April 13, 2014 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment

Theatre of the absurd

As the country prepares to go to the polls on 30 April, many Iraqis have lost their faith in their parliamentary representatives, writes Nermeen Al-Mufti in Baghdad

Theatre of the absurd

The UN mission in Iraq has stated that 592 Iraqis, among them 484 civilians, were killed in the country in March, the statement excluding causalities in the Anbar province where the Iraqi army has been in operation for the last three months.

The ongoing violence comes as the country prepares for its first parliamentary elections, to be held on 30 April, since the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. On 1 April, the electoral campaigns began, and by the morning of the first day thousands of posters and billboards from the 9,094 candidates from 32 blocs, 250 parties and including independent personalities, were to be seen across the country.

Iraqis have lost trust in their representatives over the last four years because of the ongoing crises in the country. “The last four years were enough to discover that our representatives are not representing us, but working for their own interests,” said Saad Ali, an academic. “For the last four years, the agendas, inside and outside, have been obvious.”

Qasim Al-Fahdawi, the former governor of Anbar province and the leading candidate of the Loyalty to Anbar political bloc, said in a televised interview that the ongoing crises in his province were due to the fact that the country’s parliament had not discussed the demands of the protesters and had not met them.

 The UN mission published a statement by Nikolay Mladenov, the representative of the UN secretary-general in Iraq, on the formation of a “quartet committee” intended to move forward negotiations on the country’s budget.

“I welcome the efforts of the presidency of the Council of Representatives and the heads of the parliamentary blocs to move forward the negotiations over the 2014 budget. The formation of a quartet committee to address outstanding issues is an important step. I encourage Iraqi leaders to work together and in a spirit of compromise to enact the budget as soon as possible. This should be done with the agreement of all components of Iraqi society in order to ensure that everyone shares the wealth of this country and receives needed public services,” Mladenov said.

“This statement is further evidence that our representatives do not think of Iraqi interests,” commented Ahlam Qiasy, a teacher, who added that “we know there are problems among the leading blocs in parliament, yet who would imagine that our representatives would lead the country to bankruptcy just because some of the blocs are against the prime minister?”

Similar questions are being asked by the majority of Iraqi voters, who have begun pressing for changes in the country. For the time being, it seems that the only people that can bring about this change are the voters themselves.

In the first elections to be held after the withdrawal of the US from the country, the Turkmens, Kurds and Arabs in Kirkuk do not have separate lists. Moreover, for the first time the two leading Kurdish parties, the PUK of Jalal Talabani and the KDP of Masoud Barzani, who led the Kurdistan coalition in the previous elections, now have two different lists.

There are also Arabs on different lists and Turkmens, too, for the first time are participating on two lists. Torhan Mufti, head of the Alliance of the Kirkuk Turkmens list, said that “our list believes that Turkmen issues can be solved, but in Baghdad.” Mufti is State Minister for the Provinces and acting Communications Minister in the present cabinet.

The situation in Kirkuk, the oil-rich city that is described as a “small Iraq,” also shows how problems and differences are woven deep in the country.

Meanwhile, the State Ministry for Women has issued a statement asking Iraqis to behave politely with female candidates after photographs were published on social media showing young men kissing posters of female candidates and Iraqi bloggers attacking female candidates by criticising their appearance.

The Shiite higher marjieya, a religious institution, has stated that it does not support any particular list or bloc, but wants to see Iraqis achieve change through voting for the “right candidates.”

Amidst the ongoing violence and crises, candidate posters have been causing fun through their slogans, statements and promises. One candidate wrote on his posters that he had been ordered to stand by the Prophet Mohamed. A comment on Facebook then appeared saying “I was ordered by the Prophet not to give you my vote.”

 Until April 30, elections day, the posters of the candidates will continue to appear across the country along with the black banners that mourn the causalities of the violence, as an indication of the theatre of the absurd that is contemporary Iraq


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