Monday, November 30, 2009

Iraqi Sunni Arabs still "traumatised"

' Iraq's Sunni vice president played political poker to help his community, still traumatised at losing control after 80 years of domination, thrive in a general election. But his bluff failed, experts say.

Tareq al-Hashemi vetoed an electoral law in an attempt to secure more power for Sunnis, throwing national polls originally slated for mid-January into chaos.

Analyst and commentator Ibrahim al-Sumaidie likens the Sunnis' precarious position to that in an Arab proverb, where a man tries to apply eye-liner to his wife to make her look more pretty -- but instead ends up blinding her.

"It is simply a catastrophe for the Sunni Arabs," Sumaidie, a regular writer in the Iraqi press said, referring to Hashemi's November 18 veto of the law.

The vice president was seeking to garner votes from Iraqis living abroad, including those who fled after the ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein and during sectarian fighting which erupted in 2005.

There are estimated to be as many as four million such voters, who could boost the Sunni presence in parliament against a probable Shiite-dominated government.

But Hashemi's hazardous hand turned to dust when parliament voted -- at the instigation of Shiites -- for a new distribution of seats.

The new provisions do not take into account a real increase in Iraq's population since 2005 and instead increase by 2.8 percent annually the number of seats given to each province, a move that actually harms the Sunnis.

"The Kurds are the sole beneficiary of what passed, and this is a slap in the face for the Sunni Arabs," said Sumaidie.'

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