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Iraq After Two Octobers!

Iraq After Two Octobers!

Friday, 29 October, 2021 - 10:30

The near conclusive results of the Iraqi elections affirmed that a new political course is crystalizing and will impose itself on domestic and foreign actors…This course and its twists and turns began taking form on the first of October 2019, which is tied to the sacrifices of the Iraqi youths who launched the “October uprising” and dealt the regime of deal-making and spoil-sharing a heavy blow. They left the 2003 regime cornered and forced it to make concessions, though to a limited degree, and give up some of its tools in the regime.

It could be said that the October uprising succeeded, to some extent, in canceling the political exclusivity of the prime ministerial position, though it remained besieged by the pressures of the political class and its institutional and noninstitutional tools. Nonetheless, the current government, despite this pressure, contributed, to some degree, to the demonstration of the social and political changes affirmed by the election results.

As for electoral October, the October elections or the “second October,” it outlined the new, different Iraq that took its shape through the ballot box, making it impossible to disregard its outcomes or manipulate them. As for the attempts to deny those results or contest their legitimacy, they are nothing but a waste of time aimed at saving face before eventually recognizing the bitter results and admitting defeat. That acceptance could help the defeated parties reassess their last 18 years in charge and the failures that led to this result.

So, the Iraqi political class, in both its winners and defeated, is faced with the challenges posed by the Octobirists, and these challenges will impose themselves on the political process as a whole. Foreign actors should understand the reactions and sensitivities of Iraqi individuals and those reactions’ collective manifestations. They should recognize that attempts to force compromises through or impede them could succeed temporarily, but they will not last because what began on the tenth is only the beginning of a white insurgency. However, the first insurgency, which began two years ago, was red, and it deprived them of their legitimacy, while the second took away the legality of their authority.

Believing that the lack of legality and legitimacy can be overcome, that they can turn back the clock, would be akin to political suicide. Going back to the 2018 settlement is impossible because the winners and losers are clear, and doing so could potentially give rise to a new wave of more violent protests. As for the viability of getting sectarian or communitarian political houses back in order, that would also have significant ramifications, as it would bring political divisions on sectarian or ethnic lines back to the fore and leave alliances sorted regionally at the central state’s expense.

It can thus be said that what has come to be known as the “Coordination Framework” will not manage to pump new blood into the Shiite political house or deal with other political houses built on similar foundations. The Framework’s fate and the course will be determined by the degree to which it can cooperate with the winner of the elections, who has hinted at a national alliance that looks past ethnic and sectarian considerations. That would inevitably undermine the Coordination Framework’s influence on the political process, which is also linked to the fact that foreign actors prefer the maintenance and perpetuation of stability despite the setbacks they have faced because of the two Octobers.

So far, it seems that safeguarding stability is a domestic and foreign priority, and that will reflect on who is appointed to lead the country and how the government is formed. On the one hand, that means the Shiite political house retrieving its hold on the premiership is near impossible. On the other hand, it means a solid majority will form the government, and it could thus be said that the October settlement will persist, with the electoral results taken into account, either with the same face or a new one that maintains what has been established at the popular and constitutional levels. However, this time, there is more room to maneuver and fewer constraints imposed by partisan concessions, as any party, winners or losers, deciding to cling to their privileges would leave everyone losing.

As for the most prominent new development, it is the independents and Octobersits’ election to parliament despite the impulsive decision to boycott. State institutions are no longer reserved exclusively for traditional parties and political movements, and that will have a substantial impact on how the state is managed and will leave the parties, in all their sizes, to the forthcoming settlement under the scrutiny of an opposition that has become able to obstruct institutionally and through mobilizations on the streets.

And so, the Iraq that has emerged after the two Octobers is not the same as that which preceded them. The first did away the political regime’s legitimacy, and the second opened the door to legitimacy being earned through reforming or toppling that regime.

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