Tense debates in Iraq’s parliament

November 24, 2008


On my day off when I grabbed the remote control, my
22-year-old brother yelled “No! Do not change the channel!”

My brother is interested mostly in sports and movies and
doesn’t care at all about politics. But for once he wanted to
watch the session of parliament.

“They will re-broadcast yesterday’s fight!” he said.

Parliament has been meeting since last week to discuss a
pact calling for U.S. force to leave Iraq in three years, and
the sessions have seen tension, bickering and even blows.

Followers of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who oppose the
pact, have been particularly rambunctious, banging on tables,
sweeping microphones and flower bouquets off of tables and and
at one point getting into a shoving match with bodyguards.

Everyone I know has been talking about it — not about the
pact itself but about the chaos inside parliament.

“Every disease has a cure, except politics, which infects
whoever tries to treat it,” parliament speaker Mahmoud
al-Mashhadi joked, trying to soften the mood inside the chamber.

He told parliamentarians they were treating the house like a
boisterous Baghdad cafe, and carrying on like musicians in a
free-for-all improvisation.

But at a time when Iraq is becoming less violent, Iraqis are
afraid the chaos and disputes inside parliament could spill out
onto the streets again.

“People will see we have differences even over who is
supposed to speak,” Mashhadani shouted at members of parliament.

“Do not behave scandalously in front of the people!”


Iraqi political leaders meet to discuss the Iraqi-U.S. security pact 

Photo credit:Reuters/Pool


(Aws Qusay is an Iraqi reporter who has worked for Reuters
since 2007)

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