by Nick Haller
The Persian Gulf has been a region of intense western scrutiny over the past half century. With the once Westernized cultures of populations in Iraq reverting to landscapes closely following things like dictatorships and Sharia Law, there has never been a time more polarizing for organized governments trying to reconstruct themselves from the ruins of war. President George W. Bush’s plan to pressure predominantly Islamic Arab states into a minimalist democracy has not flowered as expected. The majority of leaders in the Arab world have found ways to appease the western pressure, but have not found the correct channels to influence their country at large, mainly due to a lack of essential ‘safeguards’ found ubiquitously in major democratic success stories.
Enter the heavily debated nation of Iraq. The conception of an Iraqi democracy has been overwhelmingly negative in the last 30 years, partly due to the anti-Western Organizations that have spawned from the country and its secular dictatorship under Saddam Hussein. Prior to the Hussein regime, caused by a military coup (a red flag that shows a blatant lack of forbearance in a longstanding nation) the nation faced great challenges in growth as its own sovereignty. Iraq’s democratic struggles have existed for centuries. Even the early decline of the Abbasid Dynasty set the tone for Iraq’s continued difficulty with creating a unified democratic system. With the fall of the Abbasid, around 1258 A.D., came the end of the Islamic Golden Age and the loss of most of the “Arab world’s Islamic civilizational achievements.” Upon the Ottoman takeover and British Imperial control, the country was reduced to a provincial status, and systemically abandoned after the English vacation post World War II.
To explain the failure of the state to rebound after, one must examine the lack of democratic norms or ‘safeguards’ present in every chapter of Iraq’s political history. The British failure to instill any democratic norms or practices during their occupation manifested itself in the coup of 1958, which only led to more years of strife void of any sort of forbearance to protect a party system. This period, also marred by a lack of mutual party toleration, gave rise to extremist groups like the Iraqi Shi’ites and the anti-Baghdad Kurdish contingency. The concept of party tribalism shown in this case shows clearly why a Hussein autocracy was allowed to form from a minority democracy system.
The existing parties of the post coup 1950s survived to find themselves narrowly united behind a socialist Ba’ath Party in 1968. Upon gaining an unstable hold over the country in the early 1970s, the Ba’ath was transformed into Hussein’s, “personal refuge within which and around which he could build an elaborate security–bureaucratic–administrative system, dominated by Sunni Iraqis,” unchecked by multiparty safeguards. Saddam Hussein’s control of Iraqi secularism and economic output as a member of the party made easy transition from his role as vice-president into the commanding dictator that defines his legacy. Shumpeter’s populist outsider warnings explain his families rise into a feared position that held the country with an iron fist. 
More recently, the country has returned to a similar multiparty state that existed in the 1960s, where many intense arguments rage on as to how a democratic system should exist independently to fully represent a voter body. Especially with the rise of Jihadists in the absence of this system, tribalism reigns as the primary governing body region by region. The lack of ‘safeguard’ structures caused by the fault of western occupation is the reason for the hesitation of modern Iraq to move towards another Islamic Golden Age. Saikal, Amin (2003). Democracy and peace in Iran and Iraq, New York: United Nations University  Schumpeter, Joseph. (1943). Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York: Harper & Brothers.
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