Four months after Iraq impressed the world by holding successful parliamentary elections
the country has become mired in a political standoff. Neither Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki nor challenger Ilya Allawi garnered enough
votes for their respective political parties to secure the parliamentary
majority required to form the new government. Months of negotiating,
infighting, and accusations have accomplished little and involvement by
the U.S., led by Vice President Joe Biden, has been unable to break the
stalemate. Ramadan begins on August 11, when Baghdad and its political machinery will slow down considerably, sapping the momentum for
coalition-building. Is Iraq, after surviving one of the worst civil wars
in recent history, facing a political deadlock that could compromise
everything? Or is the country nearing a political breakthrough?
- What Iraq Can't Resolve Foreign Policy's Tom Ricks lists the problems:
"There is no agreement on how to share oil revenue, no resolution of
the basic relationship between the country's three major groups, and no
decision on whether Iraq will have a strong central government or be a
loose confederation. And no resolution on the future place of the Kurds and Kirkuk."
- Iraq Needs National Identity The Guardian's Ranj Alaaldin calls
for an identity that all Iraqis can rally behind. "Today's Iraq is much
more democratic and accountable to its people than at any other point
in its history, but, despite all that, no one quite knows what today's
Iraq actually stands for. For all of Saddam's atrocities and the
failures of previous governments, Iraq has historically had some kind of
identity based, at the very least, on Sunni-Arabist characteristics,
even if this was forcibly imposed on the population by governments in
Baghdad and their western backers. Today, however, there is no longer
any meaningful construct to the term 'Iraq'."
- U.S. Should Guide Long-Term Institution Building The Brookings Institute's Kenneth Pollack writes,
"Given the fragility of Iraq’s nascent democracy, and the importance of
this particular transition—which will set precedents for decades to
come—the United States and the Iraqis have good reason to be patient. If
we want a government bad, we can get one bad, but that won’t serve
anyone’s interests." Pollack says the U.S. should mandate how Iraqi
politics proceed--for example, declaring the winner of the March
election--but do so with an eye for how to set Iraq on the proper course
for independence and self-governance.
- U.S. Must Get Involved, and Soon Iraqi political expert Reidar Visser tells the Council on Foreign Relations, "I don't think it's going to unravel completely, because the Iraqi army
is now a lot stronger than before, but it's certainly a problem if the
situation remains unresolved by the time we hit the end of August." But the U.S. should be more involved.
[American influence in Iraq] declining by the day. It's also a little bit unhelpful that the United
States hasn't made practical proposals beyond outlining a preferred end
game. It has just said that it wants the four biggest lists to get
together in a coalition government. That's perhaps the most troubling
aspect of U.S. policy. The United States just indicates that it wants a
big coalition, but it doesn't really engage in the process of getting
there. Due to the constitutional modalities involved, it's actually
quite unlikely that you will end up with a scenario of Iraqiya, the
State of Law, the INA, and the Kurds, and it will certainly be one of
the most time-consuming scenarios.
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