Prospects for Iraqi National Reconciliation: Searching for a Plan
Thursday February 7, 2008
Featured Speakers: Mustafa Safwat Rashid Sidqi (Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow), and Michael Rubin (American Enterprise Institute)
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi reconciliation has been a volatile issue plaguing the United States and the world. A Parliament, a Constitution, and elections have been implemented in Iraq, however, not without serious flaw. President Bush declared, “[all] Iraqis must have a voice in the new government, and all citizens must have their rights protected,” an idealistic vision for a currently unstable democracy. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was established to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts. On Thursday, NED welcomed panelists Sidqi and Rubin to discuss the issue of Iraqi reconciliation and the problems the new democratic government is facing.
Sidqi, an Iraqi born citizen, discussed three major actors in the Iraqi reconciliation movement. Iraqi groups (tribes), regional players, and the international community all play role in solving humanitarian, economic, and democratic issues in Iraq. Sidqi believes that if the U.S. and the rest of the international community pools their efforts into helping the Iraqi government implement a more successful election process, assists the Iraqi government in abiding by the newly written constitution, and continues to minimize the tension between Iraqi tribes, a successful democracy is possible for Iraq. Rubin has spent years traveling to various countries helping democracy through elections take place. As a friend and colleague of Sidqi’s, Rubin agrees that a successful election process, where all Iraqi’s have a voice through their vote will strongly increase the success of the newly democratic Iraq.
Neither Sidqi nor Rubin claimed a successful election process will solve Iraq’s problems, but they did emphasize the importance of giving Iraqi’s power through voting as a leap towards a successful democracy. Attendees from various democratic and international organizations posed challenging questions to both Sidqi and Rubin about Iraq’s oil reserves, neighbors, and civil unrest. A successful Iraqi democracy as a long way to go, but Sidqi remains optimistic and continues to push for more international assistance in order to implement a more stable Iraqi government.