- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A fresh look at U.S. policy toward Iraq is vital, especially after the long time that elapsed since the liberation of Iraq and the lack of tangible progress and the critical state of affairs that Iraq has reached.

Let us not forget the dangers posed to our nations by terrorism.

Such policy and decision can only be taken by a brave man like President Bush. Thanks to his courageous leadership, two terrorist regimes, the Taliban’s Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, no longer exist. Without these two essential wars, the danger of terrorism would have been much higher and many more incidents like September 11 would have taken place.

To those who say that the liberation of Iraq was a mistake, I say: September 11 took place before the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a fighter and a Peshmerga, I know how difficult it is to take a decision to go into war. I know too that that the war was the only way to stop the terrorists from taking the fight to the United States.

I strongly believe that history will judge Mr. Bush as someone who contributed to the protection of the free world from the threat of terror. He will be remembered as someone who did not allow the values of democracy, freedom and peace to be undermined by terrorism. In taking the fight against the terrorists to their homes, it is true and unfortunate that there are casualties amongst the American troops. But let us not forget that the terrorists are also sustaining daily casualties as dozens of them are being killed or captured every day. Their hideouts are being exposed.

We should not forget that the vast majority of the people of Iraq were against the regime and welcomed liberation. It took only 24 days in 2003 for the liberating troops to topple the Saddam — nobody recalls any resistance to them.

Without going into the history, the current complicated political and security situation of Iraq is the result of mistakes committed after liberation.

The main challenge today for the U.S. and Mr. Bush is restoring the situation in Iraq. As the heated debate rages on the way forward, the following can be done:

1. An effective government formed from all leaders of the political parties. Such government can even include those who are in the insurgency and did not commit crimes against the people of Iraq. Thus, such government will be representative of all segments of Iraqi society through their political parties.

2. The political parties that are loyal to new Iraq and believe in a strategic alliance with the U.S. can secure large parts of Iraq. This will not stir any conflicts amongst the people of Iraq — the successful experience of the Kurdish forces in securing certain parts of Baghdad is a prime example of that.

3. The Multinational Forces can be kept in military bases outside the cities and towns and not on the streets. They can provide support for the Iraqi forces and be kept away from the threat of terrorist attacks.

4. Sufficient budget can be allocated for all the regions of Iraq. This will help in providing job opportunities for the local population and prevents the terrorists from exploiting them. Such step will need adequate planning in coordination with the Iraqi government. This setup can be tried for a period of time, if it proves unsuccessful, then the only other option would be to restructure Iraq into four federal regions: northern (Kurdistan), central (Sunni), southern (Shi’ite) and Baghdad.

The wealth of the country would be distributed to all four regions in accordance with the population and with taking into account an extra percentage for each region — based on the region’s wealth and contribution to the federal budget.

The United States of America can support these regions through four established military bases in each one of them. The support can be political, military and economic. This can be organized through a long-term strategic agreement with the federal government.

In any of the scenarios above, the United States can rely on their Iraqi allies and friends. As a democratic power in the new Iraq, the Kurds are today part of the solution and not the problem.

Here, I stress that the Kurds are proud to be friends and allies of America.

But in return, the United States bears a responsibility to strengthen and protect their allies. The implementation of Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which outlines the solution for the city of Kirkuk, is essential to strengthening this alliance and making the Kurds more committed, and ready to sacrifice, for the new Iraq.

As committed democrats, we believe that America’s success is ours. As fighters of terrorism, dictatorship and tyranny, we see that neither America nor we can afford to fail. In short, we stand for the same values and strive for the same goals as America.

Kosrat Rasool Ali is vice president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

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