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

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Benedict Cumberbatch attends a special screening of his latest film The Imitation Game  

Benedict Cumberbatch race row: What's the actual difference between 'coloured' and 'person of colour'?

Matthew Norman
Pressure is growing on Chris Grayling to abandon the Government bid to advise Saudi Arabia on running its prisons (Getty)  

What in sanity’s name is Chris Grayling doing in the job of Justice Secretary?

Matthew Norman
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore