As the month of April comes to an end, it has now been over a year since the latest round of violent escalation started, with death tolls soaring from the relatively low levels immediate post-war to levels more in line with what was seen during the worst of the US occupation.
It’s also time for a new national election, and after the 2010 vote there’s little reason to hope for better. In 2010 the Iraqiya Party won the largest number of seats, but a US-imposed “power-sharing” deal left Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in power, and the “sharing” part never really happened.
This time around, Iraq’s Sunni Arabs won’t even have the illusion of victory, with much of the Anbar Province, their political power base, unable to vote because it is occupied by al-Qaeda factions. Ayad Allawi, the leader of Iraqiya, says several of his candidates have been banned from competing elsewhere in the country.
In a country where scores of people are killed on a daily basis, it’s a given that even the exclusion of al-Qaeda-held territory won’t prevent many high-profile attacks on voting sites.
And even once the election happens, coalition building is going to be an impossible task, with no one willing to trust Maliki to keep his bargains in a coalition deal after reneging on literally every promise from the US-brokered plan. Maliki losing would also set the stage for a power struggle, as having spent years centralizing all troops and police under his direct control (as Prime Minister, Interior Minister, Defense Minister, etc) few believe he would willingly leave without a fight.
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