Synopses & Reviews
Involved for over 30 years in the politics of Iraq, Ali A. Allawi was a long-time opposition leader against the Baathist regime. In the post-Saddam years he has held important government positions and participated in crucial national decisions and events. In this book, the former Minister of Defense and Finance draws on his unique personal experience, extensive relationships with members of the main political groups and parties in Iraq, and deep understanding of the history and society of his country to answer the baffling questions that persist about its current crises. What really led the United States to invade Iraq, and why have events failed to unfold as planned?
The Occupation of Iraq examines what the United States did and didn't know at the time of the invasion, the reasons for the confused and contradictory policies that were enacted, and the emergence of the Iraqi political class during the difficult transition process. The book tracks the growth of the insurgency and illuminates the complex relationships among Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds. Bringing the discussion forward to the reconfiguration of political forces in 2006, Allawi provides in these pages the clearest view to date of the modern history of Iraq and the invasion that changed its course in unpredicted ways.
"Ali A. Allawi's magnificent book arrives not a moment too soon. Here, finally, is a man of Iraq who knows its history and its wounds....A new history is offering itself to the Iraqis, and in the tale of disappointment that Allawi brilliantly narrates, there is still the furtive shadow of hope, an echo of deliverance, an undisguised sense of fulfillment at the spectacle of men and women released from a terrible captivity." Fouad Ajami, The New Republic
(read the entire New Republic review
About the Author
Q: What have beenand#160;the main causes of the catastrophe of post-Saddam Iraq?
A: Iraq continues to be racked by violence and intractable political problems. The United States embarked on its invasion with little understanding of the country and with only cursory prewar planning. Iraqis were unrealistically expected to adapt quickly to the premises of Western liberal democracy. A dysfunctional occupation administration ran Iraq in an uneasy partnership with a divided Iraqi political class. Decades of dictatorship had covered up the fault lines in Iraqi society. A revolutionary redrawing of the political map ensued, which empowered the disadvantaged Shia and Kurdish communities. Arab Sunnis rejected the implications of this dramatic change and launched a broad resistance.
Q: Is federalism the answer to the current quagmire?
A: The present framework of the Iraqi state is inherently unstable. Decision making is paralyzed by power-sharing formulas. The machinery of the government itself is too decrepit and corrupt to manage the country. The fiction that Iraq can be maintained in its present form without prolonged violence and instability must be abandoned. A regional solution may be the only possible answer. It must be fair, well planned, and executed with equitable revenue-distribution.
Q: What is your view of the best path the U.S. and its allies can now take?
A: New regional governing authorities with wide powers and resources would be necessary. Federal institutions have to act as adjudicators between regions. Security must be decentralized until such time as confidence between the communities is reestablished. Federalism in Iraq has to be underwritten by an international treaty that would include regional powers. U.S. troops would then be replaced by an international force to stabilize the new federal system.