Despite U.S. efforts to improve security in Iraq to allow political reconciliation between the different parties, progress remains painfully slow.
Achieving stability will require the reintegration of Ba'athist insurgents, improved oil regulations, and the elimination of sectarian quotas according to Iraqi legislators during a recent Carnegie briefing- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Dr. Nadim Al-Jaberi
Dr. Nadim Al-Jaberi is a member of the Iraqi parliament, and co-founder of the al-Fadhila Party, a nationalist Shiite political party based in the south of Iraq. Dr. Al-Jaberi was a political science professor at the University of Baghdad.
He is the author of 15 books and 30 papers about political issues. Dr. Al-Jaberi is against a long-term presence of any foreign troops in Iraq, against partitioning Iraq, and in favor of maintaining a strong central government.
Sheikh Khalaf Al-Ulayyan
Sheikh Khalaf Al-Ulayyan is a member of the Iraqi Parliament, founder of the National Dialogue Council, (a nationalist Sunni Islamist political party), and representative of the Sunni Accord Front.
Sheikh Al-Ulayyan is an influential tribal leader. He is against sectarian politics and partitioning and stresses the importance of ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq. He supports a strong central Iraqi government and nationalized energy sector.
Marina Ottaway works on issues of political transformation in the Middle East and Gulf security. A long-time analyst of the formation and transformation of political systems, she has also written on political reconstruction in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, and African countries.
Before joining the Endowment, Ottaway carried out research in Africa and in the Middle East for many years and taught at the University of Addis Ababa, the University of Zambia, the American University in Cairo, and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
Her extensive research experience is reflected in her publications, which include nine authored books and six edited ones. Her most recent publications include Getting to Pluralism, co-authored with Amr Hamzawy and Yemen on the Brink, co-edited with Christopher Boucek. She is also the author of Iraq: Elections 2010, an online guide to Iraqi politics.
Good afternoon. Sorry for the delay. We had some complicationswith the translation equipment. Welcome to the Carnegie Endowment. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m Marina Ottaway, thedirector of the Middle East Program here. Thank you so much for coming for what should be avery interesting conversation with the two Iraqi Parliamentarians.When we first announced the meeting, we thought that there would be a delegation of fivepeople. Some had visa complications and travel complications, but we are delighted to have with usSheikh Khalaf Al-Ulayyan to my far right and Dr. Nadim Al-Jaberi to my near right. Sheikh Khalafis a representative of the Iraqi National Dialogue Council. Dr. Nadim Al-Jaberi represents theIslamic Virtue Party. You all have complete bios and I will not take a lot of time in introducingthem. You can read the rest for yourself.I would also like to apologize to our guests. We are not giving them much time to relax.They spoke to the press and we are not giving them time to eat. And we realize that for people whoare not used to Washington ways, this habit of eating while at the head table is somewhatuncivilized, but thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s the way we do things in Washington.The format of the event is somewhat different from what we do. Because we thought wehad a large delegation, we decided against initial statements, so weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll go directly into questions andanswers. I will start by posing some questions myself and very soon I will open it up to the public,because IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m sure that you all have a lot of questions that we want to add. So without further ado, Ithink we will move into the questions.And the first question that I would like to pose concerns the political process, the process ofreconciliation. There is a perception in the United States that the process of reconciliation in Iraq isnot going well. We read the reports in the press about the difficulties that the Parliament has had inpassing important legislation. There is still not an oil law. It took a very long time to get anagreement on the provincial elections and so on. And what I would like to hear from you is anassessment of how the political process, how the process of reconciliation, is unfolding in Iraq at thepresent time.Perhaps discussion about the national reconciliation is a rather bitter one.But I do believe that the fundamental key for reconciliation in Iraq is reconciliation, national reconciliation. A few months ago, the prime minister had an initiative in this respect. AndI believe that any reconciliation has conditions and has mechanisms, the flaws of which are suffered, the flaws of which are suffered today and make us unable to reach true national reconciliation,and this is somewhat strange, of coursebecause until now the parties to the conflict have not been determined yetSo who are we reconciling with?So this is the problem that is still continuing along with the political process.And I believe that determining the parties to the conflict should be undertaken in the following mannerWe have to classify them in two kinds:the political power that is participating in the political processand the second power standing outside the political process and perhaps opposing itI believe this is the most appropriate introduction to national reconciliationand this is what has not been declared until this very moment yetSo once we have determined who the parties to the conflict are, then we can move on to an unconditional dialogue between themSo in order for us to reach an initiative on national reconciliation,each of the parties to the conflict has to also express their good faith.And the following steps are expressions of good will.First of all, eliminate any rules or laws that have an exceptional or eliminating nature.Second, declare a national or general amnestyPart of this has already happenedThirdly, to eliminate the sectarian and ethnic codas in the political process because they obstruct that process.And finally, try to redraft this experience on the basis of a country of citizenshipwhich means that civil political parties would run in the elections and let the better winThese are the kinds of initiatives that could calm the fears of the other parties.Those who are outside the political process also have to make expressions of their good will.For example, those who are bearing arms should not target civilians