Iraq’s growth myth

Trumpeting the growth in Iraq’s oil income is misleading in the absence of genuine economic development, writes Salah Nasrawi
If one is to believe some mainstream Western media reports, Iraq is thriving. The conflict-ravaged country is even expecting more economic progress and tipped to be one of the best performers in the Middle East in the years to come.
Reports have been rampant about international companies overlooking security worries and opening businesses in oil-rich Iraq despite spikes in violence and unabated political turmoil.
From newspaper articles to reports on business news Websites, readers have been inundated with stories claiming that the country has achieved impressive growth over the last few years and that there is great entrepreneurial potential.
Fairy tales about economic potential in oil-producing nations grappling with violence and conflict are not new, but in Iraq’s case the upbeat growth reports are clearly churned out to fit the greed of international businessmen.
Driven by disproportionate and highly inconsistent estimates of Iraq’s economic indicators, entrepreneurs, fund managers and bankers around the world are now looking to establish a presence in Iraq.
In recent days, the Western media trumpeted the opening of the first Pizza Hut restaurant in Erbil and a contract signed by International Container Terminal Services to operate a port in Basra as examples of how Western companies are tapping the potential of Iraq’s growing markets.
Erbil is the capital of the largely tranquil Kurdistan Region and Basra is relatively peaceful. 
Oil projects take priority in the overblown coverage of Iraq’s economic boom. Royal Dutch Shell exported its first shipment of crude from Iraq’s Majnoon field this month.
Another hyped item of news this month was that Russian giant Lukoil is launching a 2D seismic survey of a 5,600 square km onshore tract in southern Iraq.
In December, PetroChina announced a deal with ExxonMobil to acquire a 25 per cent stake in the West Qurna-1 oil field project in southeastern Iraq, which has an estimated 43 billion barrels of reserves.
In the meantime, governments are recruiting people who are well-connected to Iraqi officials to branch out into Iraqi business.
Last year, Britain appointed Baroness Nicholson, a politician who worked closely with opponents of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, now in power in Baghdad, as UK trade envoy to Iraq in order to increase trade and economic co-operation between the two countries.
Iraq’s giant Rumaila oil field is already being developed by BP, and Nicholson is tasked with making “major assaults on the Iraqi market” in order to obtain more lucrative contracts.
Japan is resorting to former Baghdad-based diplomats, academics and other Iraq experts to promote Japanese business in the country.
It has made loans to Iraq including a US$4.5 billion soft loan and has secured 15 projects including the rehabilitation and development of some key Iraqi ports and the construction of power plants.
Australia, Canada and many other countries are resorting to Iraqi expatriates with business connections in the country to secure contracts.
Russia, the Czech Republic and Pakistan are also pushing ahead with mega defence contracts with Baghdad, reportedly through intermediaries.
Competition is so fierce that some have publicly complained that their countries are losing opportunities of investing in Iraq.
Last month, a reporter from Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine did not hesitate to put a question about Germany’s lack of share in the Iraqi market to Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.
“Is there anything left for Germany, one of the world’s top exporting nations,” he bluntly asked. 
Reports of the investment drive are being hyped by assessments that Iraq has posted an annual growth in GDP of around nine per cent, thanks largely to its oil production of 3.2 million barrels per day. 
Some of these forecasts, coming from the World Bank and the Iraqi government, are predicting economic expansion of well over 10 per cent in 2014.
But many disagree with using GDP figures as measurements of progress in nation-building efforts and argue that statistics alone can hardly provide a clear picture of economic development or growth.
Consensus opinions indicate that the positive reports overlook serious problems faced by Iraq and its economy and are mostly designed to fit the ambitions of foreign investors.
Iraq faces serious problems, making the figures of growth in the oil industry little better than nonsense. Sitting on the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, Iraq should be rich, but its economy is as moribund as its politics, which are rife with violence and corruption.
Most towns in central and southern Iraq have no permanent electricity supplies and cannot escape periodic power outages.
Thousands of factories are not operating because of the lack of power, and most Iraqis rely on generators for much of the time. 
Iraq lacks proper infrastructure, and most of its cities in the south and centre of the country have deteriorating roads rutted with dirt and mud and provide at best marginal livelihoods for homes and businesses.
Millions of Iraqis live in poverty and there is a pervasive lack of health services and the presence of chronic malnutrition. A quarter of the population under 25 years of age is out of work.
Illiteracy is high, and millions of children have no access to proper schools.
The delay in the passage of the 2014 state budget is casting a grim shadow over Iraq’s economy. Many projects are threatened with closure, and foreign companies have not received their dues which may make them leave the country.
This may even make the World Bank reduce Iraq’s ratings.
Even more serious is the problem of security, which has been deteriorating rapidly since the withdrawal of the last US troops in December 2011 as terrorists groups, Sunni insurgents and Shia militias have been vying for supremacy.
Foreign companies working in Iraq hire their own security, which is costly and diverts resources from other investments. Their offices are surrounded by high walls and gates manned by armed security personnel checking cars for bombs.
Some foreign companies provide payments to locals for protection, and oil facilities are particularly risky.
Over recent months, militants have shut Iraq’s main northern oil-export pipeline and have been preventing repairs, questioning the optimism about oil expansion.
