US may be withdrawing its military, but it is staying on – Hamid Alkifaey

December 15, 2011 Edition 37 Bitterlemons International After almost nine years in Iraq, the United States military is leaving. Not because it wants to, but because it has to. All Iraqi political groups–friends and foes–were united in demanding troop departure by the end of 2011. The Obama administration is not totally happy at this turn of events, since it wanted to keep 20,000 soldiers in the country to make sure its interests are not undermined. But it had to accept the Iraqi decision, since it promised American citizens it would withdraw from Iraq. Obama has a tough re-election battle next year and he doesn’t want Iraq to deprive him of a second term that he seeks in order to leave some imprint on American politics, apart from being the first black US president.  Do Iraqis still need Americans? Certainly. Not least because of distrust of one another. Fear is the order of the day in Iraq. Fear of uncertainty, violence,...  المزيد

US and Iran: working together in Iraq- Hamid Alkifaey

August 04, 2011 Edition 24 Bitterlemons International It may sound strange to some, but theUnited StatesandIranhave been “working together” ever since the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and the subsequentUSinvasions ofAfghanistanandIraq. This “cooperation”, albeit behind the scenes, can be seen clearly inIraq. The two countries are officially and actually enemies and no doubt monitor each other’s activities and work against each other, especially in theMiddle East. But the fact remains that they have been cooperating inIraq, and not always clandestinely–they entered into direct negotiations inBaghdadin 2008, with the Iraqis as intermediaries.  Iranstands to be the biggest beneficiary of the American invasions of Afghanistanand Iraqin 2001 and 2003, respectively. Americadid Iranthe favor of a lifetime by removing the two bitterest enemies of the Islamic Republic–Saddam Hussein to the west and...  المزيد

Democratic Arab world to embrace peace with Israel – Hamid Alkifaey

May 05, 2011 Edition 12 Bitterlemons International One could reasonably argue that the golden opportunity for peace in the Middle Eastwas blown away when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995. He was the only Israeli leader capable of making peace with the Palestinians, and was about to do so had it not been for the bullets of Yigal Amir, the rightwing religious zealot who believed in the “winner takes all” principle.  One could also claim that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its world-wide ramifications are responsible for agitating religious extremism in the Muslim world as a whole, and among Palestinians in particular. Prior to 1987, there was hardly any Islamic factor in Palestinian resistance. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups were established after the 1987 intifada. From this we deduce that extremism on the Israeli side led to the same on the Palestinian side, and consequently...  المزيد

With western retreat, Iraq looks east – Hamid Alkifaey

February 24, 2011 Edition 7 Bitterlemons-International Iraqhas always in many ways been the odd one out in the region. Despite being the cradle of civilization–writing was invented here in the home of the first city (Uruk), as was the first written law (Hammurabi’s Code)–from the beginning, this great riverine plain has also been a theater of war. Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Hajjaj, the Abbasid caliphs, the Mongol invaders and finally Saddam Hussein all launched devastating wars that killed civilians in their millions. In the last three decades alone, at least two million have died under repression and three long-lasting conflicts.  Iraq’s relations with its neighbours have not been friendly, especially to the east. But Iranis linked to Iraqby geography, history, culture and religion. In ancient times, Iraqwas part of the Persian Empire, whose capital al-Mada’in was in the middle of Iraq. After the...  المزيد

Iran-weary Arabs won’t be comfortable with a Shiite government in Baghdad – Hamid Alkifaey

October 28, 2010 Edition 20 Bitterlemons International Iraqhas broken the world record for the time required to form a government, surpassing theNetherlandsthat in 1977 took 208 days. The March 7 elections were inconclusive, producing a hung parliament with four major blocs, the largest of which is Iraqia of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Article 76 of the Iraqi constitution states that the bloc with the most seats forms the government. This means that Allawi should have been asked to form the government.  However the two Shiite lists, State of Law led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (89 seats) and National Alliance led by young cleric Ammar al-Hakim (70 seats), went to the federal court and got a ruling allowing them to join together in a post-election bloc holding the most seats. Iraqia challenged the ruling as “politically motivated”, saying it contravenes past parliamentary precedents, and that the existing federal...  المزيد

Obituary: Aqila Al-Hashimi: Shrewd diplomat who made the transition to the new Iraq

