers of Awakenings members would either be incorporated into Iraq’s security forces or provided other government jobs, a promise that Maliki’s government has thus far failed to keep.

Full transcript below.

TRANSCRIPT:

We are thinking the best way for this stability is for these people for which they were fighting against al-Qaeda with the government and with the US army and with the coalition, it’s a matter of appreciation, they should be engaged in the military, or in the polic. But what we are hearing and what we are seeing now is that there is some kind of conflict between both sides. And I think if the government — if they are taking this matter seriously — they can reach a kind of understanding. Because also ourselves we don’t want the Awakening to become a militia, but at least to support the police and to support the security, but at least they can become a part of this security like what we have done — or the government has done in the past times with these other militias in the south and in the north. [...]

You know, my dream, like any other Iraqi, we are looking for stability and democracy and freedom, and we think we cannot deliver none of these things if we are not united. And because we have our own government, our elected government, they should deal — even if there are many concerns about the election as we heard, and you heard in the past time — but it’s a matter of fact that they are existing and we should deal with them and they should deal with the situation as a government for the whole Iraq. To bring stability and progress and the reconstruction of Iraq I think they should be looking for the unity of the Iraqis, and reconciliation. Here when we say we want reconciliation, we want a real reconciliation. [...]

I can assure you that it [reconciliation] doesn’t go even slowly, it is stopped completely. There is no action regarding reconciliation. They, and we with them, we should concentrate on just one thing, we should work together to do that reconciliation because now it is split between the Ministry of Reconciliation, the parliament committee, and the presidential committee, and the prime minister committee, and the committee of reconciliation itself — all these efforts should be working together and definitely the outcome of that will be something very serious, and we need very badly this reconciliation before the next election and then we will not exclude anyone from participation in the political process.

Update

Writing in yesterday’s Middle East Bulletin, William Spence Spencer, the executive director of the Institute for International Law and Human Rights, encouraged the Obama administration to “work to revitalize the constitutional review process and use it — among other strategies — to build a functional Iraqi state responsive to the needs of its citizens.”

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