Dr. Abel Nasser Al-Mahdawy
New Iraq Center Advisor
After the Security Council adopted resolution No. 2470 on May 21, 2019 on Iraq, we have noted in the previous article two important paragraphs in the resolution on the Security Council’s welcome of the efforts of the Government of Iraq through its National Government Program for the period 2018-2033. Such shall be obtained by facing corruption and strengthening viable governmental institutions. From this paragraph, quoted from the Government’s platform submitted by the Prime Minister to the Iraqi Parliament at its fourth session, we briefly quote human rights and judiciary files, which was included in the resolution in the paragraph that states; promote accountability and the protection of human rights, and judicial and legal reform, with full respect for the sovereignty of Iraq.
In the previous paragraph, there are two very important issues, which are the real challenges to the reform process in Iraq and to allow the international community to deal with Iraq and respect its sovereignty and decisions. To reform its system, the judicial system must be reformed firstly while the second issue is human rights. In addition, separation of powers shall be considered a constitutional principle in Iraq and shall be stressed by law in force. The judicial system corruption in the previous governments is a serious indicator of the executive authority abuse over the judicial authorities. Perhaps, Al-Maliki’s last interview on 11/07/2019 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz7PuN6lsGM), one day before convening the Dawa Party general meeting, has included as usual his experience in governance and the current government. In his speech, it does not count when he talks about dealing with the governments’ works and the problems they face and directs his vision to be applied by the current government. Like political leaders, speech is usually nice but it remains for public consumption because it contradicts the facts on the ground. Two dimensions concern us in Al-Maliki’s talk. The first one when he talks about the fall of Mosul, which was attributed to the fact that the army and its leaders as he claimed are Sunni Arabs. We are aware that the era of the fall of Mosul is the greatest tragedy in the history of modern Iraq; personal freedoms were violated and the people of Mosul gave thousands of victims, and the whole city was demolished. The second dimension dealt by Al-Maliki in the issue of the judiciary, especially in the case of former Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi and the former deputy Prime Minister Rafi al-Issawi; they are among the strongest icons of the Sunni Arabs in the political process, as well as his statement about many of the contradictions and inaccuracies.
In the first issue, we will discuss Al-Maliki’s statement about the army and its leaders in Mosul in 2014 and the reality of the withdrawal from Mosul. Was it really because the army and its Sunni Arab leaders and the advocates of withdrawal were sectarian as Al-Maliki claimed? We will find out this through the account approved by the commander of Mosul at that time Mahdi Al-Gharrawi (a Shiite Arab). Major general, Mahdi Al-Gharrawi, stated in a Reuters report details of the seizure of ISIS on the Iraqi city of Mosul on the tenth of June 2014 and the group headed south towards Baghdad and the collapse of the Iraqi army before it. Major General Mahdi Al-Gharrawi knew that the attack was coming. Therefore, when he was the commander of operations in Nineveh Province, with its capital Mosul, he requested for reinforcements from the most powerful leaders who enjoyed the confidence of the Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Because the Iraqi army was exhausted, senior officers ignored the request. He reported what diplomats in Baghdad said on an imminent attack by terrorists. They were told that Iraqi special forces were stationed in Mosul and could deal with any developments.
Al-Gharrawi said that one of three might have issued the final order (of withdrawal). They were Abboud Qanbar who was deputy of Commander-in-chief, Ali Ghaidan who was the head of the ground forces or Al-Maliki who was directing senior officers in Baghdad by himself. We know that Qanbar and Ghaidan are great leaders who do not move without orders and cannot in any case bear the consequences of withdrawal before a group of terrorists or else will be a stigma in their military history. Therefore, we find that the Commander-in-Chief office is the one who ordered the withdrawal. We cannot say whether Al-Maliki ordered this or his office was invaded by a larger party, which was planning to hand over the city to the terrorist group and destroy it in order to empower the Iranian-backed militias and his militias, which happened exactly. Therefore, the question is what are the sectarian leaders that Al-Maliki is talking about? With regard to the fact that the structure of the Iraqi army in Mosul in the entire south area does not contain more than 10% of the Sunni Arabs; similarly, the federal police. The only difference lies in the local police, which is usually includes Mosul citizens. It also bears the responsibility but they fled after the exposure of the army.
