Friday, February 06, 2009

Iraqi election results confirm sectarian divides

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yeah, so about those oh-so-peaceful provincial elections in Iraq over the weekend, the ones that some on the right were gleefully holding up as proof of success in that war-ravaged country...

Here's Marc "Abu Aardvark" Lynch at Foreign Policy:

Preliminary results from the Baghdad provincial council election have begun to filter out into the Iraqi press. The lead story will probably be that Maliki's Rule of Law list won more than half the seats. But the more important story may be that all of the Sunni lists combined evidently only won four or five seats between them. That, combined with the fiasco in Anbar, could put Sunni frustration firmly back into the center of Iraqi politics – risking alienation from politics, intensified intra-Sunni competition, and perhaps even a return of the insurgency.

So much for those "hopes that the provincial elections would lock in the incorporation of Sunnis into the political process." So much for sectarian reconciliation. The Sunnis are still on the outside, and Maliki is still consolidating Shiite power in Baghdad. And so much even for the prospect of free and fair elections, of legitimate democracy actually taking hold in Iraq:

The unexpectedly strong showing of Maliki may reflect a popular yearning for a strong central government. But add on the unexpectedly strong showing of the Islamic Party in Anbar, and it is difficult to not wonder whether there is more to the strong showing of the incumbent parties than their popularity. Months of "shaping operations" and state-funded patronage may have had something to do with it as well. But either way, the provincial elections seem likely to shift attention to exactly the question we worried about last fall: how will frustrated challengers react to their failure to obtain the share of state power that they had expected?

Time will tell. And that time may be coming soon.

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  • "UPDATE 2: The official results in Anbar are sharply different from the reports of the last few days."


    By Blogger Mr. Forward, at 9:08 AM  

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