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The Shiites blinked and that’s good for Iraq
Posted by: McQ on Friday, April 21, 2006

There's a lot of analysis on the net about Ibrahim al-Jaafari's decision to step aside in his quest to become Iraq's Prime Minister.

Many people have wondered what the fuss was all about. Why in the world couldn't the Iraqi Parliament come to an agreement about a PM in 4 months time?

Are they that inept?

In reality whether they are inept or not is yet to be determined. But what was going on was a good old fashioned political struggle for power. A majority determined to have it's way. A minority coalition just as determined not to allow it. The majority blinked. That could be a very good sign for Iraq. From the New York Times:
To its credit, the main Kurdish party supported Sunni Arabs in refusing to vote for Mr. Jaafari in Parliament, thereby denying him the two-thirds support he would effectively need there to form a fully functioning government. That eventually caused even key Shiite allies to withdraw their support.
Both the Sunni and Kurdish minorities asserted themselves and made their presence and power known. That is vitally important. One of the fears was that one or both of the minorities would be marginalized. But this defeat for the Shiites served notice that the Parliament would not be a rubber stamp for a Shia dominated government and when necessary, Kurds and Sunnis would band together against the Shias.

Where this will lead is anyone's guess at this moment in time, but as I look at it know, I think this assertion by the minorities very early on will prove critical in the future as Iraqis of all stripes negotiate the parameters of their government. Raw power plays are out, unquestioned Shia domination is out, and the Kurds and Sunnis have made an important political stand to prove that.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

MK quagmire alert post in 5, 4, 3, 2 ....
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Yeah, really. Where is he?
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
What this means in practice is that future Iraq governments will usually be run by a Kurd, and probably a very conciliatory one. Since the Shia and Sunni cannot trust one another at all.
Written By: kyle N
When I was in high school me and my buds thought it was fun to have BB gun wars. This was before paintball existed. If you haven’t guessed, yes, I’m a male.

We had the perfect location for it. It was a rectangle about 60 yds by 40 yds. Going across the long part of the rectangle it was about one third heavy woods and underbrush, then about one third open area with lots of scattered trees and bushes and mounds and dips and then the last third heavily wooded again.

We tried lots of different games, battles and rules. Of course it started with two equal teams or armies. Each team occupied one patch of heavy woods, facing eachother across the open neutral zone. We relied on the honor system to determine when someone was hit with a BB, but of course sometimes it was pretty obvious (ouch). Different games had different goals. Sometimes the team that lost all its members first lost the war; another game’s goal was to reach the rear flank of the other team’s turf, sort of like getting to the end zone; steal the flag, etc.

Then someone came up with a new game, and it took very little time to realize how futile it was. Here’s how it worked. Normal start, each army gets time to set up inside of its wooded area. In this game its important for each team to have a name. For example, one team called "RED" and the other "BLUE." The inspiration for the game came from a desire to not have to be ’out’ of the game once you are shot. In any other game if you were shot you were taken out of the action and basically had to wait for the rest of the game to be played out. Which could drag on if the last few remaining players were really out to win.

I’m sorry this is long but it is relevant and here’s where it gets good. So the way this new RED/BLUE game would be played is this: when you are shot, you become a member of the other team. The team that ends up with all the players wins. Its odd on sevreal levels (in the end everyone is on the winning team) but let me explain how it became clear that the game could become humorously futile.

Let’s say I’m a RED, "RED Bill" hunkered down just a few feet behind a RED teammate, "RED Bob". An unseen BLUE shooter - "BLUE Larry" hits me, I admit I’m hit, so now I’m a member of BLUE. I call out that I’m hit and shift my position so I’m not exposed to my former ally-now-enemy, RED Bob. As I move, RED Bob hits BLUE Larry, so now Larry is "RED Larry". Well I’m now a BLUE and loyal to them, so I shoot the RED closest to me, my former original ally, RED Bob, who now calls out that he’s a BLUE. So now Bill (me) and Bob are united again, but now belonging to the opposite team (BLUE) while our original enemy Larry is still our enemy but now on our original team (RED). We all just switched sides.

Regardless of the turn-out of that little shoot-out, sometimes one soldier would leave that hot zone to look for a personally more advantageous position. Next time I encounter someone on the battle field I don’t know if he’s a friend or foe until we identify ourselves to eachother.

It was inevitable and it happened a few times where this sort of shoot out would lead to all three guys switching sides a few times in a matter of seconds before one or all just got out of there, not caring which side we ended up on. It could get hairy fast and sometimes you’d get hit multiple times or hit someone else at the same moment you got hit and there’d be 3, 4, 5 of us all shooting and getting hit, switching sides once every few seconds, sometimes shooting someone already on your own team... it was ridiculous!

I can just imagine how much better that game would’ve been if there were three teams instead of two, and if we had all walked around in the open, and we never really told anyone else what team we were really on. The game would’ve never ended, let alone ending with everyone united on one victorious team.

Add vengence, religion, the arab streak, oil...
Written By: ddubb
URL: http://
Technically speaking, if the Shiites didn’t have enough votes to close the deal, they also were a minority. They were just the biggest minority. If true this system needs 2/3 ideologies/factions to sign on for whatever is being decided. I agree that this isn’t a bad thing as long as most things require a 2/3 majority for consensus. If the standard for elections is "the most votes" I don’t know what that does to the dynamic. It’s probably better than the two party system.
Written By: Richard
URL: http://

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