February 23, 2005


Enter a unifier and a healer: The key questions for the United States regarding the future government of Iraq relate to the possibility of it being too Islamic, too close to Iran and too hostile to US forces in the country. On all counts, Ibrahim Jaafari, the man most likely to be the next premier, scores well. On paper at least. (Ehsan Ahrari, 2/24/05, Asia Times)

Ibrahim Jaafari is the United Iraqi Alliance' (UIA's) unanimous choice for the premiership of Iraq. He is not a novice, in the sense that he was long in opposition to Saddam Hussein's rule. He served as vice president in the interim Iraqi government. His Da'wa (Islamic Call) Party has long advocated an Islamic government; however, that aspiration is either tempered or even abandoned when faced with the awesome responsibility of governing Iraq. [...]

Jaafari has demonstrated his sophistication as a candidate for the job for several days, if not weeks. Indeed, if one had any doubts regarding the potential emergence of the UIA as a viable ruling party in Iraq, those doubts should have been dispelled right after the elections. The party has made it known its readiness to be all-inclusive and shunned from all manifestations of parochialism. The all-inclusive aspect of its characteristic was clear by its readiness to go out of its way in actively seeking the cooperation of the Sunni minority, a group that boycotted the election and then showed deep resentment about the possibility of the emergence of Shi'ite dominance in the next government.

The UIA acted as if the Sunni resentment was not even there. It has made it clear that it has every intention of making the Sunnis a real partner in the next government. The UIA's spurning of parochialism will be further demonstrated in its refusal to entertain any ideas that would jeopardize the unity of Iraq. The Kurdish groups had better re-examine all their aspirations that even remotely resemble the weakening the integrity of Iraq.

The administration of US President George W Bush has been besieged by a number of questions related to Jaafari, his Da'wa Party and the UIA. The question that is uppermost in Washington now is whether the UIA's commitment to avoid establishing an Islamic government in Iraq is real. Jaafari has shown special sensitivity to this issue. In fact, he recently made quite a revealing comment in this regard. He said, "Every country has its own character. Not all Iraqis are Muslims. Not all Muslims are Shi'ite. Not all Shi'ites are Islamic. We have to have a system that is open to all components of society."

The next significant question in Washington is how close Iraq will get to Iran. In the Pollyannaish world of the neo-conservatives there is no room for any nuanced approach toward Iran. Either a country can be a friend of the US and enemy of Iran, or vice-versa. There is no way any country can be a friend of Iran and remain close to the US.

Indeed, those who fret about how close Iraq could be to Iran are missing the point--the more liberal Iraq and Ayatollah Sistani will likely have a greater influence on the mullahcracy than vice versa and help bring about reform in Iran, at which point they'll both be our allies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 23, 2005 9:28 AM

There was a comment made by Kyda at Roger L. Simon's place.

Ibrahim Jaafari's not known for the advancement of women and when she asked one of the Iraqi bloggers about the standing of women, he danced around the issue.

Posted by: Sandy P at February 23, 2005 10:31 AM

If Sistani has any cachet in Iran and the democracy in Iraq more or less works out without too much Islamist flapdoodlery, the mullahs will have a great deal of difficulty explaining why Persians, who have a far greater tradition of civilized discourse than the lowly Arabs, should be prevented from having the same rights.

Iraq is not Turkey. Do not expect to see women in bikinis or halter tops in public places anytime soon.

Posted by: Bart at February 23, 2005 11:05 AM

the women voted and will almost certainly move towards full citizenship over time. look at clinton's attitudes towards women, could this jaafari fellow be any worse ? [hmmm, jafar, where do i know that name from]

Posted by: cjm at February 23, 2005 12:51 PM