03/20/2007, 00.00
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Bishop of Kirkuk: Iraq four years on , the good and the bad

by Louis Sako*
Msgr Sako reflects on the situation of the Gulf State four years on from the outbreak of war; reconciliation and economic development is needed on the one hand, on the other the social fabric of Iraqi society needs to be rebuilt. An appeal to Iraq’s Christians to take on a more “dynamic role” in society.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – Four years on from the outbreak of war in Iraq, the situation has changed for the better but also for the worse. The positive development is the new found Freedom that was lacking before. Freedom of expression, freedom to vote in elections, the birth of cities councils, a national parliament, our new constitution and a flourishing of economy: salaries are high, the status of women who now represent   25% of the members of parliament and many new political parties. Perhaps this freedom has not been well understood and as a result is not having a direct effect on peoples lives. In short Iraqi people were not accustomed to it! The world suddenly opened before them: Internet, satellite dishes, mobile, phones,  travel and mobility, and most importantly a justice system (courts). 


However there have also been negative consequence: the land became an open  field of terrorism, there is no security, no jobs, mass immigration, and fears for the future…



Is there a solution to all of this?  The call for more troops won't help a lot.  Peace cannot be brought about by war. War is always something bad and costs money, lives and time. Iraqi men and women have lost patience. The conflict has broken their trust and relationships. The current security strategy won't help a lot.  It has to come with other actions notably reconstruction, confidence - building and poverty alleviation. We think peace and security can only be won in a peaceful and civilized dialogue. The Baker- Hamilton Study group recommends peace deals. The new General of the Coalition forces: David Paetreus stated that there is no military solution.  We personally think the future of peace in Iraq lies in a double engagement:



-  To start an effective reconciliation between all Iraqis. This reconciliation should contain and integrate all of them even the members of the old regime (except the criminals). All Iraqis should have a chance to play a role in rebuilding the State.  In this sense Christians should play a dynamic positive role in reconciliation; the local hierarchy has that responsibility. Christians wherever they are, should show their solidarity and the historical conviviality of equilibrium of belonging to same country and to the same society,  instead of feeling afraid and marginalized.  Thy have to show that they belong to this country, they have been part of Iraq since before its very foundation, before the coming of Islam and show that citizenship does not depend on majority or minority.    

- A strong central government has to be constructed in Baghdad with processing for the federation in the provinces. At the same time the Iraqi economy needs to be reconstructed. Iraq has many financial resources. What is lacking is good investment and coordination.

-  Finally we must promote a rapid civilian build-up in all provinces. We all have suffered from religious and sectarian war. Religious leaders are peacemakers; therefore they should support a peaceful and a coherent civilian side through their homilies and in the media. If we can't achieve that, tensions between groups will intensify and insurgents will get stronger, resulting the division of the land into three states, thus the present form of Iraq will cease to exist, this cannot come to pass.



In order that these actions happen in parallel, the  International community and Iraq’s neighbours must support and facilitate this strategy to restore unity and stability of Iraq.

*Chaldean Archbishop of  Kirkuk


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