Peace in Iraq and Syria was and still is easily possible

And Gaza too

Dark Clouds over Iraq and Syria - oil on canvas by ashok

While much of the world watches the turmoil in Iraq and Syria with anguish, it is not that easy solutions to the problem were not possible. They are possible even now if what follows is heeded but there is someone who would lose - The Arms industry. How tragic it is that the world has seen such tragic scenes in Gaza, Iraq and Syria for so long, especially when far easier, far less violent solutions to the issues have been in the public domain for years now, some as indicated and linked in this post.  These solutions are not just in hindsight but have been in the public domain for years.  An old Facebook note is copied here verbatim with the latest update as below. Years ago, I wrote my views on the crisis in Iraq and because of my concern for the country, I even communicated my views to the White House and Downing street, for within my note was a suggestion for a peaceful future for that country. However, my suggestions were disregarded as is often the case for voices from the wilderness or wisdom.  My familiarity with that country arose because I had been a Professor for four years in one of the leading universities of the country, having gone there on a foreign assignment program between the Iraq and Indian government. As reports of violence continue in Iraq, I revisited that note today. Thanks to Google, old notes can be searched out in seconds. It is copied and repeated here. Perhaps it is too late now to consider the suggestions afresh but in any case it is repeated here for whatever it is worth now, when tragically many lives continue to be lost on a daily basis at the time of writing this note. An old reference on the matter:

A Perspective on Iraq 

Added: (Fri Nov 17, 2006)

Pressbox (Press Release) - My introduction to Iraq began in 1986 when I joined the University of Mosul as a Professor of Engineering. At that time Saddam Hussein was aggressively recruiting foreign nationals to improve higher education in the country. My stay was comfortable and I continued to stay in Iraq for four years. It was widely believed at the time that criticism of Saddam was not permitted. However, one could debate policies and except for this restriction as well as that on travel for Iraqi nationals there was relative peace and prosperity in Iraq. During this period I learned the Arabic language and made many close friends from amongst the Iraqis. It was believed by many intellectuals including myself at the time that although a restriction on freedoms was regrettable it was an unavoidable necessity in Iraq because without it there was a strong possibility that Iraqis would begin killing each other. There were very deep historical factors that would lead to disturbance unless controlled by a strict hand. Subsequent events have proved that this assumption was a correct one.

Some years ago, when Saddam was removed as a result of military action by US lead coalition forces I sent emails to the White house as well as 10 Downing Street in the UK explaining my perception of the situation. My suggestion was that if Iraq could be divided along ethnic lines including some smaller communities to create six or seven provinces in a federal set up then the possibility of peace was greater. The occupying forces could have organized such a division in the heat of victory relatively easily. However that was not done at the time. Recently it appears that a federal set up for Iraq is being considered for three communities the Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds. In my view a division into three entities would also spell problems and lead to the break up of Iraq into three separate countries. Two can gang up against one. A better proposition is to include some other ethnic groups as well; three other groups in Iraq are the Assyrians, Yezhidis and Turkman. Two of them are non-Muslim communities and the third is non-Arab. These three extra communities are minorities but have significant populations that too can be allocated small geographical regions within a new Iraq. A rotating president-ship of the federation by rotation or election by the six presidents may then be possible.

My present knowledge of what is happening in Iraq comes from the media but two concepts being tossed around are beyond my comprehension.

The first is that the coalition forces are training Iraqis for security. That to my mind is a totally ridiculous concept. If it was said that Iraqis are training coalition forces for security that would be more understandable, not the reverse. The Iraqis themselves know far better how to handle the security in Iraq then any outsider. They have done so for five thousand years

The second concept that is beyond my understanding is the US refrain that they have to win. What do they want to win? There is nothing to win or loose in Iraq. Is the reference to winning peace and stability? If so, then the only way is for the coalition forces to move out since that appears to be one of the causes of instability. Iraq has never been more deprived and unstable in its five thousand year long history than in recent times, after US interference began. It should be stopped immediately. Iraqi parents and children are just as sweet as American ones and deserve to live just as much.

Submitted by:Ashok Malhotra

As regards Syria: 
Closing thought: Based on the Iraq experience and perhaps also the Afghanistan one, the world is currently showing a great reluctance to intervene in Syria. In the view of this author while the earlier intervention may have been a mistake, the present approach of not intervening in Syria may yet be another one as explained  -

UPDATE August 2014

Whenever a note such as this is written it is based on an assessment of the situation and no one including the author can ever be hundred percent sure if the suggestions are correct. However time does reveal the extent of their validity. The turmoil that has continued in Iraq as well those of communities like Yezidis and Christians would now seem to validate the main thrust of this old note.

One may have disagreed with some of the specifics but even those are being validated now - for example the worthlessness of American security training in the region was mentioned . That too could not have been more clearly validated when the American trained security forces in Iraq deserted Mosul despite their modern American weapons while the locally trained Kurdish Peshmarga fighters held their ground much better even with primitive weapons.

A second point made in this note that not intervening in Syria as suggested could be a big mistake is also coming true. The birth of ISIS is a direct consequence of this non-intervention.

Violence leads its practitioners and supporters to Hell.

The insights of this author about the region arose because he spent four years in the region as a Professor, learning the languages of the region and intermingling closely with that culture in order to acquire an understanding of their inner motivations..
Notes on the ancient origins of Iraqi and Syrian civilisation can be found in another blog by the author at

 As regards Gaza

While this note has been about Iraq and Syria this author has not been unconcerned about the violence in Gaza and written about that too recently, while having written several years ago too with possible solutions to the violence. The misery inflicted particularly on children has been heart breaking. An old note from 2006 - Violence in Gaza is deplorable - here


While this note points out many errors the world may have made in the Middle east, ONE NEW ONE IS PERHAPS UNFOLDING. The world is going after ISIL without dealing with the cause that gave birth to it - The government of Assad. The world must grant him safe asylum and amnesty and access to his funds elsewhere. This view is identical to that with many in Turkey who understand the region and its problem from close at hand


The situation has now changed in Syria and it is too late for attempting to focus on  Assad leaving. Now the only way out is either for US and Syria to sit together and work out a solution or for US, UK and rest to leave the region and let Russia work towards peace with Iran.

In Conclusion may an ancient truth be pointed out most humbly, Righteous Wars may bring peace but wars for preservation of self interest alone shall bring pain and disaster, for violence begets violence.

Photo above from


Martin Olson said…
Sigh! Nicely written, Dr. Ashok. Thanks for putting down this analysis and your ideas.
Ashok said…
Hello, Welcome to the blog Martin. Your comment is appreciated. Hope you look through some of the other posts too when you have the time you will find stuff that would interest you if you plug terms like hell, heaven or whatever in the search engine :)
Ashok said…
Just brushed up the formatting etc.of this note today and tweeted the link since it seems it will continue to remain relevant as long as the tragic violence in these regions continues.

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