While speaking to my cousin from Iraq the other day, conversation inevitably turned to the elections – both Iraqi and British. He was quite in favour of the ‘hung’ parliament that people were warning about here and felt a similar hanging of MPs should happen in Iraq. There was obviously something lost in translation here and the misunderstanding was cleared up much to his disappointment.
While David Cameron can warn of the dire consequences of a hung parliament and Gordon Brown about Tories eating people’s babies, the situation is rather different in Iraq. Politicians on all sides have repeatedly ratcheted up tensions both before and after the elections in a selfish attempt at gaining political advantage and seriously undermining the fragile security situation.
Some political blocks have been more guilty of this than others. I had the misfortune of being signed up to a certain political block’s mailing list (without my consent) but decided to remain on there as the press releases were quite hilarious, here is a sample of a few of them:
March 11: There have been suspicious delays in announcing the election results in Iraq, amid fears that extensive efforts are underway to distort the real outcome of the poll… Following the illegal expulsion of over 500 secular, anti-sectarian candidates on trumped-up de-Baathification charges and endless accounts of violence, intimidation and blatant fraud throughout the poll, I (MEP Struan Stevenson) fear that the mullah’s regime in Tehran may now be trying to install a puppet Prime Minister in Iraq.
March 17: …Influential ruling party candidates roam the rooms of the Electoral Commission for elections, specifically counting rooms and large number of ballot cards bearing the flag of Iraq have been thrown in the trash baskets in a number of Iraqi provinces…
March 23: … x have falsely accused y of fraud without any evidence as an attempt to excuse their failure in winning the majority of votes. The spokesperson also added that y is already being congratulated by Iraqis and by its partners for its victory, and hopes that those who resorted to smear campaigning, defaming statements and false accusations to take on moral values and nobly accept defeat.
April 20: Since the first day of y bloc’s victory in the parliamentary elections, certain political groups have been issuing statements with the aim of downplaying y‘s results, which give it every right to form the next government according to the constitution. And despite all attempts of marginalization and arrests made as well as the constant fear mongering, y bloc expressed its acceptance of the results produced by the elections.
April 23: This decision (vote manual recount) came as a surprise to the Iraqi people, especially after the international community represented by the Security Council, League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference confirmed that the elections held on the seventh of March were sound and met international standards. Therefore, there was no need whatsoever for such a decision to be taken.
I would have probably got the reverse set of press releases if I was signed up to their rival bloc but thankfully I don’t think they’re as organised. The irresponsible threats and scare-mongering that has gone on over the past weeks has really made me question whether any political party has the interests of Iraqis at heart. Inflated egos, political games and self-interest remain at the forefront of the Iraqi political impasse and this is unlikely to be resolved soon… back to the UK TV debates then.