The sham election in Iran, and the brutal suppression of the prodemocracy demonstrators in Iran reviewed Iran is little more than theocratic-military dictatorship. Unfortunately, many of the same signs are also present in Iraq as well, where Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is well on the way to becoming little more than just an Iranian backed dictator. Al-Maliki has built a network of security agencies that only report to him for one thing. Further, al-Maliki has steadily reduced any political rivals through his use of police, military or any secret agencies he directly controls.
While Iraq is supposed to have elections in 2010, expect them to be far less free and open than those elections in past. Ahead of this election, al-Maliki has built up a system of bribes and payoffs to various tribal leaders who are political allies of his. The fact of the matter is that the worse fears of al-Maliki have now proven true. He has slowly built up the political, police and military apparatus to make his government into a Iranian supported, Shiite religious dominated military dictatorship where there is little possibility of free elections in the near future. With an American pull back from the cities, expect al-Maliki to operate with far less restraint now. Iraq's government is merely a near carbon copy of the same sort of fundamentalist-military rule as in Iran.
A further problem is that the Al Dawa Party that al-Maliki is the public figure for is little more than a fundamentalist Shiite organization so closely aligned with Iran, that Iran could easily replace al-Maliki unless he follows their will. Al-Maliki is hardly the Iraqi nationalist that he publicly claims himself to be. It is all just window dressing for a near puppet leader of Iran's corrupt dictatorship. Iran couldn't win the 1980's war. But Iran gained control over Iraq's government because the U.S. made that path easy when George Bush toppled Saddam Hussein.
The fact of the matter is that when George Bush calculated to topple the dictatorship Of Saddam Hussein In Iraq, there was little real planning to make Iraq a true democracy or to prevent fundamentalist religious elements from establishing another government much like Iran. Originally an American oversight committee worked with a coalition of political rivals to Saddam Hussein. However, gradually a group of Shiite fundamentalists emerged under the Al Dawa Party label, with a heavy religious clerical background with many from Iran. Now al-Maliki sits atop this fundamentalist religious organization as their public relations man, which isn't that much different than the role Ahmadinejad in Iran. And with less future American oversight, you can certainly expect far more human rights abuses to take place, and for the Shiite controlled government to further suppress more Sunni political rivals.
The religious-military government of Iraq has essentially locked true moderate Iraqi political leaders like former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and his moderate democratic nationalist and secular political party allies from any meaningful political role in Iraq. Allawi was a true secular democrat and a true reliable ally for the United States to trust to make the nation into a modern secular Muslin nation much like Turkey. Instead, with so little political planning, coupled with little military planning for a long occupation of Iraq, the 2003 George Bush invasion of Iraq really had little planning other than a military plan to topple Saddam Hussein. There simply was not good plans to replace a Saddam Hussein dictatorship with the real mechanics for a real and durable democracy. Allawi still remains the one best hope for secular democracy in Iraq, however has no viable path back to power because his ability to politically compete has been effectively blocked by the Al Dawa control of the election machinery.
A further problem is that the Obama Administration wants to concentrate on other hot spots right now like Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and North Korea. But the problems in Iraq will not improve on their own, and with even less U.S. influence, the Iraqi government will become less responsible and only behave just well enough to continue to gain billions in American aid. However, while the government has plenty of money due to oil revenues, corruption among elected officials in the al-Maliki government makes plenty of this money disappear into thin air.
Meanwhile, the economy of Iraq continues with serious problems, with few jobs, and still just only a few hours of electrical service a day even in many places like Baghdad. More clean water is still needed. However, with billions in oil revenues only disappearing into government corruption prevents progress on many of these critical fronts. Further, the Kurds in the North continue to concern our U.S. ally in Turkey with their expansionist goals to eventually expand their empire into parts of Turkey and hurt this important relationship with this important NATO ally.
The ghosts of the George Bush Iraq War fiasco will continue to haunt both the Obama Administration and the United States public many years. At some point, most Americans are going to realize that Iraq and Iran are far more similar than they are different. Neither is a real democracy, both are in fact religious-military dictatorships controlled by Iran. The more than 4,000 American lives lost in Iraq didn't really achieve too much more than replacing one dictator in Iraq with another one. That's supposed to be progress?
Maybe the rock group, The Who, summed all this up the best with, "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss". It might just take a magnifying glass to identify any real differences between either Saddam Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Nouri al-Maliki.
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