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Growing Pains: Iraqis Experience the Disappointment of Politics

Disappointment with electoral politics is nothing new, as America’s midterm elections are beset by criticism of the failures of Democrats and Republicans. But in the process of forming a new government (or at least moving in that direction), Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has begun to lose some supporters on the streets of Baghdad.

Last week, Maliki was in serious negotiations to bring the Sadrist political bloc into his party. This was no small feat, as it was Maliki himself who confronted the Sadr Brigades in Najaf during the surge. Maliki has used this as political capital and played the two-level chess game to perfection: not only was he rejecting the more extremeist elements of his Shia bloc, but he was aso thumbing his nose at Iran (a known supporter of Iraqi Cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr).

Yet politics creates strange bedfellows, and after the March 7, 2010 elections, Maliki needed Sadrist support in order to maintain power. Understandably, Washington is not amused, as it sees the Sadrists as Iranian agents (for good reason). More importantly, however, is the discredit this has brought to Maliki in Iraq. Members of his own State of Law party are notably cool to the idea of forming a coalition with their religious rivals. Even moreso, Sunni and Kurdsish representitives have even less to gain with a rise in Sadrist influence.

But deals create the need for compensaton, and the price of this deal with be a more open posture to the Western world. Leaders have a tendency to overcompensate for percieved failures. (E.g. President Obama’s escalation of the Afghanistan War; increased deportations of illegal immigrants by Secretary Napolitano). A deal with the Sadrists already has enough criticism in Iraq to froce Maliki’s hands. Even if President Obama is unable to pay attention to Iraqi politics, Iraqis will do the “heavy lifting” here by protesting. Prime Minister Maliki will have no choice but to maintain his reputation as tough on Shiites, which will only serve to placate the American government.

All in all, what Iraq is experiencing is the brithing pain of republican government…


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