Thursday, November 27, 2008
The parliament of Iraq has approved the security agreement with the United States (various blog reactions here). It is the product of extended negotiations, both between the two governments and, on the Iraqi side, among the many factions on whom the government depends for support. The Iraqi government needed to campaign for the votes to ratify the agreement, and it was only able to secure its passage after having extracted concessions from the United States. The final concession was a requirement that the entire agreement be subjected to a national referendum, the effect of which would be to truncate its term by a year.
I confess that I have not studied the agreement or followed the details sufficiently to have a strong opinion about the substance of the deal. This much, though, seems clear: It is the product of a manifestly pluralistic, democratic negotiation. Is it possible even to imagine a similar process in any other Arab country?