|Predictable and Predicted||
12 October 2021
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
The Iraqis have voted in their parliamentary elections, and the preliminary results show that the Shi'ite fundamentalist followers of Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr have won a plurality of seats. This is the sort of result this journal predicted for Iraq years ago. The Sadrists are the largest force in the nation owing to their uncompromising resistance to the US occupation for years. Turn out was a poor 41%, but Iraqis have become a cynical people when it comes to democracy and politicians. The corruption in government has made life difficult, and the election results shows that the Sadrists are the main beneficiaries of this attitude.
The Washington Post stated, "Eighteen years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, this election had in many ways become a referendum on the political system that it installed. Government posts are divided along religious and ethnic lines, and parties empowered in the process have siphoned millions of dollars from state coffers." The people who stayed home voted no confidence in the entire system.
The paper quoted a man it dubbed Hassan, a young graphic designer from Baghdad who asked that his full name be withheld. He said "We've voted for years and what have they given us? These parties all have armed wings, and they've been killing us, whether through negligence, or with their guns."
"Clearly, people are still disillusioned even more with the political parties and the political process," said Farhad Alaaldin, head of the Iraq Advisory Council, a research group in Baghdad. "People don't believe that this election would bring about change, and that's why they didn't bother to turn out to vote."
The trouble with low turn out is the problem of legitimacy. Most of the electorate stayed home. That means whoever wins up being prime minister will have a hard time governing because he will not enjoy the kind of support needed to be effective.
The Sadrist victory is also a blow to Iran, so it isn't entirely a bad thing. The protesters that took to the streets over the last couple of years have been motivated by the pro-Iranian militias that take their orders from Tehran rather than Baghdad. The political parties that these militias support lost seats.
At the same time, there are about 10-12 seats that will go to supporters of the protest movement. These people have faced threats, abductions and murder of their friends and family members. Yet they carried on. These people could prove to be a massive pain in the back side of the future government, and rightly so.
That said, all eyes now are on the hojetoleslam. He is the kingmaker, the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iraq. He will decide what politicians lead, what they may and may not do, and when there is blame for mistakes, they will take it.
"Within the Shiite house there has been a shift in the power balance, and this is going to mean that negotiations are going to be to a certain degree more difficult because at the end of the day, politics in Iraq is based on consensus," said Lahib Higel, a researcher with the Crisis Group. "Somehow Sadr will need to find a way to be pragmatic if he wants to keep the political peace."
That pre-supposes he wants to keep the political peace. He will if it suits his purposes, but right now, it looks like facing down the Iranian militias will win him more than finding a consensus will.
© Copyright 2021 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.