IPO Iraq News Analysis

By Yasser Alaskary
Jan 30, 2008
Changing Politics
Politicians and analysts interested in Iraq saw the passing of the Accountability and Justice Act, which largely reversed the more extreme elements of de-Baathification, as a sign of some positive progress, but most have failed to recognise the sea-change occuring in Iraq’s political landscape.
Since the handover of power in 2004, Iraq’s political arena has been divided across sectarian lines, with the Shia coalition at its centre, and a Kurdish and a Sunni coalitions. With the sustained improvement in security over the last few months, these divisions have largely melted away.
Fed up with the Shia coalition’s reluctance to cede more power to the regions, especially with regards to the power of provinces to sign oil deals, the Kurdish coalition, represented by their two leaders – President Jalal Talabani and Masoud Barazani – signed a pact with the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party – the latter had decided it would be in favour of less power centred in Baghdad.
The Shia coalition, which had already fractured months ago, saw certain groups such as the Fadhila Party, which has long wanted greater power for Basra where many of its constituents are, quickly indicated its willingness to join the new coalition.
This has had the effect of pushing parties from the Sunni coalition, other than the Iraqi Islamic Party, closer to the Dawa-SIIC alliance which makes the backbone of the current government, and rejecting the pact signed by the Islamic Party.
It seems that Iraqi politics is gradually no longer being defined by sect, but more and more by a debate of where ultimate power should lie – in a federal Iraq with a strong central government or in a union with strong provincial governments and a weak centre.
Whatever the outcome, this development is surely more representative of national reconciliation than any “reconciliation” benchmarks.
News Analysis brought to you by the Iraqi Prospect Organisation – www.iprospect.org.uk
The Iraqi Prospect Organisation is an Iraqi-based network of young men and women promoting democratic values.