Iraqi elections without the Americans

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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The situation is getting more intense in Baghdad where in less than two weeks parliamentary elections will decide the next prime minister.

These are the fourth elections since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Many describe these elections as distorted democracy due to the influence of religious powers, foreign interference and political corruption.

However, they are still relatively better than other Arab democracies. Although many predicted the fall of the parliamentary political system after the US, which engineered this system, withdraws from the country, these are the second elections to be held after the exit of its troops.

The Americans designed Iraq’s system to be a federal parliamentary system and not a presidential one in order to comprehend the differences, which distinguish Iraq in terms of ethnicity, languages and religions and avoid the authority of the one-man rule. Therefore, every 100,000 citizens now have one seat that represents them.

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To win the premiership, a candidate needs to win the majority of the votes, i.e. the votes of 165 MPs out of 329. Since it is a multi-party system, it is almost impossible to win these votes without sealing political alliances. The governorate of Baghdad is the most important one because it is the largest with 69 seats.

The Iraqis have a great cultural history that competes with the Romans, Greeks and Pharaohs. They invented letters and were the first to write laws. Unfortunately, however, civilizations cannot be inherited – even Iraq’s modern history has not been inherited.

Who can imagine that the Iraqis actually voted in ten elections during the era of the monarchy in the first half of the past century?

Iraqis are multiple nations. This is why they need federal parliamentary system within an accurate balance of power to keep the country stable

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Target for invasion

In the 1920s, so around 100 years ago, Baghdad was a modern, prosperous and semi-European city. After they expelled the Ottomans, the British built two parliamentary councils, one that is elected by the public and a senate whose members were appointed and not elected.

The British are the ones who established the modern state of Iraq with its current borders and established a political system that resembles theirs, thus turning it into a kingdom in 1921.

Eleven years later, Iraq became independent from Britain and the Iraqi kingdom remained prosperous until 1958 when the wave of military coups emerged in the region bringing about destruction and instability.

Iraq has always been a target for invasion, a passage for invaders and a home to local civilizations like Sumer and Babylonia.

Romans from the West, Persian Sasanians from the East, Arab Christian Lakhmids from the North, Mongols from China’s outskirts, Arabs of the Peninsula from the South, Turks and the British invaded it.

Multiple nations

Iraqis themselves are multiple nations. This is why they need this federal parliamentary system within an accurate balance of power to keep the country stable. It is not strange that Khamenei’s Iran is relentlessly trying to take over most of its neighbor, Iraq, as it thinks this will grant its theocratic regime influence and permanence when in fact it is destroying the temple over its own head.

All those who tried to ride and tame this Iraqi horse have fallen, including Iraqis like Saddam Hussein whose megalomania made him think he can impose his influence on Iran and Arab Gulf states. This is why the current American administration reiterated its warnings to Tehran and said it will not allow it to dominate Iraq as a strategic country it’s in hold of.

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What happened in the past Iraqi elections has not been fully narrated yet as Iraqi forces and the Americans decided it was important to get rid of Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister who prepared himself for victory by all means. He was gotten rid of in a dark night, a semi-coup, and his Republican Guards troops were controlled.

The only brave man in his party, the Dawa Party, to step up and take his place was Haidar al-Abadi as other candidates fled out of fear of their comrade Maliki who threatened his rivals that he will put them through trials for corruption and sought to hold the premiership position for a third term, and most probably for life.

The upcoming elections are important to solidify the political system but they may not repair the situation of the country which needs full-time efforts for development, reducing militarization and getting rid of the influence of the Khamenei regime.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former 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. He tweets @aalrashed.

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