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Islam and Politics ( 21 May 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Battle for Power in Iraq



By Abdulrahman al-Rashed

20 May 2014

Iraq dominated the Arab political and security affairs for years until the Americans withdrew troops from the country and the Arab Spring erupted three years ago. This however does not mean that Iraq’s political powers stopped struggling for power. On the contrary, the struggle continues at all levels. Results of the parliamentary elections came in yesterday and revealed the political scene’s fragmentation into even smaller parties. This comes at a time when there were hopes that the Iraqis - voters and candidates alike – would advance towards establishing bigger entities which would develop political parties with clear agendas to achieve stability for the new Iraqi political regime.

The plurality of parties, regardless of how small they are, reflects the nature of the morose political situation. This must be blamed on Nouri al-Maliki’s administration as despite eight years of governance, it failed to achieve Iraqi reconciliation particularly after American troops withdrew. Instead of embracing bigger and multiple parties, Maliki’s administration adopted an elimination and marginalization policy.

There have been accusations that the parliamentary elections’ results were forged. Those who are less suspicious say the results have been engineered to maintain the status quo. Regardless of whether the results are forged, engineered or unfair, they remain a reality that must be dealt with.

Who Leads Iraq?

The upcoming six weeks of consultations will answer this question. Maliki, whose bloc won most of the votes, needs the support of more than 60 other members of parliament to become premier again. If Maliki makes it to the premiership, his term would be the second longest after Saddam Hussein. Maliki is expected to resume running the country on his own and adopting the policy of dominance. This will thus eliminate the state institutional system the Americans pledged to establish. If Maliki fails to attain the required parliamentary support, then it’s probable that one of the candidates from the two major religious parties - the Islamic Supreme Council and the Sadrist Movement - will become premier. Neither party has previously held leading roles. However, they both confirm that they will not nominate clerics for the post and that they will nominate civilians.

Whether Maliki remains prime minister or not, Iraqi issues following the 2003 U.S. invasion remain unchanged. The first of these issues is the need for stability; the state has proven its inability to control terrorism. The second one is the need for development; Iraq has a rich government and poor people. The third one is the need for political reconciliation; positive political governance can prolong the regime for many decades and this can be achieved by sponsoring reconciliation among all Iraqi components and by starting a new page that has nothing to do with what happened during the past two eras.

Without achieving security, development and a reconciliation, Iraq will remain a battlefield between the chaotic opposition and the ruler’s dictatorship regardless of who becomes premier.

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.