Iraq: Ten Conditions for Democracy

Topics: Iraq, Democracy, Iraqi Interim Government Pages: 13 (5138 words) Published: November 6, 2006
The democratization of Iraq has been at the forefront of world politics since the United States toppled the authoritarian regime of Saddam Hussein in the spring of 2003, and will ultimately become the defining issue of President Bush's legacy. He has often said that the, "The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution," and that is a top priority of American foreign policy. Iraq has had many political faces; from being a territorial pawn in international politics to being a monarchy, then a military regime, and now a young and growing democracy. Iraq first came to be after World War I when the British and French carved up the Ottoman Empire amongst themselves with little attention being given to ethnic, religious and tribal boundaries. The British took over control of Iraq under a League of Nations mandate and set up its political and constitutional framework, which provided for little legitimacy in the eyes of most Iraqis. After an Arab revolt against the British, they installed the Hashemites as Iraq's new royal family; the fact that the British chose a Sunni monarch to rule a country where Shiites-the immortal enemy of Sunnis-are the clear majority shows the cultural insensitivity and apathy of western world superpowers at the time. This single political decision has had profound impact of the politics of Iraq and paved the way for Sunni political dominance and their persecution of Shiites for years to come. As anti-western sentiments came to a boiling point by the late fifties, General Abdul Karim Qassem overthrew and executed the west-friendly Hashemite royal family and declared that Iraq was a republic. For the next 20 years Iraq's political power shifted several times, but always amongst military men. Although Iraq was formally a republic, its political system provided for minimal, if any citizen participation; it was being run more like a military regime, primarily by the Ba'ath Party which rose to considerable power in the mid-60s. By the end of the sixties, Saddam Hussein was heavily involved in the Ba'ath party activities, becoming the number two man in the part by 1968. During the seventies Saddam strengthened his control over the country's security forces and after the resignation of President al-Bakr, Saddam became Iraq's new president. He began his presidency by executing more than five hundred Ba'ath Party officials and political opponents and firmly establishing a totalitarian regime. He regularly persecuted and slaughtered Kurds and Shiites, and allowed his people to live in near-starving conditions during the period of United Nations economic sanctions after the Gulf War. In a world-wide war against terror led by the United States after September 11th, President George W. Bush insisted that "regime change" take place in Iraq due to Saddam's harsh, authoritarian rule and to his alleged stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Bush claimed that a preemptive strike was the best way to handle the shaky situation before a repeat of 9-11 ensued. In March 2003, the United States military invaded Iraq and within three weeks had expelled Saddam and gained control of the country. The new mission was now to build a democracy in Iraq from scratch, an enormous undertaking that requires the presence of at least seven or eight of the ten conditions for democracy; without them, democracy will not be possible. The precursors to every fully functioning democracy are state institutions. Iraq officially became a sovereign nation on June 28, 2004. The Coalition Provisional Authority led by the United States handed power over to the Iraqi Interim Government which remained in political control until January 30, 2005 when Iraqis voted for a 275-member National Assembly which in turn voted for a president who appointed a prime minister with the Assembly's approval. The Assembly's primary task was to...

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