What kind of future is there for Iraq?
Everybody owns up to feeling powerless in the face of the phenomenon that is ISIS. The most blatant is the lack of courage among political actors, and the lack of any long-term action plan.
Nation states today must join forces with religious authorities to confront the ISIS ideology and take it apart through disseminating ideas of freedom, working with the intellect, open-mindedness, tolerance, love and brotherhood, coexistence, respect for human rights and diversity. This will only be achievable by laying down the foundations for education and development through a process of lasting peace and stability. Cooperation, with justice as its objective, requires a courageous dialogue between all actors to resolve the crises that have affected the region as a whole, and left us exhausted. It is crucial to build up a rule of law together with institutions serving the common good.
Given this situation, what can the EU do?
Should we accept more immigration? That answer would be too easy. Immigration is already perceived as a burden and could develop into a threatening situation for receiving countries. But if we are talking about European aid, I would say that this cuts two ways: seen from our side, what awaits us is a wave of successive crises, each one worse than before. This is what we expect after the liberation of Mosul. It is therefore essential to take the necessary measures immediately after the crisis.
In the short and long term, we need a new "Marshall Plan” to rebuild the country. Economic opportunities are needed for people to remain in the country.
The role of religions
When the Americans occupied Iraq, they relied on sectarianism. . They won the battle but lost the peace. The people of Iraq did not see any improvement and saw no reason to adhere to the idea of democracy. The Iraqis have not engaged in a joint work of reconstruction. The marginalization of the Sunnis has been a great failure.
We need a broad vision
We need to identify strategic interests and draw up plans to get out of identity traps, where militias play a harmful role. People must rid themselves of the dependencies which are giving rise to conflicts, acts of revenge and everything which prompts minorities to despair of any possibility of peace or a future for themselves. How can we broaden the integration of every individual and give credibility to a national identity, rather than slide back into tribalism and sectarianism?
The EU’s role could be clearer
The EU should, in my opinion, focus on economic diplomacy in order to tackle the endemic corruption that spoils everything. The EU should have the right to monitor development and control all transactions in order to prevent aid from disappearing like water into sand, and to stop the debt from increasing. Peace for all depends on the rebuilding of a healthy economy, and avoiding aid becoming a burden that increases our economic and social dependence.
In the long term
We should also draw up a long-term plan of action, sharing the task among EU countries in order to benefit from the specific experience of each Member State, especially that of the new members who managed to get themselves out of their own crises. In this way, we will learn how to rely on ourselves, even if we have to tighten our belts to achieve responsible growth. We shall have to start looking after our agriculture and industry in order not to fall into the recklessness of consumerism!
A healthy democracy builds up over time
Democracy must learn lessons from its own setbacks, just as your “older” countries learned when building up the European Union to put an end to fratricidal wars.
Send your observers and advisers to help us, to convince us not to slide backwards and endlessly repeat the same mistakes. Your common practices and your institutions took a long time to be set up and cost many sacrifices. With your help, it's now our turn.
European practices, European reconciliation, European reconstruction are all the things we would like to receive from the nations of Europe, and not just weapons and entertainment.
Monsignor Yousif Thomas Mirkis O.P.
Archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah, Iraq
Translated from the original text in French
The views expressed in europeinfos are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of COMECE and the Jesuit European Office.