Katherine Blue Carroll
Dr. Carroll is an assistant professor of political science at Vanderbilt University.1
The "Arab Spring" has ushered in a new hopefulness about the potential for democracy in the Middle East. That the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen have been instigated and often organized by youth has particularly enthralled those in the West anxious to connect with a rising generation and heal the breach with the Arab world that has gaped so large in the post-9/11 era. But the prevalence of Arabs in their twenties and thirties among those sacrificing for democracy has also fed skepticism about the likely outcomes of these mass movements. Arab youth appear brave and genuinely democratic, but they are also lacking in political organization and experience. Writing in the Arab Reform Bulletin, Yemen Times editor Nadia Al Sakkaf points out the challenges facing the young activists of Change Square, echoing anxieties that are also often expressed about youth in other Arab countries:
The problem for Yemen's youth is that they had never exercised democracy in any true organizational sense before now. Except for a few activists, who are still divided among themselves on ideological and intellectual levels, the rest of the revolution's youth have no idea how to organize themselves or how to draft a political program. Thus they remain easy prey for experienced politicians, whether they are pro-regime or opposition.2
Should these young Arabs and their democratic allies achieve the competitive elections they demand, would they be able to prevail over those whose interests in democratic outcomes may be questionable or whose model of democracy may not be in line with that of the West, namely elements of the former regimes and some Islamists? This question more than any other has tempered Western optimism about the Arab Spring.
While the strength of former elites, the role of militaries and the actions of outside powers, among other factors, will influence the outcomes of the Arab Spring, the uprisings' effects will also depend on the goals and capabilities of young protestors. This gives rise to several questions. Will young activists be able to channel their energy and dedication into institution building? If the answer is yes, what should their institutional strategy be? Should they build grass-roots movements or political parties, or should they join existing parties and seek to change them from within? What obstacles will they face as they take on these tasks? How will their youth influence their strategic choices?
This article will broaden the context in which these issues are considered by presenting a case study of young, politically active Sunnis in Iraq's new democracy. It follows one political party led by relatively young Iraqis, the Iraqi National Tribal Grouping (INTG), from its formation through the post-parliamentary election period in spring 2010, focusing in particular on the party's strategy in approaching the provincial elections of January 2009.3 The INTG was established in February 2008 by Omar Al Jibouri, then a 39-year-old Sunni who had been previously active in the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), which is based on the model of the Muslim Brotherhood. The party's leadership is in its thirties and therefore much younger than that of other Sunni parties; and the party focuses part of its platform on the problems of Iraqi youth. Of course, the strategic choices and resources of young Arabs differ greatly from country to country, and the political environment in which young Iraqis operate — where democracy was imposed by foreign invaders — is very different from that in countries where political change was won by the efforts of youth on the street. However, answering the above questions for the INTG does offer insight into how age affects choices and obstacles encountered as young Arabs seek to enter a formal political process.
I conclude that the young Iraqis of the INTG chose to build their own party when the individual ambitions of their leaders were stymied within party organizations where seniority determined advancement. They were also determined to move away from the intense personalization of most Arab political parties. This impulse arose from several factors. First, in that they were not steeped in the Baathist tradition of party as personal vehicle, their youth led them to appreciate more institutionalized forms of party organization. Second, the INTG's leaders were comfortable soliciting Western advice in constructing their party and developing their political strategy, a factor that was in part a function of their relative youth and inexperience. Unlike many older Iraqi politicians, they were hopful about democracy and felt they had something to learn about democratic politics. Finally, and this factor is unrelated to age, the emergence of most INTG leaders from the IIP gave them an appreciation and a set of skills for building a party that existed independent from the individual personality of its leader. Significantly, while the INTG was determined to create a "real" (their word) political party with meaningful internal