- The Washington Times - Monday, March 13, 2006

Iraq is part of the much wider sociopolitical order of the Middle East. For solutions to be successful, Iraqi problems therefore need a much broader approach.

A domestic approach, albeit plausible in the past, is impossible today. Foreign forces with contradicting interests entered Iraq and changed the sociopolitical order. The former balance of power had to change. More serious regional problems have to be addressed before expecting the Iraqi crisis to be solved.

The Iraqi fire is constantly fueled by our neighbor to the east. This violence will never cease without a major change in the Iranian policies. Blowing up the Holy Shrine in Samara is a blunt example of a disgraceful attempt to stoke religious strife and block progress of political process in Iraq, widely exploited by the Iranian regime to foment sectarian frictions.

Day by day, as more and more groups of Iraqis engage in the political process, the road to democracy looks rosier.

The achievements so far are very frail and could easily be shattered, unless the main threat is addressed and overcome.

The recent elections set a prime example of the meddling in Iraqi business. Many nationalists and independent forces were eliminated through blatant fraud and rigging.

Annulling the results of the elections would have proven too pricey for the international community to accept. The results of Round One are in and we can accept them for now. But, let’s make no mistake, the fire is still burning under the ashes. A decent government of accord will be “first aid,” but no definitive treatment.

The absence of social and political freedoms in the Middle East has almost halted economic and political progress in these countries. The last three years have seen the U.S. administration’s great interest in civil liberties of this part of the world, unfortunately, with little or no progress.

Fundamentalism, especially the Islamic type coming from our neighboring country, has wreaked the necessary havoc to retard development of democracy in Iraq.

Iranian hegemony over Iraq was best achieved by denying others the right to freely compete and get what’s rightly theirs. The strong religious convictions of Middle Easterners were fully exploited for this purpose. Let’s not overlook the fact that those fundamentalist theocrats would stop short of nothing to reach their goals. Exporting terror is a tool to preserve their power. A Newton style reaction is in order. The People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran could provide the missing link in this phenomenon.

Recognizing that fundamentalism, expressed through state-sponsored terrorism, is the first step toward finding the solution for all the problems in Iraq.

This is perpetrated by Iraqis but actually pushed by Iranians. Civil liberties and democratic options can only thrive when these radical activities are discontinued.

The PMOI has steadfastly confronted Iran’s oppressors for more than 27 years. They are staunch Shi’ites and strong believers in genuinely democratic foundations of Islam. Women stand tall in the organization’s structure and hierarchy. This makes the PMOI a unique, democratic entity worthy of enabling support to combat the Iranian terror in Iraq.

It is especially interesting to note the danger posed by export of terrorism sanctioned in the Iranian constitution. The constitution states the Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (RGCI) are not only charged with protecting the country’s borders but also with an ideological duty to crusade and expand God’s rule around the world.

Another part of the preface to the Iranian Constitution states that the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran paves the way for continuing the revolution inside Iran and abroad. It also allows and calls for expanded relations with other popular movements with similar goals. This per se serves as an umbrella to support all forms of fundamentalism.

The Iraqi ship that has been rocking violently amid raging waves of the Middle East ocean will one day settle ashore. Those who have helped it safely reach that shore will be well remembered, thanked and rewarded.

Hatem J Mukhlis, M.D., is the secretary-general of the Iraqi National Movement, and a member in the Iraq interim transitional assembly. He is U.S.-educated and is an important party to the ongoing negotiations for forming the new government and has advocated the political process in Iraq.

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