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Iraq, the mirage of democracy and stability

Mustafa Alani

Published: Updated:

When the Iraqi dictatorship was removed by the invading American forces in April 2003, most people in Iraq started to imagine, dream, or actually perceive a real democracy on the horizon. They accepted that the cost of the dawn of democracy was to live under the occupation forces’ rule for a while, until democratic rule was finally and fully transferred to the new state of Iraq being established from scratch by the “democratic occupier.” Therefore, most Iraqi citizens watched with skepticism, and even disbelief, when the occupier dismantled the entire state’s administrative infrastructure, with a promise to build a far better one and create a genuinely “democratic state of Iraq.”


Disappointment


Soon after the military operation successfully achieved the occupation of the state, the occupying powers, namely the U.S. and UK, discovered that they had not prepared properly or adequately for post-occupation Iraq. They had no vision on how to handle the security situation or rebuild the state. The Iraqi opposition groups which allied themselves with the occupiers had no credibility or experience in managing a state like Iraq. They were mostly corrupt politicians who assumed responsibility mainly to benefit themselves and who contributed widely to the further destruction of the Iraqi state and society. Today, 10 years after the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the mistakes and misleading policies of the U.S. have plunged Iraq into a deep and never-ending crisis. Sectarianism, regionalism, ethnic divisions, and religious conflict, are only a few of the malaises that affect the new Iraq. The country faces major problems because of widespread corruption, lack of basic services, a non-functioning economy, high rate of unemployment, outside influence and interference, the threat of terrorism, and criminal activities. Ten years after the so-called “liberation,” most Iraqi citizens remain a prisoner of fear – fear of dying anytime and anywhere because of terrorist attacks, criminals’ threats, armed militia violence, or even government forces’ abuses. They live under the shadow of unknown and unpredictable threats to life from multiple sources. Along with the tangible threat to his life, a citizen’s dignity can be violated at any time by these new emerging forces and also his own government.

Liberation harming society

In fact, liberation from dictatorship, which is always a worthy cause, has adversely impacted many aspects of the country’s life and threatened the basic fabric of its society and the structure of the state. Separatist trends have emerged very strongly in many parts of the country, posing a real threat to its unity and integrity. Further, outside interference in the country’s internal affairs has grown rapidly, undermining the independence of the government and the objective of protecting the state’s national interests. The death of all sense of Iraqi nationalism, and Arab belonging, has taken Iraq from its glorious past to a new dark age.

Democracy and freedom is worth little without security and stability. Corruption and sectarianism further erode the value of the democratic system

Mustafa Alani

Democracy and freedom is worth little without security and stability. Corruption and sectarianism further erode the value of the democratic system. Democracy is no more than ink on paper when democratic practice is reduced merely to periodical elections and results in a paralyzed state mechanism. A democratic, multiethnic Iraq where human rights are safeguarded now appears to be an illusion. A divided, fragmented, weak and powerless Iraq seems likely to be the end product of the U.S. invasion and occupation of the country. Iraq has been “liberated” from a dictatorship; nevertheless, it could be replaced by another, less visible but equally menacing force wearing the cloak of sectarianism.


Dr. Mustafa Alani is the Senior Advisor and the Director of the National Security and Terrorism Studies Department at the Gulf Research Center. Before assuming his position at the GRC, Dr. Alani worked as Consultant on Middle East Security and a Fellow at the Middle East Security Program, Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI), Whitehall, London. Dr. Alani has made regular appearances on Al Arabiya TV to discuss regional strategic issues.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.