Last week, General David H. Petraeus, hero and scholar, rolled out a term to describe Iraq’s newly created political system–Iraqracy, a combination of Iraq and democracy. Here is John Leeland’s account of that press conference, and the etymology of the term.
“Democracy, even Iraqracy, if you will, the Iraqi form of democracy, first of all is still quite unique in the region, but has some very positive benefits,” he said. “The most important is that of course the leaders of the country have to face the electorate.”
The coinage – “Iraqracy” – marks a rhetorical step back from unqualified democracy, perhaps, and from American hopes of establishing a viral democratic beachhead in the Middle East. But it still represents hope against the government corruption and ineffectiveness that plague the country.
In the tradition of Tom Rick’s multi-part series Iraq: The Unravelling, as well as Bill Ardolino’s response, Iraq: The Ravelling, I’m going to start a semi-regular watch on the development (or lack thereof) of “Iraqracy.”
Our first installment: 15 Sunni parties have been banned from the upcoming elections in March. Salih Mutlaq, perhaps the most popular Sunni leader, has also been given the boot. What does this mean?
Says the lovely Liz Sly at the L.A. Times:
In a development that bodes ill for the prospects of national reconciliation in Iraq, a prominent Sunni party has been barred from participating in March elections because of its leader’s alleged ties to the outlawed Baath Party that ruled the country under Saddam Hussein, officials said Thursday.
The decision could have significant ramifications for a general election that U.S. officials hope will stabilize Iraq enough for American troops to withdraw in large numbers and leave behind a peaceful country.
What’s going? Seems like the Islamists are trying to get rid of their more popular political enemies before the March 7th election. Why is this an issue? Well, we saw what happened last time the Sunnis felt disenfranchised (in Dec. 2005, when many boycotted that election; civil war followed). And even though the Sunni insurgent groups are much weakened, this kind of political hardball–essentially excluding Sunnis from the democratic process–could certainly ensure a significant level of anti-government violence for years to come.
The upshot for Iraqracy: Mutlaq and company will appeal the decision, perhaps to the supreme court. And if the supreme court rules that Mutlaq et al. can participate, then that would show that the checks and balances so-to-speak, are somewhat effective, a victory, in other words, for Iraqracy.
If they actually do get kicked out? Then Iraqracy begins to take on a different meaning–as in, not really a democracy at all.