Wednesday, March 3, 2010

iraq the vote.

its that time again... time for our favorite american experiment in nation-building to get out that purple ink and vote! so get caught up and pick your poison. so far im extremely optimistic, because either everyone in iraq has been reading my blog, or the damage done by sectarian politics is gruesomely self-evident. (probably the former.)



this election is a huge shift away from iraqs retardedly sectarian politics to a not-so-retarded revolutionary kind of politics where the sanity and competency of both parties and individual politicians (thanks to the open list system) actually matters. i think there might even be the faint flowery smell of secular liberalism in the air. oh no, wait- sorry, thats my tide with citrus febreze. god that smells good.

and praise allah, cuz its about time iraqis woke up and smelled the awakening council. you know, because god is obviously responsible for the political maneuverings of increasingly secular cross-sectarian politicians, right?

and hey, speaking of god controlling everything- hats off to sistani for so many reasons, not least of which is providing the most authoritative refutation of the islamic republics legitimacy aside from montazeri (rip). but more relevant to iraq, after making the mistake of supporting the mostly islamist and shi'i sectarian united iraqi alliance in the last elections, i think even sistani realized the futility of sectarian politics and he has refused to support any political party or parliamentary list this time around.

and another, bigger hats off to nouri al-maliki. ever since the iraqi armys assault on the militias in 2008, maliki has been growing on me. a man after my own heart, maliki took one of iraqs biggest steps towards national reconciliation and political prosperity when he and his dawa party ditched the united iraqi list and finally reached across the aisle- er, religion... or... ethnicity... no- sect... or whatever... to form the new state of law coalition.

for the first time, it looks like "the headdresses of tribal leaders significantly outnumber the turbans of clerics, a significant shift, given the religious and sectarian roots of mr. maliki’s own party, dawa." although it wouldve been more attractive if it had the firm support of the awakening councils, the state of law coalition is better than anything i wouldve expected from either maliki or iraqi politics.

but maliki is no saint... its completely absurd and hypocritical that jamal jafaar mohammed sits as a legislator for maliki's dawa party while mutlaq is barred from running. if maliki really wants to lead a cross-sectarian political renaissance, he has to drop his support for the blacklist, which includes dozens of candidates from the coss-sectarian iraqiya and iraqi unity lists. those lists are set to do well anyway, which i think is good news for iraq.

speaking of what i think is good for iraq, heres a few tidbits on my loyalties...

1. if i were voting, i would be voting for the iraqiya list. ive always supported allawis iraqi national accord party, and this is essentially their list. national accord has always stood out as iraqs most viable consistently secular liberal political party in post-saddam iraq. i would have no reason to divide my loyalties any further if they couldve claimed the support of the awakening councils, but for whatever reason the talks failed. which brings me to the next list...

2. the iraqi unity list. although malikis state of law coalition did manage to woo the anbar salvation front, the real heft the awakening movement lies with its founders brother, ahmad abu risha, and his awakening council of iraq. the awakening movement is the antithesis of sunni islamism, and you can always count on me to support the man who "threatened to turn anbar into 'a graveyard for the iraqi islamic party and its agents.'"

3. then comes the projected winner, maliki's state of law coalition. i think ive pretty much already covered this one... maliki is getting smarter and seemingly more secular, but i still dont think i trust him completely. dawa is still officially islamist, and therefore still officially not cool.

4. finally, theres the kurds. theyre awesome. enough said. ok well ill say one more thing... back in the day, i couldnt imagine putting the kurds last on my list, but voting along ethnic lines is so 2005.

everyone else is either ideologically repulsive, like the islamist iraqi national alliance, or too small to matter.

my far flung hope is that iraqiya and unity get enough votes to form a coalition government on their own, but thats pretty wildly far-fetched since polls show them getting about 27% of the vote. that said, iraqiyas 22% wouldve been unthinkable in 2005, especially considering that iraqiya and unitys 27% is just a mullahs whisker away from the next best alternative, the state of law coalition with a plurality of about 30%. realistically my hope is that state of law will form a coalition with either or both iraqiya and unity, who in turn will ensure maliki maintains a cross-sectarian secular government. that would effectively marginalize the islamists and is definitely not that far-fetched.

an easy majority for iraqs post-sectarian and secular lists certainly points to a new generation in iraqi politics, and with any luck, the political renaissance is just beginning.