On the other hand, massive corruption has been hindering economic growth, and many foreign companies have reportedly been involved in grafts and kickbacks.
GlaxoSmithKline, the UK drugs giant, has been investigated after allegations about its conduct in Iraq due to claims that it hired 16 state-employed doctors and pharmacists in 2012 as paid sales representatives.
Leighton Holdings Ltd, Australia’s biggest builder, has been under investigation by police after the company was reported to have paid bribes to win contracts in connection with work in Iraq’s crude oil-export facilities.
On Saturday, Sahat Al-Tahrir, a news Website, quoted Zuhrair Al-Bichari, head of the development and reconstruction committee in Basra, as saying that a clean water project under construction by a consortium led by Japanese giant Hitachi was threatened with stoppage because of threats of extortion by local armed groups.
All this raises questions about whether Iraq’s oil indicators justify the euphoria exuded by Western media reports.
Indeed, the inflated growth data are only concealing the interactions between the country’s resources and its unrelenting ethno-sectarian conflict and the deadly war this has unleashed.
Behind the façade of oil growth lie miserable conditions that show that Iraq’s huge oil wealth is being used to perpetuate the fighting and sustain the conflict.
This is undeniably the case, as rival sectarian and political groups pursue endeavours to control oil revenues in order to produce conditions under which they can overrule the state.
Eleven years after the US-led invasion and with more than a trillion dollars in exports, illegal exploitation of resources and illicit trade in oil, Iraq still stands as one of the world’s most obviously failed states.
It is for this reason that promoting statistics about oil revenues as indicators of prosperity in a country that is sinking in a sea of violence and corruption with a dysfunctional government has no merit.
These statistics are simply being used to justify the pillaging of Iraq.
Iraq’s next leader?

Disappointed by the impotence of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, the country’s Shia groups are in search of a new political leader, writes Salah Nasrawi
With the vote only days away, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s prospects for re-election look dim, and the country’s Shia parties, which together are poised to win the most seats in parliament, have started looking for a challenger to the incumbent leader.
Al-Maliki, who is seeking a third term in office, is in trouble as Iraq is teeming with problems. Many blame him for the country’s sectarian violence, political turmoil and economic deadlock and are eager to see a new prime minister in place.
For the time being, there is no frontrunner in Iraq’s elections, scheduled for 30 April, as several Shia politicians have been vying for the powerful position which also includes the key post of commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
The hopefuls, who include former ministers and party leaders, aren’t saying much publicly about their candidacies, but privately they have been active in seeking political support and building alliances.
However, a popular Shia provincial governor has recently emerged as a lead candidate to succeed Al-Maliki, who has been in power for eight years.
On Sunday, the Al-Ahrar Bloc, which is affiliated to the powerful Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, said it was considering fielding Ali Dawai, the governor of the southern oil-rich province of Maysan, against Al-Maliki.
Dawai is Iraq’s most popular government official. He is known for his hardwork in a country ranked as having one of the most dysfunctional governments in the world.
In a country that has had no functioning president for more than a year, where parliament rarely meets, where politicians spend most of their time abroad, and where public officials live on graft, Dawai has been an exception to the rule.
He was first elected governor for Maysan in 2010 and was re-elected in 2013 for a second term after he managed to turn Amara, the provincial capital, from being one of Iraq’s most impoverished towns into an outsized and prosperous city.
Under his rule, Amara, formerly the “city of the oppressed,” has enjoyed good public services including security, electricity, education and healthcare.
Dawai has launched new projects for streets, schools, houses, luxury hotels, bridges and buildings that have changed the landscape of the city.
Admirers say Dawai, known as Mr Clean in a country which is rife with corruption, offers a rare example of how Iraq’s vast oil resources could be put to people’s benefit.
Born in the impoverished marshlands of the Maysan province in 1965, Dawai is a university graduate with a degree in Islamic studies. Little is known about his activities during the rule of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, and he seems to have little public service background.
Pictures posted by his supporters on social networks show him wearing a blue workman’s overall. In some pictures he is seen sleeping on the floor of his office covered by a coat.
Many in Maysan call Dawai the “Guevara of the Poor” after the legendary Argentinean revolutionary Che Guevara.
However, Dawai is considered to be an outsider to national politics, and there are questions as to whether he will have enough support from other Shia groups to enter the race against Al-Maliki.
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, a Shia politician has been chosen as the country’s prime minister in line with the post-Saddam political process that has empowered Iraq’s Shia majority.
This year’s election has largely been characterised as a referendum on Al-Maliki, who has been facing charges of sectarianism, inefficiency and authoritarianism.
Critics point to Al-Maliki’s heavy-handed style of governance and his efforts to make changes to the political process that seem to benefit him and his party.
Even Shia politicians and clergy have deplored Al-Maliki, who has shown himself to be incapable of managing the political and the security portfolios or stopping the country’s unrelenting violence.
Central to this deep-seated sense of failure has been Al-Maliki’s inability to achieve the kind of national reconciliation that would bring peace and stability to the deeply divided nation.
His inability, or unwillingness, to craft a credible national security strategy and build all-inclusive armed forces has served to reinforce Sunni suspicions and consequently insecurity in the war-torn country.
