, one of the most knowledgeable correspondents to report from Iraq, writes about political trends in Iraq's south
prior to the upcoming provincial elections. A couple lines sound especially positive to me.
Dawa has fashioned itself as political Islam's equivalent of a social democratic party, forgoing ideology for pragmatism and stressing nationalism over religion.
...Sunnis and Shiites who are more nationalist than religious.
I know nationalism creates its own dangers but the question of national identity and purpose are legitimate matters of public debate where religion is not. Still, the two will always mix in certain societies and cultures, so I always take some hope when people leave religious issues off the public table or look past them.
Even if religion remains an important part of a national identity, independent and pragmatic leaders are needed. Listen to one Iraqi:
"We'd like to vote for someone who doesn't have to put blast walls around his house," Tamimi said. Only independent candidates don't, he added -- technocrats and secular candidates, whom he termed intellectuals. Those people should rule, he insisted.
My one hope for Iraq has always been the Iraqi people, whom I have never doubted had the capability for self-government. Everything I've read and learned about Iraqi society in recent years tells me that they do know how to organize and maintain a government. I also know that they have many scores to settle from years of dictatorship and foreign intervention.