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"Duty to the Future: Free Iraqis Plan for a New Iraq"

A neu publication With an opening statement by Secretary Powell


The "Future of Iraq Project," described in this publication, embodies our government's long-standing desire to help Iraqis in their effort to free their country from tyranny.

Over many months, the Project has brought together Free Iraqis who are fortunate enough not to live under Saddam Hussein's rule and who have expertise in a wide range of professions. They have boldly discussed concrete proposals for the rebuilding of their country and the restructuring of its institutions so that Iraq can rightfully retake its place as a leading nation in the region and beyond.

I had the pleasure of meeting a number of these distinguished individuals at an Iftaar I hosted during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. I was impressed by the talent and experience they bring to this endeavor, but even more so by their dedication to a vision of a new, free, and democratic Iraq.

I salute the courage and determination of all the participants in the "Future of Iraq Project." I hope that their proposals will be shared widely with their countrymen still in Iraq who have not had the opportunity to imagine or discuss an alternative future for their nation. I am confident that by sharing their experience of living in free and open societies and their ideas about Iraq's way forward, these Iraqis will empower their compatriots, who have remained inside Saddam's Iraq, to build a country which observes the rule of law; accepts principles of justice; and respects the rights of all its citizens to live together in harmony and prosperity.

Duty to the Future: Free Iraqis Plan for a New Iraq

Iraqis remember a time, now more than three decades past, when their cultural heritage, their oil wealth, and the education and skills of their people, earned Iraq a respected place in both the Arab world and the larger international community.

The generation that has grown up since Saddam Hussein took power may have no personal memories of such a time, but they, too, have all heard the stories of their families. They, too, have shared the memories of an older generation who have not forgotten the time before Saddam consumed their nation and transformed the history of a people into the biography of a tyrant.

Many of the free Iraqis living outside the country — whether in the United States, Europe, the Middle East or elsewhere — have done more than remember. Long before the current military campaign to liberate Iraq, they have been actively engaged in turning hope into reality through an unprecedented effort to plan for a future after Saddam Hussein is gone.

For the past year, many of these Iraqis have met in a series of 17 separate working groups, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, to share ideas and plans for building a new Iraq.

The Future of Iraq Project, as this initiative is known, was not a political process or an attempt to create a kind of government-in-exile. It was, instead, a broad, voluntary effort to meld the talents, experience, and expertise of the large community of Iraqis living beyond the reach of Saddam Hussein, many of whom are now planning their return.

In these working groups — whose focus has ranged from democracy-building and oil to health, education, and water — free Iraqis have devoted themselves to planning how their homeland can recover from the cruelty and corruption of Saddam Hussein's regime, and to building the institutions of political, economic, and personal freedom that will allow Iraq once again to take its rightful place among the community of nations.

All the Iraqis in the working groups — whether previously active in Iraqi-led political organizations or not — took risks in participating in the Future of Iraq Project. Nevertheless, they offered their expertise in the fields of civil engineering, health care, oil production, agriculture, or rule of law.

They also brought a diversity of views to their work. Virtually all of them agreed that the opportunity to share different points of view — even when their discussions did not lead to full agreement — was one of the most valuable aspects of their experience.

The Future of Iraq Project was neither an academic nor theoretical exercise. As Marc Grossman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, said in testimony before the U.S. Senate on February 11, 2003, before the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, "In the legal field, for example, the Iraqi lawyers in the Transitional Justice working group have drafted 600 pages, in Arabic, of proposed reforms of the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Civil Code, the Nationality Law, the Military Procedure Code and more."

The Water, Agriculture, and Environment Working Group identified the need to provide clean water to Iraqi citizens as its first priority. In addition, they endorsed the Eden Again project, which envisages restoration of the wetlands and marshes that Saddam Hussein has destroyed in an unrelenting, decades-long assault on the land and peoples of southern Iraq.

The membership of the Economic and Infrastructure Working Group mirrored the diversity of Iraq itself, drawing on professionals from the United States, Britain, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Iraqi Kurdistan. Participants were from many different ethnic and religious groups: Sunnis, Shi'as, Assyrians, Kurds and many others. In their reports, they outlined a three-stage process that would focus on maintaining security and essential services, meeting the basic needs of all Iraqi people, and rebuilding the nation's infrastructure and economy.

