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What Will Happen in Iraq? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Things are happening very fast in Iraq in order to form a government there; Nouri al Maliki is running, Ayad Allawi is rushing, Ammar al Hakim is courting Allawi to annoy al Maliki, whilst Moqtada al Sadr is flirting with everyone and the Kurds are watching the scene carefully from their mountaintops with eagle eyes and are ready to pounce.

Iran is casting a spell on Iraq so that Iraq does not become entranced by nationalism and abandons the cloak of Tehran. Turkey is also casting a spell in order to prevent a replay of the old battles between the Safavids and the Ottomans that were taking place in Baghdad for centuries. Turkey’s eye is on the Kurdish dream and an Iranian attack. Syria does not want its bitter enemy Nouri al Maliki and once again it pulled out the “pan-Arabism” card by backing Allawi, whereas Jordan and Saudi Arabia would hate to see Iraq formed in accordance with Iranian specifications.

Allawi’s electoral list was victorious over everybody else, but the victory seems somewhat worthless due to the games and the half-plus-one issue. Despite all the uproar and the confidence and despite al Maliki’s control over government, he has not accepted the shock of defeat and has continued to act aggressively. Sometimes he requests that all Iraqi votes are recounted “manually,” which practically means putting an end to the momentum created by such a political circus, and at other times he threatens to eradicate his opponents on the pretext of affiliation to the Baath party. What he has overlooked however is that his hostility is not towards the Saddamist, Baathists, Takfirists, etc, as he always states, but rather against the Shia current. Moqtada al Sadr cannot stand him because of his continuous fight against him, and the same goes for al Hakim because of al Maliki’s despotic approach. Because of this, his Sadrist opponents and others call him mini-Saddam.

We are still amid an ocean of interaction, and the race is taking place between Allawi and al Maliki to win over the Kurds, al Sadr and al Hakim, whilst Iran is trying to control the new climate, and meanwhile Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are not letting Iran play unilaterally this time. Iraq is going through a difficult democratic labour and it is feared that it will give birth to a faltering democracy only for sectarian blocs to monopolize power, or that a crippled government will take over as is the case with the Lebanese government. In the case of Lebanon, the government gained no benefits from al Hariri and his allies winning the parliamentary majority, as Hezbollah simply stuck its tongue out or rather brandished its weapons and considered the document [that states who won the elections] worthless. In fact, Walid Jumblatt was the first to prove the document’s insignificance when he visited Damascus.

It is feared that the same thing might happen in Iraq, and the election results and the significance of the victory will become worthless. At that point, a sick government will surface and it will be one that cannot take a single step forward without carrying out a thousand manoeuvres against those who introduced the “two-thirds quorum” heresy. Another possibility is that matters could come to a standstill and opponents might return to the language of violence and weapons. If that was not possible for the March 14 masses in Lebanon then it is definitely possible with regards to al Maliki’s opponents as it has happened before.

Iraq deserves to be a new example, not a disfigured imitation of Lebanon whereby Iran becomes the official sponsor for Iraq, just as Syria was for Lebanon.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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