Many American leaders in both parties have hailed the election in Iraq as evidence democracy is succeeding in that land, and the war in Iraq has produced a beneficial outcome. There is no doubt being able to hold an election in Iraq demonstrates there have been changes but the more important question is the durability of what was achieved by having an election. Already, there are signs of a possible resurgence of violence between Sunni and Shiites in Iraq. Over the weekend, a prominent Suunni leader was celebrating the victory of the secular coalition led by Ayad Allawi when he was killed by a sniper. Yesterday, Sheikh Muhammad al-Mahalawi, another Sunni leader had his house blown up and several of his relatives died in the blast.
A successful birth of democracy requires both victor and defeated to come together and work for peace. However, in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose party was in power and organized the election process, is complaining of vote fraud because his secular opponent gained 91 seats to his 89. Had al-Maliki promised cooperation and support for the man who defeated him, it would have sent a message that democracy also means, your party loses elections. The failure of Maliki to behave in a democratic fashion suggests that democracy will have difficulty surviving in Iraq.