Thursday, December 16, 2004

Cole's sectarian view of elections in Iraq

Juan Cole's "Lebanon-like" solution : put aside 20% of seats in parliament for the Sunni Arabs.

If elections are held in January, I see only one way to avoid disaster. This would be some sort of emergency decree by the current government that sets aside, say, 20% of seats in parliament for the Sunni Arabs. This procedure would seat Sunni Arab candidates in order of the popularity of their lists and in order of their rank within the lists on which they run. But the results would essentially be "graded on a curve." In a way, this procedure is already being followed for women, who are guaranteed 30% of seats. This solution is Lebanon-like and is not optimal, but it might be the best course if long-term sectarian and ethnic conflict is to be avoided. Remember, the first thing the new parliament will do is craft a permanent constitution. You want Sunni Arabs sitting at that table, or else.

No Mr Cole, a Lebanon-like non-sectarian solution is: leave 50% of seats for Sunni Iraqis - including Sunni Kurds.

Related readings:

Why elections in Iraq are lose-lose proposition
By Edwin Black
December 13, 2004

Iraqi election could lead to sectarian war, some say
By Tom Lasseter
December 11, 2004

Sectarian electoral maneuvers may break Iraq apart
By Mustafa Malik
November 27, 2004

Ethnic Iraqi federalism rejected
By Ahmed Janabi
January 10, 2004

The Specter of Sectarian and Ethnic Unrest in Iraq
By Nicholas Blanford
January 7, 2004

Despite assurances from the Shiite community, Sunnis remain wary of Shiite political aspirations. "If it happens that the Shia and Kurds rule Iraq, the country will never be safe and stable, not for hundreds of years," said Sheikh Abd al-Karim al-Qubaysi, a prominent Sunni cleric in Baghdad. "This is not a threat. The Sunnis are not declaring war. We always call for brotherhood and dialogue. But we will not allow anyone to cancel out our role in Iraq. Just as Iraq needs Shia clerics and leaders, so Iraq needs Sunni clerics and leaders. There must be a balance between the two. Iraq will never calm down unless the two sides are equal."


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