Last week, an Iraqi governmental commission banned more than a dozen political parties and leading political figures from the upcoming March elections. Among those banned was one of Iraq’s most significant players, Dr. Saleh al-Mutlaq, a secular nationalist leader and a head of one of the most important parliamentary blocs.
Peace Action was quoted in a Nation article today covering this controversial development.
Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi-born political analyst in Washington and a senior fellow at Peace Action, told The Nation that the action to ban Mutlaq could have disastrous political consequences. “It will have catastrophic results, because it will push people to fight outside the system, rather than inside the system,” he says. “The upcoming March election has the potential to ignite a new civil conflict.” Contrary to the beliefs of many in Washington, Iraq does not have anything like the kind of stable political and military institutions that can weather such a conflict, he says, adding that the Iraqi armed forces are bitterly divided and split by ethnic and sectarian loyalties. “One brigade may be loyal to Maliki, one brigade to the Kurds, and one to ISCI,” he says. “The army and the police are not loyal to Iraq.”