Bush’s Legacy for Obama in Iraq

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mohammad Ali Heidar-Haei

The political trend in Iraq has progressed under conditions that have faced the country with new concepts in theoretical, sovereignty and legal areas which should be redefined and some of them are ambiguous.

Those ambiguities have given rise to many questions about the future prospects of Iraq, especially when all American troops leave that country. Now that security matters are not a first priority in the crisis-stricken country, political currents and Iraqi thinkers are concerned about theoretical issues related to political thought. The outcome of five years of military and political presence of the United States in Iraq is not a legacy handed down to all political currents in Iraq that look upon it as a serious concern.

The model of government, power transition mechanisms, division of power, distribution of oil revenues (wealth), creating balance in terms of development among all provinces, convergence in future cabinets, and achieving relative understanding inside the Iraqi government are major challenges which are coming to the surface after security concerns are losing in importance.

The current agreement among political factions in Iraq over minimum requisites needed to establish a government cannot be taken as national understanding, but it seems that early steps had been just taken to solve urgent problems. Some experts maintain that the existing Iraq which has been made by the United States in the past five years is so unpredictable that even Americans are not sure about its future outlooks.

Fears about a return to past conditions (2006 and 2007) and resurgence of ethnic and religious violence is a reality of which the Americans are fully aware. Although they have always aggrandized that threat in order to extort more concessions from the Iraqi government, but the existing image of Iraq in the minds of Western and American analysts, makes those fears look more real. They are well aware that the government built after the fall of Saddam is not based on realistic doctrines, but was hastily made up by the Americans to save them face at international level because they had occupied Iraq illegally and without UN permission in 2003.

There are many questions to be answered now. Is Iraq moving in the direction of stability, rule of law and establishment of democracy? Analysts are even doubtful about whether a timetable can be presented for establishment of a normal society enjoying required social infrastructures.

Nobody can even mention a date for elimination of internal grudges which were non-existent or, at least, unimportant before the American troops occupied Iraq. Moreover, many analysts maintain that differences which broke out in 2003 and 2004 due to Paul Bremer’s inexperience have not turned into deep wounds which take a long time to heal.

Political currents and players in Iraq cannot even agree on definitions and political concepts are defined along party, ethnic, and religious lines.

At present, the constitution is the sole document of sovereignty of new Iraq and it seems to have been drawn up on the basis of the above urgencies to address immediate problems. It has apparently brought together different ethnic, religious, and political groups in short run to make vital decisions on primary necessities, but as time goes by, its shortcomings and flaws become more evident.

A major problem with that constitution is that there is no clear definition of country model, political system and position of social institutions of Iraq. Experience of the past two years has shown that political currents in Iraq have continuously solved problems through arbitration when the country has been faced with tension and stress.

In some instances, they have had to give political concessions. However, even apparently solved problems do not seen to be in their final stages.

A clear example was observed in late November during ratification of a security agreement between Baghdad and Washington in the Iraqi parliament. The parliament session was reduced to a scene of bargaining and political bickering among political parties which looked for more advantages.

It was a clear demonstration of shortcomings of the Iraqi constitution. Knowing about those shortcomings, political parties took the opportunity to pursue their own interests as a precondition for accepting the agreement instead of looking upon it as an issue of national importance.

At last, debates were ended in signing a political reform document, but evidence shows that the main issue has not reached a final conclusion yet.

Another instance was councils' election act which was approved in late September after long debates. However, a spate of protests swept the country because although deputies have reached a makeshift agreement after deleting some articles and modifying others, it was later known that the agreement had been reached at the cost of ignoring minorities’ rights and people took to the streets to voice their disagreement. In fact, constitutional theories should make way for solutions, but theories embedded in the Iraqi constitution have left many questions unanswered.


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