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Iraqi Expat

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Iran-Style Iraq

Iran-Style Iraq has been the worry of many Iraqis and non-Iraqis. However, in my humble opinion, for this to happen a revolution and a new dictator will be required. As for the dictator, I am sure that there are many willing candidates; but a revolution? I don't think so.

Let's look at the facts and judge accordingly whether this is a well founded worry or not. The spiritual leader of the shia in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, is an Iranian and he is in Iraq because he is in disagreement with the Iranian government. He believes that religion should be separated from politics. Mixing religion and politics is a recipe for corruption, dictatorship, oppression, etc. What happens is, if the religious leader is strong, he will push the politicians to do what he likes; and vice versa, if the politician is strong, he will force the religious leader to legitimise his action and so on. Therefore, this separation is essential and Al Sistani believes in it.

Having said that, if Al Sistani approves of such integration or if he loses control over the Shia Alliance; then these Islamic law and structure must somehow be written in the new constitution, which we the people have to approve! And for that to happen they need 183 votes; which means they are 43 votes short, assuming all those in the Shia Alliance will vote in favour of these laws, which I doubt because this list also contains women and some secular men.

Of course, many elected members of the Alliance will try and push for some Islamic laws in the constitution, and there will be tough negotiations and compromises, but I am certain that anything ridiculous that has no regard for other religions, minorities and human rights (especially women) will not pass.

If Al Jaafari, who is religious but not fundamentalist, becomes PM and he could well be, then there will be an Islamic touch in his ruling. Ministries that will be headed by religious people will become more religious; like it is now (or so I was told)! This means, Islamic banners, pictures, more women with scarves, more men with long grey beards, etc, but Islamic Iraq, I don't think so.

I personaly prefer Alawi, but Al Jaafari is a decent and reasonable man; we've heard him talk and he gained some popularity for his ability debate and negotiate. Both have pros and cons, but I don't want to get into that now, I might do later though.

People, rightly, fear that Iraq might become like Iran; but this fear must push us to not allow it, and we have to remember that we are not like Iranians. And at the end of the day, we will vote on the constitution and we will choose the next government or assembly.

But to look at it from the bright side, Iran-Style Iraq is much better, more liberal and more democratic than a Taliban-Style Iraq which is what Al Zarqawi wants :)

For more: US Officials Discount Risk of Iran-Style Rule

27 Comments:

Blogger Mike O said...

Welcome to the blog world!

Many of us are as hopeful as you are about Iraq establishing a mostly secular government. It's not only important for Iraq, but the entire Middle East. Lebonese, Egyptians, Saudis, and others are looking to Iraq for the example to follow. I have confidence in the Iraqi people that they are up to being the role model.

March 05, 2005 12:56 am  
Blogger MonicaR said...

Listen - a lot of things can go wrong, but a lot of things can go right, too. I trust the Iraqi people to be strong enough to keep their country from Iranian type Mad Mullahs.

Now it begins and there will be arguing and debate and compromises and nothing will be perfect it never is. But it will be good.

We're putting the screws to Syria. Iran - I don't know about Iran yet - but Iran will be dealt with.

I wish only the best and safety and freedom and prosperity for Iraq. A good ending is possible and I believe that it is looking more and more probable as we go along. Thanks not only to the Coalition forces but also to the incredible strength, resilience and commitment of the Iraqi people.

March 05, 2005 4:36 am  
Blogger dcat said...

Ahmad,

Love your blog! I use to watch Casper the friendly ghost as a child. Lot’s of meaning in that cartoon.

I do believe that things will start to shape up with the right people for the jobs. I believe that the people will even remember how to live, and that will mean with the rest of the world.

Where there is a will there is a way.

Or my favorite; “make it work”!

“The domino theory has been set for the better of mankind.” by dcat

March 05, 2005 5:05 am  
Blogger Hobbes said...

Those of us in the West certainly look forward to some form of secular government. My key point and I say it every time I get the chance is to stop using the word democracy. A true democracy is nothing, but mob rule, the use of the word and the "one man, one vote" continues to give a misimpression as to what form or government should be formed. The majority begins to think that they can run the government and all minorities become (rightly) concerned about their rights. Re-education must take place to emphasis the rule of law, not the rule of the majority. Every nation must have a benovolent, yet powerful sovereign, the US constituition is basically our sovereign. The test of a government is not whether majority rules, but how the minority's rights are protected. We need to get the word out that that is not democracy and thereby allay the fears of the minorities that their rights will be protected. This type of approach minimizes such questions as what will happen if religious groups begin to take power. The key is the constitiution and the willingness to fight for the abstact idea, not a charismatic leader.

