x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Growing worries over reconciliation in Iraq

Many US officials did not wait for long to show their worries that the successive blasts recorded across Iraq might jeopardise the efforts made to achieve national reconciliation and ensure stability in the country, wrote Zuhair al Dujayli in a feature article that appeared in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Qabas.

Many US officials did not wait for long to show their worries that the successive blasts recorded across Iraq might jeopardise the efforts made to achieve national reconciliation and ensure stability in the country, wrote Zuhair al Dujayli in a feature article that appeared in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Qabas. Many members of the US administration believed that those bombings were intended to block reconciliation initiatives. They also feared that the bombing would continue and force the government to waive its commitments to absorb the remaining Awakening Council forces into the government's system as requested by Washington.

"Though timidly, the Iraqi government has started in the last two months to implement a special programme aimed at employing former militants in various  military and civil institutions. But the recent slide in security has dealt a blow to those positive developments, pushing Baghdad to exclude both former Baathists and members of Awakening forces." Some Americans thought that the resurgence of violence may lead the government to change its policies about the participation of various Iraqi political actors  in its decision-making processes. As a result, it is likely that Shiite and Sunni constituents of the government may find themselves  again at loggerheads, which would force the US to review its programme of full withdrawal.

"About two months ago I urged Islamic jurisprudential academies to firmly decide about the performance of the Haj this year if the swine flu turns into a pandemic," wrote Mahmoud Issa in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. Yet no formal meeting of those scholarly institutions has been held. Many jurists and muftis across the Muslim world have highlighted the need to reach a quick consensus among all Muslims in light of health reports that epidemics can spread in greater proportion next fall, that is, during the Haj season. Moreover, given that the holy sites are the most crowded places in the world during the Haj season since they receive pilgrims from all around the globe, the risk of contamination is extremely high.

"While schools can be closed down simply by issuing an administrative order, the Haj and Umrah, given their high religious and spiritual significance, need a religious opinion from reliable sources such as jurisprudential academies." These institutions are therefore required to quickly gather and discuss this matter in association with  health professionals and then take the relevant  religious opinion. This is because the Haj season is approaching, and many pilgrims have already gone for Ramadan's Umrah.

"We don't know the reasons why the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said that he would support the independence of southern Sudan," stated the lead opinion article of the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi. "His statements stand in sharp contrast with what we have known of him as a man who endorses the African Union's charter that strictly bans interfering in the status of borders and systems of government of its members."

The Libyan leader pointed to the many differences between the southerners and northerners in terms of facial features, religion and history, which may justify secession. "But these differences apply to most African and Arab countries, including Libya." Although Col Gaddafi warned southerners of the downside of separation, the timing of his statements ahead of a referendum due in 2011 is likely to strengthen the secessionists. His statements may also encourage the propagation of separatist sentiments in many areas of the Arab world on ethnic and religious grounds. It is hoped that the Libyan leader will provide detailed explanations of his last remarks. Meanwhile, we are very confident that Col Gaddafi - a leader known for his respect of the unity and stability of Sudan - would not back separatists, except if the southerners decide to secede through a referendum and in full accord with the northerners.

In an uncommon move, Sheikh Mohammed al Sabah, the Kuwaiti foreign minister, responded to the British columnist Robert Fisk, who wrote an article in the UK newspaper The Independent titled: Gulf War legacy flares as 'stingy' Kuwait puts the squeeze on Iraq, wrote Kassim Hussein in an opinion piece for the Bahraini daily Al Wasat.

Sheikh Mohammed rejected such accusations, and stressed the role of his country in helping  poor countries. He added  that Kuwait was proud of being at the forefront of donor countries. Yet it remains odd for a senior official to respond to a journalist from another continent who simply expressed his opinion. Looking at the content of the report, "we can understand why it sparked the anger of Kuwaitis and brought the issue to high official venues". It was the use by the writer of adjectives like "stingy" that was the cause of anger. "Sheikh Mohammed denounced the description of his country as stingy, ruthless, greedy, mean or an oil thief. 'This is baseless and unacceptable, while Kuwait boasts generous initiatives which are three-time higher than most developed countries,' the Kuwaiti foreign minister was reported as saying."

*Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae