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Arab Democracy: Iraq as an Example

No Arab country emerged successful from an attempt to implement democracy. Even Tunisia, which sparked the revolutions of the Arab Spring and gave hope to millions of people across the world that democracy was coming to the Arab world is still immersed in political turmoil. But Tunisia isn’t the only Arab country where the democratic experience failed. Let us look at Iraq. Many people – including myself, admittedly – believed that the 2003 US invasion of Iraq would bring about democracy to the war-torn country. But the country that was once ruled by Saddam Hussein turned into a failed state dominated by Iranian mercenaries. Over the course of a few short years, Iraq’s elites fled the country and sought exile in the West. The country that had once been home to scientists, authors, musicians, and researchers, was deserted overnight. Soon enough, it was taken over by rampant militias. The infrastructure collapsed. Schools and universities were forced to shut down. And living conditions throughout the country dramatically deteriorated. The rates of poverty, destitution, and hunger among the Iraqi population have almost exceeded 50%. There is no memory of a functioning state apparatus, no jobs, no public services. America, after its ill-fated invasion, claimed to have established a democratic system. It boasted the Iraqi constitution, the court, the parties, and the free and fair elections. But the truth is that all of these things are just fraud. The Iraqi constitution – devised by Americans, not Iraqis – de facto divides Iraqis based on their sectarian and ethnic affiliations, giving the Kurds the premierships, the Shiites the presidency, and the Sunnis the parliament. In the vacuum created in Iraqi with the departure of US forces, Iran succeeded in deploying Shiite militias that took over Baghdad. The democratic system is a system that contradicts sectarian and religious societies, and no democracy that the world has known can be fundamentally based on sectarian or ethnic affiliations. The very constitution that sought to instill democracy in Iraqi is the source of the country’s political decay. The hope of seeing democracy flourish in Iraq has been quickly replaced with a failed state experiencing deteriorating conditions. Democracies can never rest on religious, tribal, or ethnic loyalties. To be sure of what I say, compare Iraq in the era of Saddam Hussein to Iraq following its so-called democratic reforms. –Muhammad Al-Sheikh (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)