Asharq al-Awsat: It seems that the State of Law coalition which is led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is not afraid to use threats and subterfuge in order to remain in power. Asharq al-Awsat
By Tariq Alhomayed
It seems that the State of Law coalition which is led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is not afraid to use threats and subterfuge in order to remain in power. Al-Maliki called on the Independent High Electoral Commission [IHEC] to perform a manual recount of all votes "in order to protect the democratic experience and preserve the credibility of the electoral process." Al-Maliki used language that inspires concern when he said that he was speaking in his position as "the executive official responsible for drawing up and implementing the policy of the country and as the commander in chief of the armed forces." He is calling for a manual recount of votes, saying that this would "safeguard political stability and prevent a return to violence" in Iraq. Of course this is clear threatening language and an attempt by al-Maliki to maintain his grip on power.
The issue does not stop here, and the State of Law coalition candidate Adnan al-Saraj issued a statement to the Iranian media saying that suspicions are hanging over the election results and warning that the Iraqi street has reached boiling point.
What is strange about al-Saraj's statement is that he said that there are suspicions surrounding the company that provided Iraq with the [electronic] vote counting devices, saying that this company "is owned by the MKO [People's Mujahedin of Iran] terrorist group and [these devices] could be programmed in a manner that does not allow them to identify [electoral] content, and this is something that strongly calls for a manual recount of votes." This is a ridiculous and pitiful claim!
With reference to these threatening statements, the question here must be: has Mr. Nuri al-Maliki today become the Ahmadinejad of Iraq?
Brandishing one's power by mentioning the armed forces only serves to remind us of one thing and that is when the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and other Iranian security apparatus rushed to control the situation following the last presidential elections in Tehran, suppressing the demonstrations who rejected what they saw to be a clear theft of their votes. This resulted in the division of Iranian society, and this division remains until today, and so is this something desired for Iraq?
If Mr. Nuri al-Maliki is keen to protect the democratic experience and preserve the credibility of the electoral process – as he claims – then he must first respect the ballot box and the election results. This is something that is not done through issuing threats or brandishing power, but rather by ensuring the peaceful transfer of power and making certain that Iraq crosses into safety, especially as Baghdad is at a critical stage. What has been accomplished in Iraq remains fragile, and there are sectarian tensions on one hand and external interference on the other, and the only hope that Iraq has seen is from the results of the election. These results – as noted in previous articles – show a national awareness, and this is a sign of the rejection of the religious trends, and the Iraqis have voted in a manner that is a cause for optimism for the secular coalition which is headed by Dr. Iyad Allawi.
Prior to the Iraqi elections and in light of the suppression of some with regards to excluding some candidates from the democratic process under the pretext of "Debathification" the fear was that Iraq would become another Lebanon. However today it seems that we are facing a greater threat than this, which is the danger of Iraq as a whole following the Iranian experience; therefore we say beware that Nuri al-Maliki does not become Iraq's Ahmadinejad.
Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat