3 years, 8 months ago
Of the recent Iraqi elections, Michael Rubin comments:
The latest Iraqi election results show former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi up by a couple seats, although he has far from a majority. I’m not a huge fan of Allawi, for reasons I discuss in this recent Wall Street Journal piece. That, however, doesn’t make the other candidates ideal either. Corruption has blighted all the major candidates. Let’s face the fact: Most U.S. aid is wasted. Little has been spent on development; much more has been spent on security and consultant salaries. The U.S. flood of money into Iraq has fanned corruption.
And while too many pundits will use one candidate or another’s ties to Iranian officials to suggest that person has always been under Iran’s thumb, that is anachronistic analysis: The reality is that as U.S. influence wanes relative to Iran, every Iraqi politician — Chalabi, Talabani, Barzani, Maliki, and even, perhaps, Allawi — will make accommodation with the Islamic Republic in order to survive. Rather than condemn the personality, we should examine more the reasons why politicians believe it necessary to pivot closer toward Tehran.
No doubt many more sectarian Shi’a and Kurds find much to distrust in Ayad Allawi. But should Allawi be given the first choice to put together a government, we shouldn’t make blanket assumptions that he will be unable to strike bargains, especially with the Kurds. It’s kind of silly to suggest that Kurdish Regional President Masud Barzani won’t deal with Allawi because he has a Baathist past when Barzani didn’t hesitate to cooperate with Saddam Hussein himself back in 1996 when Barzani believed it to be in his personal interests. Does Allawi want the premiership enough to offer Kirkuk and its revenue on a silver platter to Barzani?
While a Maliki-Chalabi-Barzani alliance would certainly be easier to put together, woe to the reporter who forgets Iraq’s sordid history and the basic caveat of its politics: Anything goes.
I am no fan of Maliki, and I believe that his open sectarianism has harmed Iraq. True enough, politics will make bedfellows of the wrong kind of people, and leaders may make the deals that they perceive that they must in order to survive. Alawi is no angel. Furthermore, if he aligns with Chalibi, he is bringing on a treacherous liar, cheat, and rogue. I hope that he doesn’t do that.
Having said that, it’s not insignificant that Maliki and hence, the Hizb al-Da’wa al-Islamiya party have been rejected for rule for another term in Iraq. Moqtada al Sadr is trying to emerge as a legitimate political and religious leader in Iraq. Hopefully, election of a secular leader such as Alawi, however political he turns out to be, will make it more difficult for Sadr – and the treacherous Chalibi too, who is out for himself above all others. Perhaps after his previous experience, Alawi will turn out to be a seasoned and shrewd politician who avoids entanglements with Iran and Iraqi rogues.