March 05, 2005 5:27 am  
Blogger dcat said...

Ahmad,

Yes, indeed and some people are never happy! No matter what! :)

We have sore losers here on the West Coast. These people would only be happy to pay more taxies on wasteful programs.

By the way I’m far from being a religious fanatic and I’m against reprogramming the mind to fit another’s beliefs. I’m a happy Westerner with the out come of the presidency in the United States of America! A fan of Tony Blair too!

March 05, 2005 5:44 am  
Blogger Brian H said...

Hobbes;
I sympathize, but your project is doomed unless you can come up with a better word, and none comes to mind. Your long-winded explanation every time the term is used is a non-starter.

Ahmab;
Don't settle for Iranian Iraq as a second best solution; you can and should do better. Immature religion like Islam is the worst kind to provide direct or indirect guidance to lawmakers, and a mature religion doesn't need to. Remember that in practice religion has been one of the primary tools for gaining power, power beyond what even the most ambitious states can achieve: the power of the programmed and controlled minds of the populace. If such power is available, be sure there are expert power-lovers in plenty to take advantage of it.

Do not make it available. For your own sake and that of your children, descendants, and neighbours.

March 05, 2005 7:03 am  
Anonymous Annie said...

I am happy to have found your blog...via ITM! I'm never good at coming up with interesting things to say, but I love reading what you have to say! I'll just stop in now and then to say hello.

March 05, 2005 7:19 am  
Blogger Ahmad said...

Brian,

I can't agree less with you, and there are plenty of examples that shows exactly how right you are (Taliban, Iran, Europe in the Middle Ages, etc). Therefore, I would never settle for anything less than the best possible option and that is freedom and democracy. I would never accept Iran Style Iraq (even though I joked about it being better than Taliban :))

March 05, 2005 4:47 pm  
Blogger Bill Baar said...

Welcome and thanks for the insights. Democracy is far from perfect but look at the alternatives. Living in Chicago, Illinois, USA I appreciate how people can make bad choices but a democracy's great virtue is the ability to correct.

March 05, 2005 5:21 pm  
Anonymous Bryan Ruffin said...

I still like the idea of inviting Ayatollah Montazeri to Iraq. Iraq will never import the Iranian model. But it could export an Iraqi model to Iran. (And wouldn't that be fun to watch... the Cedar Revolution goes east!)

March 05, 2005 6:29 pm  
Blogger Burlyman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

March 05, 2005 6:40 pm  
Blogger Burlyman said...

I am concerned about the rights of citizens of Iraq because I am, as of yet, unconvinced that a secular government will form out of the ashes. My greatest concern is for the women and their rights to own businesses, to a full and equal education, to dress as they see fit, and last but not in any way least, to be full and equal partners to their male counter parts in Iraq.

My opinion comes from reading and seeing on the news the examples of repression of women in Iraq. It is my belief that if one segment of a society can be repressed, then the whole of society can be repressed, and until that repression is outlawed, the Middle East will never join the world as an equal partner.

March 05, 2005 6:44 pm  
Blogger Brian H said...

Hey! Ahmad, your phrasing, "I can't agree less with you" would mean you disagree with me to the maximum extent possible. And then you go on to show how much you agree! ;)

So I think the wording you wanted is maybe, "I couldn't agree more", or something like that.

English idioms are weird and tricky sometimes.

March 05, 2005 10:26 pm  
Anonymous Karim said...

Micheal Openshaw wrote:

"Lebonese, Egyptians, Saudis, and others are looking to Iraq for the example to follow."

That is simply not true. I challenge you to provide any proof that all the people you mentioned are looking at the bloody mess in Iraq as an example.

Not every Arab state in the Arab world is similar to Iraq. Lebanon is half christian half Muslim, a totally different country. Lebanese constitution (since 1949) for instance mandates that the president be a Maronite Christian. Lebanon is made up of sectarian political parties. Lebanon officially recongizes 14 religious denominations. There is NO WAY in hell that Lebanon can pass law that favors a certain religion. it is IMPOSSIBLE because of the make-up of the country.

Egyptians have a sizable Christian minority too (as opposed to Iraq). The Egytpian Christian copts are about 10% of Egypt. Still Egypt is a Muslim sunni Majority.

