Prerequisites for Constructive Government Negotiations
By Lukman Faily for Iraqi Thoughts June 20, 2018
With the increasing complexity of the current 2018 election crisis and the ongoing government formation negotiations among Iraqi political parties, which is supposed to be a natural event in the countries that practice democracy and the peaceful transfer of power, it is appropriate to consider some different approaches to the problems at hand. Dialogue can be used as a useful, fruitful and sustainable method of reducing tension, one that can change the reality for the better and helps strengthen our nascent democratic system.
It is true that we are facing a constitutional crisis with clear legal challenges, however at the same time there is a need to create a political climate conducive to accelerating some solutions. Therefore, it is important that we define a set of requirements so that serious and productive dialogue can take place between the Iraqi stakeholders and politicians from their various political backgrounds to adopt as much of these approaches as possible. These requirements are:
1 – Agreement on a common discourse with similar understanding to its core concepts as far as possible between the parties in order to shorten the stages of dialogue and to lay the foundations for the establishment of a common understanding.
2 – An urgency to search, via dialogue, for common ground by working together to define a common vision.
3 – To seek direct channels of communication during the crisis (let us call them red telephones) among the leaders so as not to increase the complexity of the situation, especially since our communities prefer personal and direct relationships as a prelude to building confidence rather than conducting communication through media wars.
4 – Parties to recognize their own mistakes for their role in the escalation of different types of crises, even if they admit it to themselves only.
5 – To have open and direct communication channels between advisors to the various political leaders so that dialogue does not falter.
6 – To seek not to internationalize the situation as much as possible, since the increased interference of external parties will only increase the complexity, especially since the crises will not disappear via external pressures.
7 – To work on defining a roadmap for deescalating the crisis under the umbrella of the constitution; calming the situation peacefully away from threats of resorting to arms or mobilizing the street; consolidating democracy; independence of the judiciary; and supporting the empowerment of the concepts of citizenship and constitutional rights.
8 – Look for Iraqi solutions first and then reach out to others beyond our borders to help us.
9 – Stop the media escalation against their so-called adversaries or competitors and stop the accusations and painting of others as less Iraqi. These media escalations increase the complexity of the situation, entrench hatred and transfer problems to the street instead of leaving them in the hands of political leaders.
10 – The political class must realize that Iraq, its people and its history are weights they must carry on their shoulders and they are responsible in the eyes of God and history for every misfortune that afflicts this country. They should place the interests of Iraq above all partisan calculations, political blocs and other sectarian and national elements.
It is necessary to know that what we are seeing now is a needless escalation within and between the political parties themselves and the state institutions, which unfortunately leads the State to lose its ability to manage its affairs as it moves towards a dark tunnel whose end game is not yet defined. This loss of the prestige and homogeneity of the State apparatus will not be easily restored without creating the features of a national project to dismantle its convolutions and entanglements. A large part of these complications are real and some serious pause is needed from all stakeholders in order to overlook trivial issues and to focus on core challenges and their resolutions.