Thursday, February 28, 2008

Politics rears its Iraqi head

Today brought some bad news for the Surge. "Iraq's three-member presidency council has rejected a draft law to hold provincial elections and returned it to parliament, the president's office said on Wednesday." Fortunately, the other two laws which were part of the reform package "the 2008 federal budget and a general amnesty" passed. But "the law to hold provincial elections has not been approved and has been sent back to the parliament".

Max Boot argued the fact that "80,000 Iraqis, primarily but not exclusively Sunnis" had joined the Sons of Iraq "after having fought Iraqi and coalition forces" was "the best evidence" that real reconciliation was waiting to happen on the ground. Unfortunately they will have to wait a little longer. How much longer we don't know. Readers will remember that the original UN designed Iraqi electoral process -- the closed party list -- resulted in the emergence of parties based on sectarian interests. As a consequence politics in Baghdad is dominated by a divisive sectarianism. In contrast, the Surge has raised up a new generation of grass-roots leaders, many of whom have come from "the other side". The electoral law needs to be changed for the gains of the Surge to be institutionalized.

Although the Iraqi Parliament had passed an electoral reform law designed to eliminate the closed party list distortions that "left Kurds and Shiites with vastly disproportionate power over Sunni Arabs in some areas" and made it difficult to remove corrupt local leaders the election law was vetoed by Iraq's three-member presidency council because "officials in a powerful Shiite party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (S.I.I.C), objected to provisions that they contend unlawfully strip power from Iraq’s provinces".

The real story, according to the International Herald Tribune, was that a provision that let the Iraqi prime minister to fire a provincial governor would be a threat to the S.I.I.C's power base. The veto sent the measure right back to Parliament, on holiday until March 18. US officials still believe that the election law has only momentarily been delayed, but partisan politics had already shown how obstructive it could be.

Each passing week forces commanders on the ground to extemporize while Baghdad's partisan politics plays its dreary games. And every delay raises the risk that stagnation would provide an opportunity for trouble to break out again. In the same week the veto was passed sixty four pilgrims were killed in the Shi'ite south, including the 74-year old chief of the Iraqi Journalists' Union, Shihab al-Timimi. The men on the ground have done their best. Now the politicians will do their worst.


Blogger Tor Hershman said...

I don't mind attending the funeral (of William Buckley) if a lunch is provided, but I must be fed.

Special thanks to Charles Dickens the line.

2/28/2008 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

And every delay raises the risk that stagnation would provide an opportunity for trouble to break out again. In the same week the veto was passed sixty four pilgrims were killed in the Shi'ite south, including the 74-year old chief of the Iraqi Journalists' Union, Shihab al-Timimi.

As long as they're just killing each other ...

2/28/2008 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/28/2008 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Having governors elected by the popular vote would be a check on the powers of the government. Saddam took over rather easily. If an usurper has to shoot 10 governors there might be an effective opposition raised by the time he got started.

2/28/2008 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/28/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention updated throughout the day…so check back often.

2/28/2008 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

The media reports you are basing your analysis on are wrong. The law that was rejected was not an elections law, it was the Provincial Powers Act, which divided power between the provinces and federalism.

The act contained a clause stipulating that the Provincial Elections Law needs to be drafted within 90 days and that elections must take place by Oct. 1.

It did not stipulate the design of elections, though the subsequent law would have, if it can be passed. But the provincial powers act was seen as a precondition for elections law.

2/28/2008 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

"provinces and federal government" I meant to type.

2/28/2008 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Somebody should remind these guys that "diplomacy" under a Democratic Admin in the US equates to "air war" which is never even noticed by any "anti-war" opposition.

Think Operation Desert Fox, or the overthrow of Serbia. Democrats just blow the shit out of everything, and let good ideas fill in the details. And there will be no anti-war movement, because ... unilateral air war doesn't count.

Consider: Clinton not only fired off every conventional Cruise missile in the inventory (against Afghanistan and Sudan in the middle of the night, against Serbia with no UN Security Council agrmt, against Saddam and his WMD's in 1998), but he dug so deep in the arsenal that we had to wastefully re-arm SLCM's to a conventional role.

You can Google it.

The Iraq govt should consider what it might be like living through 2009-12 under a Dem admin. They should take a peek back at 1977-80, see what happened the last time this happened in USA.

If they ever even pay attention, the distracted Dems might send in the USAF, an organization not known for Nation Building.

2/28/2008 06:29:00 PM  

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