Under Al-Maliki’s rule, reforms went undone, roads and electricity remained unavailable, and children were left without proper schools. Meanwhile, politicians and officials in his administration are thought to have taken bribes worth billions of dollars.
Dawai’s possible candidacy has rattled the Al-Maliki re-election campaign. The pro-Al-Maliki media have been attacking him as a Saddam crony.
On Sunday, Al-Maliki travelled to Amara where he hurled campaign salvoes against Dawai.
“It is sad that a province such as Maysan, so rich in oil and agriculture, has most of its schools built of mud bricks,” he told a crowd of supporters. To lure undecided voters, Al-Maliki promised to provide 15,000 jobs in the government and the armed forces for Maysan residents and to build new schools and houses in the province.
There have been no opinion polls on how Iraqis intend to vote in this month’s election, but various estimates show that Al-Maliki’s bloc, the State of Law Alliance, is losing ground to the two main Shia contenders, the Al-Ahrar Bloc of the Sadrists Movement and the Citizen Bloc of Ammar Al-Hakim’s Iraqi Supreme Islamic Council.
Al-Maliki seems to have lost the confidence of Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, who is widely seen as being the moral force that helped create and save the patchwork Shia-led administration following Saddam’s ouster.
Al-Sistani has been showing increasing signs of dissatisfaction with Al-Maliki and has reportedly been refusing his request for an audience for several months.   
Al-Sistani does not speak in public, but his representatives have voiced concerns over increasing corruption and mismanagement by Al-Maliki’s government, which has given a bad name to Shia rule in Iraq.
On Monday, Al-Sadr met with Al-Sistani, the first such meeting between the two clerics for some time, in what appeared to be an attempt to receive the Ayatollah’s blessing on the Al-Sadr Bloc.
Following the meeting, Al-Sadr’s office said Al-Sistani had stressed the need to combat sectarianism and corruption and to provide security and services. “He stressed the need to elect the best and the most efficient [candidate],” it said. “This is the only way for change.”
Such remarks have certainly hurt Al-Maliki’s campaign, but can only benefit Al-Sadr, who has vowed to deny Al-Maliki a third term.
Other Shia politicians have also joined the anti-Al-Maliki chorus.
“If we get the confidence of the Iraqi people, we will not give the post of prime minister to failed politicians,” said Baqir Al-Zubaidi, head of the Citizen Bloc. “Authoritarianism and political obstinacy have resulted in unmeasurable losses,” he said.
Even Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, a close political ally of Al-Maliki who is running on a different ticket, blasted the prime minister’s attempts to get re-elected. 
“Iraq is a factory of leaders, and it cannot be defined by one bloc or one man,” he told a campaign meeting.
Ahmed Chalabi, the veteran Shia politician who has long aspired to be Iraq’s leader, ridiculed Al-Maliki on Facebook for his handling of the insurgency in Fallujah.
Al-Zubaidi, Al-Jaafari and Chalabi are believed to be frontrunner contenders to Al-Maliki.
Iraq’s most prominent Sunni politician and the speaker of the parliament Osama Al-Nujaifi also reiterated his bloc’s rejection of Al-Maliki’s attempts to stay in power.
“He is the maker of crises,” he told an election rally in his hometown of Mosul on Monday. “We say that there will be no third term under any circumstances.”
The Iraqi media have reported that the Sadrists, the Supreme Islamic Council, the main Kurdish parties and Al-Nujaifi’s Motahdoon Bloc have been discussing forming an alliance against Al-Maliki.
The key question remains, however, of how smooth the process of picking Iraq’s next prime minister will be after this month’s elections.
No single political group is expected to win the majority of the seats needed to form a government, and this will likely require coalition-building through a lot of horse-trading as was the case in the previous elections.
In 2010’s inconclusive elections, the leaders spent about ten months of hectic negotiations before they reached an agreement on a coalition government.
With Iraq’s three main communities further divided this time round, the formation of a coalition government could well drag into the end of this year or even into next year.
Until then, Iraq’s next prime minister will remain a mystery.
        دولة علي بابا  : في تشريح سلطة الفساد والمحاصصة في العراق 
                                                  وللفساد تأصيل شرعي
تثير مسألة تفاقم الفساد في العراق الذي يتولى قيادة حكومته المركزية واغلب محافظاته الجماعات السياسية الاسلامية الشيعية تساؤلات حول الموقف الشرعي الذي تتبناه هذه الجماعات من قضايا الفساد من نهب المال العام والرشاوي والابتزاز والسرقة وغير ذلك مما عالجته ابواب الشريعة الاسلامية المختلفة.واذا كان الفساد ظاهرة سياسية واخلاقية عابرة للاديان والمذاهب والمعتقدات فان التساؤل بشأن الموقف العقدي والفقهي لهذه الجماعات حول الموضوع يبقى جوهرياً طالما انها تؤسس شرعيتها على اساس ديني ومذهبي اولا كما انها تطرح مشروعها الاسلامي الذي يستوجب ان يكون لمماراسات السلطة فيه تأصيل شرعي محكم.
