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Iraq officially launched its first popularly elected government this morning after its National Assembly swore in the ministers of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet. Two key security posts remain unfilled while negotiations continue, but the governance of Iraq has now passed to a permanent set of democratic institutions for the first time:
Iraq's new government of national unity was sworn in before a special session of parliament on Saturday, three years after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The new ministers took the oath of office after parliament approved the Cabinet presented by incoming Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. ...
The session began more than two hours late because of last-minute haggling, finally opening with readings from the Quran.
The 37-member Cabinet is made up of members from all of Iraq's religious, sectarian and ethnic groups. It took months of negotiations to form after the Dec. 15 elections and is Iraq's first constitutional government since the U.S. invasion toppled Saddam.
"This is a historic day for Iraq and all its people," deputy parliament speaker Khalid al-Attiyah said in a nationally televised news conference before the session. "This government represents all Iraqis."
Left unresolved are the ministries of Defense and the Interior, the two groups that are tasked with security and policing in the new Iraq. This has held up the formation of the government for the last couple of weeks, but apparently all sides decided that waiting to take control of the country only made conditions worse and complicated the appointments of those positions even further. The factions may also want a longer time frame to discuss the nature of the positions and the composition of the forces each command. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that the Iraqis had started a massive centralization for their armed services, putting everyone into one unform under one command to eliminate friction and possible clashes between different groups. That would also complicate the decision on the ministers for those functions.
Besides that and another series of attacks to darken the day -- bombings killed 19 people in the Shi'ite Sadr City section of Baghdad -- the founding of the permanent government demonstrates the commitment that all sides have for a unified Iraq. The Iraqis have received plenty of criticism from their detractors, some of them in our own Congress, for taking so long to pull this together. They don't appear to realize the paradigm shift that Iraqi politics had to make to reach this stage. Arab politics in general focus on strongman rule; these factions have not spent the last years preparing for self-determination but instead on the historical path to power: dictatorship. Only after the US-led coalition liberated them from the worst of that lot did democracy become a viable option.
Considering that and the religious and ethnic tensions that exist in Iraq, along with the bitterness of the past few decades under Saddam Hussein's brutal rule, the marvel is that it only took three years to get to this stage. After Washington beat Cornwallis at Yorktown, it took an ethnically and religiously monolithic populace over seven years to agree on a permanent form of government, during which they got it wrong once. In contrast, the Iraqi people marched to polling stations under dangerous conditions not once but three times within a year in order to create the temporary government that drew up their charter, to approve it, and then to elect representatives to form the permanent government.
From a historical perspective, that is quite impressive.
Now the question is whether they can hold it together. Skeptics will point to the violence as evidence that the Iraqi government will be a short-lived interlude on the path to civil war. That possibility cannot be discounted, but so far what we have seen in Iraq are the acts of provocateurs attempting to set populations against one another and not succeeding. The terrorists have tried this for months now, and the only reaction they provoke comes from militias, and even those have mostly obeyed Ayatollah Sistani's edict to stand down. The formation of the new and permanent government puts tremendous pressure on these terrorist elements. They can no longer pretend that the Iraqis have no desire for self-determination, and they have been exposed as the enemy of that cause.
The terrorists have seen the writing on the wall, even if they still refuse to read it. They lost Iraq, and we won, they know it, and now the world does as well.Sphere It View blog reactions
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The Mayor of Tal Afar goes to Fort Carson to thank the US 3rd Armored Calvery. I’m sure you saw it on all the news shows last night, right? The video is very Ed Morrissey has news about the new Iraqi government and Gateway has a celebratory ... [Read More]
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Members of Iraq's parliament approved its first government formed under their new, permanent constitution--a mere three years after Saddam's ouster. As Ed Morrissey notes: Considering that and the religious and ethnic tensions that exist in Iraq, along... [Read More]
Tracked on May 21, 2006 1:39 PM
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