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Iraq election "solidified sectarian and ethnic divisions"

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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:08 PM
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Iraq election "solidified sectarian and ethnic divisions"
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 02:14 PM by ProSense

Analysis: Iraq electoral system limiting

By ROBERT H. REID
1 hour, 14 minutes ago

The search for an end to Iraq's violence is being complicated by an electoral system that empowers religious and sectarian leaders who see little gain in offering concessions to rivals or cracking down on factions that put them in power.

That makes it tough for the U.S. to steer Iraqi leaders toward the kind of political compromise that American military commanders believe is the only way to guarantee long-term stability.

President Bush reviewed Iraq strategy Saturday with top commanders and national security advisers, but there was little sign of any major changes in American policy.

In fact, U.S. options are limited.

The levers of power are firmly controlled by Shiite Muslim religious parties and Kurdish ethnic movements. Many of them see no advantage to concessions that could defuse the predominantly Sunni Arab insurgency, which gave rise to Shiite militias and triggered the worsening sectarian bloodletting.

The unpleasant truth is that the two national elections of 2005 widely hailed at the time as triumphs of democracy solidified sectarian and ethnic divisions and helped set the stage for the political deadlock propelling Iraq toward all-out civil war.

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