Friday, April 2, 2010

A Depressing Thought About Iraq

I’ve gotten into the habit of taking dire journalistic predictions about sectarian strife in Iraq with a grain of salt. It’s painfully obvious that a lot of journalists who opposed the 2007 troop surge still have a large enough psychological investment in the intractability of sectarian division in Iraq to bias their reporting. But I’m having a hard time not being alarmed by reports like this one in today’s Washington Post:

“In a sign of hardening sectarian divisions, the secular, largely Sunni-backed bloc that won the most seats in Iraq's recent parliamentary elections says its victorious candidates are being subjected to a campaign of detention and intimidation by the government of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“Maliki's State of Law coalition lost by two seats to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc; the prime minister has been contesting the results of the March 7 vote, saying they are fraudulent. State of Law has appealed the outcome in Iraq's courts and now, Allawi's bloc says, Maliki is using state security forces in a bid to gain enough seats to emerge the winner.

“This week, at least two winning Iraqiya candidates in the capital were told they are wanted, bloc officials and the candidates said. Two others are on the run in the mixed Sunni-Shiite province of Diyala, and another was detained before the elections.”
Assume that people in Allawi's block aren't making things up.  Can there be a benign explanation for the Iraqi government’s having waited to prosecute people who've spent the last month running openly for parliament, for serious crimes that allegedly happened a long time ago, until after they were elected?

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