any longerand refrain from any extremist discourse, be it religious or nationalistic.Thirdly, accept the principle that elections are the only way by which to accede to power.In my modest assessment, this is the best introduction to fair dialogue between the two partieswhich may result in a national reconciliationwhich we expect will include the point of views of both partiesso that when it is presented, it is not totally rejected.Then we can have a second round of discussions in order to settle the points that are still not discussed.And then we can launch a larger scope of national reconciliation through which we can settle any other differences we may have at the national levelThat may include the mechanisms, the amendment of the constitution, other measures.I believe these would be the benchmarks towards a real national reconciliation.But so far nothing has been done in this respect and the other parties have to provide some initiatives to improve this dialogue.And neither the regional countries nor international entities have participated to reach the solution of these problemsBut I do believe that these are the essential and fundamental points toward a national reconciliationWith our deep respect for any other point of viewwhich we, of course, can listen to and discuss and have a dialogue in this respect.Thank You.Sheikh Khalaf, would you like to add something?In the name of God most compassionate and most merciful.Dr Al-Jaberi has very well expounded on the conditions for a national reconciliation and I would add that this will not be possible unless we include all the Iraqis in this and as well as the Iraqi parties, including even the BaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ath and other partiesThe Iraqi resistance is a very important party to this reconciliation and we should stay away from describing the resistance as being a terrorist movementMany factions of this resistance have very greatly contributed to fighting al Qaeda elements and eliminating their operations.And there are also about 2 million people who were former adherents to the old BaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ath regimeAnd this is a very large number that we can except from this action of reconciliation. We have to include them in itAnd of those, if anyone is judged to be harmful to the Iraqi people and society, then there is a different way of making sure that they are not included in the political process.There are two steps that are very important toward national reconciliation. The first one is a general amnesty toward all those who have borne arms in the pastAnd what IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m saying here is those who have borne arms against the occupation and not against the Iraqi civilian populationSuch a law has already been publishedIt has been passed, but has not been implemented in a true manner yet,because there are some people who are still controlling the enforcement of this lawthat do not wish for these people to be included in the pardon and be released from jailsalthough we are deeply convinced that most of them are innocentAnd when we talk about pardon or amnesty, we mean it towards someone who is a culprit, not an innocent.The second step is talking about the internally displaced people.We need to remember first of all that there are more than 4,600,000 people who are considered ex-patriots who live outside of Iraqwho suffer very much,are very badly treated, and most of them canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t even find foodbecause they have run out of fundingor because they cannot receive the rationing tickets to get their food.And considering that these food tickets and their salaries or any other source of funds have been cut off from them has made their lives even more miserable than ever beforeIn addition, there are the 2 million Iraqis who are internally displaced inside of Iraq.Those people were robbed of their propertiesand expelled from their homesand, therefore, they must be returned to their dwellings and their properties returned to them and feel secure and protectedShould these matters be taken into consideration,Another obstacle in the national reconciliation is the constitution.Many articles still need to be amended and they still are the point of contention among the various political parties and factions.These are the subject matters that I wanted to add to what my colleague just presented.Would you like ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ was the second part of your question with regard to the oil law or what would you like for him to answer?Not specifically, not at this point.I have a comment with regard to the oil or petroleum law.This oil law is extremely important for the Iraqi peoplebecause we definitely need a law that would regulate the production and distribution of oiland would regulate investments in this very strategic sector.But this law has to be drafted in a very serious manner in order to take into consideration the interests of the Iraqi peopleand would be under the oversight and supervision of Iraqi people who know how to draft lawsThe actual law in its present form is not very well draftedbecause it has bypassed the law of the Iraqi oil companyand bypassed investment laws It gave more to foreign investment companies than they deservebecause it has linked and kept Iraq within accords and agreements long-term agreements, more than they shouldand has allowed investment in some oil fields that have been already explored and some that are in the process of production alreadywhereas our understanding is that investment should be in oil fields that have not been explored yetAnd it does not consider some of the fields that have not been explored, such as Majnun fieldand the Ramala fieldand the Nafthana oil fieldbecause as I mentioned earlier these fields are for Iraq only and are not in common with anyoneand Ramala and Majnun are far enough from the bordersexcept for the Nafthana oil field, which is called in Iran NafahachaThis field is in common between Iraq and Iran.Therefore, this law has not regulated the actual situation where Iraq has stopped its production, whereas Iran is continuing its production on this oil field. So this is a very imbalanced situation.We are not denying that an agreement or law on oil is necessary for Iraq However, we do specify that we need the conditions that I have just mentioned earlier.These are most of my comments with regard to this lawand perhaps Dr. Nadim has another comment.The draft oil and gas that is being presented to us contains two points that are of concern to usOne is the protection sharing agreementsThese kind of touch on the sovereignty of Iraq and give more to the companiesThe other point of concern is the excessive privatization that is being proposed.Oil production constitutes more than 90 percent of the Iraqi income.We are not rejecting privatization as far as the principle is concerned,but from the point of view of resultsbecause privatization will go to foreign investment and not to the Iraqi peoplePlease do not imagine that the situation is the same way as it is in the United States where when you have privatization, the capital moves to American capitals,whereas in Iraq if we have privatization it will be to the advantage of foreign investment, not to Iraqi investment.. So you can imagine the impact of such a step for people 90 percent of whose income comes from oil production.Even the national oil company that is referred to in that law will not be in a position to compete with foreign investmentTherefore, we believe that it should be given precedence over foreign companies.Thank you very much. