29 November 2020
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Iraqi MPs loyalties are not to their people

Saturday, 14 March 2020 22:41
Iraqi demonstrators carry a poster that reads in Arabic, "the parliament does not represent us, Iraq is not a war theatre take your wars out of Iraq," during protests in Baghdad. (AP) Iraqi demonstrators carry a poster that reads in Arabic, "the parliament does not represent us, Iraq is not a war theatre take your wars out of Iraq," during protests in Baghdad. (AP)

Who has ever heard of a member of this honourable body speak out against the greedy game of exchanging favours and interests between political leaders?

Political life in Iraq today is not led by real parties but by parliamentary blocs and groupings. Even the only Shia party, the Dawa Party, which earlier branded itself as a political and proselytising movement, found it more lucrative to abandon those ideals and delve into shady deals of pillaging public money.

Other than the Dawa Party, the rest of the gang are basically well-known Shia families and personalities who turned into parliamentary blocs.

Things are not that different on the Sunni side. The Islamic Party showed the same degree of greed and Sunni tribal leaders and businessmen found it opportune and profitable to be present in the parliament and maintain ties with influential Shia rulers to secure their interests and multiply them.

The Kurdish political movement distinguished itself from other influential parties by preserving its political personality and national roots that express the aspirations of the Kurdish people represented by the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which remained the first root for the leadership of this movement. The late Jalal Talabani emerged from this leadership and established his own party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Iraqi parliamentarians have nothing to do with the interests and concerns of the Iraqi people. They exist for the sole purpose of preserving their personal interests and those of influential members and for fulfilling the paternalistic wishes of their patrons.

Who has ever heard of a member of the Iraqi parliament standing amid his constituency and pledging to meet their demands for a decent life that is compatible with the wealth of Iraq and promise to step down if he fails to do that?

Who has ever heard of a member of this honourable body speak out against the greedy game of exchanging favours and interests between political leaders and challenge the system of injustice, tyranny and corruption in parliament?

Iraqi parliamentarians are there to implement the wishes of the leaders of their blocs and if this or that leader discovers that his protege has deviated from his instructions, he will eject him from the bloc and condemn him to search for his interests elsewhere until the end of his term.

All 329 parliamentarians, official statistics state, do not represent more than 20% of the electorate in Iraq and even then their election is always through fraudulent ways. This percentage indicates that parliament is in no way representative of the Iraqi people. Of course, there is a tiny minority of individual parliamentarians who try to do an honest job.

The October popular uprising and its demand to dissolve the parliament filled the parliamentarians with fear of losing their privileges so there were instances of rebellion against decisions by various bosses in parliament.

The phenomenon was starkly revealed in the vote of confidence on Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi. Allawi had the blessing of the major Shia parliamentary blocs but he won only 108 “yes” votes, among whom were Sunni, Kurdish and Turkmen parliamentarians. This means the Shia leadership is no longer in control of the political compass.

Were it not for the blessing of the internet and social media on parliamentarians, the general public would not know the names, faces and nicknames of the members of parliament and of their backers and supporters.

They may have come from famous cities and well-known families but they have offended those families and tribes and severed all ties with them by residing in the gated and secured homes of the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Recently, most parliamentarians turned into informants of fortune. Thanks to the “Twitter virus” transmitted to them by US President Donald Trump, Iraqis are able to follow the latest news about the various lists of candidates for the position of prime minister, in a tedious repetition of names that reveal the extent of their backwardness and confusion.

By tweeting now and then, they’re living the delusion of being important people issuing political statements to the mere mortals that we are. They’re living the delusion of being leaders capable of weighing in on the public opinion by buying off the collaboration of cheap journalists or by appearing here and there on Iraqi and Arab TV channels as analysts or veteran strategists or representatives of this parliamentary bloc or the other.

This is not surprising because those channels are trying to compensate for their lack of professionalism by filling the airwaves with content that insults viewers’ intelligence.

In democratic countries that respect their citizens, members of parliament offer their services without demanding compensation and privileges like those demanded by Iraqi parliamentarians. Once their term is over, they return to their former jobs and receive their retirement pensions from these jobs. Not in Iraq where it is a different story, one that must end.

Source: The Arab Weekly


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