Iraq’s political system is still under the thumb of Iran

Not much has changed in the country’s state of affairs since the Americans offered it 15 years ago on a silver platter to Iran.
Sunday 23/09/2018
Iraqi lawmakers attend the first session of the new Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, on September 3. (Reuters)
Wheeling and dealing. Iraqi lawmakers attend the first session of the new Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, on September 3. (Reuters)

While the world commemorated the International Day of Democracy on September 15, Iraq’s parliament offered another sorry sight of democratic principles put to shame.

The humiliating manner in which the election of Mohammed al-Halbousi as speaker of Iraq’s Council of Representatives took place and the controversy it created are nothing new in brave new Iraq. Not much has changed in the country’s state of affairs since the Americans offered it 15 years ago on a silver platter to Iran.

During all that time, the Americans have done nothing in Iraq except try to accommodate Iran and its Iraqi proxies, even when the latter were jeopardising US interests in the entire region.

The first to congratulate Halbousi — after Iran, of course — was the US government. The United Nations and the European Union soon followed suit. This happened even though many have either read or heard dangerous testimonies by current and former representatives and ministers that Halbousi had spent about $30 million to ensure his victory and that the heads of pro-Iranian militias had unabashedly and in broad daylight exerted pressure inside parliament and used direct threats to ensure that hollow victory.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi demonstrators had pinned their hopes on the United States and on Iraqi judiciary to support their demands. They had hoped to get rid of the deeply corrupt old guard that has been monopolising power for years in Iraq. Their hopes were in vain. The same ominous faces have been splashed on the TV screens and the same old corrupt Iraqi political system is still in place.

The really strange thing is that Iran, through its same old insolent and shameless agents, has brazenly and openly interfered in Iraqi affairs to ensure that the next Iraqi parliament is 100% pro-Iranian and it got what it wanted while the United States and the rest of the free world watched.

The next strange thing is when the spokeswoman of the US Department of State not only congratulated Halbousi but praised him and his previous services to the United States, especially his unwavering support for American interests in Anbar.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert did not omit to mention that Halbousi became governor of Anbar thanks to the support and help of the occupation forces. The United States was aware that Halbousi was among the Sunni members of the Iraqi government who were most loyal to Iran.

The United States and Europe know better than anyone that what has happened in Iraq was simply a form of assassination of democracy. It obviously meant the triumph of Iranian hegemony over Western democracy. It was a total humiliation of justice in Iraq. It was the unrestricted licensing of corruption. On the ruins of the Iraqi people’s unity, it laid the foundations for the rule of militias over the next decades.

Now that the Iraqi parliament is in the hands of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, the next prime minister of Iraq will surely be the most obedient Iranian puppet there is. He is going to have to outperform previous puppets of the likes of Haider al-Abadi, Nuri al-Maliki and Ibrahim al-Jafari in serving Iran’s interests and helping it overcome its financial and oil crisis.

The presidency of the republic will not be any better than the government or the parliament. It is bound to be a mere department of al-Hashed al-Shaabi, the Popular Mobilisation militias. The office of president will no doubt be offered to one of the leaders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or of the Democratic National Union of Kurdistan on the condition that the holder of the office accepts to be president without governing and that he just devotes his time to grabbing as many spoils as he can for himself, his family members, his party members and then whatever may be left for the people, in that order.

What has been happening in Iraq and continues to happen today is a tragedy by all measures and standards. Yet, the United States did not shed a tear for the demise of democracy on the Iraqi altar. Nothing really bothered the United States in Iraq, not the brazen flaunting of justice nor the subversion of the constitution nor the trampling of human rights.

In Iraq, there was not even a whimper from the supreme Shia authorities, nor from the judges nor from the men of the street as the new great era of Halbousian democracy dawned on the country.