في البداية لا بد من القول ان الاسلام وقف موقفا حديا من الفساد الذي اعتبره بكل اشكاله من الكبائر وحفل القرأن الكريم بتحذيرات عديدة للمؤمنين من مغبة الوقوع فيه كما توعد مرتكبيه بعذاب الدنيا والاخرة والطرد من رحمة الباري وبركاته.بل وفي عبارات قاطعة حذر القرأن الكريم ممن يحاول ان يغطي على فساده بالادعاء والكذب كما ورد في سورة البقرة: (وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لاَ تُفْسِدُوا فِي الأَرْضِ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ.اَلاَ إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ المُفْسِدُونَ وَلَكِن لاَّ يَشْعُرُونَ).وترسخت في العقيدة ان الفساد من الرذائل التي ينبغي على المسلم تجنبها كما شرع بتجريمها ووضع لها العقوبات الرادعة بشكليها الالهي والدنيوي.اذ بينما يحفل القرأن بالكثير من الايات التي تنذر الفاسدين وتضع افعالهم في الاخرة موضع الموبقات فان جزائهم في الدنيا كان اشد وضوحا. قال تعالى (إنما جزاءُ الذين يحاربون اللهَ ورسولَه ويَسعَونَ في الأرضِ فسادًا أن يُقتَّلوا أو يُصلَّبوا أو تُقطَّعَ أيديهم وأرجلُهم من خِلافٍ أو يُنفَوا من الأرضِ ذلك لهم خزيٌ في الدنيا ولهم في الآخرة عذابٌ عظيم-المائدة). 
غير ان من الواضح ان التفسيرات الفقهية ذهبت بعد ذلك مذاهب شتى بشأن الفساد ومعانيه حيث تباينت التؤيلات والاجتهادات التي ينسب بعضها الى الاحاديث النبوية وبعضها الاخر الى رؤيا الخلفاء الراشدين والصحابة والفقهاء.واذا كان الفساد في معناه المعاصر اكثر شمولية مما ورد في النصوص القديمة فان هذه النصوص اخذته بالمعنى الضيق باعتباره سرقة للمال كما ميزت بين السرقة التي جاءت عقوباتها واضحة في الاسم وبين سرقة المال العام.اضافة الى ذلك فقد طال الاجتهاد ما يتعلق بسرقات المال بالتخفيف من العقوبات التي فرضوها عليه باعتبارها لم تحدد بالاسم في النصوص وايضا تحت ذريعة انه مال عام وللناس نصيب منه وهي نظريات استغلها الفاسدون والمفسدون عبر التاريخ الاسلامي.ان خير دليل على وجود مثل هذا الاتجاه هو ما اشار اليه بيان لهيئة النزاهة صدر في 9/3 يحمل فتوى لاية الله السيد على السيستاني بتحريم الرشوة تقول فيها الهيئة “ان السيستاني يسلط الأضواء على محرمات عدة توهم بعض وانخدع بعض آخر بأنها رزق حلال”. صدور الفتوى واشارة هيئة النزاهة تأكيد واضح على الضبابية التي تحيط بالموقف من الفساد لدى الجماعات الحاكمة واتباعها المتورطين فيه.
واذا ما كان يعنينا هنا بالدرجة الاولى هو موقف الجماعات الشيعية من مسألة الفساد فان الامر يبدو حتى لغير اهل الاختصاص ان فقهاء الشيعة لم يهتموا كثيرا بهذه المسألة حيث تكاد كتبهم ورسائل المجتهدين تخلوا من ابواب خاصة باظهار الاحكام بشأن الفساد بانواعه المالي والاقتصادي والادراي، وبالذات نهب الاموال العامة وسؤ استخدامها وعدم المحافظة عليها.صحيح ان البعض تناول قضايا الرشوة المعنوية والمادية وحرمها من باب السحت الحرام، الا ان البعض الاخر اجازها، او احتاط بشأنها، اذا ما كانت، حسب قولهم،  في “مورد الحاجة”، وهو تفسير او بالاحرى فتوى اباحة غريبة، توفر لنا تفسيرا لما يجري في عراق اليوم.
ان اكثر ما نراه في التفسيرات الفقهية الشيعية الحديثة بشأن الفساد هو انه يدخل في باب “اكل المال بالباطل” (وََلا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُمْ بَيْنَكُمْ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتُدْلُوا بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ لِتَأْكُلُوا فَرِيقًا مِنْ أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالْإِثْمِ وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ-البقرة)وهو مصطلح فقهي مستحدث يراد له ان يشمل النهي عن كل انواع  الفساد مع الاقرار ممن صكه ان بعض المفاسد المالية والاقتصادية ليست لها عقوبة دنيوية في الاسلام وانما تترتب عليها عقوبات اخروية فقط. 
ان جزءا اساسيا من هذا الموقف الشرعي الشيعي من مالية الدولة والعلاقة بينها وبين الناس، يعود، في ما اظن، الى جوهر النظرية الشيعية المتعلقة بالامامة وايامانهم عبر التاريخ الاسلامي ان السلطة في العالم الاسلامي السني كانت مغتصبة من قبل الحكام من صاحبها الاصلي اي الامام وورثته.اذ ما دامت الدولة تحكم من قبل سلطة مغتصبة فلا حدود ولا تعزير فيها لانها ليست اسلامية وتفتقد للشرعية، ولربما اعتبر البعض من فقائهم ايضا ان اموال الدولة (غير الشرعية لانها ليست دولة الامام) انفالا والتي يعرفها اية الله السيد محمد محمد صادق الصدر في كتابه “ما وراء الفقه” بانها “كل ما كان ملكا للامام من اموال.
