As I mentioned earlier, Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the Iraqi government, spoke to reporters and think-tank folk this afternoon about an “official vision of the Iraqi government” for a new regional security and economic framework modeled on the European Union.
Dabbagh was short on specifics, but he told an audience at the U.S. Institute of Peace about creating a “long term” contact group for Iraq’s neighbors to explore joint infrastructure projects; energy cooperation — including “shared oil fields” with Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and Syria — and “sharing nuclear power projects;” “limiting separatist trends” like the Kurdish terrorist group known as the PKK; expanding trade from Europe to the Gulf; and the creation of “common markets.”
Creating such a group would balm Iraq’s sectarian fissures, he contended, allowing the Sunnis not to feel like a minority, and assuring Shiites that they’re part of a regional structure. “This formula will take away distrust [and ideology,” he said, contending that Turkey, Kuwait and Syria have already been approached by Iraqi figures for such a plan.
Naturally, in the midst of a global financial crisis, much of this seems fanciful. But Dabbagh said that the Iraqi government wasn’t thinking of this as a “short term” solution, but rather as a strategic goal to reach for the long-term prosperity of Iraq and the region.
What was the missing piece here? The United States. Dabbagh barely made mention of the U.S. in his presentation — a clear indication that the Iraqi government wants the page turned away from the occupation as much as the American people do.
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