Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Getting used to democracy in Iraq


By Waleed Ibrahim
Before making a recent speech, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said the following: “I was given a specific time in which to talk, so I have to be brief. I was informed that there are other people speaking after me.”

I was shocked. Did I just hear an Iraqi leader sound and act as if he were
an ordinary citizen who had to make way for others? Maybe he was joking, but he looked serious. Could this really be an Iraqi leader who wasn’t going to pontificate on and on to his heart’s content?

During the reign of the former president Saddam Hussein, who was deposed by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, no one even dared to look at their watch while he was speaking. Saddam’s speeches
lasted at least an hour. Sometimes he would speak for many.

In that speech he gave a short while ago, the prime minister of the post-invasion Iraq, Maliki, spoke about federalism and autonomy for the provinces. He said he believed authority should lie with the central government, not with local executives, but he told Iraqis it was up to them to decide. “I am stating my opinion as an Iraqi person, the decision is yours,” he said in the televised speech.