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A Brief Revisit to the Iraq Election

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I received an email to day, asking for an update on Can Iraq Form a New Government, my previous post about the Iraq election. I had done a significant investigation at the time, and that post had a lot of detail and analysis of the ongoing process. At the time I wrote the piece, I got interested responses from regional (i.e. Kurdish and Turkish) news outlets and even Iyad Allawi's Office. Since then, I haven't revisited the subject because the dynamic hasn't really changed. The sources of my information have had less detailed discussion on the issue than they did when I wrote previously. It is as if the situation is frozen. Nothing has changed so there is nothing to say.

I do think the recent US interventions have unfortunately, and most likely inadvertently, tightened the deadlock. I don't think our government understands just how resistant Iraqi society is to having us pick their leader. They also don't appear to understand how determined their chosen ones are to govern alone at the top. Where they had hoped to control whichever coalition ascended to power, they have instead created a dead heat between two dead horses, neither of whom can command a majority of the forces at play. This is a perverse distortion of the parliamentary system, and has resulted in a deadlock as we perceive it.

Ultimately, the only party that can hold power in Iraq without US intervention is probably a broad Shia Coalition with the Kurds supporting them. If Al Maliki were to let go, that is who would come into power. I say this because they represent the majority support of the people, and have the resources to consolidate their power. This is obvious. The only reason they didn't win the election is because their coalition was divided over whether Al Maliki should lead. The problem is that many of the MPs themselves live in the West and depend on US support. If they break from Al Maliki, they will lose that support. But if the Shia can't come together, then the deadlock will continue.

Some of you may be concerned about the possibility that the ascension to power of a Shia coalition will result in a massacre of Sunnis. On this issue, I will tell you what I think, but I will admit that my opinion is not on rock the same rock solid foundation as the previous portion of the article. However, I would not state my opinion if it didn't have some basis in my research, and if I did not strongly endorse it. That given, I think that a real change of government in Iraq might indeed be messy. Iraq is desperately in need of the restoration of order. Nothing else can be achieved without a measure of order and security. At the same time,

I do not believe there will be pogroms against the Sunnis, nor that they will be entirely barred from participation in the government in the advent of the ascendancy of the broad Shia Coalition I mention above to power.
I hold this opinion for several reasons. The Sadrists are the best integrated and best grounded force in the Shia Coalition that has seceded from al Maliki's Coalition, and they are the most determined that he not become Prime Minister. The Sadrists are a nationalist, and a populist party. Several years ago, they attempted to partner with The Muslim Scholars, a significant Sunni force at the time, in an effort to end the internal violence and form a united front against the occupiers. Muqtada al Sadr has met with Bashar al Assad, President of Syria, and with Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey as well as with members of the Iranian Government. He, or his representative have met with Masoud Barzani, the Kurdish President, and with Iyad Allawi. Al Maliki, whose base, al Dawa, is the party created by Muqtada's Uncle to oppose Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party. They reject him because he has betrayed them, and in their eyes, he has betrayed the people of Iraq.

Unlike the SCIRI, who were our first Shia proxies in Iraq, the Sadrists are not heavily beholden to Iran. It is true that Muqtada has spent the last couple of years in Iran, but he is working on the necessary studies to become an Ayatollah. He is now a Mujtahid and you might say that he is doing the hard work to obtain the basic requirements of access to power within the Shia heriarchy. He is preparing himself to hold equal power to Iraq's advisors in Iran, as Ayatollah Sistani does now. At the same time, Muqtada does not want to be Prime Minister. He stands behind his movement and would function as an advisor and adjunct to whatever politicians actually hold power.

The Sadrist's number one goal has consistently been to remove the occupiers. Following that, they support national unity. As I mentioned in my previous article, they have been advised by Hezbollah, who are currently integrating with the government of Lebanon through an organic, and democratic process. Their choice for Prime Minister was identified through a referendum they held among their supporters. He is not a Sadrist himself, but rather a Shia who, like most members of the Parliament, has spent many years in the West. The Sadrists are already supporting hospitals, public works and social services for the poor. If these initiatives were to come under the auspices of the government, this would be a huge achievement.
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I spent the 50s and 60s in an upwardly mobile household full of food and kids, but focused on success. From there I went to Drew University in Northern NJ, which was serious culture shock for a city girl from Upstate, but I received 2 gifts there (more...)
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