Good Offices Group of European Lawmakers
c.p. 2589  -  1211 Geneva 2  -  022-7400362  -
Anton Keller, Secretary
July 22, 2011
Vice President Joe Biden
The White House
Washington, DC 20501, USA

President Shimon Peres
3 Hanassi Street
Jerusalem, 92188 Israel +972-2-6707211

Madame Danielle Mitterrand
Fondation France Libertée, 22 rue de Milan
75009 Paris, France  (33) 1 53 25 10 40

The Honorable Tony Blair
P.O. Box 60519
London W2 7JU, UK

Three keys to stability in the Middle East

Dear Vice-President Joseph Biden,
Your Excellency, Shimon Peres,
Chère Madame Danielle Mitterrand,
The Honorable Prime Minister Tony Blair,

The names may not all ring a bell with you. But linked together in a creative and visionary way, they are seen to provide a powerful political catalyst for bringing lasting stability to an area which hasn't seen much of it since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. And even though his physical health, unfortunately, is currently not exactly indicative of great strides all of his own, Iraq's President Jalal Talabani is seen to sit atop of a historical opportunity which - with your encouragement and help - may promptly be turned into multiple symbionic political breakthroughs benefitially affecting the whole Middle East.

The persons I'm taking about are understood to be all, since years, awaiting their uncertain fate in prison. And resolving their case by setting them free is seen to decisively reverse, and thus effectively unlock the gridlock which, in the past century, has characterised the ME's political evolution. They are:
Sultan Hashim Ahmad (former Iraqi defense minister, volontarily surrendered Sept. 2003 to US General Petraeus, on death row in Baghdad since 2007),
Sarwar Salar Al-Hafeed (MD, great-great-nephew of legendary Kurdish King Sheik Mahmoud, kidnapped 31.5.06 in Manchester, imprisoned in Cluj-Napoca, Romania(?), unknown fate), and
Gilad Shalit (French-Israeli Israel Defense Forces soldier, captured 25 June 2006 by Hamas, kept incommunicado at unknown location).

Sultan Hashim Ahmed's life has been spared repeatedly by President Talabani who - incidently like Muqtada al-Sadre at least privately - favors abolition of the death sentence. Sultan's resonance factor in the Sunni community is understood to remain high. As such - given an opportunity - he might play a significant rôle for helping to lastingly stabilise at least Northern Iraq (Mosul Vilayet) with its intertwined Arab, Assyrian, Kurdish, Turkoman and Yezidi communities. This would seem to be very much in line with the ideas favored already by the then-US Senator Biden. Mostly overlooked, these constitutive communities - on paper at least - enjoy still valid international minority and private property protection guarantees which, significantly, take precedent over "any law, regulation or official action now or in the future". Moreover, all tribal, party and community leaders have already signed up for the cooperative, consensus-based and reconciliation-oriented Mosul Vilayet model. For Iraq's divisive key issues - i.e. Shia-Sunni power struggle, Kirkuk & Diyala (art.140 Cst.), US forces withdrawal timetable, youth' political demands, etc. - there is thus already a widely accepted, historically and legally well-enrooted common denominator at hand in the form of the proposed Mosul Vilayet Senate. It is based on the still fully valid constitutive Iraqi Declaration of 1932. And though it is, of course, not dependent on any single person, an internally secured and externally supported pardonning of Sultan Hashim Ahmed could do a world of good for Iraq's reconciliation, eventually also serving as the political catalyst for resolving many issues now bedevelling Iraq's return to stability and prosperity.

Sarwar Salar Al-Hafeed's fate in many ways reflects the anguish of all-too many Iraqi families who have lost, or are kept in the dark on the fate of beloved-ones. So far, the ICRC, too has not been able to lift the dense fog created around this high-profile disappearance. In my solidarity note to President Talabani of June 20, 2010, I provided some observations and offered some reflections towards a prompt resolution of this case - also as a contributing factor to the resolution of other regional matters. I trust Jalal, my long-time comrade-in-arms against Saddam, to appreciate and heed Akhenaton's wisdom, as reflected in Amarna tablet #401. And I expect him to be particularly receptive to friendly calls on him to do all in his power for bringing about a prompt resolution of this unbearable uncertainty surrounding the case of Sheik Salar's son.

Gilad Shalid's unknown whereabout and fate is similarly galling - not only for his family and friends, but for all innocent victims of political power plays anywhere. Of course, the International Committee of the Red Cross doesn't need and doesn't want any outsider to speak on its behalf, and I trust not to be misunderstood when I agree with those who see the ICRC's unique and invaluable services as a pathway for unlocking this particular gridlock. Perhaps - as previously suggested, but also so far in vain - an Israeli permission for EU & Swiss lawmakers to visit Marwan Barghouti might promptly open the way towards more genuinely helpful talks on the Israel/Palestine conflict. E.g. towards a Babylon 2, i.e. a provisional Palestine-in-exile solution, which has been accepted, in principle, by Iraqi leaders already in 1994 ("Proposed Conflict Resolution Pathways for Iraq", UN document E/CN.4/1994/NGO/48).

President Talabani may recall and find such initiatives very much in favor of a lasting legacy of his own. Naturally, you are seen to be in a unique position to enlighten him on that prospect. Thanking you for your benevolent consideration in the common interest. Your eventual action & reply would be greatly appreciated..

Anton Keller, Secretary, Good Offices Group of European Lawmakers
c.p. 2589  -  1211 Geneva 2  -  022-7400362  -

cc: H.E. Jalal Talabani (, Massoud Barzani (, Newshirwan Mustafa (,
Kosrat Rasoul (, Sheik Salar Al-Hafeed (