Terrorism in general defined, any act aimed at terrorizing the individual, group or state in order to achieve the objectives, and goes against local or international laws. However, political terrorism is a process of employing highly organized strategies to achieve the objectives and political interests of those in power, whether they are governments, political parties or politicians. This kind of terror forms a psychological war, which uses tools and tactics to fulfill the goals in politics. It occurs between adversaries whether they are countries, politicians, or those who are in government and their opponents. It is also used in targeting ordinary Iraqi citizens.
The strategic crisis addressed in this article does not mean strategic management. It means the ways in which Iraqi politicians transform a crisis into a strategy as a political process. They create a crisis, and manage it according to their political goals. For instance, during the eight-year rule of Nourie Al Maliki from 2006 – 2014, many crises erupted between the Prime Minister and politicians, whether Kurdish, Sunni, or even Shiah. The Prime Minister accused a number of politicians of corruption, supporting terrorist groups, and provoking sectarian violence. Those he accused included: Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, Members of Parliament Mohammed al-Daini and Ahmed al-Alwani, the head of the Sunni community Ahmed Abdul Ghafoor Al-Samarrai, the Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi, and other officials who escaped with their bodyguards from the liquidation of political opponents. This led to Al Maliki seizing power and obtaining a second term in the 2010 elections, although Aaed-Allawi, who was the Head of the biggest Sunni party called Al-Iraqia Party, won the election. Maliki controlled the government by circumventing the law and created a political crisis. In this context, the concept of political crisis needs to be reviewed due to many politicians creating a crisis as a strategy to achieve their ends over their opponents.
Observers have noted that Iraq’s politicians have become dependent upon crises in their political lives. When some politicians face a crisis that can affect their position, their political opponents in government will face strong challenges and create another crisis by producing fake evidence in an attempt to show their opponents are terrorists. This strategy is a means of making corrupt deals, and bribing politicians in order to gain ministries and other powerful positions in government. It is a tool of political terrorism in the Iraq political process.
The question is how do Iraqi politicians manage a strategic crisis? There are various strategies, used by politicians to deal with crises. The most common of these are: accusing their opponents of causing a crisis; forming an alliance with other political parties to create a strong and powerful group in parliament; turning a marginal issue into a major issue in the public opinion, thereby diverting public attention from key to marginal issues through the media. Other common methods include: denying the existence of the crisis or suppressing it, and forming committees to investigate the crisis. These strategies lead to the temporarily quelling of the crisis, because the crisis is constantly evolving and is not static.
Many strategies of political terrorism used by Iraqi politicians and parties to topple their opponents: they overtly threaten their adversaries or accuse them of being terrorists or belonging to terrorist groups. The issuance of arrest warrants: some politicians want to issue arrest warrants for alleged crimes of corruption and terrorism or for belonging to sectarian groups. In addition they mobilize public opinion to set up demonstrations in many provinces in Iraq as a lobby to pressure governments. They also spread false stories in the media and provoke public opinion against a specific party or politicians and accused them of being subversive. Fear strategies are used to destroy opponents politically. They mobilize the “machine media” to change public opinion on some issues.
Politicians clearly incite violence through their speech, conversations, public addresses, and media pronouncements and interviews, as a means of resolving acute conflicts, frequently using the political process and media to fuel conflicts and violence within the community. They also use subtle ways of controlling their opponents. For example, throughout the last year, politicians have attempted to curb the constant demonstrations of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his supporters when they continued demonstrating for political reform, by intimidating and threatening them that the biggest terrorist groups ISIS would take advantage of them and escalate violence.
This weak government cannot lead the country for the next two years if there is no solution to these political crises. The Iraqi people are feeling increasingly helpless, powerless and frustrated with a number of escalating issues which include – the security crisis, the economic crisis, lack of health care and environmental services, rising unemployment, increasing crime-rates in Baghdad and the south of Iraq, and many thousands of displaced families.
(Mohammad Ibraheem Abdullah, is an Iraqi journalist, lecturer and a PhD scholar of media and public relations at RMIT University, Melbourne)