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Iraq: democratic gamble « Previous | |Next »
January 30, 2005

Iraq's Jan 30th election is the first step in establishing democracy. The new parliamentary body will devise a constitution, then a national referendum on the constitution, new elections under the constitution, then a new Government. The plan is for these steps to grow liberal democracy in Iraq to be all completed by December 31 2005.

Michael Ignatieff says:

Never....has there been such a concerted attempt to destroy an election through violence - with candidates unable to appear in public, election workers driven into hiding, foreign monitors forced to 'observe' from a nearby country, actual voting a gamble with death, and the only people voting safely the fortunate expatriates and exiles abroad. Just as depressing as the violence in Iraq is the indifference to it abroad. Americans and Europeans who have never lifted a finger to defend their own right to vote seem not to care that Iraqis are dying for the right to choose their own leaders.

It is a historic day for the Kurds and the Shia.

This cartoon captures one dimension of a historic day in Iraq: the effect of the violence of the Sunni insurgency against the US occupation, and the failure of the US occupying forces to provide security.

Steve Bell

Will the elections provide an exit strategy for embattled US forces?Or will the occupation become a trustiship that involves handing ver sovereignty and power in a timely way?

These elections will produce a largely Shia parliament representing Iraq's largest religious community. What the Bell cartoon does not capture is the significance of the Shi'ites coming to power in Iraq through free elections. As Robert Fisk observes, the Jan 30th elections open a possibility of a:

Shia "Crescent" that will run from Iran through Iraq to Lebanon via Syria, whose Alawite leadership forms a branch of Shia Islam. The underdogs of the Middle East, repressed under the Ottomans, the British and then the pro-Western dictators of the region, will be a new and potent political force

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:28 PM | | Comments (0)