Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Rights and Restraint in Iraq

Iraqi Shi'ias understand democracy better than Democrats. Despite doubts from both Massachusetts Senators, Iraqis chose liberty, not Iranian-style tyranny. The official election results show:
[T]he United Iraqi Alliance won 48.2 percent of the vote, the low end of what its officials had predicted. A coalition of two major Kurdish parties won a surprising 25.7 percent of the vote, and a bloc led by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi got 13.8 percent.
According to Iranian commentator and mid-East expert Amir Taheri:
[T]he final results show that the doomsters were wrong a second time. There was no green tidal wave of radical Shiism that was supposed to transform Iraq into a carbon copy of the Khomeinist republic in Iran. The United Iraqi Alliance, a list endorsed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the primus inter pares of the Shia clerics, did win 48 per cent of the votes. But this is far short of the two-third majority that the Shia could have won had they all voted for the list. In any case, the UIA list was not a confessional ticket and had Arab Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians standing as candidates. It is an alliance of half a dozen parties and groups, including secularists.

The supposed total exclusion of the Arab Sunnis from the National Assembly did not happen, either. Arab Sunnis account for some 15 per cent of the Iraqi population and are a majority in four out of 18 provinces. In three of those provinces the voter turnout was below 30 per cent, and in one, Anbar, dropped to 2 per cent. But only half of the Arab Sunnis live in those provinces. The other half, in Baghdad and other major cities, voted in larger numbers.

Based on their demographic strength, the Arab Sunnis should have 42 seats in the 275-seat transitional National Assembly. The final results show that the new assembly will have 49 Arab Sunnis sitting in it. Of these 40 were elected on the Shia-led and the Kurdish lists, plus the list headed by Iyad Allawi, the interim Prime Minister. Five were elected on a list led by Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawer, the Arab Sunni interim President, while four more won within smaller alliances. If we add the Kurds, who are also Sunni Muslims, at least 110 members of the assembly are Sunnis.
Patrick Ruffini's created a nifty map showing province-by-province results:
70%+ majorities for the Shia coalition were the norm throughout the South, but if you buy the notion that this group is particularly pro-Iran, you'd expect it to do even better in the provinces bordering Iran (similar to the effect seen in Ukraine, where the provinces bordering Russia were the most anti-Yushchenko). In fact, the map shows the United Iraqi Alliance doing worse and the Allawi bloc doing better in the Misan and Basra provinces bordering the Islamic Republic.
Even the BBC says the Shi'ias support the religious freedoms in the interim Iraqi Constitution and deny interest in "turning Iraq into an Iranian-style theocracy."

So, can coalition troops leave? No--says the next President of Iraq:
Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who would be the first Shia to be in charge of the Iraqi government, confounded his critics by saying that his country could not maintain order without the help of foreign soldiers.

"Iraq's security services need more personnel, training and equipment," he said yesterday. "We need their presence for a certain time till we can depend on ourselves 100 per cent.

"There are many people still working for Saddam Hussein, terrorists from outside, and there is still the 'mafia'. Blood is spilled. How would it be if the troops left?"
As Captain Ed remarks:
That represents quite a shift for Dr. Jaafari, who ran on a platform that indicated a willingness to push for withdrawal of the occupation forces in Iraq. Nor is that the only shift in the Da'wa leader's politics since the election, as he appears to aim at following outgoing interim PM Ayad Allawi's policies in constructing the first legitimate elected government in Iraq:
The physician, who lived in London for the past 20 years, heads the Da'wa Party, the oldest Islamic political party in Iraq, with close ties to Iran. It was founded with the goal of turning Iraq into a religious state based on Islamic law. In 2003 Dr Jaafari was insisting all foreign troops had to leave Iraq within a year.

But yesterday he said that if elected premier he would be guided by pragmatism not ideology.

"Not all Iraqis are Muslim, not all Muslims are Shia and not all Shia are Islamic," he said. "You have to take into consideration the characteristics of a country and we are very different from Iran."
Invading Iraq not only toppled Saddam's brutal dictatorship, it fostered freedom and something equally scarce in the Arab world--normal civil society, as described by Omar at IraqtheModel:
[T]he elections are over and the results have been announced so there's nothing BIG to reason or to write about.

Also, there aren't any remarkable changes in the everyday life in Iraq recently; although the security situation has somewhat improved in Baghdad but still not to the degree that makes a difference. Less explosions and gunfire are heard but criminal gangs still perform their attacks so the citizens of Baghdad are still cautious.

Electricity and fuel supplies witnessed a more visible improvement this week; we're now getting more than 12 stable hours / day of electricity in comparison with a 6 hour supply a few weeks ago. This isn't enough power of course and there were times when we had 20 hours / day last year but it's an indication that the situation is getting under control and that sabotaged facilities are getting fixed. As for the fuel supplies, the price of the 20 liters of gasoline has decreased from 12000 ID (8 $) to around 4000 ID (less than 3 $).
A commitment to individual rights and steady restoration of security are signs of success, and a template for the entire region (especially Iran). If only the professional pessimists on the left were listening. Says Gary at RightPundit:
Dr. Jaafari is demonstrating that he understands how democracy works and what would happen to his country if he were to try to impose Shia dominated law. It seems to me that some American democrats could stand to learn something about democracy from Dr. Jaafari.
(via RightPundit)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The White House would like to speak to you immediately! You seem to have all the answers on Iraq-- noble sir, your country calls. Please email us at whitehouse.gov asap.

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