Ever wonder what went on inside the Iraqi parliament last week as lawmakers tried to muster a quorum to vote on the much-needed provincial elections law?
Waleed Ibrahim provides an amazing behind-the-scenes look in the Reuters Global News Blog:
A Shi’ite lawmaker accused Sunnis of following a ‘foreign Arab agenda’. A Sunni accused the Shi’ites of pursuing a ‘foreign Iranian agenda’. Kurds branded their opponents ‘the remaining Baathists’ — Saddam’s party that ruled through fear.
It was never clear when a parliamentary session would start. Often deputies only managed to keep them going for a few minutes before they broke down. Most of the time lawmakers could not even agree to enter the chamber, meaning no quorum.
If one camp accepted a proposal, the other would reject it. If the second camp shifted its stance in favour, the first would then perform a U-turn — suspicious their rivals had spotted something in it that would give them an edge.
As an Iraqi reporter covering my country for Reuters since April 2003, I’ve seen this drama play out countless times, as lawmakers fashioned a new Iraq even as an insurgency raged outside the fortified Green Zone where parliament sits.
But my sense is that there has been no progress at all in building trust between rival political groups, with parties trapped in a cycle of obstruction and recrimination.