Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Iraq's Tyranny of the Majority

Council on Foreign Relations

May 9, 2007
Prepared by: Lionel Beehner

Iraqi Sunnis are feeling the pinch of what political scientists call “tyranny of the majority.” Efforts at national reconciliation have stalled (RFE/RL) over a series of constitutional demands made by Sunni leader Tariq al-Hashimi, whose minority party, the Iraq Accord Front, controls forty-four seats in parliament (Sunni Arabs comprise roughly 20 percent of Iraq’s population). He has called for a breakup of Iraq’s Shiite militias; a reversal of laws preventing former Baath Party members from taking government jobs; stronger constitutional language affirming the sanctity of the Iraqi state to avoid further decentralization; and a hydrocarbons law, explained in this new Backgrounder, which redistributes revenues more equitably. After a pair of meetings with Iraq’s president and prime minister, Hashimi appears to have backed away (CNN) from earlier threats to pull his bloc out of parliament if his demands go unmet.

Yet Iraqi leaders are running into political timetables in Washington. A growing number of congressional leaders are calling on the administration to set September as the deadline for Iraq to meet certain “benchmarks” on security and national reconciliation, a process outlined in this Backgrounder. Hence, the hue and cry over earlier news reports that Iraq’s parliamentarians had planned to take two months off this summer for vacation (they will only take one week off). Even still, Iraqi politicians will be hard-pressed to meet the deadlines set to revise the constitution and reach a power-sharing agreement.


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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.



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