واذا كانت تلك هي الفلسفة المتعلقة بشكل الملكية في دولة غير الامام فان السؤال هو كيف تعاملت الجماعات الشيعية العراقية مع الدولة التي يتولون حكمها، او يقودون حكومتها، منذ سقوط صدام.لاتتوفر هنا اجابات نظرية في مجالات الفقه والتشريع بشان المفهوم الفقهي او الموقف الشرعي من مالية الدولة وهو موقف غريب لانه يطرح السؤال الاهم وهو موقف المرجعية الشيعية العليا من الدولة العراقية الحالية ومدى علاقاتها بدولة الامام المتصورة، او على الاقل هل هي من وجهة النظر الشرعية دولة شيعية.ان عدم التحديد هنا يثير اشكالات بشأن الموقف من التعامل مع الدولة وبضمن ذلك ماليتها وقوانينها ومعاملاتها وبطبيعة الحال الموقف من الفساد باشكالة المختلفة.
وخلاف المفهوم الفقهي، فان الكيفية التي تعاملت بها الحركات والقيادات الاسلامية السياسية الشيعية العراقية مع المال العام عمليا تكشف انها اعتبرت المال العام مالا سائبا ومباحا.فحتى قبل ان تتولى السلطة كانت الحركات الشيعية تنظر للدولة باعتبارها ارثا تستحقحه على نحو شرعي.كانت معظم هذه الحركات ترفع الاية القرأنية ( ونريد أن نمن على الذين استضعفوا في الأرض ونجعلهم أئمة ونجعلهم الوارثينالقصص) شعارا سياسيا لنضالها السياسي ضد نظام صدام بكل ما ينطوي عليه من دلالات بوراثة النظام التي كانوا يتطلعون اليه بعد صدام، وايضا الدولة ذاتها.في هذا السياق ايضا تلجأ هذه الجماعات الى التوسع المفرط في تفسيراتها الخاصة بشأن قضية الملكية وهي ان الارض ومن عليها هي ارث في هذه الحياة وفقا للاية ( ولقد كتبنا في الزبور من بعد الذكر أن الأرض يرثها عبادي الصالحون-الانبياء) حيث تعتبر هذه الحركات نفسها بانها وارثة وان الله قد نصرها في هذه الارض ومكنها من ثرواتها. 
يشكل استيلاء السيد حسين الشامي المقرب من رئيس الوزراء نوري المالكي وحزب الدعوة على مباني وارض جامعة البكر للدراسات العسكرية العليا نموذجا صارخا للفساد الذي تقوم به هذه الجماعات.وقصة هذه المنشأة التي تعود ملكيتها الى وزارة الدفاع وتحولت الى مؤسسة تحمل اسم الامام الصادق اصبحت موثقة بسبب الجدالات التي دارت بشأنها وكيفية تحويلها الى مؤسسة تدر ارباحاً هائلة لاصحابها الجدد والتي لم تنفع كل المحاولات الى اعادتها الى ملكية الدولة.ولم يحاول الشامي وهو رجل دين بارز ان يبرر شرعياً كيفية استيلائه على المبنى ومن ثم شراءه بسعر بخس ودون اجراءات سليمة كعرضها في مزاد علني، او التقيد بالشفافية، مستغلا مركزه وعلاقاته مع السلطات الحاكمة، سوى وصفه للمشروع الذي اقامه بانه اسلامي.
ولم يكن ممكنا ان تتوالى عمليات نهب مماثلة جرت للمال العام منذ بداية الاحتلال الامريكي الا بعد ان ضربت قيادات شيعية بارزة مثالا على ذلك باستيلائها على مباني واراضي ومنشئات الدولة حين احتلت قصوراً ومباني تتبع ملكيتها رجالات نظام صدام، او الدولة بحجج رد المظالم التي تعرضوا لها وبالتالي اباحوا شرعية استباحة المال العام.ولقد شجع ذلك العامة من الناس على الاستيلاء على اراضي الدولة والتجاوز عليها بالبناء في واحدة من اكبر عمليات انتهاك المال المال العام في تاريخ الدولة العراقية والتي تم تشريعها لاحقا من خلال الاقرار بالكثير من تلك التجاوزات رسميا.
تلك كانت بداية رحلة الفساد التي شرعت فيها الجماعات السياسية الشيعية الحاكمة والتي اسست لدولة علي بابا لاحقا والتي ان لم تكن قد وفرت لها الغطاء الشرعي، فانها عجزت عن ان ترفع هذا الغطاء عمن يمارسونه وهو امر كان سيحدث فرقا كبيرا في حجم الفساد الذي ترسخ وتغول وطغى.
ملاحظة/هذا فصل اخر من السلسلة سيتم التوسع فيه لاحقا حين تصدر في كتاب.
