Iraq and Chapter 7: End of an Era?

July 2, 2013

The lifting of the United Nations’ Chapter 7 Sanctions against Iraq, imposed after executed dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, may be very good for Baghdad’s international standing and image. But it does not mean the country is ready or mature enough to be free from Security Council or international supervision.
In its resolution, the UN Security Council recognized that Iraq has achieved “international standing equal to that which it held prior to (1990).”
But the people of Iraq and Kurdistan should not forget that the main reason for Chapter 7 sanctions was not Kuwait; that was just a result: the real reason was the internal problems and Iraq’s violent mentality.
At the time, all problems were embodied in Saddam and his recklessness. Today, they are much wider and more complex, each with the potential to explode into a disaster that could push Iraq back into Chapter 7.
This is because the mentalities of violence and authoritarianism still exist.
Although many of these problems have been inherited from Saddam and Iraq’s Baathist past, the country’s new leaders have shown little evidence they are mature enough to provide solutions.
If Iraqis themselves are not up to the challenge of being grown-up members of the international community, they could find themselves overwhelmed by internal and external events, pushing Iraq into another blunder and under new sanctions.
Chapter 7 of the UN Charter allows the Security Council to authorize actions ranging from sanctions to military intervention if states do not abide by the council’s resolutions.
Internally, few signs exist of a healthy relationship among the various groups to guarantee an Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors. The Shiite-Sunni rift is as wide as ever, with scant sign of a peaceful and permanent settlement of their disputes. Each side looks forward to winning the war over the other, by whatever means!
In the Kurdistan Region — while there is stability — there are the occasional reminders of conflict and immature leadership.
A current example is Saturday’s agreement between the two ruling parties to extend the presidency by two years. This will complicate an already volatile scene, and widen differences among the political parties and groups.
This and many other examples demonstrate that the country is still far from being ready to stand on its feet. Even today, whenever there the crisis deepens between Baghdad and Erbil, we see soldiers on the borders.
Another instance of political immaturity is that the institutions of governance in Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq remain less important than personalities. Iraq — Kurdistan included — is still one of the world’s corrupt countries, according to many respected international indexes.
Hence, what we see is that people who are ruling the country still have the same tendencies and ways that led to Chapter 7.
Divisions, violence and authoritarianism still exist in Iraq. These are the scourges that led to the Chapter 7 sanctions.

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