Monday, May 26, 2008

Introducing Iraqi Patriots

Of course I have known many Iraqis in my life, and most of them have loved their country, they hated to leave their country, and they hated to see Iraq destroyed and dragged down like it has been for the last few decades. All of them were saddened by Iraq's inability to free itself from the stranglehold of dictatorship, and were even more saddened by Iraq's civil war. But few of them work diligently, without pay, to help Iraq succeed. Few of them these days are truly non-sectarian and at the same time can acknowledge the criminal past of Saddam Hussein's regime. These few are the Iraqi patriots, the Iraqis who want Iraq to succeed as a multi-ethnic multi-sect nation with real freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Iraqi patriots are unwilling to see another dictator rule Iraq, they recognize the immense flaws in the current government in Baghdad, and they strive for change. One of these people, these Iraqi patriots, is my father, Dr. Muhammad Ali Zainy. Many know of him already, as I have quoted him many times on my blog. My father does not miss Saddam, but he does not care for the current system of government either.

In 2003, my father was invited by the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council (a US Administration sponsored organization) to join teams of professional Iraqi expatriates to oversee Iraq's reconstruction. He arrived in Baghdad two weeks after the fall of the regime as a CPA oil advisor, but after working for four months on a plan for oil industry reconstruction, he resigned out of deep disappointment. Disbanding the Iraqi army and police and creating a serious security vacuum in the country, allowing looting and destruction all over the place, and the consequent spread of rampant crime, corruption and the ensuing lack of security were intolerable to him. After resigning he returned to the UK to continue his work with the Center for Global Energy Studies. Always an idealist, my father was gravely disappointed by the state of Iraq in 2003, and it was then when he visited the famed (now abandoned) Oil Club in Baghdad, where he remembered with great sadness his friend Mun'im el Sammarie. His disappointment only grew in the following five years. In 2005 he was offered the job of oil minister in a pending cabinet reshuffle of the Jafary government, but he declined the offer. He returned to Baghdad in October 2005 with a group of Iraqi technocrats who called themselves "Pioneers for Reconstruction and Development" to run for parliament. They won no seats, as the political environment at that time was strongly polarized between Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds. He returned, dejected again, but he would not give up. He continued to be active in Iraqi politics in London, and he has spearheaded the effort to expose the serious flaws in the draft Iraqi oil law - the flaws in the oil law would result in the mismanagement of Iraq's oil wealth and may eventually lead to Iraq's disintegration. He is thus helping to guide the Iraqi parliament in passing an oil law that will be fair to Iraq and safeguard Iraq's only remaining assets.

My father plans to return to Iraq in hopes of helping it become more peaceful, more prosperous, and more secular. My father is a pious Muslim, but he strongly believes that religion should be kept out of politics. In February he met Dr. Mowafak al Rubaie in an Iraqi embassy reception in London, where they exchanged views respectfully. My father handed Rubaie an article about the draft oil law, and a few days later Rubaie sent my father a letter of thanks. This led to an exchange of emails between these two Iraqis, who started in the same place in 2003, but ended up taking very different directions. Rubaie, as you probably know, is Iraq's National Security Adviser. My father shared with me the email exchange with Dr. Rubaie, and asked me if I would like to post the letters. I convinced him to start his own blog and publish it there. He said he doesn't have time, but after I showed him how easy it is, he started a blog and called it Iraqi Patriots. He published his email exchange with Dr. Rubaie, and in one email my father wrote:

"I was very happy indeed when I recently heard in the news that you and Deputy Prime Minister Berhem Salih went to Basrah to reclaim the vital Iraqi port of "Um Qasr" from the hands of the controlling militias, by deploying the Iraqi army to take over. This was a step long overdue, since how can a country be run properly when, at the same time, there are militias - sometimes allied with gangs of crime engaged in stealing, kidnapping and killing - who have practically stripped the elected government of its power to rule, and spread havoc in the cities of Iraq, particularly in Basrah (Iraq's economic capital), and put the Iraqi citizens' lives and their property in constant danger?"

Keep in mind my father was born to Shi'i parents, but he has never been sectarian. He loves and respects all Iraqis regardless of sect, religion, creed or ethnic origin. I asked him once who he'd rather see in charge in Iraq - Muqtada al Sadr or Saddam Hussein. He said neither! He said "I simply cannot live with a dictatorship, nor can I live with a theocracy". There are a few Iraqi patriots who will lead Iraq to greatness. One of those patriots is Dr. Muhammad Ali Zainy.

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