structures and functions that would be familiar to those in the West, they were also committed to using traditional methods of political mobilization, specifically tribal structures, in tandem with modern structures, to achieve their goals. This latter choice is best understood in light of the ideological role that tribalism played during 2009-10 in Iraq as a counterweight to sectarianism and an organic element in Iraqi nationalism. Ultimately, and for reasons I will discuss below, despite a great deal of enthusiasm and real effort, the INTG was not successful in challenging Iraq's entrenched structure of political elites. However, their efforts — and failure — can contribute to our understanding of the challenges facing young Arabs as they attempt to take on entrenched, older political elites.4
THE SUNNIS, 2009
Iraq held elections in January 2005 for its Transitional National Assembly, which finalized the constitution, and in December 2005 for its first Council of Representatives. Voting in both these elections was highly sectarian.5 Both Sunnis and Shia voted for parties headed by leaders from their own sects and advocating platforms that advanced issues that their sects specifically preferred. Nonsectarian parties won only 12 percent of the seats in the first parliament, largely through Ayad Allawi's secular, strong-state Iraqi National List, which secured 8 percent of the total seats. The same sectarian trend was evident in 2009. Despite a popular backlash against sectarianism expressed in polling and anecdotal accounts of the mood of the Iraqi electorate, party identity, voting and even coalitions continued to split along sectarian and ethnic lines. Of 15 coalitions registered in Baghdad in 2009, only five could be called nonsectarian — advancing issues that were unrelated to the concerns of a specific sect and, in most cases, having leaders of mixed sects. There were certainly also parties with credible claims to be nonsectarian, such as the Iraqi Communist Party or the Iraqi Constitution Party of Minister of the Interior Jawad Al Bolani, a secular Shia who ultimately allied with several Sunni parties in the March 2010 parliamentary elections. However, most parties were dominated by one sect or ethnicity, hanging their election posters in either Sunni or Shia areas of Baghdad's newly homogeneous (after the sectarian cleansing of 2006-07) neighborhoods. In identifying the parties discussed here as predominantly "Sunni" or "Shia," I refer to leadership and platform, but mostly to the widespread perceptions evident in 2009 among Iraqis about which parties were Sunni, Shia or nonsectarian.
The 2009 election for Iraq's Provincial Councils was a major step in Sunni integration into the political system.6 Sunnis had largely boycotted the January 2005 elections, and, while they did participate in the December 2005 elections, it was primarily as voters and not as party leaders or activists. Although turnout in December 2005 was 77.7 percent (with turnout in Sunni areas averaging above 80 percent) compared to 57.7 percent in January 2005, there were very few Sunni political parties.7 The main Sunni parties that participated in the December 2005 elections, their leaders and their number of seats won in the 275-seat parliament are as follows:
• Iraqi Islamic Party (Tariq Al Hashemi), 26
• General Council for the Iraqi People (Adnan Dulaimi), 11
• National Dialogue Council (Khalaf Ulayyan), 7
• Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, Al Hiwar (Salih Al Mutlak), 11
• Liberation and Reconciliation Bloc (Mishan Al Jibouri), 3
The first three parties in this list ran together as the Accordance Front coalition (Tawafuq), though other Sunni parties often worked with them in parliament, at least initially. Three other significant Sunni parties also ran in the 2005 elections, bringing the total to eight.8 In none of these parties did young Sunnis play a significant leadership role.
In 2009, for the first time, Sunni voters and parties participated enthusiastically. Indeed, the lead-up to the 2009 elections saw an explosion of both Sunni and Shia party creation.9 Shia party proliferation resulted from the decision of the main religious Shia parties (especially the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq [ISCI]) to run controlled splinter parties in an attempt to attract voters irritated with the dominant party's performance, as well as from diversity and factionalism within the Sadrist movement and from the desire of individual personalities to have parties of their own. Among Sunnis, instead of the approximately eight parties of 2005, there were 20 in the three main coalitions in Baghdad alone, with six additional Sunni parties in Baghdad running outside of a coalition and many others running only outside Baghdad.10 This proliferation reflected not only Sunni diversity and factionalism but also the entry of new groups into the political process. Realizing that the decision not to participate fully in 2005 was a mistake, and having had time to develop organizations, Sunnis from all persuasions threw themselves into the political process, especially through establishing new parties.
