Will the people vote for another Dictator or their first Savior? Will the winner take it all?

Evin Cheikosman

By Evin Cheikosman:

General elections in Iraq start on April 30th, the first since the United States withdrew their troops from Iraq in 2011. A positive step but one that is crowded by the insecurities and doubts of civilians, the sectarian conflict raging throughout the country, and the debilitating state of the economy.

According to sources, no single political bloc (there are about 276 of them) is expected to win a majority of the 328 seats in the Council of Representatives.

However, current Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s Shia-dominated State of Law alliance is widely seen as the front-runner.

Many Iraqi’s reject the mere possibility of Maliki’s State of Law alliance taking the majority seats in parliament, while others argue that he is the best option there is, and there are also the Kurds who have their own representatives, the KDP, PUK, Gorran Movement for Change, to name just a few.

Short background of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki

PM Maliki first came to power in May 2006 and he has remained in that post until today. He has been the face of post-Saddam Iraq, during a time of intense sectarian strife.  He tried hard to portray himself to the people as this nationalistic, unifying leader. However, Iraq has been anything but unifying. Many argue that PM Maliki seeks to concentrate power in the hands of a Shia-dominated central government, and is thus the root cause of such sectarian divide. Today Maliki has complete control of the roles of minster of defense, national security, interior, and he is also head of the armed forces. In addition, the judicial system is under his control as well. Question, how is this any different from when Saddam Hussein was in power? If you can recall, Saddam Hussein remained head of the intelligence and internal security agencies, bending all state institutions to his every inclination, and in effect controlling the whole of Iraq.

Many fear that, if Maliki were to remain in power, he would turn into a dictator and further destroy the country of Iraq. He would continue to marginalize and target Sunni Arabs and intensify already touchy sectarian and ethnic conflict in Baghdad and several other provinces. According to the U.N., more than 8,868 people were killed in 2013, and more than 1,400 people were killed during just the first two months of this year. Of course, there are many who think otherwise and feel that, in a time where instability is rife, the desire for stability and familiarity is strong; thus no matter his faults, some see PM Maliki as the most viable option for Iraq.

The Kurds, however, have their own hopes. Kurds are not in favor of Maliki and his authoritarian and centrist vision for Iraq, as they describe it. Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani had recently stated that, if Maliki returns to power, hope of democracy and negotiation will be no more. He says: “Kurds may resort to a referendum to redefine the relations with Baghdad and might take other options.” This of course puts a declaration of independence for the Kurds in the air and of course this bothers Turkey. Turkey, just like the rest of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, do not want the Kurds to declare independence from Iraq; thus, if Maliki were to come to power again, well Kurds just might have to do what everyone around them has been fearing and abating for a long time.

One cannot help but argue that, no matter which representatives are elected for the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad and the premiership, nothing will change unless its political culture is completely reformed. Historically, the Iraqi government and its leaders have had the tendency of using petrol profits for their own benefit and doing anything and everything to maintain the state of chaos so as to keep the balance safe for their material pursuits; need an example? Just look at the years Saddam Hussein was in power. In a patrimonial country like Iraq, a country whose crude oil accounts for more than 90% of revenues and exports, it has the potential of being the rich country that it is. But, as is the case with most oil-rich countries, the prestigious prosper and the unfortunate suffer. Thus it is not only mine, but everyone’s hope that the best political representatives succeed in this election and seriously change Iraq’s future for the better.

Evin Cheikosman is a Kurd living in Los Angeles, CA, A recent graduate in International Politics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, she has studied abroad in Berlin, Germany and will soon be traveling to Zhuhai, China on a teaching assignment. Thereafter she will be pursuing a masters degree in foreign affairs. During her free time, Evin posts facts and opinions concerning Kurdish politics on her blog: Minority Politico

One Response to Will the people vote for another Dictator or their first Savior? Will the winner take it all?
  1. kurd
    April 29, 2014 | 11:22

    First:Neither Maliki nor kurdistan Region’s leaders are democratic…
    Second:both iraqi and kurdistan Region government are dictatorship…
    Third:Barzani’s latest statement wast that:(I did not regret when I voted to Maliki)please look at kurdish levinpress website. In recent years Barzani said :I declare independent state but, instead of state, declared a very big tension with Maliki and this year came back to hug Maliki and signed agreement on oil export… on one hand Barzani fought Maliki and the other wants to visit him!!!
    Barzani’s statements are very paradoxical and I do not trust his lies! And are for political auction or political outbuildings…
    Fourth:If maliki becomes prime minister for another term , he will oppose kurdistan region and in that case both Gorran and PUK cannot do anything with maliki if they do not support KDP’s political agenda, this for PUK means defeat and for Gorran it means repeating the same political errors of PUK and it has been paying price. Therefore,Barzanists will dominate throughout the kurdistan region and in this situation as martin Heidegger said: ‘Only God can save us’

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