Saturday, April 17, 2010

Iraqi Elections: One Step Forward, Then Two Steps Back

A day before announcing the results of the Iraqi parliamentary elections- after knowing that his party didn’t win a majority – Maliki asked the Supreme Court about the interpretation of Article 76 of the Iraqi Constitution.
The first clause of the Article reads:
The President of the Republic shall charge the nominee of the largest
Council of Representatives bloc with the formation of the Council of Ministers
within fifteen days from the date of the election of the President of the Republic.”
The question was specifically about the interpretation of  phrase “the largest
Council of Representatives bloc.” The Supreme Court ruled that it meant the largest bloc after Parliament is in session. That means that the Shiites, though didn’t win a clear majority as one entity can form a coalition to forge the next Iraqi government.
That will marginalize the Sunnis and moderate Iraqis who voted for the secular list of Ayad Allawi, Al-Iraqiya. Al-Iraqiya won 91 seats while Maliki’s State of Law won 89.
 Before the Supreme Court changed the interpretation of the first clause of Article 76, Shiite parties didn’t seem in accordance with Maliki’s State of Law, if otherwise, why didn’t they run as one entity? But now that the Shiites have the Prime Minister position, they are not willing to give it up at any expense.
The interpretation of the article is not fair. If the current interpretation of the Article prevails, that means that we have a problematic electoral system that doesn’t reward the winner of the elections with anything.  
Another major obstacle for Allawi’s Al-Iraqyia is the Ayatolla Ali Al-Sistani. While Sistani received representatives from other parties, he refused to receive representatives from Al-Iraqiya and when asked about what he thought of Al-Iraqyia, Sistani’s Aide commented they consider them as the Sunni party, “The marjaiyah (religious Shiite leadership) sees Allawi as the representative of the secular trend. We don’t see him as a representative of the Shiites,” said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to share al-Sistani’s views with the media. –AP
This is dangerous because the Sunnis participated in the elections to be part of the government. Many of the Sunnis who used to fight gave up their arms for the sake of their votes and political participation. If the interpretation of Article 76 prevails, Sunni won’t have faith in Iraq’s democracy because the Shiites are always going to form a coalition to form the government whether they win the elections or not.
If my interpretation of this situation is correct, we will have a multi-ethnic Iraq with a Shiite-dominated government that reveres Iran, emphasizes its own ethnic solidarity (rather than national solidarity), politicizes the security forces, and gains “legitimacy” over and over through elections which they hold only for the sake of formality and nothing else.
How different is that from a Sunni-dominated government under Saddam Hussein?
I end my argument with the Iraqi proverb, “The horse remained the same, only the rider had been changed.”

No comments:

Post a Comment