Monday, September 13, 2010

Has the mission been accomplished: democracy and its challenges in post-US pullout
By Aso Ali Mohammed Omer Ousta

The end of this August, the US withdrew its combat forces in Iraq. Although this is what came in military agreement between the two countries, the facts on the ground give rise to several questions regarding the time of the exit strategy in the light of the current political and security atmosphere which has been produced by the April general elections. One thing has become clear that new form of governance in this country, with its semblance of democracy, is too fragile to be left just to Iraqis themselves. The picture is clear; Iraqis are still not ready to a meaningful democratic game and take care of their political affairs democratically. In contrast, disastrous political deadlock can any moment paralyze this country and reverses its achievements.

No wonder democracy and accommodating with democracy is a long process. It is a matter of transplanting public and political culture with some elements political tolerance, habit of compromise, and enshrining dialogue over other means. So, it is not an abnormal issue that countries need more time and help for their democracy to take root. Democracy in Iraq, more than any other countries on the planet, requires a long commitment by international community for it to take ground. Few if any country in the world has accumulated so many anti-democratic backgrounds as in the case with Iraq. Deep sectarian division, long-rooted ethnic problem, a deep culture of bloody politics and clientilism can shrink the room for a workable democratic practice. After seven years it seems that making way for democracy is more intractable than might have been believed.

The US and its allies are now responsible to make sure than Iraq is on the right track toward democracy. After great sacrifices in terms of life, money and time, the US and its allies need no more reasons to lengthen their commitment for democracy and good governance in this country. Iraqi political factions seem to be too committed to control power and its pillars to building workable political institutions and constitutional rule. After five months of general elections, there is still no sign that any one of the key political blocks is ready to make a real compromise which is at the core of any democratic system. Rather, the current political situation is like wrestling in which every side inside the politics is trying and waiting that the other side falls and leaves the political yard for the other to win. This is a loss-win game which only can drive Iraq into more trouble. Win-win spirit is simply absent. In the absence of any internal pressure to make a way-out from the current stalemate, it becomes clear that only a genuine international commitment can help. The mission is still in need to be realized.