This new Sunni political landscape was dominated by parties that seemed to function primarily as personal vehicles for their leaders. There is a general consensus among scholars of Arab politics that political parties in the Arab world, especially outside the Islamist trend, have failed to contribute to democratization. Specifically, secular Arab parties have failed to develop routinized, effective structures and procedures linking citizens to the state, and they have failed to develop policy preferences and identities independent of those of their leaders.11 These shortcomings can best be described as a failure to institutionalize. There is ample evidence, past and present, of the absence of institutionalization and the predominance of personalization among the parties of the Arab world. Under the parliamentary system of 1924-58, Iraq's parties were centered on the personality and ambitions of one person and expired with that leader.12 (The exception was the Iraqi Communist party, which, in any case, was predominantly Shia. It was and still is both secular and highly institutionalized, and in the past served Iraq as a model of a modern political party.)13 The Iraqi Baath party, of course, became over time the creature of Saddam Hussein, as did the Syrian Communist party of the late Khalid Bakdash and the Fatah of Yassir Arafat. There is very little grass-roots involvement by most secular Lebanese political parties. The National Bloc and the Progressive Socialist party, for example, are family affairs consisting of "a fairly small group of individuals loyal to the powerful founder and leader."14 These parties and others like them are personal fiefdoms, run neither democratically nor collectively.15
This tendency toward personal ownership of secular Arab parties has led many to become "gerontocracies," whose aging leaders-for-life have lost touch with their constituencies.16 These older leaders are often, as Adeed Dawisha describes Iraq's political elites under the monarchy, "dismissive of youth." Today, as then, party membership confers access to personal benefits but not an opportunity to influence politics substantively, alienating young Iraqis who had new ideas, a willingness to take risks and a desire for real political change.17
With the exception of the INTG, which I discuss below, most secular Iraqi parties in 2009 that could be described as predominantly Sunni failed to break this mold. These parties could be placed in one of four political trends: 1) the U.S.-sponsored, anti-al-Qaeda Awakening militias and Iraqi tribalism (the Conference of the Iraq Awakening Movement); 2) the insurgency (such as the Independence and Awakening Movement and the National Front for the Liberation of Iraq); 3) national but specifically "Sunni" policy issues such as the fate of former Baathists and army officers and constitutional concessions to the Sunni community (the National Dialogue Council and the Iraqi People and Al Hiwar); and 4) Sunni Islam (the IIP).18 In all but the IIP (and perhaps some of the parties of the insurgency), personalistic forms of party organization were dominant. The parties did little to target and mobilize a broad base within the Sunni community, much less across sectarian lines, to gauge and aggregate public concerns and convey those to the state, to develop local leaders or to express and develop an ideology and identity independent of the leader's statements. Below I will describe the widespread failure to institutionalize among Sunni parties and then discuss the INTG's divergence and efforts to build party institutions.
Parties of the Sunni Awakening
The parties of the Awakening emerged in Anbar province, with the party of Sheikh Sattar Albu Risha at the forefront. This party, initially called Sahwa Al Iraq, later became the Awakening Conference, or Mutammar Sahwa Al Iraq (MSI). In Ramadi in 2006, Sheikh Sattar, in cooperation with the American military, established the first long-lasting tribal effort against al-Qaeda in Iraq. The group of sheikhs from which this effort emerged was called the Anbar Salvation Council, and it quickly turned its attention to politics, hoping to challenge the dominance on the Anbar Provincial Council of the detested (by Sheikh Sattar, especially) IIP. After Sheikh Sattar's death in 2006, his brother Sheikh Ahmad continued to lead the movement and MSI.
The parties of the Awakening groups did have a base in the Sunni population, which had benefited from the security and salaries these "neighborhood watch" groups brought to most areas. Awakening leaders had shown themselves ready to accept great sacrifices (many were killed by al-Qaeda in Iraq), able to deal successfully with the Americans, and willing to work with the government of Iraq to improve the lot of the Sunni community. However, rather than building independent party organizations to interact with voters, these parties relied heavily on existing tribal and Awakening group structures. (In part, this was necessary; in Anbar, the IIP controlled most of the state patronage that could have been channeled to party building.) The use of Awakening contractors and tribal sheikhs — two groups that overlapped more in Anbar than elsewhere — as intermediaries between the party and supporters did allow Awakening parties to build support quickly, but it also left them vulnerable to shifting political alliances and growing ambitions within these two groups.
Tribal sheikhs are theoretically equal to one another. Also, for structural reasons associated with the maintenance of tribal leadership, sheikhs must guard their own prestige. Thus, any primarily tribal party is vulnerable to the fragmentation that plagued MSI in the lead-up to the 2009 elections. Jealous of Rishawi dominance and antagonized by what they saw as Sheikh Ahmad's dictatorial nature, powerful sheikhs broke away from MSI to form their own parties, though they often remained willing to ally with MSI. The result was a profusion of Awakening parties.19 Fragmentation weakened institution building in Awakening parties and reinforced them as personal vehicles for tribal leaders.
