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Scorn from Mashhadani or Democracy - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Mahmoud Al Mashhadani occupied the most important position in Iraqi parliament: that of Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives [Iraqi Parliament]. Due to his unknown record, we cannot find a convincing explanation as to why he was appointed as Parliamentary Speaker two and a half years ago. Some have suggested that it was in accordance with the sectarian quota system that the head of parliament be a Sunni-held position since the presidency is occupied by a Kurd, and the premiership by a Shiite.

Only two Sunni candidates stood for nomination [for Speaker of the Council], the most notable of whom was Saleh Al Mutlaq who withdrew his nomination after he was informed that he would not be able to obtain a majority, especially since he was part of the opposition party, and so the fate of the speakership remained unknown. One of the skeptics [to Mashhadani’s appointment] said that the world revolves according a premeditated system, and that Mashhadani was appointed so that the world would laugh at the Sunni Arabs.

We denied this conspiratorial delusion, especially considering that his record surpasses that of the leaders of the new Iraq. He was a Doctor in Saddam’s army, and was a member of an Islamic organization who was imprisoned twice during the Baathist era. With the passing of the chaos and crises that parliament endured, Mashhadani truly did become seen as a joke by all those around him who were divided about his character. From those who saw him as a witty addition to the heavy Iraqi political scene, to others who saw him as a dangerous clown who with his ridiculous and offensive jokes aimed to weaken the parties in the parliament and the political arena.

It seemed to some that Al Mashhadani would pretend to be loyal to the big parties by any means necessary, exaggerating the praise of Iran, and cursing Arab Sunni countries without justification, perhaps due to his desire to remain Speaker of the Council. But this did not always help him, for when he decided to visit Iran the Iranians prevented his plane from landing at Tehran airport and instead redirected it back to Baghdad. They claimed they did not know who Al Mashhadani was, but after giving this insult they sent an alternative airplane the next day [to take him to Tehran]. He swallowed this insult and continued mocking others, yet in spite of his many rebellions he avoided tackling the important people [in government], until only once he opened his mouth against them, and in the process lost his seat due to an overwhelming vote against him, even though he had apologized.

Resigning is the best thing that Al Mashhadani has done in his career, and may perhaps encourage him to resign completely from the game of Iraqi politics, which would serve as an education and a lesson for all. Al Mashhadani was nominated to the post of Speaker of the Council by the Sunnis, and spent much of his time in power working hard to satisfy the Shiite parties, and by doing so fell into the disfavor of all communities and sects, which is evidence of the shortcomings of the sectarian quota system.

The quota system was granted by the [Iraqi] presidency and the major and minor political forces to ensure their involvement in the political process and the protection of their rights, yet in the end nothing of this has been achieved but the widening of the political gap between the different sides. This applies to all positions, but especially to the presidency which has become [a position] at the service of the “Dawa” governmental party, something which has only angered the other Shiite parties.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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