Dabbas would also further reduce sectarian and ethnic strife through administrative decentralization for all of Iraq, preserving more regional and localized cultural and linguistic rights. This embraces the American concept of federalism and state’s rights, which even America’s Democrat Party has a hard time understanding, especially President Obama. He would promote the rule of law by completing the establishment of the Iraq Supreme Court, never finished by Maliki as required by the Iraqi Constitution.
Also central to the Dabbas campaign is a program to promote “the fastest possible” national economic growth and prosperity for all, “by empowering the market.” While Iraq is rich in natural resources, that has not devolved to the full benefit of the Iraqi people, who suffer from a poverty rate of 28%, as estimated by the World Bank. Ali Shir, a member of the Human Rights Committee in Parliament, reports that “thousands of families live in landfills and slums.” In Sadr City neighborhoods within the capitol of Baghdad, residents suffer without water or electricity, huddling in makeshift shanties, with no paved roads.
The Dabbas program promises to maximize natural resource development (which may be instructive for the Obama Administration), but pledges to diversify growth beyond overdependence on oil production. That would involve promoting greater economic growth in agricultural and livestock production, industrial production, including local, traditional handicrafts, and tourism, a vast opportunity in a country with such a deep, historical heritage.
The Dabbas campaign offers overtones of Kennedy and Reagan in promising to combat unemployment and poverty (in particular by passing long debated modernization of social security programs), restructure the economy to curtail the hegemony of the public sector, ensure transparent and effective management of the state’s financial resources, and liberate the civil banking sector. In an interview for this article, Dabbas said, “If I’m elected, I forsee a bright future for Iraq of booming economic growth and prosperity for all based on my policies of liberating the productive capabilities of the Iraqi people.”
There are even overtones of Obama in Dabbas promises to speed up the reconstruction of the country’s infrastructure involving modernization projects for water, electricity, housing, roads, bridges, and transportation, and for fair distribution of resources to bridge the gaps between the rich minority and the poor majority. Dabbas would further promote economic growth through respect for human rights and equality for women to participate in economic and public life without restriction.
But any such economic progress would be threatened by the increased sectarian strife and violence roiled by Maliki’s Shiite dominance of the Sunnis. That has led to the resurgence of Al Qaeda in Fallujah and Ramadi, which American troops fought so hard to liberate from such influence. A thousand innocent Iraqis are now killed every month by such sectarian violence. Dabbas said, “If the United States does not act, and act fast, within the next couple of years it is going to lose all its influence over a nation it sacrificed so many American lives to free.”
In foreign policy, the Dabbas platform pledges to secure Iraqi sovereignty, free from any external intervention of foreign powers, unlike Maliki, who has surrendered to Iranian dominance. Maliki has acquiesced to military overflights supporting Assad in the Syrian civil war, and other Iranian operations on Iraqi soil to support Hezbollah in Lebanon threatening Israel. Dabbas said, “The United States has no influence over Maliki or his government. Maliki gets his orders from Iran and no one else.” Dabbas would maintain neutral, open relations with all neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, which has not been favored by Maliki, with his close Iranian ties. Dabbas adds, "I’m capable of establishing balanced, neutral relations with all neighboring countries and terminating Maliki’s alliance with Iran."
Critically, Dabbas has the resources to run a spirited, modernizing campaign for Prime Minister. That is reflected in establishment of The Iraq Coalition, and the Iraqi National Movement, which seeks to establish a “National Action Charter,” opening the government to all citizens, regardless of religion, sect, race, sex, or ideology. Dabbas has also established the Iraq Youth Center for Political Empowerment, which focuses on education of the young with modern, secular attitudes of equal rights for all, promoting for the future a more democratic, peaceful and economically stable way of life. These are critical nation building functions.
Perhaps Iraq has found its George Washington after all.
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