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Highlights Discusses, questions, and points out the risks of the "New Iraq" myth Examines violence in Iraq within a broad context that includes victimization and elitist power-sharing politics, flawed justice, de-Ba'athification, ethno-sectarian elections, ethnic federalism and separatism, corruption, and the oppression of women and the minorities Suggests serious implications for U. The United States and the Iraqi Transition, "In this sweeping overview of Iraq's post political landscape, David Ghanim delivers a passionate yet detailed assault on the edifice of the new Iraqi state.

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Iraq's Dysfunctional Democracy

This is a lucid and passionate book, written with palpable indignation and anger behind the analysis, trying to identify the chains of events and processes that have landed the country in this mess. It is not difficult to trace: There then occurred the invasion, which brought about further destruction and enacted a process of transition which is amazing in its incompetence and ignorance: The ostensible victims of the Saddam regime, the Arab Shi'a and the Kurds, emerged as the power centers of the new "democracy," aided by an electoral majoritarian calculus.

The Kurds strive, successfully, to maintain their autonomous enclave, inaugurated after the Kuwait war and the "safe haven" afforded them by allied protection. The Shi'a are divided into bickering parties, factions, and militias, with various relations to Iran.

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Their bosses and leading families share in the bounty of state resources, while their vast constituencies remain poor and oppressed, lacking the basic services withheld in the massive diversion of funds into private accounts through inflated contracts and ghost projects. It was a deal between Kurds, confirmed in their ethnically based autonomy, and Shi'i parties aspiring to power in oil rich southern regions.

The Shi'ite parties also wrote theocratic provisions into the constitution, with vague provisions on legislation conforming to Islam.


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Unspecified Islam, interpreted by imposed religious authority, is a formula for arbitrary rule which mostly affects family and gender issues — the subject of another chapter. The Kurds, with proclaimed secularism, [End Page ] exempt their region from these religious impositions.