Saudi Arabia is a very conservative society with no major minorities (ethnic or religious).

Iraq has a sizeable ETHNIC minority (the Kurds) but the majority of the county is Muslim.

Syria is again made up of a cocktail of faiths. Sunnis have a small majority advantage but it also has a sizeable christian minority (with many sects).

The rest of Arab states (except for Sudan for its sizeable christian minority) are all Muslim majorities.

Please educate yourself before posting that ignorant rubbish that is poluting the blogs and the minds of people.

March 05, 2005 10:27 pm  
Anonymous karim said...

Ahmad:

"I would never accept Iran Style Iraq (even though I joked about it being better than Taliban :))"

So what would you if religious fundamentalists rise to power?

It happened in Algeria....there were free elections in the 90s, religious fundamentalists got the majority of the votes...government (military) intervened, cancled the elections...country plunged into a nasty civil war where Algerians were killing other Algerians. So many innocent people were killed.

Algerians were not excessively religious before the bloody election...Algeria was colonized (annexed actually) by Secular France for about 120 years. Note the number of years, 120. It is important to note that Algeria became a French departnment, and was no longer considered a colony. Algerians were given French citizenship and were taught French strict SECULARISM.

I shall remind you that France left (was forced to) Algeria in 1965. Not too long ago.

So what happened in the 90s, Mr Ahmad?

Why these Algerians voted for a religious party that was going to turn the country into a semi-authocratic state?

Finally as a side note, by today's western standards the religious right in America (that is the base of Bush now) is basically an autoratic organization. For instance, to many westerners, arguing about evolution like the right-wing fundamentalists do is the equivalent of Taliban for Muslims.

The Western-Taliban does exist within the republican base. They have already banned gay people from getting married in many states and they are still trying to ban abortion for women!

March 05, 2005 10:42 pm  
Blogger Brian H said...

Algeria was a far different environment. Iraq has very little chance of following the same path. The American presence is still very important, and is very different from the French colonial rump forces in Algeria.

Your projections and examples are way off the mark I think, karim. Let's see who turns out to be right, OK? :)

March 06, 2005 2:06 am  
Blogger Ahmad said...

Brian, Sorry, as you said, I meant I can't agree more with you :)

Burlyman: Women used to have rights in Iraq (though not to many rights), women used to wear what they like, women use to get as much education as men and women used to own business and run businesses.

Iraq is not as back dated as you might imagine! It is not like Iran and not like Algeria! Because the people of Iraq are different from these two coutries, it will simply not follow that example. There are plenty of secular people in Iraq and the simple indication to the is the recent elections (over 50% didn't vote for religious groups)! And the secular idea will increase not decrease.

March 06, 2005 1:06 pm  
Blogger Brian H said...

Ahmad;
Correct me if this is wrong, but it is also my impression that some of the support for the Alliance and some of the parties and members are also secular, or at least non-sectarian. Their platform, I recall, seemed to try to stress that they were not promoting theocracy, and wanted a secular legislature. It may not have been entirely true, but that was stated, at least, I think.

March 06, 2005 3:07 pm  
Anonymous Bryan Ruffin said...

Karim - First off, your characterization of the Christian Right in the US is a bigoted stereotype. I'm a Christian conservative and I'll cheerfully discuss the scientific faults in evolutionary theory with you (though in another forum, please).

Gay marriage hasn't been banned. It's never been allowed. There's a difference. It's not like a smoking ban where you're outlawing something already permitted. The recent spate of legislation on the subject is to prevent overactive judges from forcing it on an unwilling public. If the legislatures want to allow gay marriage, that's one thing. But judicial fiat isn't exactly democratic.

As for abortion, guilty as charged. Watch a sonogram of a fetus sucking its thumb then tell me it's just a lump of useless tissue. We're trying to protect the rights of a class of people the Supreme Court has deemed undermenschen. The abolitionists who opposed the Dredd Scott decision 150 years ago were a bunch of religious "extremists" too.

In America it's the Left that has the totalitarian impulse. Speech codes, criminalizing thought, racial purity tests, confiscatory taxation and intrusive collections. The Right is too concerned with protecting our existing culture to impose much of anything on anyone.

As for Iraq being an example to the rest of the Middle East, it is. Just the act of freely electing their own leaders is a challenge to every authoritarian regime in the region. And an example to every oppressed people. No, the bombings and kidnapping aren't an example. They have plenty of those at home. Hariri didn't die in his sleep. Hama didn't have an earthquake or flood. Al Jazeera aside, the crowds in Beirut know who's killing who.