The Sunni Insurgency
The proliferation of political parties by the Sunni insurgency in 2009 was an excellent sign that electoral competition was challenging violence as a preferred form of political expression in Iraq. Two insurgency parties, in particular, were active in Northwest Baghdad in the lead-up to the elections: the Independence and Awakening Party (Istiqlal wa Nahda), which was the party of the Islamic Army, and the National Front for the Liberation of Iraq (Al Ahrar), which emerged from the insurgent group the Salahiddin Victory Army. These parties seemed to have real institutional structures and identities and agendas that were developed independently of those of their leaders (understandable, as insurgent leaders died or disappeared into detention quite frequently). However, these parties had difficulty transforming militia institutions into party institutions. This was, in part, because of harassment — attacks, raids and arrests — by both the Iraqi Security Forces with their American allies and by al-Qaeda in Iraq. Justified or not, this harassment undermined party efforts to institutionalize.
Because of their origins in the insurgency, these parties' organizations were always especially vulnerable to disruption. For example, according to an Istiqlal wa Nahda spokesman, in the summer of 2008, just as the party was getting launched, its office in Baghdad was bombed by al-Qaeda in Iraq and then raided by the Iraqi Army. Although the party's leader, Dr. Amjad Kasab Al Jundil, remained free, other party leaders were held in American or Iraqi detention during the entire lead-up to the election.20
Al Ahrar had been established in May 2008. It had by 2009, according to its spokesmen, 46,000 members, most of them former insurgents but also including about 300 former Iraqi Army officers.21 Its organization, which was based on that of the Salahaddin Victory Army, included offices in 12 provinces, a head, a deputy, a Consultation Committee of 21 people, several issue-specific committees and a women's organization. The party also maintained a national office in Baghdad and a competent web presence. This is a significant organizational structure, but in discussing its functioning, party members acknowledged a need to build a new organization more focused on the task of competing in elections and representing voters than on building a base of support to resist American occupation. "We have no money to use on the media in the elections. We collected money from our members for rent, the website and other expenses. We are looking for a chance to see people — to build a base — but we are not sure how to do this without money."22 The Al Ahrar leader, Hamid Abd Muhammad Ajaj Al Jumayli (a.k.a. Abu Jalal Al Faluji) was detained by U.S. Marines but released before the elections. According to Al Ahrar activists, almost all their active members had been detained at least once, either by the United States or the Iraqis, and many were detained or in hiding during the campaign.
Such pressure meant that most of these parties' pre-election energy had to be devoted to protecting existing institutions and leaders and to convincing supporters just to participate in the political process. Few resources were left to invest in party building. Detentions of leaders and activists, in particular, were a distraction. According to the Istiqlal wa Nahda spokesman, detentions had split the Islamic Army into pro- and anti-political-participation factions. He also noted that the party "had a hard time recruiting good people to be candidates, because they were afraid of being targeted."23 Al Ahrar activists expressed a similar frustration:
Lots of fighters want to come in and join our party and talk to the Americans, but if we bring them here, you will arrest them, and then we will look like idiots. We had promises before from America that if we entered the political process some prisoners would be released, but instead they arrested the head of our party! We are still committed to having a party, but it is hard to convince people to join us because we can deliver nothing…. I don't understand Americans sometimes. If you are trying to get a girl to marry you, do you threaten her?24
The spokesmen for both the Al Ahrar and the Istiqlal wa Nahda acknowledged the need to create party structures to build and connect with a base in the Iraqi population outside of the insurgent groups from which each emerged. In part, political inexperience and distance from centers of power hampered these parties. But pressure from the Iraqi state and its military allies seemed primarily responsible for keeping these parties from making progress in institutionalizing.25
The Sunni Old Guard
No discussion of the Sunni political landscape would be complete without reference to the usual suspects: Adnan Dulaimi, former Islamic Studies Professor from the powerful Dulaimi tribe and head of the General Conference for the Iraqi People; Khalaf Ulayyan, former Iraqi army officer, tribal leader and head of the National Dialogue Council; and Salih Al Mutlak, former Baathist, outspoken anti-Iranian and head of Al Hiwar, the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue. Each of these leaders' parties participated in the December 2005 elections (all but Mutlak in coalition with the IIP), and all secured enough seats to assure some level of power in the Iraqi parliament. However, these politicians, all of whom I would estimate are between the ages of 60 and 75, seemed to treat their parties purely as personal vehicles, doing little or nothing to build party organizations. Their activities are focused on parliamentary politics, and none seemed willing or able to nurture local leaders or to openly expand the circle of decision makers beyond themselves.
