Saturday, November 27, 2010

The 'Lebanonisation' of Iraq

With a sectarian power-sharing agreement and interfering neighbours, Iraq is looking increasingly like Lebanon.

Lamis Andoni

".......The accord would establish a Lebanon-style sectarian and ethnic formula - which might prove to be more of a recipe for constant instability than a guarantor of national reconciliation. It is ironic that we are witnessing the 'Lebanonisation' of Iraq at the exact moment when this type of power-sharing formula may be causing the 'Iraqisation' of Lebanon - as many fear that Lebanon is on the verge of inter-sectarian strife.

Lebanon's sectarian power distribution has not saved it from sectarian rivalry but rather repeatedly plunged it into civil violence and even war. Consequently, Lebanon has become hostage to its sectarian system, with all parties - while competing over their share - constantly seeking to retain it for fear of being marginalised.....

Iraq's emerging political system is a direct product of the US invasion and Iran's complicity in both the invasion and the ensuing occupation. And Iran has, so far, come out of it with the strongest hand - as the prime minister is the main authoritative power.

Neighbouring 'Sunni' Arab countries have also played a role in consolidating divisions within Iraq - either by directly helping the US forces or by failing to help Iraq maintain its unity......

But all the talks and mediations finally failed, prompting the Americans to give their support to al-Maliki, providing that Sunnis are also strongly represented in the government.
Playground politics

Thus what started as a possible challenge to an Iranian-backed sectarian Shia government resulted in an Iranian-approved sectarian/ethnic power-sharing system that gives supremacy to ethnic and sectarian divisions over collective identity.

As alarming as the perpetuation of these divisions is the fact that the ongoing power struggle is essentially among ruling elites who have largely been promoted - or even created - by the occupation, while ordinary Iraqis remain excluded......

In Lebanon, external forces have repeatedly intervened to guarantee stability by maintaining the equilibrium of its sectarian system. In Iraq, however, the arrangement is failing from the outset - leading neither to the formation of a new government, nor to a guarantee of temporary political stability.

Furthermore by preventing the winning coalition from forming a government, Iraqi politicians are not only establishing a flawed sectarian system but laying the groundwork for a system of sectarian dominance."

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