Nov 26, 2010

Critical response of "Faith in Democracy: Islamization of the Iraqi Polity after Saddam Hussein"

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By: Abdulla Hawez

In his well-explained study "Beverley Milton-Edwards" demonstrates Islamization of the Iraqi polity post-Saddam Hussein. He argues that emergent of Islamic discourse is stifling the process of rebuilding democratically-protected Iraq. Edwards systematically addresses rising of insurgency in Iraq and concurrent democratic developments in post-Saddam era. First, he explains the Iraqi polity pre-war during Saddam Hussein regime. immediately, afterward, he shows that democracy discourse in unstable Iraqi post-war polity is a consistent tension between Islamic and Secular interpretations, and that will turn the post-war reconstruction more widely. subsequently, he argues whether the Iraqi post-war polity is Islamic Authoritarianism or Democracy? He thinks the dawn of a populist element of Islamism is not a new occurrence. concurrently, he mentions that populist Islam is a facet of the modern political era in the country that was exploited ruthlessly by its former leader. meanwhile, he gives two points that helped Islamists to become populist. First, political Islam had become a grand motif in the wake of the Cold War in the Middle East for anti-Westernism and indigenous populism. Second, populist Islam has materialized as a vibrant force in this modern maelstrom of politics – developing distinct internal identities and differences. Afterwards, he points out elements of Populist Islam. Then, he illustrates the populist trends of Islam. Simultaneously, he suggests that the first element of the populist trend is Shi’a in origin and Iranian-influenced. Equally important, he writes the second element lies within Iraq’s traditional Sunni religious elite and populist preachers – many of whom had been paid employees or religious functionaries of Saddam Hussein’s state. Moreover, subsequently, he believes that the two Islamic sectors acknowledged their own trends. In detail, he first emphasizes on the Shi’a ascendancy. He writes, violence against the Shi’a religious leadership and the attacks on their followers stained the early days of post-Saddam Iraq. Nevertheless, the leaders of the occupation believed that they could quickly marshal extensive Shi’a support for the reconstruction and democracy agenda. Furthermore, he notes that Iran, although publicly disdaining a role for itself in Shi’a dynamics in Iraq, has wielded significant influence over the debate about the Islamization of Iraq post-Saddam. Next, he comments on the Sunni element. He claims that in the past the Sunni of Iraq enjoyed a degree of influence that did not necessarily accord with their demographic strength. However, according to Edwards, the collapse of the Hussein regime was a threat to Sunni hegemony over the apparatus of the Iraqi state. Therefore, He argues, that the primary feature of Sunni Islamization is insurgency. Eventually, he contends, that democracy in Iraq is a long way off and it is most likely to emerge, even though, it might be as Muslim rather than liberal in character.

I think this study is deeply explaining post-war Iraqi polity. He gives us trends of the two main Iraqi religious sectors, and most of his informations are right about post-Saddam Iraqi polity. However, there is some lack of information about Kurds as one of the three main ethnics in Iraq. Edwards has tried to give us comprehensive study about the future of democracy in Iraq through showing all trends from Islamist Shi’a and Sunnis, but he totally neglects Kurds which they are highly contributing in the journey to utterly democracy in Iraq. I'm wondering whether if he knows about the significant place that Kurds have in current Iraqi polity or not? Even though, he demonstrates the Islamization of Iraqi polity, but Kurds also part of the Islamic society in Iraq. Moreover, i think, in spite of his conclusion which he thinks that democracy will emerge in Iraq soon or later, but he dosen't give any keys to convince us that iraq's future is vibrant and will approach to further democracy. Contrarily, what I really like about this study is the clear and strong language. Not only-but also, another marvelous point about this study is that the writer stands equally from all sides, which got rich the piece. Again, he thinks that Islamists can mix between their idological background and democracy, I think that's also a good point, because for now it's almost imposibble to talk about democracy without Islam. Thus, I think, he gives a hope for the future of democracy in Iraq. But, it isn't a garantte if we look at the Islamist's agenda and their thinking background. Accordingly, the study is good and we can rely on it to understand the Iraqi polity and how much Islamists rooted in politics and the future of domocracy under the rule of Islamists.

Nov 23, 2010

Turkish – Iranian blocs in Kurdistan

Abdulla Hawez Abdulla*

I have always heard about special relations between some Kurdish political parties with Iran, while they were on mountains. But, after the Kurdish uprising in 1991, these rumors have almost vanished.  Before a couple months, I have read a Kurdish wide-spared magazine here in northern Iraq about the two main blocs in here. I was reluctant at first, because I have no prevails to convince me. But what I have heard from Iranian media and PUK's jalal Talabani recently made me believe about the two political blocs that I was envisaging, one is Iran's allay, the other one is Turkey's. The question is emerging here; is northern Iraq's federal region going on "dual track"?
When, first, I heard from an Iranian Satalite channel, sharply condemning Massud Barzani the president of Kurdistan region, I wondered about the real reason behind this worsening in ties between the two sides. The Iranian channel's accusation was that Barzani has strong hazy relations with the "big satans" Israel and United States. But, some sourses told me, Iran's real bummer with Barzani is his Kurdistan Democratic Party or PDK's recently-improved ties with Turkey. In this current year, Nechirvan Barzani dupity president of PDK has visited Turkey three times, that's in spite of, Turkish high ranks one after the one are visiting Arbil. tallies are showing that 10 high meetings took place between Turkish high ranks represented by prime minister Erdogan and foreign and interior ministers, compared to two high ranked meetings between Jalal Talababi's PUK and Turkey. Furthermore, another reason that sustain my opinion is in 90s and early years of this century, PDK took battles against PKK, and became PKK's foe in Tukrey's side.The other important political party that counts in this bloc is Kurdistan Islamic Union or KIU which they also have seen Turkish high ranks more than once, despite, historical relations between Justice and development party or AKP and KIU. 
Iraqi president and PUK leader Jalal Talabani and Turkey always have tried to have good ties,but as we saw from Talabani's most recent interview with a Turkish daily, Iran breakthrough the relations and took back Talabani to his bloc as they have hostoric ties. Indeed, no one can deny what Talabani said about Turkish role in Iraq. "Turkey was trying to takedown me and Almaliki" Talabani said. Actually, Barzani's initiative to get a path for Iraq's deadlock was giving Alawi the chair of presidency, but Iran intervine at the last minute. I think that's obvious reason to say Talabani is in Iran's bloc, while Barzani is in Turkey's side. Even, during the negotiations for forming the Iraqi government, There was closeness between Barzani and Alawi, while Talabani was closer to Almaliki. In northern Iraq, except the two political parties that I named above, all the other parties are iran's ally such as change movement and Islamic group. But, still, Turkish bloc is more powerful, though the two political parties have more votes.
As they are both nighbours of northern Iraq and two biggest regional powers, Turkey and Iran want to have more influnce on the Kurdish region. As the Kurdistan Regional Government or KRG trying to build peaceful and presperet region, it's remarkably lucrative for us two build up better relations with Turkey, because more than half of our economy is based on Turkish inverstments and exports. It's harmful for us to make our region two blocs, one of them become a hurdle to make ties with the other.But we have to be smart enough to pick trump for our region to have closer ties with. What Jalal Talabani said about Turkey is nothing just deepening the discord. I believe president Talabani should re-take steps to make his ties stronger with Turkey, because that's prerequisite to become triumphant in his new term of presidency, because Turkey's influnce inconceivable in iraq, and it grows repiddly as it's economy growing.

* Kurdish Journalist from northern Iraq