ISIS control of Mosul opened a dark chapter of violation of human rights; thousands of people were killed, hundreds of thousands were displaced, and thousands of prisoners were imprisoned after releasing not because cooperating with ISIS but because of the security systems corruption that controlled the city and wanted to humiliate and extort its people. ISIS fire was moving in the Sunni Arab provinces like the wildfire. In an unprecedented historical paradox, ISIS controlled the entire city of Mosul and the province of Salahuddin except for Samarra district. In addition, they controlled Anbar province, and most of its cities, especially Fallujah, which is one of the largest districts in Iraq in terms of population. It was an Arab Sunni icon for its legendary facing for the US army. The terrorist group controlled Diyala, the areas of Saadiyah, Jalawla, the Adhaim Dam and the north villages of Miqdadiyah district and some villages of Khalis district, reaching Baghdad belt.
This means that the terrorist group effectively controlled 40% of the territory of Iraq, since Anbar alone is one third of the area of Iraq, adding this to the rest of areas controlled by ISIS, the result is more than 40% of the Iraqi land fell in ISIS hands. All indications and clues point to the complicity of the Iraqi government in a regional plan that gave that control early. Apart from the useless disputes that others are preoccupied with regarding the reasons for offering the Sunni Arab to ISIS, whether by a local, regional or international plan, the system that targeted the structure of Iraqi society is interconnected. It has fellows at home and regional and international support abroad. It caused the most severe crime violating human rights of various components and religions. Everything happened by the terrorist group and militias after liberation will remain a stigma for terrorism targeting women, children and elderly. Only some sectors of the Iraqi army and the counterterrorism authority, which fought professionally and sought to save innocent civilians, were excluded.
When Al-Maliki addressed the cases of the former Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi and the former deputy Prime Minister Rafi al-Issawi, he contradicted his statements. He mentioned that both cases happened when he was in the US. However, after a while he mentioned the visit of the judicial authority head, Faiq Zidan, with judges and 2-3 officers; therefore, how he could be in the US and they were visiting him at the same time! How they could threaten him by arresting unless he obeys the orders if the judiciary was independent! At this stage, everyone is aware that some judges were corrupt to the bone; some of them were executioners not judges. I heard witnesses who were detained in that era recounting stories closer to fantasy about some judges regarding torturing and abusing human rights. Everyone at that time witnessed the judiciary corruption. Perhaps what confirms the corruption of the judiciary in some of its parts in Iraq was the call of the representative of the supreme religious authority in Iraq, Mr. Ali al-Sistani, when he said that there is no reform without reforming and purging the judiciary from corrupt judges. The importance of this statement is that Iraq at that time and now is run by parties led by the religious authority in Najaf, which are determining all its steps. The Karbalaii spokesman said that the reform process requirements is the reform of the judiciary. No reform can take place without judiciary reform, calling for reliance on honorable judges to reform the rest of the state institutions.
Expert say that reforming any country should start with the judiciary; if the judiciary is corrupted, the entire country will be corrupted. The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau goes even further when he describes the judiciary as the head of a fish that, if corrupted, corrupts the whole body. In Iraq, judiciary reform callings have started in accordance with the demonstrations calling for reforming the entire country. This path will inevitably lead to the demand for judiciary reform in view of its importance and impact. Justice is the rule of governance, and good governance is the first pillar that contributes to the success of the other state pillars. Fearing that the judiciary being subject to executive authority because of its subordination and blindly following executive power. In Iraq, there is no real separation between the three authorities, but there is dependency and implementation of agendas, and the important thing in this regard is the effect of corruption on the judicial system; because of its punitive role, which protects society from corruption and corrupt persons. If there are corrupt judges in the judiciary who cheat and follow an odious sectarian and ethnic agenda, the judiciary will be a burden on the state and the society, and there is no way to develop other parts of the state without cleansing the judiciary of the corruption.
In the same context, researcher Yusuf Ibrahim says that if justice is the basis of the rule, the judiciary is the basis of justice and the pillar of government and state. There is no justice, equality or preservation of the rights of individuals and groups without fair, impartial and independent judiciary, which is regarded as a fundamental pillar in the reconstruction of States. A country of justice and law will not exist in case of corrupting judiciary, which does not carry out its role impartially and independently. Successive governments after the occupation were suffering from this. This effect has reduced only during the term of Al-Abadi and we hope to take place in the term of Abdul Mahdi. Many evidences of these governments are indicative of the penetration of the executive power to the judicial authorities through appointments, privileges and pressures so that the relationship is a dependency relationship far from integration as it should be. This is what happened in Iraq in the terms of Al- Jaafari and Al-Maliki. The latter may not have the direct relationship as far as the system of sectarian rule at that time; otherwise, it would be unreasonable for the prime minister to abuse the term of his government in such a blatant manner, although he bears the responsibility for this.