Patrick Cockburn: Perceptive analysis contrasts with White House rhetoric

Share

Ali A Allawi, until recently an Iraqi minister, is one of Iraq's most respected Shia politicians of the post-Saddam era. His study of the crisis in Iraq is by far the most perceptive analysis of the extent of the disaster in his country, and how it might best be resolved. It is in sharp contrast to the ill-thought-out maunderings of experts and officials devising fresh policies in the White House and Downing Street.

At the centre of Mr Allawi's ideas on how "to pull the Middle East from its death spiral" is finding a means to meet the fears generated inside and outside Iraq by the tectonic changes within the country.

This means recognition of the gains of the Shia and the Kurds, but also restraint on their part so the Sunni do not see themselves as being marginalised. It requires that the anxieties of Iraq's neighbours be allayed and the regional powers "Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran" be involved in a final settlement.

It may be too late. Mr Allawi speaks of finding a way "to save America's face" while the US exits Iraq, but this will be difficult while George Bush still has dreams of victory and is sending reinforcements.

But Mr Allawi's study, which is based on familiarity with all the main players gained during his years in government, is the first real attempt to suggest the Middle East might pull out of its death spiral. Born into a Baghdad family in 1947, Mr Allawi acquired most of his higher education abroad, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, LSE and Harvard, then working for financial companies and merchant banks.

He is closely related to prominent Iraqi politicians and joined joined the anti-Baathist opposition in 1968 as a member of Iraq's exile community in London where much of the early opposition to Saddam was based.

Mr Allawi fears that the Shia ascendancy in Iraq will lead to the persecution of Shia in countries where they are a minority, such as Saudi Arabia.

There is already a rekindling of anti-Shia rhetoric in a remarkably similar rerun of the pattern that accompanied the Saudi-led campaign to contain the Iranian revolution in the 1980s.

After the invasion in 2003, Mr Allawi was plucked from his post as a Middle East specialist at St Anthony's College, Oxford, and was appointed Trade Minister in the first post-Saddam government. In 2004, he was made Minister of Defence, and served as Finance Minister.

He is widely viewed by Western governments as one of the more capable of Iraq's post-Saddam politicians.

Although a member of a prominent Shia family, he has largely managed to avoid the sectarian divides of Iraqi politics and he has taken a strong stance against the Shia militias responsible for much of the inter-ethnic violence that has blighted Iraq over the past year. At present, he is a senior adviser to the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki and divides his time between London and Baghdad.

A problem is that whatever President Bush and Tony Blair thought they were doing when they invaded Iraq in 2003, the outcome has been very different. The limits of US military and political power have been exposed by its failure to overcome the resistance of the five million-strong Sunni community.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Secondary Supply Teachers to work in Peterborough

£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers required fo...

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Francois Hollande at the Paris summit on Iraq with ministers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on 15 September  

What's going to happen in Syria and Iraq? A guide to the new anti-Isis coalition's global strategy

Jonathan Russell
The colours of autumn leaves are among the many pleasures of the coming season  

In Sickness and in Health: As autumn arrives, more of us should wear high-vis clothes

Rebecca Armstrong
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week