Monday, October 25, 2010

Democratic Model

By Mostafa Zein
This Opinion was published in Al-Hayat on Sunday 24 October 2010

What do the countries neighboring Iraq want of Baghdad and of its new politicians? What does the United States want of those politicians, who came to power with its military and political assistance? And then where do the interests of those countries meet, and where do they part ways? These questions and many others are imposed by what has become of Iraq. All of them exclude the most important question, which is what the Iraqis want of their government, a government forged by foreign consensus, by one country forcing its will on another, or by one coalition overpowering the other. The Iraqis are merely groups of people who have no will. They play their part during elections and then return to their homes and to their misery, to watch a game they have nothing to do with. Their democracy stops at the threshold of choosing this or that leader, so that he may lead them to what others, in the neighborhood or beyond the seas, want.

Returning to the questions, they conceal the recognition by everyone that the Iraqis are not one people. They are Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Assyrians and Mandaeans. They are all of these but they are not Arabs. And they are not citizens in the known sense of the word citizen. They are separate groups of people – each with their own internal political authority of reference organically tied to foreign parties that dictate upon these groups that which suits their own interests.

Foreign forces are now in consensus, without coordination, over calming things down. Egypt and Jordan have demanded that Maliki form a government in which all would take part. The same discourse was heard in Syria and in Turkey, the Turks and the Syrians adding to it a warning against meeting the demands of the Kurds, so that they may not consolidate their declared state and represent a threat to Iraq’s neighbors. In Iran, support for Maliki was clear, especially as Tehran has put all of its affection for Muqtada Al-Sadr to use in order to convince him to join Maliki in exchange for the release of prisoners from his movement.

The United States had a solution that did not conflict much with the demands of Iraq’s neighbors. It has sent the man who came up with the plan of dividing up Iraq, Vice President Joe Biden, several times to Baghdad. He suggested that Maliki become Prime Minister in exchange for broadening the powers of the National Security Council and for appointing Allawi at its head, with vast powers. In other words, Washington also supports a government of national partnership in Iraq. Both leaders are on good terms with it: the first ratified the strategic security agreement with it, and the second was Prime Minister under “civilian” governor Paul Bremer and is described as a secularist and a liberal.

The Iraqi government will be formed in the end. And every country that contributed to its formation will have a share in it. One of them might even have an obstructing one-third, the Lebanese way. Indeed, is not Lebanon a unique model of democracy in the Middle East?

Two models of democracy, and between and within them another model embodied by the modernity of political Islam. And the choice is yours.

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