‘My Country Needs Me’

Wall Street Opinion Journal Heather Robinson November 1, 2006

Iraqi democrats haven’t given up the fight. How can we?

With the midterm elections fast approaching, the panic over Iraq seems more intense than ever. That country, the thinking goes, is a hopeless mess, and there could be a precipitous American withdrawal, especially if the Democrats win.

But doing so would leave the silent majority of Iraqis hostage to the most vicious extremists, abandoning those Iraqi leaders who have championed liberal democratic values. One of them is Mithal al-Alusi, a 53-year-old Sunni Arab who won a seat in parliament last December after having served as director general of the National Commission on de-Baathification. Mr. al-Alusi ran on a platform of religious pluralism, human rights, free markets and a free press. He calls for an alliance among democracies–including the U.S., Iraq, Israel and Turkey–to fight terrorism.

Not only does Mr. al-Alusi champion values many in the West hope will define the new Iraq, he has risked his life–and lost more than his life–for the cause. In September 2004 he attended a counterterrorism conference in Herzliya, Israel; after which insurgents threatened his family. The following February assassins opened fire on Mr. al-Alusi’s car as it approached his Baghdad home. He wasn’t in the vehicle, but his sons, 30-year-old Ayman and 22-year-old Gamal, were. Both were killed as their father watched. Still, Mr. al-Alusi was unbowed. “Even if these terrorists try to kill me again, peace is the only solution,” he told reporters minutes after the attack. “Peace with Israel is the only solution for Iraq. Peace with everybody, but no peace for the terrorists.” He continued to build his Iraqi Nation Party, which his fallen sons had helped establish, and which now has 15,000 members.

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