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢d like to push a little more on this issue ofreconciliation because it is so central. Both of you have indicated that it is important to include allgroups in this process of reconciliation. You talked about the BaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ath party, you talked about someof the insurgents and so on. The question is how do you do that? What is the mechanism that youenvisage to use? Are you calling for a national conference that will include some of these groups,like what happened for example for Afghanistan? Are you calling for new elections in which otherparties would be allowed to participate? How do you broaden that process? Maybe this time weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢llstart with Sheikh Khalaf.First of all, there has to be committees and task forces mixed task forces between the Iraqi government and the parties in order to discuss this issue.But before doing so, there has to be a true will to implement and have a real national reconciliation.Many of the ruling political parties try to except these other parties from the process and donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t even mention their names.It is the right of all to manage the interests of our countryThe justification earlier used to be that we have an abusive regime, SaddamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s regime . Now that it's gone, there is no reason for us not to be able to manage our own affais.The political process includes many parties and we need to classify these parties in several categories. There are those that have participated or have helped the foreign occupation and then there are those who have their own agenda that they would like to further and then there are those who oppose both. In addition, there are the parties that did not participate at all and these include the BaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ath Party and the resistance movements, which must be respected for what they have done.The resistance movement has changed its tactics because there is another threat that is more dangerous to Iraq than the occupation, and that is Iran, which has infiltrated its ranks.And therefore, we have seen that many of these factions of the resistance have confronted al Qaeda and were able to neutralize their operationsand have been able through the al Sawha or awakening groupsto make stability prevail which is something that the American troops were not able to do over five yearsTherefore, these people have to be taken into consideration in the political process and must be respectedshould the government or the American governmentso these governments have to know that any people who are under occupation have a sacred duty to protect themselves and defend their country and this is well known in heavenly and earthly lawsThese people are not terrorists. They are not gangsters. And they have the right to participate in the political process.This requires that the government declares whoever has borne armsin that manner onlyand this does not include the terrorists who have killed the civiliansand does not include other terrorist organizations that have harmed the interests of IraqThen a task force and committeesincluding the Arab League and the United Nations can be formed in orderto establish and found the basis on which this national reconciliation can be builtThank you.As far as the mechanism of reconciliation, I do not believe that conferences are the appropriate venuebecause conferences include large numbers of people I mean, imagine that weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re sitting here just in this room and weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re trying to solve some problemsObviously, we wonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t be able to.But when it is a restricted and small group, then it may be a lot easierIn addition, conferences are very embarrassing for conflicting partiesbecause no information will truly be disclosed during these conferencesTherefore, I believe that the mechanisms that Ms. Ottaway has suggested may have more to do with dialogues and not conferences.As to determining which are the conflicting parties,this is left to the Iraqi government and the parties who are participating in the political process to determinebecause they will determine who are the conflicting partiesAnd I believe that they are quite obvious.And in general, we can divide them in two categories.One is armed and the other is not.The armed parties are known by their actionsand those that are not armed are known by their political stanceAnd the final solutionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ or at the bottom line, everybody will know who is who.You will also notice that the motivations are differentbecause motivation is a very important factor in determining which are the partiesSo if anyone comes back and comes and says, oh, we have to go back to dictatorship in Iraq, it's clear who that group isThis is equivalent to the government saying, I do not wish for this group to be participating or the otherTherefore, the principle on which we should all agree is that elections are the only approach through which we can run our countryOnce we have agreed on the principles, all the rest is detail subject to dialogue and discussionThank youI have a small follow-upWhat I meant by conference is not including everybody, all people in that process, but the task force and committees would decide who would come to the meetingsThe conference would include the decision-makers and the major leaders.These conferences would be used only to make the official declarations that will commit every party to what they have decided in front of the international communityBut if you hold a conference that includes all sorts of people, of course it will fail.Thank you