As far as religious regimes go, it's a matter of what kind of regime it is. Erdogan and Welfare won in Turkey with few complaints from the West. We didn't protest the coup in Algeria though. The difference? In Algeria the opposition ran on a platform of "one man, one vote, one time". They would never have had another election. The Turks aren't in that danger. Erdogan has had to moderate some of the more extreme elements of his party because he knows he'll have to face the voters again. One election doesn't make a democracy. The assumption that there will be another does.

March 06, 2005 3:52 pm  
Blogger Ahmad said...

Brian, yes you are right. Some members of the Alliance are non-sectarian, many of those supported and voted for the Alliance don't want Iran Style Iraq. They simply followed the people that represent their sector in the society. I know about 5 or more people who voted for the Alliance, they don't want Iran Style Iraq, but they voted for them because they trusted Al Sistani and they followed their believes (i.e. they wanted the Shia to be represented). This might sound contradicting, but you have to understand that those people have suffered and they are still afraid of giving their vote to a technocrat they don't know. They need to learn about this new concept of voting and democracy! And many believe that the more power those religious groups gain, the more popularity they will lose; because people will realise that they don't want that and you have to be an Iraqi to see this coming.

Having said all that, some members of the Alliance (e.g. Al Hakim) have promoted (after the elections) that they want Islamic laws; and I believe that if it is upto Al Hakim he would turn it into Iran, but its not upto him and he will not be able to pursue such agenda, he will face to much opposition, even from within the Alliance.

March 06, 2005 4:05 pm  
Blogger Ahmad said...

Just adding to what I said before, a friend of mine, who is secular, libral and Sunni, he wanted to vote for the Alliance becuase he though that the Sunnis have messed up so much that its time to give it to the Shia.

Which means again, that the Alliance didn't get 48% because all those wanted Iran Style Iraq.

March 06, 2005 4:09 pm  
Blogger Dizzy Gillespie said...

Hey great blog! I'll keep reading!

But also, I think that the pullout of Syria from Lebanon and the free saudi elections have been understated in both the media and the blogger community.

The reason that the Lebanese are now fighting for their freedom is because of the Iraqi elections. They realized that id democracy was possible there, then why not Syria?

I wrote about it on my blog, if anyone is interested.

http://gillespiejournal.blogspot.com/

March 06, 2005 6:03 pm  
Anonymous karim said...

Bryan wrote:

"I'm a Christian conservative and I'll cheerfully discuss the scientific faults in evolutionary theory with you (though in another forum, please)."

No further discussion is needed about this. Your post is a good indication of religious fundamentalism. I wish it was a streoptype as you said.

There is NO OTHER WESTERN COUNTRY in the entire WEST where supposely developed educated citizens would still argue about creationism....except in the Right-Wing camp.

I once said that Rignt-Wing America has NOT evolved yet, they are decades behind compared to the West.

The religious Algerian party (FIS) never promoted the idea of abolishing democracy. However, they would have imposed religious laws through a democratic process (democracy is the rule of the majority).

Your opposition to abortion is simply a religious belief that is based on a 2000 year old text. you have no problem with 20,000 Iraqi civilians who lost their lives in the last 2 years while you come lecture us about "killing cells".

14 states have banned gay marriage.

The problem is not religion itself, but the kind of homophobic hateful idealogy that uses religion to promote itself (that is: radical right-wing ideology)

There are many Christians who are sincere about their beliefs but harm no one, discrimate against no one. They happen be mostly leftists. The problem is with some of right-wingers who have polluted the right-wing party..

March 06, 2005 7:33 pm  
Anonymous karim said...

Dizzy:

"The reason that the Lebanese are now fighting for their freedom is because of the Iraqi elections. They realized that id democracy was possible there, then why not Syria?"

Simply not true.

As usual only right-wingers take credit for other things (except the killings and destruction in Iraq) and make up their own stories such as "We KNOW for a FACT tgat Iraq has WMDs".

Guess what? Even those Lebanese don't like your violent ways. They see no difference between your approach and the assassination of Hariri approach. Bush has approved of many Israeli assassinations.

Here are few comment from Lebanese citizens about the event:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4306015.stm

Yes, we're happy, but the work has only just begun. We're still in a fragile state, and many problems still have to be resolved. It's a step hopefully in the right direction. I wish though, that the people who are lauding Bush just take a step back and show a bit of modesty. It's not like we've wanted to live in tyranny and the idea of liberty, with all due respect, is not his. It's an age old concept. And if the chaos in Iraq and the hundreds of people dying daily is liberty, well I don't want that kind of freedom. I want the kind that comes with peace, thank you very much.

