Wednesday, March 16, 2005
What do I mean, "Democracy denied in Iraq" for a changing number of days on the right side of this page. I mean the US has managed to give Iraq a "democracy" that looks something like a jerry-built children's bike hobbled with training wheels.
Think about this for a moment. On January 30, with worldwide fanfare, trumpeted with all possible volume by the world's news purveyors, millions of Iraqis cast ballots for a new government -- and millions of other Iraqis didn't. The event was wildly contradictory. For security reasons, the whole country was locked down and driving prohibited for several days. US occupation forces stood by to blow away any visible resistance. Meanwhile newly enfranchised Shias and Kurds mobbed polling places, proudly displaying their ink-marked fingers. Sunni Arabs mostly stayed home, if anyone dared open their polling places in insurgent controlled areas.
Then it took weeks to count all those votes. Weeks. Iraqis and some around the world wondered what was happening. Finally it was announced that the list brought together by Shia religious leaders had won a narrow, but clear, majority of the 275 seats in a new Transitional Assembly.
Now in any normal parliamentary system, the party that wins a majority gets to form a government, name a prime minister, and start ruling. But the US-written Transitional Law sets up lots more hurdles for the Iraqis to jump through before they get self-rule. First they have to set up a "presidency council" endorsed by two thirds rather than a majority of the representatives. Then that council gets to elect a prime minister.
Not surprisingly, the majority Shia list is now having to scramble to make a coalition with Kurds to move toward getting a government in place. And that's not easy because they have genuinely different interests. So there is stalemate. And still no Iraqi government.
The stalemate is NOT the Iraqis doing. It should bear the label "Made in the USA."