A newer working group on civil society stated at the end of its first session in February 2003, "It is natural for Iraq, as the historic cradle of civilization, to have a civil society that respects, protects, and empowers Iraqis to prosper in a democratic government."

The Oil and Energy Working Group has drawn up specific plans for rebuilding the oil industry's infrastructure while also working to diversify Iraq's economy. "All agreed that the oil and energy sector will be the driving force that allows Iraqis to prosper once the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein is removed," they said in a March 1, 2003, statement.

The Future of Iraq Project Working Groups
  • Democratic Principles and Procedures
  • Economy and Infrastructure
  • Defense Policy and Institutions
  • Education
  • Public Health and Humanitarian Needs
  • Civil Society Capacity Building
  • Transitional Justice
  • Water, Agriculture and Environment
  • Preserving Iraq's Cultural Heritage
  • Public Finance
  • Oil and Energy
  • Local Government
  • Anti-Corruption Measures
  • Foreign and National Security
  • Free Media
  • Migration
  • Public Outreach

The Working Group on Democratic Principles and Procedures debated some of the most difficult and contentious issues of political authority and ethnic identity. Nonetheless, they were able to agree on broad principles of democratic governance and a federal system of representation within a unified Iraq. As one participant said, "We all need to feel that we are Iraqis before we are Kurds or Shi'as or Sunnis, Arabs, or Turkmen. We have to have the feeling of belonging to Iraq."

Although the Future of Iraq Project comprises free Iraqis, neither the participants nor the State Department ever intended this initiative as a means of dictating the parameters of the future to the more than 20 million Iraqis who endure Saddam's iron rule. To the contrary, many of the working groups have sought out informal ways of communicating with those inside Iraq about their ideas and proposals — well before military action. Moreover, the working group recommendations — whether dealing with health, oil, or political processes — all take an "inside-outside" approach in which free Iraqis will assist the people of a liberated Iraq in further developing and implementing the plans of the Future of Iraq Project. They will offer skills and resources that are simply not accessible to those inside Saddam's walls of oppression.

As Under Secretary Grossman said in his congressional testimony, "Iraqis on the outside will not control the decisions that will ultimately have to be made by all Iraqis. And the people we are working with are a great, great resource, but they know, and we all know, that all Iraqis in the end must be able to talk freely and work together to build a free and democratic Iraq."

U.S. sponsorship of the Future of Iraq Project is tangible evidence of its long-term commitment to the freedom and welfare of the Iraqi people. The project is also an implicit promise that Iraq's future belongs exclusively to the Iraqi people and no one else.

In the words of Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, the United States' post-war work will proceed with a two-part resolve, "a commitment to stay and a commitment to leave."

The United States and coalition members will remain to accomplish the basic objectives of removing the regime of Saddam Hussein, locating and destroying all weapons of mass destruction, and ensuring Iraq's territorial integrity. But the United States has an equal commitment to leave the area as soon as possible, demonstrating that the future of Iraq belongs solely to the Iraqi people.

Then, as Iraqis themselves determine, the United States will join with coalition allies, friends, and international organizations to support the country's long-term efforts in building a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Iraq.

As William Burns, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, told Arab journalists, March 6, 2003, before the launch of military action,

"Creating a solid representative government, beyond the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein, is a complicated process. It has to be driven by Iraqis, and that includes Iraqis from inside Iraq now — as well as those courageous people in the outside Iraqi opposition who have worked for many, many years to help bring that reality about.

The United States will exercise its responsibilities to help support that process and to help build those institutions. But we're going to do it in cooperation with the international community and with Iraqis themselves, because it's going to require that kind of cooperation, internationally and among Iraqis themselves to serve the interests of Iraqis and the interest of stability in the region."

The Future of Iraq Project is one step on the road to a new nation. In a series of recent interviews, some of the participants in the project shared their thoughts on the experience.

Their voices are real, diverse, and by no means unanimous. They express skepticism, concern, and contradictions — even as they share fundamental views of the need for freedom and democracy for Iraq. They are, in short, the voice of freedom, the voices of Iraqis who care about the future, and want the opportunity to take control of it once again.

March 2003

Source: http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/dutyiraq

To the german version: Verantwortung für die Zukunft: Freie Iraker konzipieren einen neuen Irak

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