Open Letter to the US President Eect

It is no secret to some of us Iraqis that passports and ID documents can be issued quickly from inside Iraq by bribery or by favoritism. And it is no secret that those responsible for issuing thousands of passports to non-Iraqis by our embassy in Sweden have returned to their original positions in the embassy only a short time after the scandal, which lead to rejecting passports with the “S” designation by many nations and to the suffering of millions of displaced Iraqis. So, when we hear that an Iraqi friend whom we know well was refused a passport because he submitted a copy of proof of citizenship, not the original, we don’t think that our government became very keen and responsible all of a sudden; we know that Iraq’s population records are available in Iraq, the United Nations and in other countries, and if the passport administrators wanted to they can easily confirm the authenticity of a record. But the pretense to follow due process in order to cover up favoritism, corruption and sectarianism has reached new heights in Iraq, and there is no way to normalize the situation and improve security to bearable levels without taking drastic actions.

The loss or hiding of population data has consequences beyond the immediate suffering of the individuals; no reliable census data means security and stability are degraded and the political process is subject to bias and outside influence. But its most profound consequence is the loss of millions of displaced Iraqis of their human rights as upheld by the U.N. charter, such as human dignity, freedom of movement and security as well as suffering difficulties of aid distribution from international organizations. On the state level, its consequences include threatening the stability and security of neighboring countries and the region, which makes dealing with the issue the core responsibility of the Security Council.

We read in the news that some Iraqi government officials bravely called for census to run by their local administration, we do not doubt the good will and sincerity of these individuals but we have to point out some costly risks associated with following this path: First, deciding the criteria for carrying Iraqi citizenship is a thorny issue and dealing with it will invariably raise controversy and division, we believe the safest alternative is to let the United Nations make the hard choices, since it has the credibility and impartiality in dealing with all parties, and can supervise the census process, guard the data and issue the documents fairly. Second, if census is treated like other political issues of lesser importance and another fragile consensus is sought then it could lead to a situation similar to the Iraqi parliament’s approval of law of municipal elections, where only partial agreement was reached which does not cover the entire population. We see the solution is in seeking a Security Council mandate which is binding to all parties.

On the occasion of the US presidential elections, with the changes it will bring to foreign policy, we wish to send the new president elect the following open letter:

It is no secret that the administration of Pres. George W. Bush had open and covert exchanges with its Iraqi allies, including factions belonging to political Islam. We saw that the resulting alliances empowered parties with little or no democratic credibility, which deprived the political process from its credibility and lost hope in democracy as a means of bringing political change to the better, instead, these alliances legitimized election coercion, the use of religious symbols and un-investigated fraud, and lead to the expectation of continuing governance as usual. The continuing U.S. running of the political process in Iraq is being exploited by its Iraqi allies in repression, corruption and sectarian practices thinly veiled with token words and practices to inspire the opposite. Therefore, we urge you to support a Security Council mandate to run a population census and supervise future elections for a limited time period in Iraq.
Best regards.

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