Of these three, Mutlak was the strongest due to his nationalism, irreverent independence, and ability to maneuver on the street and in government. However, where Mutlak's appeal ended so did Al Hiwar. His primary mobilization tactic was the large rally, but he seemed to leave no effective structures in place in a locality to help or inform potential supporters. Throughout Northwest Baghdad there were offices for the IIP, the parties of the insurgency, the communist party and many Shia parties. Al Hiwar had an office in Northwest Baghdad, but the great majority of party business seemed to be conducted in hotel rooms inhabited by the party's top leaders in the International Zone and in Jordan.
These parties' failure to develop institutionally may have been a function of the personalities of their leaders, all of whom were active in the Baathist state and steeped in the Saddamist tradition of "party as individual vehicle" for most of their long lives. Adnan Dulaimi is getting quite elderly and infirm. Mutlak and Ulayyan are notoriously obstreperous and controlling. The same forces that drove them apart in 2005, namely a desire to lead their own political party, have kept them apart. Even luring Mutlak into a coalition for the provincial elections was difficult, given his demands for control and independence. Eventually he and Ulayyan were both brought into one that had already begun to form, the Iraqi National Project. As one young coalition insider described it, expressing a commonly held view,
It killed us to try to get Khalaf (Ulayyan) and Salih (Al Mutlak) to work together. They are hard to work with; they both want to be in charge of everything. To tell you the truth, I thought people would think that if we got those two to be in the same coalition and work together, then we could solve any problem in government!
The Iraqi National Project ended up as a grouping of "leftover" Sunni parties, many of which had been rejected from the Tawafuq coalition. Again, according to the young coalition insider,
The basis of our coalition is that we all care about Iraq, though each has his own view of how to improve Iraq. Well, the truth is that there is very little that we— the group of parties in our coalition — have in common. We want to fix the government; we are frustrated with it. Our coalition came together on the basis of personal relationships, friendships and family ties. Everyone has his own goal and idea.26
Mutlak was not able or willing to turn this coalition into the foundation for a broader party, though many in his coalition expressed a hope that he would. Coalition members who hoped for funding or a greater insight into Iraqi politics were disappointed. Neither did Mutlak participate in efforts to "brand" the coalition as a cohesive group (through symbols, for example). In fact, Iraqi National Project coalition members complained that, while a compelling symbol for the Iraqi National Project had been created — an umbrella in the colors of the Iraqi flag — Mutlak continued to print posters with images of himself alone.27 Rather than forge a larger party institution out of the disparate Sunnis of the Iraqi National Project, Mutlak appears to have chosen to maintain his individual strength as leverage to drive future political bargains.
Even the nonsectarian "old guard" party that appealed most to Sunnis, Ayad Allawi's Iraqi National Accord, Al Wifaaq, suffered from personalism and a dearth of party organizations. The party had a staff and members and published platforms, but in the lead-up to the 2009 elections it never built a significant institutional structure. Decision making and focus seemed centered on the person of Allawi. This was evident in interviews with party activists and American advisors who worked with the party, and it was also the view of former coalition members who split with him after 2005.28 In 2010 as well as in 2009, Iraqis were encouraged to vote for Allawi's list based on who Allawi was personally, a strong and experienced secular nationalist who was favored by the Americans and who could unify Sunni and Shia supporters. No party structure mediated between the leader and the electorate.
