The Need for Progress in Iraq

  • 18 May 2010

Questions that were raised by some political entities over Iraq’s March election results fueled major disputes, led to divisions in the political arena and hindered the process of government formation. Under the circumstances, the decision of the Independent High Election Commission of Iraq to manually recount votes in Baghdad was an important step towards authenticating the results of these elections and ending all disputes related to it. As part of this process, the Commission carried out manual counting and sorting of votes and then announced the results. Since the political parties were assured that no violation had taken place during the elections, the stand now stands vindicated and this should be a step in the right direction. However, for that to happen it is necessary for all parties to accept the final results, close the chapter and work to honor the mandate given by voters.

In light of the political crises experienced by Iraq since the announcement of the election results, two dangerous phenomena have re-surfaced in the country after remaining in the background in recent times. The first is the return of sectarianism as the core of political alliances to grab power. This has happened despite the pre-election pledge, at both the official and grass root levels, to overcome political sectarianism and its consequent results. The second phenomenon is represented by the return of armed militias to the streets in light of the precarious security situation. This is evidenced by the spreading of the Mahdi Army of the radical Shi’ite cleric, Moqtada Al Sadr, in some areas of Baghdad, which is reminiscent of the bloody confrontation that plagued the country for a very long time.

There is no doubt that the continuation of this political vacuum in Iraq would breed more sectarian, religious and ethnic discrimination and create conditions for the armed militia to dominate the streets and dictate terms. Iyad Allawi, former prime minister and leader of the Iraqiya List – which won the majority of seats in the last elections – warned that this will have disastrous consequences and that the country is heading towards a civil war. The political conflict in Iraq cannot end unless an understanding emerges among all political parties and the decisions then taken are translated into action. First of all, the political parties must realize that allowing the current situation to prevail will drag the country into a civil strife. They must also understand that the conflict cannot be resolved until a discriminatory mentality prevails in the country. It is hence necessary that all the stakeholders sincerely work to form a government of true national partnership as soon as possible.