Addressing a panel session in Paris on June 12, Struan Stevenson, former president of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Iraq, said that the US and Europe had pursued the wrong policy in Iraq and Iran for the last decade and it is still continued. He stressed, “Unless we get this right and rearm and retrain the Sunnis, reawaken the Sunnis to drive ISIS out of Iraq, then Iraq will become a total basket case and a failed state. And who will be the benefactors from that? Iran.”
The panel session, organized by “Foundation for Middle Eastern Studies” (FEMO) and chaired by Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, former US Special Envoy and Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs, was attended by number of distinguished speakers including, Linda Chavez, former Assistant to the U.S. President for Public Liaison, Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont and Chair of the US Democratic Party, Ken Blackwell, former U.S. ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, Olli Heinonen, former Deputy Director General of the IAEA, Bruno Tertrais, senior fellow at the French Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS), Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director of NCRI US Representative Office, author of the book, The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis,James Woolsey, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Clinton, Yves Thréard, Leader writer and columnist for the French daily Le Figaro, and Frédéric Encel, Professor of international relations a
t the ESG Management School, Seminar Director at the French Institute of Geopolitics.
Text of Struan Stevenson’s remarks follows:
“Thank you very much, Chairman, and thanks for the little bit of puff from my book at the beginning of your remarks. When I was chair of the delegation for Relations with Iraq in the European Parliament it gave me the opportunity to go to Iraq on many occasions and to go indeed to the Middle East on many occasions. My official said to me, your job is to help to build good relations with the Iraqis. Your job is to cement conciliation with Iraq. They’ve been through tough times. I very quickly discovered that we were paying lip service to an extremely corrupt prime minister in Nouri al-Maliki. It’s estimated that since 2006 $550 billion of oil revenue, $550 billion of oil revenue has simply disappeared, stolen from the Iraqi people. Last December Maliki’s son was arrested in a hotel room in Beirut with $1.25 billion in his room. That was in the press. It’s estimated that Maliki had transferred about $5 billion to banks in Beirut and his son was doing a shuttle service to bring the cash back to him on f
The result is, the last time that I was in Baghdad the people there are suffering from only four hours of electricity a day. Very few people have access to fresh water in any of the cities or villages in Iraq. There is a broken-down sewage system. Iraq, the cities like Baghdad, are amongst the filthiest in the world. And Transparency International lists Iraq as the sixth most corrupt country in the world, only Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, North Korea are worse. And yet, Maliki was the leader that we were backing in the EU, that I was being ordered by my officials to be kind, to be nice, stop criticizing him, Mr. Stevenson. And I said, well, I’m sorry, I’m a Scotsman and I don’t, you know, I don’t take kindly to saying nice things about crooks and gangsters. And I was so critical, and indeed I’ve done it in this book, I was so critical of Maliki on a couple of occasions he called press conferences to denounce me as a liar and an enemy of Iraq. So I wear that as a badge of honor.
But I can tell you, the U.S., the EU, the United Nations were backing Maliki when he started waging a genocidal war against his own Sunni population. He started rooting out all the leading Sunnis in his own government, including Dr. Tariq al-Hashimi, a leading humanitarian who was one of the people who wrote the new constitution for Iraq, he has now achieved something that very few people have ever achieved, he’s in the Guinness Book of Records for having been sentenced to death in absentia five times. He managed to flee to Kurdistan and now he’s in Turkey. I invited him to come to the European Parliament to tell us about the genocidal campaign being waged on his people, on the Sunni population, by Maliki with the tacit approval of the Americans and the EU. We were saying, oh no, Maliki is our man, because although he lost the election by two seats, and Ayad Allawi, a secular leader who would have evolved Iraq into a nonsectarian—he would have had a government of all the people, a nonsectarian government,
but we listened to the mullahs in Tehran who said we have a red line against Allawi. There is no way we’ll have him, we will never accept that. And America and the EU bent the knee and said, okay, we agree with you, let’s do what we can to build a coalition to make sure that Maliki takes over. And when he tried to take over again after the last election, again with the mullahs in Tehran pushing hard internationally because he was their puppet, he was their willing marionette, they were the ones ordering him to get rid of the Sunnis. They were the ones ordering him to bomb Fallujah and Ramadi and start sending the Shia militias into Anbar province, which opened the door for ISIS, which created the very foundation to draw ISIS across the border from Syria into Iraq.
So that when finally the EU and the U.S. woke up to the fact that Maliki was bad news, and we said, okay, we will back Haider al-Abadi to take over, and look at the legacy that Haider Al-Abadi has been left with. About one third of the territory of Iraq is now held by ISIS. And the reason for this is because many of the Sunnis in the Anbar province and in places like Mosul, the second-biggest city in Iraq, they prefer the Islamic State jihadists to the brutal Shia militias who’d been bombing, murdering and raping their people for the past ten years under Maliki. And that’s what allowed ISIS to come in. And the only way we will resolve this problem is to once again is to encourage a Sunni reawakening.
Once before when the Americans organized the famous surge to get rid of Al Qaeda, they recruited the Sunni tribes, trained and armed them, and they drove Al Qaeda out of Iraq. And now instead of doing that, instead of encouraging the Sunni tribes to drive ISIS out of Iraq, we are tacitly—as was said in the last panel—aiding the Shia militias who are led and armed by the Iranians and who are commanded by Qasem Soleimani, the leading general from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, his posters are now on the streets of Baghdad. He is being hailed as a hero. And he is leading the Shia militias to go into Tikrit where they recaptured Tikrit, and now to start the recapture of Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq, with two million Sunnis. And yet we in the West are aiding with air strikes the bombing of these areas where Sunni men, women and children are being killed by our bombs and the mullahs are funding and leading the Shia militias who don’t give a damn how many Sunnis die. And we expect that the Sun
ni tribes will turn around and support us in driving ISIS out of Iraq, it is an empty dream. We have got completely the wrong policy. We have pursued the wrong policy in Iraq and Iran for the last decade, and we are still pursuing the wrong policy. Unless we get this right and rearm and retrain the Sunnis, reawaken the Sunnis to drive ISIS out of Iraq, then Iraq will become a total basket case and a failed state. And who will be the benefactors from that? Iran.”