The Iraqi Islamic Party
Among "old guard" Sunni parties, only the IIP was developed as a true organization. Established in 1960 and modeled on the Muslim Brotherhood, the party shared the institution-building focus of that tradition, which includes the development of not only social-support institutions but also party structures.29
As an Islamist party, the IIP was also focused more on its Salafist-activist ideology than on the preferences of one specific leader. Like other parties originating in the Muslim Brotherhood, the IIP engaged in ongoing and real debate about the role of Islam in politics. The party sought to develop this ideology among a group of leaders, rather than to advance the interests of one particular person. Thus, while Tariq Al Hashemi was the party's figurehead and secretary general in 2009, the organization was not a Hashemi vehicle alone, as indicated by the fact that his May 2009 departure from the IIP weakened but did not destroy the party, which had other credible leaders ready to take over.
The IIP also developed institutions to serve social needs, a strategy through which it hoped to build a political base. Unlike Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the IIP in Baathist Iraq was never able to establish a foothold and build above-ground clinics, banks, schools, study groups, professional associations, etc. However, operating in exile did allow the organization to build some institutions, and after 2003, the party brought its belief in institution building and existing organizational structure and leadership group back to Iraq.
Early participation in Iraq's political processes also provided the IIP with more opportunities to build party institutions as a result of insider knowledge of government and access to state funds. Former IIP leader Dr. Muhsin Abdel Hamid was on the Coalition Provisional Authority's body of local leaders, the Iraqi Governing Council. The IIP pulled out of the January 2005 elections at the last minute but did run in some of the provincial races held that day. In December 2005, the IIP competed as the dominant member of Tawafuq, which won 15 percent of the seats in Iraq's first parliament. By 2008, the IIP operated throughout northwest Baghdad from mosques, clinics, media stations and offices.
The IIP's Salafist-activist character, relatively long history and early participation in Iraqi politics gave it a head start on other Sunni parties in terms of institutionalization. Unlike the other parties of the Sunni "old guard," the IIP has local leadership supported by the center, a strong fundraising machine, and a core of professionals and intellectuals who regularly interact with and reconceptualize the organization's ideology. This institutional, rather than personal, focus was initially very appealing to many young Sunni politicians, as this quote about the Sunni political dilemma after 2003 reveals:
In 2003 the Sunnis didn't know what to do to get into politics. All they knew was the Baath party. They didn't know how to create a party, or how to reach people, or how to talk about politics. The whole situation was new and confusing, and no one had ever done this before. Most people were just stuck between al-Qaeda and Coalition Forces. They didn't know how to get involved safely with the Americans, so they just sat there waiting to see what would happen. They needed some leadership. If the government is against me, and I turn against al-Qaeda, where do I turn for help? The Sunnis looked for some safety and support, and the IIP was there to give it to them. For me, the first time I ever heard about the IIP was in 2003. You just had to make a choice at that time — you needed to work with someone in Baghdad. We didn't have the luxury of choosing supporters who were not active on the ground, because then we would have been out there alone.30
"Active on the ground" refers not only to the social institutions that the IIP quickly established in post-2003 Baghdad, but also to its influence over militias that could both defend and avenge the Sunni community against the Mahdi Army and other forces. Again, the young Sunni political activist commented on the choice of the IIP versus other Sunni options, namely the more personalistic parties of Mutlak, Allawi, Dulaimi and Ulayyan:
Which way are you going to go? It depends on your own history, of course, but you have this set of guys — old guys — and you have a party, the IIP. The party is also a group of old guys, and that's a problem too because they really favor those who have been with them a long time. They are not interested in letting younger people advance in the party. However, it is a party, and it can change more than, say, Salih Al Mutlak can change. It has an organization and it has a history and it is organized and it is in power…. Sunnis are upset with the IIP because they kept maybe 40 percent of their promises, but regardless of what people think of them right now these are stronger things than the other parties have.31
The IIP appealed to many young Sunnis because it alone was an institutionalized party, though it also had shortcomings. First, it was dominated by not one, but a group of longstanding members, and it would take ambitious young activists years to rise up through the ranks of party activists to a leadership position. Second, it was viewed as sectarian by the population and, as such, held responsible for violence. Third, the IIP had made some poor patronage and leadership decisions, angering many Sunnis. Finally, the party was associated with the failures of Iraq's early government. Both the ideology and reputation of the IIP limited its appeal beyond the Sunni community, precluding the construction of a cross-sectarian party that could fulfill both those young politicians' ambitions and their genuine sense of what was best for Iraq. The stage was set for a group of young Sunnis to create a political party modeled on the IIP but without its limitations.32
SHEIKH OMAR AND THE INTG
Omar Hichal Hamad Al Jibouri ("Sheikh Omar") is the son of the sheikh of the section of the powerful Jibouri tribe based in Arab Jabour, a rural area just south of Baghdad. The tribe was deeply involved in the Baathist state, but, by the time of the invasion, Sheikh Omar's section had been alienated from the regime and his own assets confiscated. In 2003 he was 35, with a degree in education and Islamic science, an M.A. in educational science and psychology and a job as a volunteer teacher in the schools and youth-group leader in small, local mosques. A physically compelling and keenly intelligent man with a natural gift for oration (honed in both tribal politics and Islamic college), Sheikh Omar was well placed for tribal leadership. Despite his alienation from the Baathist state, in 2003 he resisted both the Americans and, eventually, the Shia militias attacking Sunnis in Southwest Baghdad. His participation in the sectarian battles of 2005-07 is rumored to have been both brutal and indiscriminate.
