The current Iraqi scene suggests that no one has done anything to change or improve the situation of the country, which has been deteriorating ever since Islamist parties managed to dominate the state and society, with the help of external actors like the Americans and Iranians, through an electoral process that was never fair as acknowledged by some parties.
The constitution which the Iraqi people defied al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations for, and voted in its favor in 2005 concluded with an article that obligates amending it within a period of time that actually expired in 2007. To this day, not a single letter has been amended!
Now two parliamentary terms have ended since the first one (2006-2010) without reverting to the original text, i.e. the constitution. In fact, some have enthusiastically and boldly declared that “the quota system is here to stay” and that it “has become a reality”Adnan Hussein
It’s as if the powerful forces, which put this constitution aside right after holding a referendum on it and replaced it with a system of sectarian and nationalist quotas, did not pledge that they would do so for only one parliamentary term until all sectarian and national components are assured that each has a place and a role in the new regime, as it was claimed at the time. Now two parliamentary terms have ended since the first one (2006-2010) without reverting to the original text, i.e. the constitution. In fact, some have enthusiastically and boldly declared that “the quota system is here to stay” and that it “has become a reality”.
It’s as if the forces that won in May’s parliamentary elections had not all announced their conviction of the importance of abandoning the quota system and seeking to establish a civil state, as well as the order of citizenship after the majority of Iraqis (60%) boycotted the elections. They did so in protest over the administration’s management that is based on the quota system which has been tantamount to a ‘Pandora’s Box’ full of evils including greed, vanity, slander, lies, envy, weakness, insolence, and so on.
It is as if these same forces did not publicly pledge after the elections that they would not intervene in the formation of the new government and that they would let Prime Minister-Designate Adel Abdul Mahdi handle the formation and freely choose the ministers!
In spite of all of this, everything in Iraq has gone back to square one. The quota system is still in place and it again determined that the Speaker of the House of Representatives should be a Sunni, the President of the Republic is a Kurd and the Prime Minister is certainly a Shiite. Ministers are hence appointed according to the same sectarian equation without any consideration or attention to the eligibility for holding state positions: competence, experience, integrity and patriotism.
Abdul Mahdi has formed an incomplete government, trapped in the selfsame vicious circle of the quota system. Selecting ministers for the remaining posts is obstructed by the quota barrier which Abdul Mahdi did not dare jump over although powerful forces had publicly said he would be able to.
The quota system has therefore reproduced itself with the new government. The deteriorating or rather worn-out political process is recycling itself and its components leading to the same threats of worsening political conflict, fragmenting the social structure and increasing financial and administrative corruption. This is in addition to corrupt political practices such as shamelessly buying and selling ministerial posts and insisting on appointing people with no political background or popular support. Some of them are even involved in terrorism and corruption related cases.
What will all of this lead to? This recycling process will push Iraqis to express their anger at the powerful political class, an anger that has often expressed itself in the form of continuous and escalating protest movements as well as the boycotting of elections.
The public protest in Iraq has been rising steadily since 2010, along with deterioration in the public services system, especially electricity, water, transport, housing, health and education. This is in addition to the escalating crisis of unemployment and poverty and the disruption of development projects due to corruption and mismanagement as a result of granting leadership positions to unworthy and incompetent figures. Indeed, last summer was the scene of violent protest movements.
Amid an expired political process that’s viewed as illegitimate by many Iraqis, the current cabinet, which is being formed by Mr. Abdul Mahdi like the previous cabinets were formed, cannot take Iraq out of the long, dark tunnel that it has been stuck in for the last 15 years. This will only mean that Iraqi anger, which is difficult to put out its embers, can this time be devastating if it explodes again amid losing hope of ever exiting this tunnel.
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.