Some Good News From Iraq

One of the largest Sunni parties in Iraq is working on a coalition with the Kurdish bloc that would help resolve the political standoff in the wake of Iraq’s recent elections:

The largest Sunni Arab political group in Iraq unexpectedly moved toward agreement with Kurdish leaders Monday on a broad framework for a coalition government. The group, the Iraqi Consensus Front, said it would abandon claims that national elections last month had been rigged once international election monitors finish their review of the allegations.

Not all Sunni parties are happy with this, but it seems clear that he Sunnis realize that they can’t afford to sit around and let the political process take off without them again. Iraq’s Sunni population is a small minority of the overall Iraqi population, and they need to find support with the Kurds and Shi’ites in order to see their interests represented. Between this Sunni bloc, the Kurdish bloc, and some of the more secularist parties, the more religious Shi’ites can be kept in balance. While the Shi’ites still have a majority (as they do in terms of population), it requires a two-thirds majority to form a government.

It is important to note that Iraq is still settling its issues within the framework of the political process rather than through sectarian violence. Over a year and a half ago, Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army was a real threat to the security and stability of Iraq – now they’re a minority and al-Sadr’s popularity has taken a real fall.

If the Sunnis can unite behind the election results and get key concessions from the Kurds, the Sunnis can have a real voice at the table in Iraqi politics. This kind of political instability can either end badly for Iraq, or it can strengthen the democratic process – and so long as disputes are being settled at the negotiating table rather than with bullets, Iraq will remain on a positive course.

Elections are only one part of democracy – the most crucial part is developing a vibrant and rich civil society. That takes years, and may not truly blossom until the next generation of Iraqis comes to age in an Iraq where political freedom is taken almost for granted rather than being a somewhat alien concept. However, just because Iraq’s road to democracy is difficult does not mean democracy is impossible. Setbacks and obstacles are part of the process of making the transition from autocracy to democracy, and Iraq is heading in the right direction. It will be some time before we’ll know whether or not democracy has truly taken hold in former cradle of civilization, but the risks in trying far outweigh the risks of maintaining the bloody status quo in the region.

One thought on “Some Good News From Iraq

  1. Dear sir,

    I did read your blog just now and I liked your way in writting and analysis and I’m so eager to know more about you.

    I’m an Iraqi reporter with the Associated Press (AP) in Baghdad bureau and my phone number is : (Deleted phone number to protect privacy)

    Looking forward to hearing from you..



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