“Do we have a state in the first place?” I concluded a column earlier this week with this question that has been asked for 15 years, and it seems it is going to be asked for perhaps another 15 years. Political Islam groups have governed Iraq for all this time and despite their failure, they’ve been clinging on to authority.
No traffic laws
Yes, we do not have a state in Iraq but it just looks like a state to us. There is no country in the world, even an underdeveloped one, which does not, for example, have a traffic law. It is in our “state” that you do not see any sign of traffic laws on the streets, squares and highways. Car drivers, motorcycle riders and pedestrians do not abide by the traffic law. The traffic police also does not abide by it or work to impose it. Even the traffic lights lack a functional system!
Let’s put the traffic law aside. Here is a story about our “new” Iraq that documents and proves that Islamist groups, after ruling for 15 years, have not been able to establish a state and will never do.
A university lecturer of repute, whom I do now know personally but whose colleagues all speak well of her competence, was fired because she was absent from work for a few days at a time when people were being killed during the peak of the sectarian violence.
She and her family had been threatened to be killed based on their sect, so she decided to stay home out of fear the threat will be carried out. She later returned to her job, “theoretically,” based on a ministerial order that directed returning those who were forcibly displaced to their jobs. However, the dean of the college refused to execute the order. The prestigious academic was thus fired and she has now joined the unemployed force, whose number is increasing.
There are thousands of other stories that resemble this one which I may not have brought up if I hadn’t checked the recent report of the Iraqi parliamentary center of the Madarik foundation for studying the mechanisms of conceptual promotion. The report reveals a huge political scandal. It’s huge because it seriously violates the internal system of parliament which states that if a member remains absent for over a third of the sessions of the council, his/her membership would be terminated and h/she would be replaced by another person.
The report indicates that in the first legislative term of the fourth year of the third electoral cycle, between 4/7/2017 and 27/11/2017, there were 15 deputies from various blocs with the percentage of their absenteeism ranging between 35% and 88%!
Undermining people’s interests
The presidency of the parliament which is made up of Speaker Salim al-Jabouri and his two deputies Humam Hamoudi and Aram Sheikh Mohammed perjured their oaths and did not commit to the internal system. These 15 MPs continued to enjoy full authority and privileges, including being absent without being held accountable, as if they had been doing their duties and responsibilities to the fullest! Of course they were not held accountable because there are political and non-political interests the presidency members and their blocs which put their own interests before the country’s and the people’s interests.
A distinguished university lecturer who had to be absent for a few days against her will and due to sectarian killings was fired while 15 MPs who were absent for so many times were rewarded and saluted!
Did I not say we do not have a state, but it looks like one to us!
This article is also available in Arabic.
Adnan Hussein is the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Mada newspaper and head of the National Union of Iraqi journalists. Previously, he has held the position of Managing Editor in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. He tweets under the handle @adnanhussein