الانتخابات العراقية بين ملهاة السياسة ومأساة الواقع
12 أبريل 2014

صلاح النصراوى

تتجاوز الانتخابات التشريعية العراقية المزمع إجراؤها نهاية الشهر الحالى نتائجها المباشرة إلى تقرير مآلات العراق نفسه، حيث يغرق البلد بعد أحد عشر عاما من الغزو الامريكى له فى مستنقع لا قرار له من الفوضى والأزمات، وتنسد أمامه كل افاق المستقبل.ففى الوقت الذى تنغمس فيه الجماعات السياسية التى تمكنت من السلطة اثر الغزو فى سباق محموم من أجل الفوز مجددا بنصيبها من كعكة الثروة والسلطة من خلال صناديق الاقتراع، يبدو العراقيون أنفسهم أكثر اقتناعا الآن مما مضى بأن الانتخابات هى مجرد تمرين عبثى آخر على طريق انهيار الدولة والمجتمع الذى سلكته الجماعات المهيمنة. 
هل يبدو هذا التقييم متشائما، بالأقل إزاء فكرة أن إجراء الاقتراع بحد ذاته يبدو فعلا إيجابيا يستحق التثمين، كما يجادل المتفائلون، حيث تشكل الانتخابات السد الأخير أمام ذلك الانهيار ومنح الشرعية الضرورية لحمايته وتحصينه.شخصيا لا أعتقد ذلك، إذ أن كل عراقى يدرك بالتجربة الآن أنه وفى ظل قواعد المحاصصة الاثنوطائفية التى أقيم عليها نظام ما بعد صدام حسين فإن الانتخابات الثالثة ستعيد انتاج نفس تلك المنظومة من الجماعات والسياسات والقيم المسئولة عما وصلت إليه الأوضاع فى العراق من ترد جعلت منه واحدا من أسوأ اماكن العيش فوق كوكبنا هذا.
تأتى الانتخابات وسط تدهور أمنى فظيع وأزمات سياسية ودستورية وخلافات حول السلطة والموارد وصراعات طائفية وقومية هى بمجملها نتاج فشل المرحلة الانتقالية التى اعقبت الغزو الامريكى عام 2003 فى العبور بالعراق إلى مرحلة إعادة بناء الدولة والمجتمع.والعامل الأساسى الذى يقف وراء ذلك الفشل هو ذات الطبقة السياسية التى قادت العملية السياسية بعد انتخابات عامى 2005 و2010 والتى تسعى الآن إلى تجديد رخصة هيمنتها على السلطة من خلال الانتخابات المقبلة.
ان أزمة العراق المستفحلة خلال أكثر من عقد هى أزمة قيادة بالدرجة الأولى حيث عجزت هذه الطبقة عن تقديم حلول بارعة للمشكلات العويصة التى واجهتها المرحلة الانتقالية، وذلك لأسباب عديدة منها افتقادها الخبرة والرؤية والخيال السياسى والنظرة الاستراتيجية، ومنها تخندقها وراء العصبيات الطائفية والاثنية.كان العراق فى ذلك المنعطف الخطير من تاريخه بحاجة إلى قيادات حكيمة ونزيهة وواعية وشجاعة تقود مشروعا وطنيا للبناء والنهضة وبرنامج ــ ديمقراطى ــ للتغير والتنوير إلا أن الزمن لم يجد إلا بطغم لم تجلب للعراق سوى المبائس والآلام والخراب.
هنا تكمن الأزمة العراقية بالذات حيث تحول برنامج التغير والتحول لمرحلة ما بعد صدام إلى مشروع سيطرة وتحكم فى الدولة وفى الموارد وانتصار لطائفة معينة على الطوائف والأعراق الأخرى، وإطلاق معارك الهويات الصغرى، فى حين تلاشت بالتدريج أهداف المشروع الوطنى وعناصر الهوية الوطنية المتميزة، وتبخرت معها، بطبيعة الحال، الأطر الديمقراطية والدستورية التى تمت صياغتها لتوجيه وإدارة العملية الانتقالية، وما كان ينبغي أن توفره من عدالة وتكافؤ ومشاركة.
النتيجة الأسوأ لأزمة المشروع الوطنى العراقى هى ظهور المشكلة الطائفية التى أصبحت العقبة الكأداء أمام عملية إعادة بناء الدولة وإنجاح الفترة الانتقالية، ليس فقط من خلال الفشل فى تحقيق أى إجماع وطنى وتوافق سياسى وبالتالى مصالحة وطنية، بل بسبب الإخفاق أيضا فى الوصول إلى مشاركة حقيقية وتقاسم فعلى للسلطة والثروة فى عراق قائم على أساس التعددية والتنوع.إن أسوأ ما فى نهج المحاصصة الاثنو لطائفية هو تحوله إلى نظام سياسى قائم على مبدأ الأغلبية والأقلية فى المجتمع، وليس فقط فى السلطة، دون اعتبار لمفهومى المواطنة والشراكة، والحقوق والواجبات المترتبة عليهما.
