Saturday, December 24, 2005

Iraqi Election May Only Presage New Problems

Iraq has been a tyranny since the days of Nebuchnezzar and I'm afraid the latest "election" presages only more of the same.

As might have been expected, the religious Shiites seem to have won the most votes, if not a majority, in the new parliament. Put them together with the Kurds and that would be a majority, but that might not be possible, because the Kurds have little in common with the Iran-leaning religious Shiites. Specifically, the Kurds have nothing in common with the Iran, which might come to dominate the new Shiite Iraq government.

The secular Shiites and the Sunnis clearly lost the election. It seems hard for the Sunnis to believe. They have been behaving with the greatest possible barbarism now for hundreds of years, lording it over the Shiites and the Kurds through one despotic regime after another. Now, they are telling themselves and the world that any election that does not put them in charge is fraudulent. They are not about to accept being a minority.

As usual, both the American government and the press are urging a course of benevolence on all sides. If the Shiites, now holding a plurality, only behave with magnanimity, it is suggested, everything will be well.

Is this realistic? Not at all, I fear.

There is every prospect instead that the insurrection will go on, the Sunni extremists will continue to slaughter the Shiites, the Shiites will respond in kind, and the American Army will be in the middle.

There may be a token American withdrawal, as mentioned by all the wishful thinkers in both the Bush Administration and the press. But the likelihood is that the fighting will go on, and that Democracy will be no more successful in Iraq than it has ever been.

We see much the same thing in Egypt, for that matter. The Muslim Brotherhood, which showed increased strength in the recent less-than-free elections there, but is no where close to a majority turns out to be like the religious Shiites in Iraq. It is profoundly against the West. Should the Mubarak repression end, and the Brotherhood come to power, it would clearly be less friendly to us, and to the Israelis, than Mubarak has been.

As in Algeria and other countries where there have been tentatives at free elections in the Muslim world, it either proves impossible to assemble a working Democracy, or, when one sees where the assemblying majority stands on the issues, it means only more violence or a virulently anti-Western attitude. There was a civil war in Algeria after "free" elections, and that could happen in Iraq, Egypt, and even Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, should they ever manage a democratic election. In Turkey, as democracy has increased, so has the drift toward a more fundamentalist Islam.

This is not good news for either America or the other Western powers, or Russia.

A peaceful, democratic Muslim state really seems out of question in the Middle East, leaving the question, what next? Nothing good, I'd venture to say.

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