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Secularism a Growing Force in Iraq

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Posted on March 5 2010 9:30 am
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by Ryan Mauro

On March 7, the Iraqi people go to the polls for their national election, a contest with so many factors it makes analysis of American elections look like elementary schoolwork. The election pits the camps of secularism, religion-guided democratic governance, and proponents of Iranian influence against one another. Blocs that are jockeying against each other will soon maneuver together to decide the next prime minister as the Iranian regime tries to manipulate and place itself in each side’s corner.

The election is preceded by a crisis that, in the words of Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon, “is just the kind of seemingly small problem that could unravel the entire political fabric of Iraq.” Iraq’s Justice and Accountability Commission, under the influence of Ahmed Chalabi and his close friend, banned over 500 candidates from running in the elections for allegedly having ties to the outlawed Baath Party. Those on the list were not given the opportunity to defend themselves. Among those listed were the Sunni defense minister and Saleh al-Mutlaq, a prominent Sunni leader who is allied with the secular Shiite and former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a strong opponent of the political bloc with which Chalabi is aligned. General Ray Odierno has attributed this move to Iranian influence, saying that Chalabi has repeatedly met with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s top man in Iraq.

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