Despair prevails in Iraq

I consider the boycott of the elections a wise decision. It laid bare the whole dirty trick.
Sunday 24/06/2018
An Iraqi policeman and a soldier stand guard before the headquarters of the Iraqi Communist Party after two bombs exploded in Baghdad, on May 26. (AFP)
Tarnished by violence. An Iraqi policeman and a soldier stand guard before the headquarters of the Iraqi Communist Party after two bombs exploded in Baghdad, on May 26. (AFP)

After hearing of the Sairun-Al Fatah political alliance in Iraq, a wise guy cracked: “We now terribly need a new list with the label ‘Desperate’.”

News of the alliance came as a tremendous surprise to all who had thought that Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the winning Sairun movement in Iraq’s general elections, could make it on his own outside the Iranian flock. The wisecrack above shows that most Iraqis have lost all hope that any good will come out of the elections.

The truth is that 80% of Iraqis, most of whom boycotted May’s elections, had despaired from seeing any reforms result from that political process that had been designed to serve the interests of specific people who had offered Iraq nothing but unending chaos.

Even though the leader of the Sadrist Movement was able to reinstate the concept of “the national space,” most Iraqis are convinced that, as long as the political process is based on a sectarian quota system, there will be no room for the national space that al-Sadr was talking about.

The Iraqis got confirmation of their fears when al-Sadr announced the alliance of his Sairun list with Al Fatah, a list with strong ties to Iran. They must have been sure that it would have to happen because of their bitter experiences with al-Sadr and the current hopeless political class.

Al-Sadr previously had gifted all the votes in favour of a civil state in Iraq to those staunchly holding to a religious state under the guidance of the supreme leader in Iran. As long as the strongly sectarian political class keeps tying its fate with that of the mullahs’ regime in Iran, none of the efforts to reform the situation in Iraq will succeed.

Taher al-Bakaa, former minister of higher education in the Ayad Allawi government, posted the following question on his Facebook page: “I say on the topic of generosity: Will party and coalition leaders give up their positions and privileges for the sake of Iraq or should we sacrifice Iraq and its people for their sake?” That question sums up our current despair.

Iraqis harboured strong fears that they will have a government of militias rule their country. Those fears are becoming reality. Al-Sadr commands the Saraya militia. He allied himself with Hadi al-Amiri commander of the Badr militia. Amiri’s election list included Qais al-Khazali, commander of Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq militia. Surely these bedfellows will be joined by other Shia lists and revitalise the Shia house on new foundations.

Where is the national space that al-Sadr had boasted about? It never existed in their minds. It was just an election trick that fooled some, but not all, Iraqis.

I consider the boycott of the elections a wise decision. It laid bare the whole dirty trick. The vast boycott movement, however, harbours strong popular demands. People will no longer stand by silently as their country is looted and destroyed.

Already, angry opposition voices have been heard and anti-Iranian sentiments are being expressed openly on the streets. There is a strong awareness among the Iraqi people that Iran is wary about its impending confrontation with the United States and is operating to fix things to its advantage inside Iraq so that Iraq becomes the front line in its war with the United States.

Strangely enough, the Iraqi political class is feeling the heat from the street and some have begun to play to it. Right in the middle of the zone destroyed by the recent explosion inside Sadr City district in Baghdad, ex-parliamentarian Fattah Sheikh stood and shouted: “You’re going to regret Saddam and the Ba’athists!”

Suffice to say that al-Sadr can never stray from the line fixed by Iran. He had, during the previous elections, shielded that political process from popular anger and placed it at Iran’s service.

Today, too, it is very likely he will place the coming government, a government supported by only 20% of voters, at Iran’s service. The only difference between the occasions is that this time the other 80% will have the last word.

7