ما أنتجته سياسات التمكين واستراتيجيات الهيمنة التى مارستها الأغلبية بحق الأقلية هو التهيمش والإقصاء والعزل والتقزيم، مما أدى إلى فشل جهود المصالحة الوطنية، وكشف عن استحالة تحقيقها، كما أخل بالتوازن الوطني، وأفرز خطابات وممارسات مذهبية، وأوجد صراعا طائفيا أخذ بالنهاية منهجا مسلحا.ولا غرابة أن النهج الإقصائى التعسفى امتد ليشمل كل العراقيين من مختلف المذاهب والاعراق الذين يرفضون وضع الوطن فى حجرة هوية ضيقة ويأنفون عن ركوب الموجة الاثنوطائفية وما يصاحبها من برامج جهنمية وردات فعل غرائزية.
كل هذا يدفع إلى الاعتقاد بأن إجراء الانتخابات البرلمانية فى ظل المشهد الطائفى الزاحف يعد تهربا سرياليا من الواقع يصل إلى حد كونه ملهاة ساخرة يدعون إليها العراقيين بهدف إعادة التصديق على صيغة المحاصصة الطائفية وتجديد شرعية العملية السياسية القائمة عليها.ما ستتمخض عنه هذه الجولة الانتخابية هو إعادة إنتاج نفس السياسات وذات الأشخاص الذين كانوا سببا فى وقوع العراق فى هذا الشرك البنيوى المحكم الذى سيظل العراق عالقا فيه والمتمثل فى الفصل الطائفى الزاحف على كل مناحى الحياة.
إن القول بأن الانتخابات استحقاق دستورى وطريق ديمقراطى وآلية اختيار حر، هو فى السياق العراقى الحالى بضاعة بالية ولغو فارغ، بل واذا شئنا ميكافيلية سافرة، في ظل حقائق مزرية على رأسها الكلام المكشوف حول الاهداف الطائفية للجماعات السياسية المتنافسة وانماط القوائم والدعوات للتصويت للسياسات الطائفية والغياب الصارخ لخطاب الوطن والمواطنة.ما تكشف عنه المعسكرات الانتخابية هو ان العراق اصبح اشبه بدول الفصل العنصري، حيث جماعة واحدة محددة الاصول، تسيطر “ديمقراطيا” على الفضاء العام، وحيث الامن والموارد تشكل الاداتين الرئيسيتين لحرمان الاخرين من المساواة في السلطة والثروة.
فالمأزق الذى ستتمخض عنه الانتخابات المقبلة هو حالة مستدامة من الانقسام الجغرافى والسياسي، سيظل يدور فى الفضاء الصراعى الطائفي، ما لم يتم إجراء تحولات إساسية فى الخطوط الحمراء الموضوعة من قبل الجماعات الطائفية لإعادة بناء الدولة على أسس من العدالة والمساواة.العراق بحاجة إلى بنية سياسية جديدة يتخطى من خلالها حالة الصراع، إذ لا ديمقراطية، ولا معنى للانتخابات مع استمرار الاحتراب الأهلى الذى يوسع من شقة الخلافات ويضع البلد برمته على حافة التفكك والانهيار.

Iraq’s futile elections

With their hopes for change dashed by chaos, Iraqis are losing interest in another meaningless set of elections, writes Salah Nasrawi
Shortly before Iraq kicked off the election campaign for the 2014 parliamentary polls last week, the Shia-led government sent a draft emergency bill to parliament that introduces draconian anti-democracy measures.
The National Safety Law, as it is billed, raises serious questions about the viability of the parliamentary elections as the government plans to twist the constitution and take unrelenting actions against its critics and opponents.
The proposed law gives the government the right to impose sweeping restrictions on the freedoms of movement, travel, speech and political activities.
Under the law, the government can impose censorship on media, personal letters, cables and emails as part of larger restrictions if it deems these necessary “to confront security threats from military or non-military actions”.
It can also declare curfews, issue house arrests, limit the opening hours of shops, take control of state economic assets and delay payments of government debts.
The law has yet to be ratified by the parliament, but concerns have been raised that Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who is seeking a third consecutive term in office, might be planning the emergency measures in order to manipulate the elections. 
The elections, scheduled for 30 April, also come amid political turmoil, constitutional disputes and increasing instability in the country, which have cast heavy shadows over the polls.
Violence has risen sharply in the past year, fuelling fears that Iraq is slipping back into the all-out communal conflict that plagued the country following the US-led invasion in 2003 and left hundreds of thousands dead.
UN figures put the overall toll for 2013 at 8,873 deaths in violent attacks across Iraq, while nearly three thousand people have been killed this year alone, not including in the rebellious Sunni-populated town of Fallujah.
On the other hand, Iraq’s annual budget has been languishing in parliament over a dispute between the Baghdad central government and the self-ruled Kurdistan region. Political stalemate has gripped the country as ethno-sectarian bickering and disagreements over sharing power and oil revenues have continued vigorously.
Parliamentary elections are required to be held once every four years. In the event a group or coalition wins a majority of the seats, it can then go on to form a government.
More than 9,000 candidates are vying for the 328 seats in parliament. Dozens of hopefuls, including four current MPs, have been disqualified either for links with the former regime of former president Saddam Hussein, for their bad reputation, or for having criminal records. 
