people determine their own future
decades the Iraqi people have paid the price of international
politics. In the three decades of Saddam Hussein's brutal
rule, the international community has at various times
either befriended or contained Saddam's regime, but never
sought to oust it.
week, for the first time that any Iraqi can remember,
the interest of the United States converged with that
of the Iraqi people -- namely, to topple Saddam. Since
he came to power, the Iraqi people have been engaged in
a silent and hidden -- but nevertheless bloody -- war
with the regime. More than half a million Iraqis have
heroically tried to overthrow the regime and have paid
with their lives. By sheer brutality, Saddam has massacred
any suggestion of opposition or any sign of an uprising.
only one week in March 1991, when the Iraqi people rose
up once more to overthrow the regime, Saddam slaughtered
250,000 Iraqi men, women and children. Women were tied
to tanks as the vehicles entered liberated cities to prevent
the tanks from being fired at. The fact that the regime
is still in power is certainly not due to any shortcomings
of the Iraqi people.
this is one of the major faults of the antiwar movement.
On many occasions they have suggested that it should be
left to the Iraqi people to overthrow the regime. Not
only is this purely ignorant, but it is also painfully
insulting to Iraqis.
the antiwar movement has not even made the effort to find
out what Iraqis actually want. As an Iraqi with family
in Baghdad and many contacts with other Iraqis inside,
I know that ordinary Iraqis have been praying for months
for military action to remove Saddam. These people have
gone through the Iran-Iraq war and the Gulf War -- they
are in a much better position to know what war involves,
yet they want military action against their own country
to remove Saddam Hussein and his regime.
the majority of my family in Baghdad -- in the eye of
the storm -- I am obviously very worried about them, as
I am about all my countrymen. But I have always been worried
about them because this is not a new war; they have been
in a war against Saddam for three decades. The only difference
is that now they, and I, have a glimmer of hope -- an
Iraq free of Saddam. This may not seem like much to outsiders,
but it has been an unthinkable dream for millions of Iraqis.
next battle is crucial to my country's future -- the battle
for democracy. This is the major concern Iraqis have,
and this is where they need help. Iraq has been brutalized
by decades of dictatorship and obviously cannot transform
into a democracy overnight. It will need a transition
phase of probably no more than two years, so that a democratic
system can be established. This transition phase will
determine the final outcome, so it has to be done right.
transitional government: The United States has made it
clear that the initial phase of the transition period
will be ruled by the military. This is understandable
but only if the military rule is very short and involves
the Iraqi people. A country wishing to become a democracy
cannot do so under military rule. The transition to Iraqi
civilian rule must be rapid and complete.
Iraq's creation in the early 20th century it has been
ruled by a minority -- a legacy created by the British.
This has to end. The transitional government must be proportionally
representative of the population of Iraq.
in the United States who want another dictator or puppet
government will look to install people who are independent
of any of the major Iraqi political parties because these
people -- no matter how well-intentioned -- will not have
a large following in the population and will therefore
be dependent on those who put them in their positions.
That's how you create a puppet government. The transition
government should be made of political groups and parties
who have real support in Iraq.
local elections: To give the people of Iraq a sense that
they really are on the road to democracy, there should
be local elections, even if only symbolic, as early as
possible. The regime of Saddam Hussein appointed people
to be in charge of local government based solely on their
rank and loyalty to the Ba'athist regime. Often, "local"
officials were from a different part of the country. Early
local involvement will give people the feeling that they
are in control of their future.
What are key to the success and stability of any country
on the path to democracy are the worth and importance
the people attach to the constitution of the country.
There is talk by some in the U.S. administration that
the constitution will be written by an appointed council.
This is a recipe for disaster. The people of Iraq have
to feel they are integrally involved in the making of
a democratic Iraq and must be involved in the writing
of its constitution.
must be vigorous public debate -- and a free media to
provide a platform for such debate. And above all else,
the council must be an elected body. This can, for example,
be built on the local elections that take place. It is
essential that the council is, like the transitional government,
proportionally representative of the population. And once
the council has completed the draft constitution, the
document should be put to a referendum so the people of
Iraq can freely choose to accept or reject it.
involving the nation in the key elements that will shape
Iraq's future, a truly democratic, proportionally representative
system can be established. If democracy is anything, it
is people determining their own fate and destiny.