Saturday, December 17, 2005

Iraq waking up gradually…

Baghdad is still living the election vacation and the people are taking some time to rest from the days of excitement and stress they had before and through the elections.
Traffic on the streets is still light but most stores are open but it will take another day for government offices to start working again.

Street blocks and many checkpoints have been removed and Interior minister announced that all border crossing points have been reopened yesterday except for those on the Syrian border.
The clergy opens its offices again and Sistani receives Jafari in Najaf.
Most of our conversations are centered around the results of the vote and expectations and rumors are fueled by news leaked from voting centers and officials.
we hear news all the time of this or that list coming first in this or that region but senior officials of the IECI say that all such news are not official and must not be relied on. They expect the vote results to be available in less than two weeks.

We saw clearly that the vast majority of Iraqis now believe even more in the political process and in democratic practices and I believe this will undermine the ideology of those who use arms as a way of expression.

In the first 48 hours after the election we noticed that statements coming from politicians are getting more relaxed and the old tense tone began to fade as most of them now feel safe that they will have a representation in the next parliament. Even if this representation doesn’t meet the ambitions they had in some cases but it gave them a sense of security, for example Salih al-Mutlaq who was known for his inflammatory statements like “if we don’t get our representation we will consider other options including armed resistance or leaving Iraq…” now changed his tone after realizing that his list is going to win several seats in the parliament so now he’s saying that he will stay to “defend the cause of those who gave him their votes from his place in the parliament.

Other politicians began talking about and negotiating alliances to face the UIA, one of the most unexpected yet encouraging statement came from Adnan al-Dulaimi the head of the National Accord Front, the list that is apparently winning a decent number of seats in the Sunni provinces and Baghdad. Dulaimi said that his list is ready to ally with the Kurds or the secular She’at in a clear hint to Allawi. This is reassuring since it shows there’s an inclination to establish balance in the parliament unlike last time which was led by only two big blocs.

I think the worst scenario we can have is a religious She’at domination but this is not likely to happen considering the current facts; the UIA will certainly fail to achieve the number of seats they got last time and their ambitions cannot exceed the 90 seat-ceiling (140 last January).
From what we saw and heard so far, the results of the elections In general will be pretty much similar to what we had expected in this election preview from ten day ago.
It is now a fact that many other parties are willing to show more flexibility and unite their efforts to face the UIA especially because they know now that no one list can confront the UIA alone.
The next couple of weeks are going to be very interesting and full of activity.

Although the liberal and secular powers aren’t yet ready to take the lead for a number of reasons related to 35 years of oppression and destruction but still, the progress they made in a very short time is impressive and I think their main duty now is to establish balance with the religious parties during the coming four years and I believe we already have a partial balance but the next round of election will witness a gain for the liberals and seculars over the religious.

Anyway, from taking a look at the history of nations and in a simple comparison between Iraq and experiments in other countries I think Iraqis have the best record in making substantial progress in a short time in a tough environment.

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