The positive spillovers of Iraq’s elections
Iraq had its first free election a week ago — and the Washington Post has two stories suggesting that positive reverberations from that event are being felt in and out of Iraq. Inside Iraq, Anthony Shadid and Doug Struck report that many who rejected the elections before they happened now want to participate in politics: ...
Iraq had its first free election a week ago -- and the Washington Post has two stories suggesting that positive reverberations from that event are being felt in and out of Iraq. Inside Iraq, Anthony Shadid and Doug Struck report that many who rejected the elections before they happened now want to participate in politics:
Iraq had its first free election a week ago — and the Washington Post has two stories suggesting that positive reverberations from that event are being felt in and out of Iraq. Inside Iraq, Anthony Shadid and Doug Struck report that many who rejected the elections before they happened now want to participate in politics:
The leading Shiite candidate to become Iraq’s next prime minister welcomed overtures on Saturday by groups that boycotted national elections and declared that he and others were willing to offer “the maximum” to bring those largely Sunni Arab groups into the drafting of the constitution and participation in the new government…. Abdel-Mehdi’s comments were the latest to suggest a departure from the escalating political tension, much of it assuming a sectarian cast, that mirrored the insurgency and preceded Iraq’s parliamentary elections. Many Sunni Arabs stayed away from the polls, crystallizing the divide between groups that engaged in the U.S.-backed process and those opposed to it while U.S. troops occupy the country. Beginning this week, however, influential figures among Sunni and anti-occupation factions signaled their willingness to take part in the process that has followed the election, a recognition by some that the vote may have created a new dynamic. The Association of Muslim Scholars, one of the most powerful groups, has said it would abide by the results of the ballot, even if it viewed the government as lacking legitimacy. Thirteen parties, including a representative of the association and other parties that boycotted the vote, agreed Thursday to take part in the drafting of the constitution, which will be the parliament’s main task. “We should respect the choice of the Iraqi people,” said Tariq Hashemi, the secretary general of the Sunni-led Iraqi Islamic Party, which withdrew from the election but which was still listed on the ballot. The “drafting of the constitution is a very important issue for all Iraqis, and we have to be very clear on that,” Hashemi said at a news conference Saturday. “We will have a role, we will play a role. That role depends on the political circumstances.”
Meanwhile, Robin Wright reports that the elections have also had a salutory effect on the transatlantic relationship:
The war over the war is almost over. Courtesy of the large turnout in Iraq’s election a week ago, the United States and key European allies are beginning to make up after two years of bitterly strained relations over the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In large part because of the images of millions of Iraqis voting in defiance of insurgents, Condoleezza Rice’s debut in Europe as secretary of state is being greeted with striking warmth and a rush of expectations about the healing of transatlantic ties. “Irrespective of what one thought about the military intervention in Iraq in the first place,” Germany is “strongly ready. . . to help Iraq to get toward this stable and hopefully democratic development,” Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said at a news conference with Rice in Berlin on Friday. In an editorial Saturday, the influential Warsaw newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza said that “by going to the polling stations in such large numbers, the Iraqi people helped settle the dispute between the United States and Europe over whether democracy can be reconciled with Islam. Thanks to them, the ‘de-freezing’ of transatlantic relations could happen earlier than even optimists expected.”
More weeks like this, and Jon Stewart’s head may have to implode.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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