Still no new government in Iraq

March 14th, 2005 – 9:03 pm
Tagged as: Uncategorized

Professor Cole explains why the Iraqis have been unable to form a government since the elections. If you think it’s our fault, you’re right.

So why is the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of Shiite parties that can count on about 53% of the members of the Iraqi parliament to vote for it in the wake of the Jan. 30 elections, not able to form a government? If it were the Labor Party in the UK, which is the parliament described above, Ibrahim Jaafari would already be Prime Minister.

The US spiked the Iraqi parliamentary process by putting in a provision that a government has to be formed with a 2/3s majority. This provision is a neo-colonial imposition on Iraq. The Iraqi public was never asked about it. And, it is predictably producing gridlock, as the UIA is forced to try to accommodate a party that should be in the opposition in the British system, the Kurdistan Alliance.

Likewise, in France, a simple majority of the National Assembly can dismiss the cabinet. Likewise in India. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2/3s super-majority is characteristic of only one nation on earth, i.e. American Iraq. I fear it is functioning in an anti-democratic manner to thwart the will of the majority of Iraqis, who braved great danger to come out and vote.

It is all to the good if the Shiites and Kurds are forced to come to a set of hard compromises. But not everything can be decided at the beginning of the process. Some issues (Kirkuk is a good example) must be decided by a long-term negotiation. I perceive this latest Kurdish demarche to consist in a power play where they grab all sorts of concessions on a short-term basis, just because they are needed to form a government, even though no national consensus has emerged on these issues.

I think there is also a real chance that Iraqis will turn against the idea of democracy if it only produces insecurity, violence, and gridlock.

Is there ever going to be a point in this process where the U.S. is making things better instead of worse? Even if you believe that the overthrow of Saddam was worth the cost in Iraqi and American lives, there’s no excuse for the long, slow, painful transition that the Iraqi people are being forced to endure because of a combination of American incompetence and sheer stupidity.

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