By 2006, however, Sheikh Omar was desperate. Many older, frail, but important members of his family had been detained by the Americans, and their immediate family members were concerned that they would die in custody. They pressed Sheikh Omar to take action. This led to his first nonviolent contacts with Americans, a dialogue that developed into personal relationships that would put him at the forefront of Sunni reconciliationists in Baghdad. His cooperation with the Americans not only involved perilous action against members of al-Qaeda in Iraq (often from his own family), but also required him to cease, at least openly, his fight against the new Iraqi state. He became active in the IIP as a Hashemi advisor and the head of the party's Human Rights Office, visiting prisons and documenting the torture of Sunnis in state institutions. He stayed in this role, unable to rise up in the lists for parliamentary seats because the IIP promoted on the basis of seniority in years with the party. Moved from the insurgency to politics by both pragmatism and the personal relationships he had developed with American officers, Sheikh Omar acquired an overwhelming ambition that, in Iraq's new political environment, could take root but not flourish in the old-boys' network of the sectarian IIP.
In early 2008, Sheikh Omar decided to leave the IIP and start his own party.33 He had become involved in a small committee of sheikhs emerging from the 800 or so who had been working with the IIP on security in Baghdad, but who had begun to feel that their interests, power base and identity diverged from those of the IIP, which had favored longtime activists over tribal leaders.34 More significantly, by 2008, nationalism and tribalism had become more appealing political ideologies than Islam, both to average Iraqis and to those with ambitions to develop cross-sectarian political movements. The appeal of nationalism is obvious, and tribalism was increasingly viewed by Iraqis as a nonsectarian but authentically "Iraqi" ideology (most large Iraqi tribes, especially the Jibouri, are of mixed sect). The committee decided that the combination of tribalism and nationalism was a recipe for political success and that their accomplishments in security and good relations with the Americans could be leveraged into political strength.35
At its first formal meeting, on June 6, 2008, the INTG announced its structure, strategy and platform:
• Achieving Iraq's independence and maintaining noninterference in the affairs of neighboring countries
• Preserving the country's security
• Maintaining national unity and renouncing racism and sectarianism
• Building a legal structure and constitutional institutions.
In the Arabic press, Sheikh Omar announced the group's goals as building state institutions and advancing reconciliation.36 While the party openly stated that it sought to "regain the Islamic identity of Iraq," the character of that Islam was unspecified. Sheikh Omar's history and the INTG's ties to the IIP, especially the 2009 coalition with the IIP in Tawafuq, led many Iraqis to see it as that party's stealth arm. But party leaders argued persuasively that their split with the IIP was both real and ideological. The party insisted it was nonsectarian and was working to reach out to Shia, especially through tribal leadership in the south.37
While tribal leaders were early supporters of the INTG, it quickly became clear that the party itself would be run by men in their thirties. The INTG leadership consisted of approximately 38 individuals, few if any of whom appeared to be over forty years old. Working closely with this inner circle were activists in their twenties with specific roles to play in the organization (media development, technology, etc.).
Building the INTG Institution
In the lead-up to the 2009 Provincial Election, the party appeared to work much harder than other Sunni parties to construct a real, decentralized institutional structure, to develop party activists as effective local leaders and decision-makers, and to channel information to and from supporters.
