The United States must persist in its efforts to rebuild Iraq despite sectarian violence because the consequences of failure would be disastrous for the war-torn country and the entire region, said Qubad Talabany, the son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in a speech at Keating Hall on March 8.
“If Iraq fails as a state and pressure by the American public [builds]to pull out your forces prematurely, [it]will turn … into a disaster, a disaster for the region and more and more of a disaster for ourselves,” Talabany said. “It’s hard for me to ask you Americans for patience. It is your parents, your brothers and sisters who are out there fighting for our country. Many are getting killed in our country. This is the most difficult thing to say: Please be patient.”
Talabany, who spells his surname differently than his father, spoke to a large gathering of students and faculty about the political difficulties facing Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, the current surge of 21,000 American troops, the nature of the country’s insurgency and the need for American involvement in both Iraq and throughout the Middle East. The Department of Political Science hosted the event.
Talabany was critical of a establishing a timetable for withdrawing American troops that some in Congress have called for. He said he understands Americans are frustrated with the pace of progress in Iraq, but a timetable would only harm Iraq’s development as a nation.
“These kinds of things help our enemies,” Talabany said. “Because if I was a terrorist I would lay low until 2008. Time is not an issue for [the terrorists]. Unfortunately, it is an issue for us.”
Talabany said that America is crucial to the success of Iraq as a democratic state, and its potential military withdrawal scares the majority of Iraqis who want the country to grow and prosper.
“Nobody wants you to leave,” Talabany said. “Only the extremists want you to leave, and they’re in the minority.”
If Iraq is to be fixed, Talabany said it will require the Iraqis to do more for themselves, to stand up to the insurgency and assert their own power over the nation. And while the United States could help in that effort, Talabany stressed that Iraqis understand that that self-reliance must come sooner rather than later.
“The leadership in Iraq needs to make unpopular decisions,” he said. “The results of those decisions are not going to be known for years, which we’ve seen throughout history. They need to move beyond their own constituencies and make decisions that will be unpopular to their constituents. But making those decisions will give them credibility with other constituencies, and will eventually begin the process of healing.”