Ayad Allawi: There can be no stability in Iraq without security

The surge in Iraq has caused some success; it has temporarily improved the situation, but the situation is still fragile. I think it is the role of the government now to capitalise on what has happened in addressing two important issues.

The first is reconciliation. We have, as you know, millions of refugees and displaced people inside Iraq. We have problems with the constitution; we have problems with a lot of the laws that have been politicised, such as de-Baathification and the dismantlement of the army. So reconciliation is becoming really a must in Iraq. It is the only way that security can prevail.

The second issue is the change to institutions of the states on a non-sectarian basis. We know that a sectarian police, a sectarian army, a sectarian security, would not be able to uphold the responsibility in the whole of the country. That's why we have been calling for a non-sectarian army, a non-sectarian police, and this is where we see that the surge has opened the doors now to a transient, temporary stability.

I am full of confidence that Iraq will pass through this bottleneck. We had full tyranny for a very long time. I personally fought tyranny for 30 years and I think the Iraqi people have the strength and the stamina to continue fighting for freedom, not only for Iraq but also for the greater Middle East.

Meanwhile, we in the parliament don't know what's happening vis-à-vis the the United Nations mandate, which is ending at the end of this year. Nor do we know about what is happening between the United States and Iraq vis-à-vis the proposed security agreement. But if this agreement does not hold, does not get the approval of the Iraqi people, then we need to look at various options, including the option of extending the mandate of the United Nations.

No Iraqi, no citizen of any country, likes to see foreign troops positioned in their countries. And as the parliament we were, in our programme in both elections, the only ones who called for conditional withdrawal of the multinational forces, based on the conditions and based on objectives.

The driving issue here is stability. Without it there is no progress. The whole region has been in a state of severe turmoil and tension. And if anything, this tension and turmoil is expanding, and is hurting the people of the area and is rendering the stability a far-fetched objective.

At the heart of stability is security, and at the heart of security, as far as Iraq is concerned, are the institutions worthy of handling the responsibilities and the reconciliation.

Dr Allawi is chairman of the National List in the Iraqi parliament. This is taken from a debate last week at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace