Saturday, December 27, 2008

The dissolution of a sect-based "alliance" that has served its purpose

Mashriq Abbas writes in AlHayat:
[The Mashhadani/Alyan declaration of the end of the so-called Iraqi Accord Front (IAF)] is the latest scene in the struggle over Sunni representation in the political process, something that the approaching provincial elections are also contributing to, and this represents a major stage in getting over the system of "parliamentary alliances"--this system of alliances that was supported by the security-difficulties, by encouragement from the Americans, and by the need on the part of the Shiite and Kurdish parties for a Sunni representative to fill out the scheme of a three-part sectarian-allocation system. And this was felt first and foremost in the matter of drafting and adopting the Constitution, where sole "Sunni" representation by a party attached to the Muslim Brotherhood was considered too narrow.

The Accord Front was founded in 2005 to fill the gap of Sunni representation in the political process...
first and foremost, Abbas notes, in the matter or drafting and adopting the Constitution, where sole "Sunni" representation by a party attached to the Muslim Brotherhood was considered too narrow.

The Islamic Party of Iraq, already a participant in the political process, had been in existence since before 2003, but there was this need to make the Sunni representation in the political process broader, and this resulted in the inclusion of the Dialog Front (Khalaf Al-Alyan); the People's Assembly (Adnan Dulaimi) and others, from Salafists to secularists, all under the banner of "Sunni" for these political-process purposes. This was not originally at all "homogeneous", the writer notes, and this became evident in the troubles that ensued following the formation of the parliamentary government in 2006. What held the thing together for a time was a combination of factors including American support for a Sunni representation, and the more general desire on the part of the founders of this sectarian- and ethnic-based system to make it work on the level of the political process.
A top Sunni politician says there were feelings of pressure from the security situation, and a desire to exploit the American support, which seemed limitless, for a Sunni representation, accompanied always by a vast desire on the part of the parties that had set up the principle of sectarian- and ethnic-based alliances in the political process, to overcome the crisis of the Sunni boycott of the government and of parliament. The politician, who is a member of the IAF, says the Accord Front, ever since its founding, had major support both from within Iraq and from outside, and this support helped prevent the surfacing of internal Accord Front differences [until recently].
From the very beginning, says Abbas, it was clear that the governing coalition wanted to form an umbrella agreement with Sunnis via the Ismalic Party alone, to the exclusion of the other members of the IAF, and this is what came to fruition with the so-called "five-party charter"of 2007 (joining the Islamic Party with the four governing parties, two Kurdish and two Shiite). (He adds that there are other agreements joining these same parties, some of them dating to pre-2003, but he doesn't elaborate).

And the events of 2008 confirmed the monopoly of the Islamic Party over the IAF, while on the other side:
Al-Alyan got closer to the secular parties under the leadership of former Prime Minister Allawi, who had been developing, during his years away from power, various methods for bringing together opposition groups and opening channels of communication with them. He founded what is now called the "coordinating group" which brings together Shiite Islamic groups including Fadhila and the Sadrist trend, along with secularists like the group of Salah al-Mutlak, and tribal groups such as those of Khalaf al-Alyan--and what they are all demanding is an end to the project of allocations, and the tearing-down of the authority of the traditional parties.
Abbas goes on to mention some of the possible implications of this or the coming elections. But the most important point for Western readers--inundated with years and years of rhetoric suggesting the sectarian-allocation system was built into the very order of things in Iraq--is this thumbnail history of the IAF: It was an artificial creation supported by the Americans and fueled also by the security-troubles, bringing together disparate parts whose common feature was only that they were "Sunni", first in order to provide a nice three-part Shiite/Kurdish/Sunni structure to the "political process" during and after the adoption of the Constitution, and more recently in order to provide the same stand-in "Sunni" representation in the matter of approval of the security agreement.


Post a Comment

<< Home