IRAQ: Entering a new epoch

June 2003
Middle East;Jun2003, Issue 335, p22
The article focuses on various social developments in Baghdad and Basra in Iraq. With Iraqis returning from exile displaying debating skills and other democratic tools they had picked up in the West. However, the Iraqis who endured Saddam Hussein's dictatorship were no less articulate and even more forthcoming with their views than the 'sophisticated' returnees. Many groups, especially those with tribal affiliations, are resentful of the returnees. One of the dilemmas for U.S. President George W. Bush's project to implement liberal democracy in Iraq is the fact the Islamists, both Sunni and Shi'a, seem to be more organized than any one else. The Shi'a have a history of organization and enjoy the backing and support of Iran. The Sunnis are reported to receive finance and help from certain Gulf states who fear an Iranian backed Shi'a theology in Baghdad. General Jay Garner has appointed five Iraqi leaders as the core of a new Iraqi government: Masood Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Jalal Talabani head of the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Abdul Aziz Al Hakim, leader of the Supreme Assembly for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress and Iyad Allawi leader of the Iraqi National Accord. The list has three Sunnis, one representative from a mixed Sunni-Shi' a background, and one Shi'a. Since the Shi' a make up 60% of Iraq's population, they are woefully under represented in General Garner's selection. Iraqi intellectuals, writers, artists, poets and playwrights, many of whom were carted off to jail and intimidated for turning out plays or books considered disrespectful of the famously intolerant dictator, were horrifiedby the U.S. offering the job of head of Theatre and Films in the new Iraqi administration to the man who held the position under Saddam.


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