Is Iraq returning to its secular roots

By Fatih Abdulsalam- Azzaman, March 15, 2010

The results from the general elections indicate that the sectarian equation brought about in the aftermath of the occupation of Baghdad may no longer hold. We have seen Iraqis rallying behind groups which puts national interests above sectarianism.

Some even go on saying that the equation has lost its balance. The evidence they cite are the results in provinces such as Nineveh, Salahuddeen, Anbar and Diyala where the electorate chose a secular coalition at the expense of an Islamist party.

On the other hand, there are many who say that some other political blocs have preserved their standing by relying on sectarian support.

These people add that the coalition of the State of the Law headed by outgoing Prime Minister Noor al-Maliki and the National Coalition are none but sectarian formations. This is evident in the overwhelming support they obtained in certain provinces.

 In the meantime, even those entertaining hopes for the emergence of a secular state, have their doubts. They do not think that the ‘secular’ front which Ayad Allawi’s Iraqi block represents is truly secular. It has the same faces as before and the same program.

Allawi’s 25 deputies lost their compass in the past years in parliament and entered into coalitions with non-secular groups. Allawi himself has been away from the Iraqi scene for more than five years.

What I see as a good sign emerging from the latest elections is the fact that Iraqis are seriously thinking of national interests. This is what counts regardless of who wins.

But this is just the beginning and the yearning for national interests to be placed above everything else is still in its nascent stage.

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