November 19, 2002 No.

Head of Iraqi Free Officers Movement: 'The Iraq of Tomorrow- Democracy is the Solution'

General Al-Salhi is the head of the Iraqi Free Officers Movement which supports overthrowing Saddam Hussein's regime and establishing a new government based on democratic institutions. Before defecting in 1995, General Al-Salhi served in the Iraqi military as commander of the Republican Guards tank battalion, commander of the 16th Armored Brigade, as commander of the 27th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, and as chief of staff of the 1st Mechanized Division. General Al-Salhi is the author of many publications including: 'The Earthquake'; 'Human Rights in Iraq'; 'The Social and Political Problem in Iraq'; 'The Problem of Administration in the Parts of the Iraqi State'; 'The Future of the Military in Iraq'; and 'The Army and National Unity.' The following are excerpts of an article written by General Al-Salhi which was recently published in the Iraqi opposition newspaper Al-Mu'tamar.[1]

Preparing for the Post-Saddam Era
"The regime of the despot Saddam Hussein is nearing its end and, for the first time, since the establishment of the modern Iraq state in 1921, there are signs of a new order that would replace the pits of crime and the abyss of disasters the Iraqi people [have] suffered from."

"The removal of the Saddam regime will not usher the season of spring immediately. Saddam's legacy would fall as a heavy burden on the incoming regime in terms of a destroyed infrastructure and a country ridden with economic, political, social, cultural, financial, and legal problems. Add to this a quasi-disjointed social environment - men and women exhausted by coercive despotism, state police, the drums of war, suffocating sanctions and a legacy of arbitrariness, injustice, and corruption."

"The social and political map of Iraq comprises a variety of groups-Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans, Assyrians, Muslims, Christians, and Yazidies ready to pounce for revenge, each looking for a lost right or a stolen identity. The danger for internal security could be profound if the security apparatus would be forced to escape from people's fury and from its own crime-ridden past."

"Here are a people emerging from a frightful prison, seeking freedom without boundaries. This will be one of the significant scenes in the days and weeks that will follow the collapse of the ancient regime and the rise of a new one. This will raise a number of critical questions: What will be the nature of the new regime? What will be its strategy for putting the country on the right course? What are its abilities to provide a sense of social, psychological, and political stability? The failure to address these issues early on will place a question mark on Iraq's ability to survive as a unified political entity."

"For the Iraqis, the credibility of the new regime will be tested by its prompt application of laws that would transform the country politically, socially, and economically. The people will be looking toward a multi-faceted political system that will abide by the result of the ballot, respect human rights, and guarantee a unified and prosperous Iraq."

Woman and Child
"The Iraqi women ought to be liberated and their legitimate rights restored. There is a need for legislation that would protect the rights of women and children after years of Saddamist abuses. It is important to underline the constitutional rights of women in terms of equality in education, work, culture, and politics. It is a fiction, and absurd, to rebuild a destroyed country with half of its people paralyzed or unemployed."

"This will require the rebuilding of the educational system on principles that will ensure a new and healthy family, free from fear. A new regime should pass laws that will do away with the unnatural circumstances that forced the child to leave school and the security of his family."

Economic Freedom Determines Social Progress
"In the economic domain there is a need for a revolution in the conception and programs created by Saddam and his gang. In its attempt to create unnatural sources of wealth, the Saddam gang has wrecked the foundations of the national economy and destroyed the middle class and the productive forces of the society. It has derailed the civilian economy from its natural course to satisfy its aggressive, militaristic, and intelligence appetites. The need calls for the mobilization of all the natural resources as well as the physical and human capacities for the accelerated production of goods and services in high quality compatible with international standards."

"The search for additional resources for the Iraqi economy requires the encouragement of all types of tourism and the transformation of the closed economy controlled by the public sector and government bureaucracy to a free economy where the private sector would have great freedoms to take its part in the development and growth of the national economy. This will free the labor force and provide enormous liquidity that would be viewed favorably by international society and its aid organizations."

Iraq's Relations with the Region and the World
"It is imperative for everyone to understand that Iraqi sovereignty, its national unity, and its security, are red lines that should not be violated by the states in the region or taken advantage of during the process of change. The states in the region should respect the Iraqi decision and should not intervene in the internal affairs of the country under any religious, nationalist, political, or economic guise. Iraqi foreign policy should be structured on the principle of respect for international legitimacy and its recognized institutions. It should be consistent with opening toward the world, starting with the regional surrounding, based on mutual interests and economic and cultural compatibilities."

"All conflicts between Iraq and its neighbors should be resolved through peaceful means and in accordance with bilateral agreements and international law. The neighbors should recognize the disastrous conditions left by Saddam and should rise to their responsibilities to provide assistance to the Iraqi people to overcome its economic, political, and security crises which are the result of Saddamist ignorance."

"Iraqi diplomacy, distorted by networks of intelligence, spying, and assassinations, should be reformed and rebuilt on the basis of professionalism and international law and standards. This will help Iraq improve its relations with other countries and the United Nations and its organizations. These diplomatic reforms will enable Iraq to find solutions for the water and security issues with its northern neighbor - Turkey. Iraq should look into the consequences of the war with Iran, particularly with regard to common borders and the respect of the religious and cultural particularities of the Iraqi and Iranian societies. The relations with Kuwait should transcend its shameful occupation and build on the mutual sovereignty of both nations."

"We have to seek political, economic and cultural relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, Syria, and Jordan. Iraq will take into consideration the attitudes of countries which helped liberate it from Saddam's despotic rule. These countries will be accorded priority in political, economic and technological cooperation."

Restructuring of the Security and Military Establishment
"The current psychology which is built on fear from a despotic regime cannot be changed overnight. The social and demographic changes wrought by Saddam to preserve his rule beg the question: Is it possible to rely on the military establishment and the security apparatus to maintain law and order after the fall of the regime? It will be necessary to examine each establishment - army, policy, security - on a scientific basis and destroy the foundations created by Saddam, and bring them all under public scrutiny. The military establishment, in particular, must be reorganized on the basis of the new democratic national life. Military units should return to their barracks, away from political and party activities. They have to be reduced in size to a level that would ensure active defense of the national security."

"The internal security apparatus should be reformed on the basis of modern principles that reflect the philosophy of the new regime and its human and democratic values. There will be a need for assistance from countries with well-established democratic norms. The inherited security establishment, both philosophically and structural, will be an anathema to the culture aspired to by the Iraqi people whose future needs require the construction of a security apparatus that will be subordinate to the rule of law and respectful of human rights."

"There may be an inclination to take revenge on those who committed crimes against humanity. The new regime must be firm in establishing the rule of law. Individuals should be tried based on crimes they have individually committed rather than on the basis of a collective guilt. Compassion and amnesty may be necessary."

"Every effort should be taken toward complete national reconciliation and the founding of social unity on the basis of national loyalty together with the application of high religious standards of virtue, tolerance, and moderation, side by side with democratic life."

"These aspirations cannot come to fruition by a magic wand. Serious steps, characterized by transparency and credibility, have to be taken to embody the aspirations of the Iraqi people for democracy and prosperity."

[1] Al-Mu'tamar (London), November 1-7, 2002.