Iraq elections and the future [Archives:2005/813/Viewpoint]

February 3 2005

A sigh of relief was breathed by the Arab populations around the world for the peaceful end to the Iraqi elections without any bloodshed or major attacks against civilian voters. The beginning phase for a transformation period is now ahead.

What the Iraqi people ought to do now is to ensure that the election results would not lead to any dominance of a certain faction on the others. Because otherwise, this could be an invitation for trouble in the country because ruling Iraq based on religious or ethnic lines would again repeat the scenario of oppression this time against the minority.

There is hope that insurgency would slow down and possibly diminish with the wise leadership of the upcoming transitional authority if it implements the right steps and procedures to ensure that the new constitution and method of rule would conform to democratic standards. If this happens, we may as well welcome the Iraqi experience as an Arab country moving towards democracy.

There was a feeling before the elections that they could turn violent and result in severe pain and frustration for many, especially if they did not work out in the right way. However, as the turnout percentages reveal, it apparently was a success. This being said, Arabs are cautiously optimistic that Iraq will now be paving the way to the establishment of an independent democratic Iraqi state with no occupation forces whatsoever.

But when will that happen? The answer is still unknown.

Because the American interest in the country is enormous, it is doubtful that the forces would be leaving any time soon. Iraqi interior Minister Falah al-Naqib gave clever remarks saying that the presence of coalition forces is conditioned on the security of the country. “If there are no security threats, and if there is a strong Iraqi security force, why should we keep coalition forces?” he asked.

Let it be clear that reformists and educated Yemenis as well as Arabs are with elections anywhere on the planet as long as they are done in a proper and independent manner. Therefore, it should be obvious that decently held elections in Iraq will also be supported, and their results should be respected.

Furthermore, it is important to note that elections cannot be perfect in their initial stages. There will always be violations of some sort. It is therefore important to measure the success of the Iraqi elections with the turnout, the level of violence, and with the independently carried out vote counting process.

The elections are a great thing to have, especially as they are done with transparency and honestly. There is a tendency to be optimistic about Iraq with those elections now over, and it is a hope that drives many people to think that it could also be possible to hold free elections anywhere else in the region.

I guess it is a matter of time until it happens, but hopefully without any need for an occupation.