The 21st Century Phenomenon


On Saturday 01/31/2009, provincial elections took place in Iraq, recently the most dangerous place in the world, where billions of dollars were squandered in an attempt to put Iraq back on its feet.  Aside few minor incidents the Election Day passed peacefully with a high turnout of voters, publically and openly, in the voting stations. The security arrangements were fully arranged and controlled by the Iraqi security apparatuses and were efficient enough to secure the thousands voting stations. More than 14,000 candidates, 4,000 of them women, competed for the seats. The high number of women candidates is a unique achievement for the Iraqi society. 

It is fair to say that the only similar occurrence was the free elections in the Palestinian Authority in 01/25/2006 in which, eventually, the Hamas won, by large, the elections. Generally speaking the Arab World is not accustomed to such events at all.

Although the elections in Iraq are municipal elections it is also an indication where Iraq is heading to. About 65% of Iraq’s populations are Shiites and the Shiaa community in Iraq can, by all means, to overtake Iraq. Most of Iraqi Shiites are voting to Islamic Shiaa Parties but are divided on three issues:  the relations with Iran; the cooperation with the other communities in Iraq – the Sunnites and the Kurds; and their attitude toward Unity of Iraq as one coherent state or a federation of three communities.

In the Shiaa community there is the current PM Nuri al-Maliki’s party – the Islamic Dawa (Repentance) which is drawing a difficult Line between piety and secularism. Basically the Party refers to Iran as a respected neighbor and believes in United Arab Iraq, in which the Arab identity is supposed to unite between Shiaa and Sunna in Iraq and in full cooperation with other communities.

Moqtada Sadr’s movement, a part of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, refers to Iran as a patron and a model, probably on expense of the relations with the other Iraqi Communities.

The Iraqi national Accord, Led by the former Iraqi Shiite PM Iyad Alawi, he himself was a former senior Baath official in the Saddam Hussein’s regime, stands for a secular united Iraq and refers to Iran as just yet another neighbor. It must to be said that the Idea of secular Iraq is unpopular in the Shiite community and large parts of the Sunni community as it reminds people of the cruel Baath party, which ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

There are many more parties in Iraq but those three leaders; Nuri al-Maliki, Moqtada Sadr and Iyad Alawi reflect the main dilemmas of the Shiite community of Iraq.

When everybody, including President Barack Obama, is hailing and praising Iraq’s elections they must remember – the credit goes to former President Bush. The question was it worth it and will it last without the presence of American troops remains open.


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