But the race still appears to be a wide-open competition between Iraq’s three main communities, the Shia, the Sunnis and the Kurds, whose candidates run on ethnic and sectarian tickets.
Iraq has been ruled by a Shia-led coalition government for the last decade, and questions now largely centre on whether the new parliament can ever hope to change the hopelessly dysfunctional ethno-sectarian based political system created by the Americans for the post-Saddam era.
Even before the election campaign officially kicked off on 1 April, the main contenders in the increasingly bitter battle to lead the violence-torn country had been intensifying their mobilisation and personal duels.
The polls are expected to worsen Iraq’s already fragile communal ties, as political parties typically conduct election campaigns by appealing to voters’ sectarian, ethnic or tribal backgrounds rather than to national issues.
The UN envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, has warned that the elections seem to be “highly divisive” as parties have been appealing to their sectarian bases at a time of worsening violence.
Al-Maliki is also eyeing a third term in office, even as he faces criticisms from opponents who accuse him of an authoritarian style of government at odds with Iraq’s post-Saddam constitutional system of political compromise and consensus-building.
They have also been attempting to capitalise on his failure to provide security and basic services in the country, as well as to curb the rampant corruption which has combined to make Iraq one of the most deadly and miserable places on earth.
Since the campaign started, the rhetoric against Al-Maliki has increased, with key politicians and religious leaders picking on his mistakes and political follies.
Top Sunni politician and speaker of the parliament Osama Al-Nujaifi warned on Sunday that Iraq’s failure would have far-reaching consequences, including serious “repercussions for the entire world”.
Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani has warned that the political process launched by the Americans and installing Al-Maliki in power is now “on the verge of failure”.
“Iraq is disintegrating,” he said in an interview with the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat on Friday.
Even Shia leaders who traditionally have defended Shia empowerment against Sunni opposition have become disenchanted with Al-Maliki’s policies.
Representatives of Shia Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, who rarely speaks in public, have been urging voters to choose “new faces” instead of “the ones who have brought no good to Iraq”.
Another Grand Ayatollah, Basheer Najafi, has gone public in demanding that Al-Maliki step down. “If Al-Maliki stays in power, Iraq will never be able to stand up again,” he said in a statement last week.
Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada Al-Sadr also urged Al-Maliki not to run for a third term, accusing him of terrorising Sunnis so that they did not go to the polls in the upcoming elections.
He has repeatedly accused Al-Maliki of trying to “build a dictatorship” by excluding his partners from the government.
Now there are increasing signs that Barzani, Al-Sadr and the leader of the Shia Iraqi Islamic Council Ammar Al-Hakim are coordinating their efforts to stop Al-Maliki from getting a third term in office.
Al-Maliki seems to be unable to counter his opponents’ confident campaign, but he may be using the prolonged instability in the country to outmaneuver his opponents and even stage-manage crises.
The four-month standoff in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province between the Iraqi security forces and Al-Qaeda linked militants seems to be Al-Maliki’s best bet in appealing for Shia votes.
Many now fear that Al-Maliki will also use the emergency measures he has proposed to parliament, even though the new law has not been ratified, if he feels the chances of his reelection have been compromised.
Others believe that he may resort to drumming up hostile sentiments in order to deepen the divide between the two branches of Islam in Iraq in an attempt to gain more Shia votes.
In the latest escalation, al-Maliki has threatened to use “the most extreme force” against Sunni rebels who seized a major dam on the Euphrates and cut water supplies to southern Shia provinces.
This has raised fears that al-Maliki could use the new dispute to whip up the Shias against the Sunnis in order to garner more support among the Shias ahead of the elections.
In another worrying development, al-Maliki ordered security to be tightened around Baghdad this week in what officials say was a precautionary measure against a possible incursion of Al-Qaeda fighters from Sunni-dominated satellite towns into the capital.
Obviously, all these moves indicate that al-Maliki, who is facing electoral difficulty at the polls, is using the sectarian card to perpetuate fears among Shias and herd Shia voters in his direction.
One reason behind al-Maliki’s increasing resort to sectarian hectoring is the mounting evidence that the race will not attract a large portion of the electorate, even among Shia voters.
Frustration with al-Maliki’s self-serving and mostly authoritarian politics, combined with the fact that he has failed to bring security to the country, is expected to damp down turnout in the elections for the Iraqi parliament.
In post-Saddam Iraq’s first poll in 2005, when the elections were trumpeted as Iraq’s “example of democracy,” about 79.6 per cent of the electorate cast their votes. Four years later, only 64 per cent of voters showed up in polling stations.
Another low turnout was registered in the local elections in 2013, when only 50 per cent of people voted although three million new voters were added to the electoral rolls.
Many now fear that the wave of political apathy that has been sweeping Iraq will also dent voter turnout at this month’s balloting, as the country’s leaders fail to resolve political and sectarian tensions.
In fact, regardless of voter participation Iraq’s elections are increasingly proving to be meaningless, as they continue to produce sectarianism instead of genuine democracy and the rule of the people.
If the country’s present pointless elections mean anything, it is that they will change nothing and will remain a scandal for the country’s democracy. Indeed, many people in Iraq see things this way already, even if the sectarian politicians do not.