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Trouble in Iraq

Filed on July 27, 2012

Iraq appears to be descending further into chaos. Last Monday marked the bloodiest day of the year amidst heightening sectarian violence— a potential consequence of tensions brewing amidst the top echelons of powerbrokers.


Ever since the US forces left Iraqi soil in December 2011, politicians of various hues have been wrestling and bickering for influence. The power-sharing arrangement fell into shambles when last year Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, issued an arrest warrant against Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges. Maliki’s detractors in the parliament have increased over the years, accusing him of acting like an autocrat. And under the auspices of the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, they unsuccessfully tried to muster a no-confidence vote against Maliki in June. The prevailing political impasse not only threatens to bring down Iraq’s fragile democratic system, but also reignite sectarian violence that plagued the country in 2005 and 2006.

The past few months have been particularly gory for Iraq. Even though for most, the US was an unwanted occupier, its presence nevertheless acted as a stabilising force in a deeply divided country. But now that the stabilising force is gone all that’s left behind are frustrated Iraqis desperate to fulfill their political aspirations. After suffering repression for decades under Saddam’s dictatorial rule they’re now willing to fight for their share of power.

Iraq’s disturbing story bears an uncanny similarity to the events in Tunisia and Libya, where representative governments have emerged after decades of dictatorship. In places where the political will of the public has been hitherto suppressed and trust amongst stakeholders lacking, the winners want to appropriate all the power they can. Thus, nascent democracies are particularly overwhelmed by tribal, sectarian and regional affiliations, because different powerbrokers inevitably have to share power in a democracy.

While politicians squabble for control in the Iraqi parliament, the roads and streets of the country are stained with blood of innocent people. If the country’s politicians don’t realise the gravity of the situation and reach a compromise, there’s a possibility that Iraq might become ungovernable again.





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