Joumana, Beirut, Lebanon

We can finally enjoy freedom of speech in Lebanon and I promise that soon we will enjoy peace. Any help from outside is welcomed, but Bush had no role in what has happened recently. We've been ignored by the international community for a long time.

Antonio Tamer, Beirut, Lebanon

March 06, 2005 7:47 pm  
Anonymous Bryan Ruffin said...

Karim - "There is NO OTHER WESTERN COUNTRY in the entire WEST where supposely developed educated citizens would still argue about creationism" Google "creationism" and "Europe". You'll get piles of articles and sites by and about creationists in the West. Personally, I don't see how an environment so complex could happen by accident. To my experience complicated systems break down without maintenance.

"Your opposition to abortion is simply a religious belief that is based on a 2000 year old text. you have no problem with 20,000 Iraqi civilians who lost their lives in the last 2 years while you come lecture us about "killing cells"." My opposition to abortion started the first time I saw an ultrasound. Ultrasounds obviously haven't been around for two millenia. Nice of you to assume, in a such a bigoted fashion, that I'm incapable of thinking for myself and must be taking instruction from somewhere. Way to show how openminded and tolerant you are.

I do actually have a problem with Iraqi civilians being murdered on a daily basis. That's why I'm so appalled at the so-called "enlightened" in Europe and the Middle East granting moral equivalance to the salafi bastards who are killing them. In case you're wondering, I was appalled when Saddam killed Iraqi civilians too. And while he sits in jail awaiting his fate, maybe the oh-so-cultured Europeans could get off their arses and help us kill the monsters who are setting off car bombs in Iraqi markets.

Fourteen states saw the need to pre-empt judicial intrusion into the question of marriage. But, except for Massachusetts, gay marriage has always been illegal. Mass is the exception only because four (4!) people in a state of 6.4 million wanted it to be. If four conservatives decided to outlaw anything anywhere you'd be screaming about how undemocratic it was.

Homophobia means fear of what? Homos? Not a very PC term, is it? Homosexuals don't scare me. I think they're missing out and misguided, but frightening? No.

As for hateful, have you been to any of the Lefty protests lately? Talk about hateful. Hateful is assuming I'm some goose-stepping Nazi simply because I disagree with you. (And may I point out that the National Socialists were, after all, socialists as are the Ba'athists, though of an Arab national/socialist bent.) That's the problem with the Left these days. They've drank the Kool Aid so often and dug themselves so thoroughly into the BusHitler bunker that it's impossible to have an actual conversation with them. I tried talking politics with some Lefty friends of mine over New Years. They started off the conversation by asking, "But don't you think he's a war criminal?" For knocking over a regime that put women in bhurkas and pushed walls onto homosexuals. For knocking over another that actually kept jails for the children of the politically suspect. When you're starting that far off to the left, yeah, I guess I do look like a hard right winger. But apparently 51% of us are out here on the looney right, so at least I'll have company.

"...uses religion to promote itself..." Like Clinton showing up on TV every single week with that 40 pound Bible tucked under his arm? Or preaching politics directly from the pulpit, like every Democrat running for president since Jimmy Carter. Religious conservatives vote for conservatives because they're conservative, not because they're religious. Duh.

How can right wingers pollute a right wing party? If it was full of left wingers it wouldn't be the right wing party.

"They see no difference between your approach and the assassination of Hariri approach." Our approach at the moment is to pressure Syria - with the French - into leaving Lebanon. How is that the same as blowing a political opponent sky high? And if this is only about Hariri, why didn't the Lebanese do this the last fifty times the Syrians killed a Lebanese politician?

March 06, 2005 8:24 pm  
Blogger Brian H said...

br;
I disagree with much of what k says, but on creationism he's pretty much spot on. I still crack up when I remember the children's instructional picture books I'v seen showing Adam naming the dinosaurs as they parade past him in the Garden. ROFLMAO

March 07, 2005 2:33 am  
Blogger Abe said...

Ahmad,
I'm enjoying your blog. You had me going there when you said Iranian theocracy was better than Taliban theocracy. I see you were joking.

As Hobbes said, "democracy" alone is not enough. Protection of all through limited government and the rule of law is the key.

March 07, 2005 2:57 am  

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