04/27/2016, 17.22
IRAQ
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For Baghdad auxiliary bishop, Iraq “is a mess”, at a “low point” of its history

Iraqis are “fed up”, Mgr Warduni said, because of the lack of work, resources, and perspectives. Oil has elicited the interests of many, but impoverished the country. Prime Minister al-Abadi wants reforms but is challenged in and outside parliament. For Christian lawmaker, Iraq needs domestic unity, and peace between Saudis and Iranians.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Iraq has reached a "low point" in its history, although "we cannot say that we have reached the bottom," because "the situation could get worse," said Mgr Shlemon Warduni, Chaldean auxiliary bishop of Baghdad who spoke to AsiaNews about his country’s current crisis.

The prelate, like many analysts and experts, fears that the current period could go down as the worse in Iraq’s modern history, at least in this millennium, since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

"No one is really able to understand what's going on, or anticipate what will happen in the future," the bishop said.

Yesterday, the Iraqi Parliament approved a partial reshuffle of the cabinet, accepting some of the names put forward by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for the ministries of Health, Labour and Social Affairs, Water Resources, Electricity, and Higher education.

The prime minister’s reform plan has however hit a wall in parliament where parties and blocs want to force him out. Outside of parliament, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis egged on by Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr want a strong government to change things.

In recent months, dissent and street protests have grown in Baghdad against politicians, parliament and the government, which have been unable to counter widespread corruption.

Over the years, Iraq’s political system, based on cronyism, has encouraged the development of endemic corruption, which has drained the country’s already stretched financial resources, following the drop in oil revenues. This is compounded by the cost of funding the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group and other Jihadi movements.

Ordinary citizens want serious structural reforms to address corruption, and stricter penalties against corrupt public officials.

At the same time, some fear that legitimate protests by citizens is being manipulated by al-Sadr (and his Iranian ally) for domestic political advantages.

“People are fed up” over the lack of work, resources, and perspectives, Mgr Warduni said. "A rich country has become very poor.”

“They say that this is the land of oil, but what good is it to us today if we do not even have fuel to put in generators. It would be better not to have it because all of our suffering comes from it . . . Everyone wants our oil; they all want our wealth. "

For Mgr Warduni, Iraq’s political and institutional reality is "a mess" in which "opinions change every two hours". He also views as inappropriate the meddling of religious leaders and foreign powers (Europe, United State) in its internal affairs, sowing even more confusion.

"We need peace,” the bishop said, “and a serious crackdown against the weapons business. It is not true that we can do nothing.” And “you Western Christians, where are you in this Year of Mercy? Iraq and the believers of our land need you. "

Yonadam Kanna, a Christian member of the Iraqi National Assembly, also sees difficulties and dangers ahead. He heads the Assyrian Democratic Movement, and sits on the National Assembly’s Labour and Social Affairs committee.

To save Iraq, it is essential to "stick together", he told AsiaNews. All of the country’s sections should fight “the same battle” against common enemies like the Islamic State and corruption.

He does not spare criticism of that part of parliament that hinders reforms and change with "screaming, noises and insults against the prime minister and the president".

"Iraq has many problems that we cannot solve alone,” Kanna said, “because they involve the whole region and the great powers.”

“What we need is an international committee under the United Nations stewardship, to find a solution within the constitution, in order to achieve peace and security, and settle ongoing rows between Sunnis and Shias, between Baghdad and Erbil, just to name a few."

Finally, at the regional level, we need more cooperation among its various member nations, in order to reach a point of “unity and mutual understanding”.

For the Christian lawmaker, “Saudi Arabia and Turkey on one side and Iran on the other must find some understanding because their conflict has repercussions on Iraq." (DS)

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