Amide an explosion in a school in Sadr City, the Shiaa outskirt of Baghdad. which killed8 children, the Iraqi Parliament, finally, approved, on Monday 12/07/2009, a new election law and paved the way for general election in Iraq in early 2010. The approval became possible after the Iraqi Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi withdrew his veto (see – IRAQ 09 Report).

It is yet not clear whether the events are connected and the school bombing was an initial warning sign to sectarian violence expected in the months to come as the election campaign will gear up. It is most likely that American pressure was behind the agreement between all parties and sects in the Iraqi Parliament over the new election law.

The last elections of 01/2006 were conducted under close international inspection and USA bayonets. The coming elections are, by large extent, an Iraqi enterprise putting to test the degree of assimilation of democratic values in the Iraqi society. Iraq is facing now four major tests.

The first test is Iraq’s ability to contain the violence in the country, typical to Iraq’s society, between sects, communities, parties, faith and tribal rivalries which are expected to erupt ahead of the elections.

The second test is the fairness of the elections themselves and the rate of participants in the procedure.

The third test is the acceptance of the outcome results, the number and quantity of fraud allegations, the substance of the allegations and the way they will be handled.

The fourth test is the ability of all parties to sit down, negotiate and agree on a platform and stable government. Would Iraq go through the tests ahead successfully it will stabilize the Middle East and contain, partially, the Iranian expanding threat. If Iraq will fail – it will substantially enhance tensions in the region and open the way for Iran to destabilize the region even more.
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