Mithal al-Alusi, human rights leader and former Iraqi Parliamentarian, contacted me last weekend to convey his thoughts about the dire situation for proponents of human rights and liberal values in Iraq. He also urged President Obama to “do something about Iran.”
Alusi, who was elected to Parliament in 2005 following the murder of his two grown sons by terrorists as payback for their father’s visit to Israel, has been a staunch proponent of cooperation and normal relations between Israel and Iraq. He was elected to serve two terms in Parliament, but failed to obtain re-election in March, 2010. He believes his loss and those of other Western-friendly candidates was due to election fraud perpetrated by Islamists in Iraq’s government beholden to Iran. At the time, I reported his claims in The New York Post, www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/iraqi_liberal_warns_of_fixed_election_W1bwDDjC4sW6PykJkaIrHL.
For several years, Alusi has been sounding the alarm about Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
Speaking by phone on Sunday, Alusi, a Sunni Muslim, stressed that U.S. President Barack Obama must do something to stop Iran from attaining nuclear capability, and he must act soon.
“We must push Mr. Obama: We need America to be strong and save the region from fascists and war,” said Alusi. “Mr. President … you can be on the right side of history. Stop Iran. Stop the center of all fascists in the area.”
He continued, “This is not against Islam. If he does not act against Iran, he will lose moderate Muslims. If he does not act against Iran, Americans will continue to be killed [by Iran or its proxies] so he will lose [the support of] more Americans.”
Alusi believes that absent strong U.S. action, Iran will step up its aggression as the next U.S. election approaches.
Sunday he warned that Iran’s regime is highly aware of U.S. politics and that Obama must act soon.
“Iran understands America and the election,” he said. “America in a few months will be weak because [of the uncertainty regarding who will be president].
“If there is a new development it will happen between now and the new election.”
Alusi believes that the Islamic Republic is the nexus of terrorism in the region and the world, arming proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas as well as exporting terrorists and weapons to attack U.S. troops in Iraq. He points out that Iran’s defense minister Ahmad Vahidi is wanted by Interpol for planning the 1994 terrorist attack on the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association that killed 85 people and injured up to 300.
Alusi praised a recent statement by the United Nations Security Council condemning widespread human rights abuse on the part of Syria’s Assad regime. The United States should take the lead in stepping up such efforts to isolate Syria, which is Iran’s proxy, Alusi believes.
“This is good what we have seen in the Security Council,” he said. “Russia and China-normally they are supporting Syrian regime.”
While such efforts can’t hurt, he is skeptical that they will suffice in stopping Iran. The Islamic Republic, he says, has contaminated the political process in Iraq and armed militias there that target U.S. troops as well as Iraqis brave enough to champion classically liberal values like rule of law and cooperation among democracies (including Israel).
“Which kind of change can that Security Council resolution bring in reality?” Alusi said. “Can we deal with abnormal situations with normal tools? We have a vacuum-Iran is now controlling Lebanon, Iran is controlling Iraq, Iran is controlling the Gulf.”
He cited the Iraqi government’s disinclination to comment on Assad’s brutality as evidence of the Iraqi government’s subordination to Iran.
He concluded this ominous assessment with a call for cooperation among democracies: “How long it will take to know we should be together?”
Asked what course of action the U.S. should take, Alusi urged Obama to undertake a military operation to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. He said Obama should champion classically American values ““ such as human (including women’s) rights, rule of law, and religious pluralism ““ without apology. He also believes the U.S. should support liberals like himself and Shiite liberal Iraqi politician Iyad Jamal al-Din, who also lost in last spring’s Iraqi Parliamentary election, which Alusi believes was fixed.
“We democrats, we are alone,” Alusi told me. “We have to face everything alone and this is not fair. [Will] America withdraw troops or keep them? How far will America go to promote American values? No one can tell me American values can live with the Iranian [regime’s] values, with terrorists’ values…if America is willing to go [along] peaceful[ly] with their values then America is not good anymore. For values, we have fought so hard. We [champions of Iraqi democracy] have lost so many thousands. Israelis have lost thousands. America has lost thousands. What, just to make a deal with Iran’s fascist [regime]?”
Alusi, who received the American Jewish Committee’s Moral Courage Award in 2005 for championing counter-terrorism cooperation between Iraq and Israel, believes that he, like his sons, will be targeted by the long arm of Iran’s regime, which he says has been killing champions of human rights and progress in order to secure its control over Iraq.
“We will fight for Iraq. If I die there are others; this is not the end of history,” he said. “My question is, why should we lose millions of people? Because we believe in beautiful language?
“America can’t be stuck in the Vietnam complex.”
Despite his contention that the current Iraqi government is beholden to Iran and that Iran continues to dominate the region, Alusi believes there is hope for democracy in the Mideast. He does not intend to leave. He also has hope that the United States will not abandon Iraq after so much sacrifice.
Part of his hope for the future rests in his belief in the decency of the common people in many parts of the Arab world, who he claims “do not want the fascists.” He maintains that many Arabs are not Islamist extremists and in fact dislike the extremists. He cites his election in 2005 and subsequent re-election, despite campaigns of propaganda and intimidation against him by Islamists, as evidence of this (Alusi ran on a platform that included cooperation with Israel). Many if not most people in the Arab world, like most people everywhere, he maintains, “want to be normal.”
“Most people want to have fun; fascists do not allow that, normal boys and girls to grow up,” he said. “The hope for democracy in Iraq is more than for many countries [because] we know the fascists — Baathists as well as Islamic fascists. Iraqis like any ordinary human beings don’t like, don’t trust fascists-we know the corruption, the brutality. To be normal does not exist under the extremists.”
The problem, as he sees it, is that the most vicious and totalitarian elements in Iraq-funded by Iran-are trying to keep the majority from living normally.
“Most of the people are afraid [and] not everybody is … willing to live in danger,” he said. “The fascists have militias and weapons, because otherwise the people will not follow.”