The yawning gaps in Iraq’s national security strategy were exposed last week following a series of bomb blasts, assassinations and forced displacement in a number of governorates.
This security collapse has surpassed the horrific incidents in Iraq after the US invasion. It also gives the impression that whoever is carrying out these terrorist acts is free to do so and that no force is standing in its way.
The security failure reached its peak when hundreds of Al Qaida militants and leaders escaped from Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons in Baghdad. That the prison breaks were carried out by militants clearly better trained than the government forces is a moot point. The Iraqi government only seems to be worried about the safety and security of the Green Zone.
The prison break was a major event, which may well tempt Hollywood to make a film about the event, on the same lines as another movie that was made about a jail break that took place in Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
Unfortunately, Iraq has returned to the civil war era of 2006-07. During Ramadan alone, more than a 1,000 people were killed and many more were injured in the central and southern parts of Iraq. Iraqis witnessed further devastation during Eid when simultaneous suicide attacks involving several cars took place on the last day of the festivities.
The Kirkuk governing council’s desperation and lack of confidence in the government’s ability to protect its people prompted it to take emergency measures and dig a trench around the city. The project seeks to prevent terrorists from driving in booby-trapped vehicles, stolen cars or unlicensed cars that are usually used in bomb blasts in crowded areas.
The trench project has further deepened the animosity between Arabs and Kurds in Kirkuk. The Arabs are not keen on digging the trench because they perceive it as a move to achieve certain political goals towards linking the governorate to the Kurdish province.
There are also disagreements between those who talk about a ‘security collapse’ and others who have reservations regarding the use of this term.
However, Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s statement on the subject is interesting.
On August 2, Al Maliki said during talks with security and military commanders that the latest security breach cannot be regarded as a collapse. He also warned that neighbouring countries are “ruining” Iraq and the region and will eventually have to swallow their own poison.
Now, I am not here to assess the government’s credibility, although many will agree with me that honesty and transparency are not among its merits.
Moreover, the government misleads Iraqis through its statements because it is not competent enough to produce or implement successful solutions to the problems created through its dismal agendas, which do not pertain to Iraq in the first place. It does not have the courage to accept this truth.
I will leave it to the security experts to judge whether Iraq is facing a security collapse.
The Iraqi government, however, has failed in doing its political duty. Political failure means failure at all levels, including security. But Al Maliki does not want to look at failure from this perspective although many of his allies in the National Alliance disagree with him. He tries to justify his policies through blame and threats.
In a meeting with political and economic experts, Al Maliki hurled accusations at allies in different political blocs, such as the Al Muwatin Bloc headed by Ammar Al Hakim and the Sadrist movement headed by Muqtada Al Sadr. He also accused some of his ministers of being responsible for the deteriorating security situation. He forgot that as the prime minister, he shoulders the most responsibility.
Additionally, when Al Maliki accuses neighbouring countries of sponsoring terrorism in Iraq, he is only embarrassing himself. He ends up in a very awkward position because he becomes obliged to reveal the names of these countries — and bolster his accusations with proof. He also needs to tell his people how his government is dealing with these countries.
Iraqis have a right to know their real enemies and the government has no business hiding the truth.
If what Al Maliki is saying is true and he has evidence against countries sponsoring terrorism in Iraq, then he has a national and moral obligation to challenge these countries in an international court of law and the UN Security Council.
But the truth lies elsewhere. If we were to accuse those who destroyed Iraq, encouraged corruption, sectarianism, forgery, armed militias, and the killing of highly-qualified Iraqis, we will not find any group more liable than the Green Zone group, along with its establishments and institutions.
I say this because it is simply inconceivable that all these terrorist acts take place without the backing of groups and entities inside the Iraqi state and security establishment.
The situation in Iraq has become a nightmare and fixing it must start from the political rank and file.
Dr Mohammad Akef Jamal is an Iraqi writer based in Dubai.