Shrewd diplomat who made the transition to the new Iraq Hamid Alkifaey The Guardian Friday 26 September 2003    The Iraqi diplomat Aqila al-Hashmi, who has died, aged 50, from abdominal wounds sustained when she was attacked by gunmen close to her home in western Baghdad last Saturday, was one of the three women members of Iraq’s 25-strong interim governing council (GC). Before that appointment last July, she had worked for two decades for the Saddam Hussein regime. At the time of the ambush, Hashmi had been setting off for New York, where on Tuesday she had been due to attend the important UN general assembly meeting on Iraq. On July 22, she had been part of an earlier delegation seeking UN recognition for the GC. It was widely anticipated that she would become Iraq’s permanent representative at the UN, and she was spoken of as an eventual foreign minister in Baghdad. Her background as a low-ranking member of the previous...  المزيد

Breaking the silence Hamid Alkifaey

 Breaking the silence After decades of propaganda, Iraqis are finally discovering freedom of information. Hamid Ali Alkifaey on the efforts to build the legal framework for a free press The Guardian Monday 14 July 2003  I am leaving for Baghdad soon, for the first time in almost 23 years. I am not, however, going there to be a member of the “governance council” that Paul Bremer announced last week, nor will I be part of Baghdad’s municipal council, nor even the municipal council of Uruk, the small ancient town where writing was discovered 5,000 years ago, which is only 10 miles from my home. Nor am I going to fulfil a pledge I made on BBC TV back in March that I will be “swimming in the Euphrates this summer”, since Baghdad is not on the Euphrates but on the Tigris, which I have never swam in.  I am going there on a different mission this time. It is to gain support for a proposed new law and...  المزيد

Interview with Iraqi Writer and Journalist Hamid Alkifaey

Interview with Hamid Alkifaey The Guardian 21/5/2003 The removal of Saddam Hussein was, in my opinion, the greatest-ever US achievement, and was also a personal triumph for the president, George Bush. Saddam Hussein was an extraordinary terrorist, and he was armed with the most sophisticated weapons on earth. He spent Iraq’s wealth on weapons of mass destruction that he used against the Iraqi people and Iraq’s neighbours. He would have used them again against anyone who might have posed a threat to his rule.  His regime was a real danger to international peace and the stability of the region. There was no way the Iraqi people could have removed him on their own, because they would not have been able to face chemical and biological weapons. It needed a superpower to get rid of the regime. Saddam was the worst dictator and human rights violator in history, and I do not believe that the discovery of weapons of mass destruction...  المزيد

Staying above the soil – Hamid Alkifaey

 Staying above the soil Iraqi writer Hamid Ali Alkifaey, who fled from Saddam Hussein’s regime, recalls life under his leadership and considers what the future could hold for Iraq  Hamid Alkifaey The Guardian, Friday 16 May 2003 Nothing is more difficult than describing what it was like to live under Saddam Hussein’s regime, and this is especially true when talking to free people who have never experienced oppression. However, it is possible to talk about certain aspects of life under the regime. I remember when I was in the first year of secondary school, in 1971. I was only 12 years old, and was approached by 18-year-old Adnan, who asked me to join the Ba’ath party. He said that he wanted me to “be there first” because “in a year or two, everyone would be a Ba’athist”. My first reaction was to totally reject the idea. I had often heard my parents cursing the time when my elder...  المزيد

Staying above the soil- The Guardian – Hamid Alkifaey

Iraqi writer Hamid Alkifaey, who fled from Saddam Hussein’s regime, recalls life under his leadership and considers what the future could hold for Iraq guardian.co.uk, Friday 16 May 2003  Nothing is more difficult than describing what it was like to live under Saddam Hussein’s regime, and this is especially true when talking to free people who have never experienced oppression. However, it is possible to talk about certain aspects of life under the regime. I remember when I was in the first year of secondary school, in 1971. I was only 12 years old, and was approached by 18-year-old Adnan, who asked me to join the Ba’ath party. He said that he wanted me to “be there first” because “in a year or two, everyone would be a Ba’athist”. My first reaction was to totally reject the idea. I had often heard my parents cursing the time when my elder brother joined the Ba’ath party in the...  المزيد
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