Iraq’s Political Parties Need Sea Changes: Analyst

A political commentator has discussed the latest developments in Iraqi parties, saying the Arab country’s political landscape requires drastic changes.

Political analyst Sabah Zangeneh has, in a Farsi article in the Arman-e Emrooz daily newspaper, weighed in on the latest developments concerning the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, particularly the decision by its leader Ammar Hakim to leave the ISCI. The full text of the analytical piece follows:

Ammar Hakim, the son of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim and a nephew of Mohammed Baqir Hakim, is one of the founders of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI).

Although the ISCI’s central committee had other members who were senior to Ammar Hakim in terms of age and experience, he took over the presidency of the ISCI after his father’s demise as it was a historical and family tradition. Accordingly, members of the committee accepted Ammar Hakim as the head of the ISCI for some time and helped reinforce the pillars of the Council under Ammar.

However, some key members of the ISCI such as Sheikh Saqir and Hadi al-Ameri, who are heads of the Badr Organization, practically left the ISCI. On the other hand, the ISCI and Ammar Hakim took over the presidency of a coalition of Shiite parties and currents. Hence, after the Nouri al-Maliki’s chairmanship, dramatic changes were expected to take place in the coalition. Nevertheless, we have not witnessed any serious changes, yet.

Moreover, the ISCI lost a few seats in the last parliamentary election, which shows it has lost its approval ratings in the society. It seems Iraqi political parties need an overhaul in their programs.

On the one hand, Kurdish parties have problems: they have differences and they see that no party other than Democrats can take over the chairmanship of the Parliament.

On the other hand, Sunni parties have not yet been able to emerge as one single well-organized and responsible entity. Shiite parties, too, are cloaked in a shroud of ambiguities, coalitions and divisions.

Iraqi parties, including Shiite ones, should expound on their manifestos, strategies and reforms, and have transparent programs to fight corruption. The parties’ programs have, so far, included general statements only, and have failed to present any transparent and practical plans, which has worried the Iraqi elites and Shiite clerics.

Among the undeniable issues that Iraqis are facing is the necessity of having a clear program which provides for relations among Iraqi parties as well as Baghdad’s relations at the regional and international level.

Following the liberation of Mosul, fighting corruption as well as plans on the reconstruction and development of Iraq are among the key programs which could increase the popularity of a political faction or group and win them the Iraqi clerics’ support.

Having relations with Iran is fundamental and strategically important to all Shiite as well as some Kurdish and Sunni groups. All Iraqi factions need to have a relationship with Iran. That is why Ammar Hakim has, in his speeches, thanked Iran for its support and assistance.

So, the new council that he has formed cannot be at odds with Iran; rather, it must be seeking a new atmosphere to secure a better social status. One of the new developments is the establishment of the new so-called “National Wisdom” current [created by Ammar Hakim] with national features which go beyond ethnic and religious lines. This has been one of the principles that new Iraqi parties and Iraqi people have favoured. Therefore, the National Wisdom current may be able to have a trans-religious and trans-ethnic performance. Moreover, some high-profile figures with long executive experience are still members of the ISCI. As already announced, they may be able to play a more constructive role in this arena by presenting their new programs and setting aside dynastic limitations.

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