The most prominent candidate from the Iraqiya List, which competes with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s list, was killed few days ago in east Iraq. He died in a car explosion that also killed his son and two brothers. Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, who belongs to the same list, said that five provincial councils’ candidates from the list were killed. Assassination is not the only means to exclude rivals from the political scene in Iraq. Pursuing them is another means. Tarek al-Hashimi and Rafea al-Issawi are both being pursued by the security apparatuses of the premier who has become the semi-sole competitor in the political arena.
A terrifying image
We see an image of an Iraqi dictator who is consolidating his hold on power in a terrifying manner. Prime Minister Maliki does not hesitate to use all means to stay in a position of authority, even with regards to local elections, like the provincial ones. There are several means adopted by Maliki to eliminate his rivals, like using security detectives, courts and state institutions to pursue them under the excuse of terrorist, security and corruption allegations. Maliki also used money, which he has plenty of, in order to gain protection and sabotage the political life of the country. He has also not spared any of the cabinet’s tools, like its radio and television stations, in his bid to market his party and its candidates and to prevent competitors from gaining a foothold - a move displaying frank violation of electoral laws. Above all, Maliki previously confiscated all governmental seats, effectively becoming the entire cabinet! A minister for defense, security, finance, intelligence and even the Central Bank governor. He established an administration in his office that falls under his command and that runs all ministries of sovereignty and he also allocated huge funds towards the body.
This horrible image of the situation in Iraq forces us to envision the country’s future. Maliki is practically another Saddam. But Maliki surpasses Saddam because he is protected by Iran and he has double the funds of Saddam, who was besieged during most of his years in power.
One dictator to another
Power in Iraq was transferred from dictator Saddam to dictator Maliki. It is Iraq’s bad luck that it does not live in a state of stability and prosperity despite the intellect of its people and its resources, that are in fact greater than the entire resources of Gulf countries when put together.
Power in Iraq was transferred from dictator Saddam to dictator Maliki. It is Iraq’s bad luck that it does not live in a state of stability and prosperity despite the intellect of its people and its resourcesAbdulrahman al-Rashed
There are a few more weeks until the parliamentary elections. And there is no hope that the course and institutions will be corrected and that a transition will be made towards a democratic system that guarantees a safe and stable future for Iraq. We are aware that Maliki’s passion and clear intent for domination, as well as the effort to eliminate his rivals, will lead Iraq towards destruction, just like Saddam did before. Imposing orders by force does not last for long but by the time an end is put to it, the project for a state has been sabotaged and clashes that tear the country apart have erupted. Saddam, who did not hesitate to use chemical weapons and involve his armed forces in foreign wars, failed, ending up in a ditch on the run. What happened to Saddam must be a lesson for anyone who wants to rule Iraq by power. The English, the communists and the Baathists all respectively failed. All of them built regimes that aimed to cancel out the features that distinguished Iraq for three thousand years. They aimed to impose a single system and they all suffered tragic ends.
The only difference is that Maliki rode the wave of democracy, won the elections and later decided to alter the situation so no one, whether Sunni, Shiite or Kurdish, could compete against him. He is driving the train towards a hideous station named dictatorship.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.