Iraqi United Nations Ambassador Speaks at FCLC


Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) welcomed His Excellency Ambassador Hamid Al-Bayati, permanent representative of Iraq to the United Nations, who spoke at “The Summer of the Arab Spring” on Nov. 4.

In addition to addressing the Arab Spring—a phrase now commonly used to describe the pro-democratic movements in the Arab world—Al-Bayati highlighted Iraq’s political and social changes from Saddam’s reign. He said that Iraq’s progress went from “Dictatorship to Democracy,” which is also the title of his latest book.

Qussay Al-Attabi, professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, moderated the event and said, “We all knew that these autocratic regimes are doomed.” He said that many people knew that this was going to happen, but “what almost none of us expected, however, was that it’d happen that soon and that quickly.”

Al-Bayati said, “The United Nations is like the parliament of the world.” He said that through peace and security are discussed, deliberated and decided upon by the nations within the United Nations. He tied the concept of the United Nations’ role of peace and security to Iraq’s position with the United Nation during and after Saddam’s reign. He also mentioned the multitude of sanctions that Iraq and its people endured after Saddam invaded Kuwait. He said that the United Nations saw Saddam and his Ba’ath party as a threat to peace and security of the world.

In 2006, Al-Bayati said that Saddam was executed. After his death, Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan dictator, said to him, “You will be in the same position as Saddam.” In that same room were leaders whose positions are currently being questioned and protested by the Arab Spring.

The removal of Saddam Hussein set an example for other Arab countries by showing that, when the people will, they can depose an unjust ruler regardless of how long he has been in power or how powerful he seems to be. The ambassador said that the toppling of Saddam Hussein was mainly due to foreign military forces. He reminded the audience that Iraqi freedom did not come easily, and that Iraqis had to pay a heavy price to oust Saddam.

Al-Bayati stressed the importance of the role of the youth in the Arab Spring, especially their use of social media to express demands, organize rallies, and disseminate messages—something that wasn’t as feasible during Saddam’s rule.

Dr. Al-Bayati urged students to work with the United Nations, to learn more languages and to become better leaders. He said that the youth, as the leaders of today and tomorrow, should have their voices heard in the government of the world, the United Nations.

Muhammad Ahsan, FCLC ’15, said that he found this particular segment interesting.

“The ambassador praised the young generation and sparked hope into the students and convinced them to make a difference,” he said.

During the question and answer portion of the discussion, Al-Bayati noted that the American democracy is not the only type of democracy that exists, and that there will be a range of democracies that will form after the Arab Spring. If democracy means people can elect the people they see fit to office, Al-Bayati said, we will definitely see different types of democracies form after regime changes in the Middle East and each of these forms would reflect the will of the people.

Students like James Thomas, FCLC ’14, who served in the U. S.  Army in Salah Al-Din, Iraq, said that the event was informative. “It was good to hear the country moving in the same direction as it was moving in after I left.”