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Iraqi Expat

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Road to democracy

I have been asked about my thoughts on the current political process in Iraq. To appreciate the current process, one must understand the problems that Iraq is facing today. So, I recommend that you to read - if you haven't read it yet - my previous post "effects of a troubled 45 years".

Iraq has a long way to go before it can achieve democracy. I have always believed that one can not make democracy work in a year or two nor make people become democratic by telling them to be so; however, what can be done in few years is paving the way for democracy, which is exactly what is happening in Iraq today. Those who believe Iraq is democratic are mistaken, Iraq is merely on the road to democracy.

There have been many problems in the last two years and we still have problems. Terrorism is one of these problems, which is caused by Islamic fundamentalists, Arab Nationalists and Saddam loyalists; but there have been other problems and mistakes too. Having said that, one should not expect that a process of change can run without problems. Change is always difficult, there are always people against it and others for it.
"It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new one." Niccolò Machiavelli
One of the problems facing Iraq - and the Arab world - today is Arab Nationalism and its legacy. Arab Nationalism has failed because of its Nazism ideology; but many Arabs still believe in it because they were taught so and because of its anti-Zionist, anti-Imperialist stance. The problem is that those who still believe in Arab Nationalism are against democracy in Iraq, they think that terrorism in Iraq is resistance, they think that what is happening in Iraq is their business, they love Saddam and they love to see him or the Baath Party back!

This is a problem, it is a problem when someone support the terrorist because of this ideology, it is a problem when some non-Iraqi Arab think that he should join what he thinks is resistance. That said, Arab Nationalism is dying and more and more Iraqis and Arabs are abandoning this ideology. The demonstrations in Iraq against Jordan and the demonstrations in Lebanon against Syria is one of the signs! If you are interested in Arab Nationalism, read Tony's post on the irrelevance of Political Arabism.

And with the all problems, the Iraqis bravely voted on 30 January 2005, which was a historic day. It was the first real step towards democracy. The elections wasn't perfect, but it was good, in fact it was great and successful. There is no perfect elections and one shouldn't expect that the first elections in any country would be as good as the 50th elections in democratic countries. And for those who claim that it was illegitimate, I ask why? Was it because of the occupation? If so, shouldn't the Palestinian elections be called illegitimate to?

Today we are one step closer to democracy because of the bravery and determination of the people in Iraq. Iraqis are determined to make this work. They went out and risked their lives to vote. They said 'YES' to freedom and democracy, and 'NO' to violence. Anyone who has doubts about what's happening - about this process - should ask the eight million Iraqis who risked their lives to say 'YES'. And from what I hear, more and more Iraqis are going to the police to inform about suspicions activities. Terrorism has no chance of winning against such determination and conviction.

Ethnicity was a problem in the elections, but it will also be a problem in next few elections. Iraqis due to oppression and mistrust have voted according to their ethnicity to secure their rights and because they don't trust others. It is a problem, but an acceptable one. It is understandable that Kurds will vote for Kurds and Turkmen will vote for Turkmen, etc. However, this problem will lessen after education and gaining the trust of each other, but it will take time.

I previously ruled out the possibility of Iraq-Style Iran and Ali reported earlier about students demonstrating in Basra against the self-imposed radical religious guardians. Ali's report confirms two things; one, is that the religious groups will lose popularity after people trust them, i.e. they will abuse the powers given to them by the people and enforce their believes on those people; therefore, people will reject them and less people will vote for them. Second, is that the Iraqi people have to choose wrong to know what is right (trial and error). This trial and error process will also play a small part in solving the ethnicity problem.

I always believed - and I might be wrong - that there is a dictator and or an arrogance trend inside most of us, especially the Iraqis. The Kurds are known to be more arrogant than others. But I also believe that anyone who has these trends can change.

Negotiation skills are talents that not everyone possess but it can be learned. To be a negotiator is to know when to play hard and when to play soft, when to dictate, when to give and when to take, and to know how to give little but show that you gave a lot and take a lot but show that you took little.

Our politicians need to learn about democracy just as we do. They are as new to democracy just as we are. One of the problems Iraq is facing today is our politician's negotiation skills. I personally have doubts about our current politician's negotiation skills. In fact, I can not rule out the fact that our politicians might possess some dictatorship and or arrogance trends; and if they do, does that make them a better or worse negotiators?

That said, our politicians - just like the people - are learning and will learn more. No one said it was easy, but with time, hard work and determination problems will be resolved, progress will be apparent and there will be a time when those against democracy will realise the inevitable and join the process.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is from Mike in the US,

I am not sure if the little dictator in everyone ever goes away. Most people here try not to discuss Religon or Politics, because it often brings out the little guy. A strong free Iraq with a representative government will not only benifit the region, but I think it will transform the world as we know it.

March 20, 2005 4:51 am  
Blogger Brian H said...

BTW, the new name of Iraq is Aram!


March 21, 2005 12:37 am  
Blogger Gindy said...

You have a very interesting site. I don't know where we agree or disagree(maybe on Israel), but this site is informative. I will have to check back.

March 22, 2005 12:02 am  
Blogger Ahmad said...


Thanks for visiting my blog.

I wouldn't know what we agree on and disagree on either :)

March 22, 2005 12:17 am  
Anonymous Annie said...

I was away for a few days, it looks like I have catching up to do!

Thanks Ahmad for writing about this. It has answered some of my questions, and as always, I've learned a lot from you.

March 22, 2005 3:06 am  

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