Dr Mowaffak Baqer al-Rubaie (alternative transliterations Muwaffaq al-Rubaie and Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i) (Arabic: موفق الربيعي) is a distinguished Iraqi statesman and active civil rights campaigner.
He was appointed as a member of the 25 member Iraqi Governing Council by the Coalition Provisional Authority in July 2003. In April 2004, in recognition of his astute understanding of the risks and challenges faced by Iraq, he was appointed as National Security Advisor (NSA) by the Coalition Provisional Authority. He held this post for its full 5-year term until April 2009, when he was appointed as an MP in Iraq's Council of Representatives (Iraq's Parliament), a role he held until Parliament's dissolution in March 2010. He is considered by mamy Iraqis as a traitor who supported the American occupation and Iranian interests.
Early Life & Opposition Politics
A Shia Muslim and neurologist by training, al-Rabai'i was born in Kadhimiya in 1947 to a Shia father and a Sunni mother, Rubaie graduated top of his class at the Baghdad School of Medicine in 1977 and gained his MRCP (Membership of the Royal College of Physicians) whilst at King's College Medical School in London in 1979. In his student years, Rubaie was a protégé of the leading intellectual Shia theologian of his time, Grand Ayatollah Syed Mohammad Baqir Al-Sadr, the founder of the Islamic Da'awa party, which served as the main opposition to Saddam Hussein's repressive Ba'ath regime. Rubaie was a pivotal figure in the movement from its very beginning which brought him into direct conflict with Saddam's regime for which he was tortured on three separate occasions and sentenced to death in absentia the day after leaving Iraq to complete his medical studies in the UK.
While he was in exile in London from 1979 until 2003, Rubaie embarked on a successful career in both the UK public and private sectors. From 1979 until 1991, Rubaie was the head of Da'awa party's international section and, using his home as his base, was prolific in organising opposition conferences, publications highlighting Saddam's atrocities and fund raising events in order to assist Saddam's countless victims. Following the Gulf War of 1991 and the founding of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) Al Rubaie sought to bring the Da'awa Party into the mainstream of Iraqi opposition with the shared goal of toppling Saddam. This policy however brought him into conflict with the Da'awa hardliners in Tehran and for this reason Rubaie resigned from the Da'awa Party in 1991 to become a leading independent opposition figure.
Rubaie was a major contributor to the widely acclaimed document, "The Declaration of the Shia of Iraq", July 2002 (http://www.al-bab.com) which called for the protection of the civil rights of the Shia of Iraq. Many of the principles of this declaration were later incorporated into Iraq's new constitution of 2004 under the Interim Governing Council.
The Political Establishment
Active in shaping Iraq's post war political landscape right at the outset from the Nassariyeh Conference of 15 April 2003, Rubaie was appointed a member of the Iraqi Governing Council in July 2003 and served until its dissolution one year later. His negotiating skills and impartiality in dealing with Iraq's challenges were identified by all sides and he was appointed as Iraq's National Security Advisor (NSA) in April 2004 by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Rubaie was instrumental in forging and executing Government policy by using the National Security Council as the mechanism to influence and direct the various Iraqi ministries. He worked closely with Ali Allawi, then Minister Of Trade, in assisting Iraq's Accountability & Justice Commission in identfying the culprits behind the looting of the Ministry of Defense budget under Iyad Allawi's interim administration in 2005. He also served as the Iraqi Government's lead negotiator in the standoff with Syed Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf in the summer of 2005 as well as representing Iraq on the international stage at international conferences and meetings with world leaders to rehabilitate Iraq's international standing.
By all accounts, no single person in the formative years of Iraq's nascent democracy had as much impact as Rubaie did in legitimising the new political reality of Iraq in the eyes of the dismissive Arab media and regimes whose natural instinct was to reject the new political order out of fear of the unfamiliar. Indeed, Saudi Arabia rejected overtures from both Ibrahim al-Jaafari in 2006 and his successor in 2008 in preference for dealing with Rubaie. Rubaie was the candidate of choice in Iraq's negotiations with the rest of the Arab League, Iran and Nato.
Execution of Saddam
Rubaie was the interceder between the Iraqi and US sides in the handover of Saddam Hussain to the Iraqi authorities for execution. Rubaie showed Saddam mercy prior to his execution by requesting the guards loosen his handcuffs and personally received Saddam's last wishes before his dispatch to the gallows. The nature of Saddam's execution led to international criticism of the exchanges between Saddam and some of the prison guards prior to his hanging. Rubaie said that the execution was 'not a sectarian lynching' as some media sources claimed, based on the widely circulated, leaked video footage in which the Shiite audience gathered to witness the execution chanted 'Moqtada, Moqtada, Moqtada' (i.e. Moqtada Al-Sadr) to which Saddam Hussein, unintimidated, sarcastically asked Are you men?. As a Muslim, Saddam, who refused to wear a hood, read his last Islamic rites and while in the middle of doing so the trapdoor was released and he was hung. Rubaie admitted that some of the behaviour in the execution chamber was "unacceptable", sentiments he reiterated on January 1, 2007 when he condemned the leaking of the mobile phone video footage of Saddam's execution which circulated on the internet and was broadcast on Al-Jazeera television "as extremely damaging on all fronts".
Trip to USA
In May, 2007, Rubaie made an official trip to Washington, D.C., to lobby leading Democratic critics of the war against withdrawing troops, primarily Senator Carl Levin and Representative John P. Murtha. Rubaie argued that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was making progress in stabilising Iraq, and that the United States should be patient as Iraqis make steady progress. He also met with supporters of the war, including Senator Joseph I. Lieberman.
Rubaie played a decisive role in diffusing the slide into civil war in the critical period between 2005 and 2008 as he headed the national reconciliation programme to reconcile Iraq's warring Sunni and Shi'ite communities. Rubaie received international acclaim for his achievements in isolating al-Qaeda in Iraq from the Sunni mainstream and bringing the Sunni community to the negotiating table with the Shia-led Government as well as his protection of Iraq's vulnerable Christian minority and was awarded the "The Annual Prize For Peace Making In The Middle East" at the House of Lords on 18 February 2009 presented by Lord Hylton of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. The award was made in order to recognize from the British side Dr Mowaffak Al Rubaie’s "immeasurable contribution towards the peace and reconciliation process in Iraq" (http://www.frrme.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=124).
U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement
Rubaie was the main architect of the U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement of 2008 which set the timeline for the US withdrawal from Iraq and the rules of engagement for both sides. He was personally commended for his role in the long drawn out negotiations by General Ray Odierno.