The INTG was not a mass-based party with a cadre and supporters in the population. Rather, it organized a member's council with, according to party leaders, some 400 members by fall 2008. The party also set up a network of regional councils with members elected by local supporters. This effort at organized decentralization was rare in the Sunni community. INTG leaders stressed that they would get "local people to be in charge in local areas. You need the right person in the right place. This is a good way to be successful and to get people to fight for their areas." The party saw one of the main failures of the IIP as not having considered geographic representation when choosing its candidates, a mistake the INTG would seek to avoid.38
The party also organized itself across the three types of supporters it sought to mobilize — women, tribes and youth — correctly perceiving these voters as still "in play." The INTG's functional organization had committees dealing with elections, relief for the poor, political strategy, finance, and activist training and development. INTG party institutions differed from those of, for example, the insurgency parties in that they were explicitly focused on developing the party as an institution rather than merely educating or helping members. Nonetheless, in the model of the Muslim Brotherhood, the INTG also sought to provide what social services it could to potential supporters. For example, party members worked (unsuccessfully) to convince the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide the party with money to support poor women through sewing industries and other means of earning a living, provided lawyers to individuals in detention, and distributed some grants to widows and orphans.39
The INTG also relied on tribal structures to mobilize support, meeting with tribal leaders and stressing the importance of tribalism in its ideology. With limited financial resources and no leader already in power, they would have been foolish to pass up the easy opportunity that mobilizing through tribes represented. But this mobilization differed from, for example, that of the parties of the Awakening, in that the party also worked to construct explicitly party organizations and practices. As one party activist stated: "We are uniting modern campaigning and reaching out to tribes and doing services, which is a different way to reach people. We want to learn to do all, and we have to."40
The party's strategic choices were not simply imposed by Sheikh Omar on the organization. Rather, the 38 individuals in the INTG leadership group all appeared to be consulted extensively in making major decisions. A smaller unit within this group was in constant contact, debating each strategic choice the party faced. Sheikh Omar and other leaders consistently sought input into decisions from those outside the party as well, especially from Americans and other Iraqi politicians. The INTG leadership also integrated members into decision-making through large party conferences at which, unlike at rallies, information flowed from supporters to leaders and vice versa. At the party's second conference, on September 27, 2008, with perhaps 1,000 people present, a vote was held on the party's decision to ally with the IIP in Tawafuq for the provincial elections. In his speech at this rally, Sheikh Omar stated that in the past, tribal gatherings had been used to forward the agendas of specific individuals (a jab at the Awakening parties), but that it was time for a tribal party to work for the good of the nation as a whole. He then stressed that the nature of decision making within the party would be largely based on consensus, in keeping with tribal practices. That, he insisted, was why everyone had been brought together:
We are not doing this in the name of a sheikh or a leader; we are doing this based on consensus. We are working with the law and the constitution. Thank you for your trust. From the beginning we studied and discussed all this with the government. The leadership of the party discussed with the party council, and we want a consensus on everything. We sat and discussed everything clearly with all centers and branches of the party. We are working today to make the final decision about whether to be part of Tawafuq.41
Sheikh Omar explained to the group that the decision to join Tawafuq was a pragmatic one and promised that the party would maintain its independence both in the Provincial Councils and afterward. The alliance would bring the benefits of official recognition as well as access to funds and the IIP's experience in politics, the media, administration, economics and education. The key was not to fade into obscurity in the party's first election, and an alliance with the IIP seemed the best way to guarantee a good initial showing. In short, alliance with the IIP would provide the resources needed to survive and continue institutionalizing the party.42 It would also prevent the INTG from being dominated in another coalition by an individual leader.
The vote at the INTG rally was clearly in favor of joining Tawafuq, but there was not full consensus. This upset party leaders at first, but after some reflection, they concluded that the lack of unanimity was a learning experience in party development and a sign of the INTG's independence from central control by the leader: "It showed that there is room for dissent in our party, and that we are fine with that."43
A Party Independent of the Leader?
During the provincial election season, Tawafuq posters throughout Baghdad featured enormous photos of either Tariq Al Hashemi or Sheikh Omar, illustrating the IIP-INTG alliance that formed the basis of Tawafuq — though neither man was a candidate in the elections. These posters showed that the party was indeed tied closely to the person of Sheikh Omar. Most major-party posters featured pictures of party leaders, and some Iraqis expected this. Many interpreted it in part as a sign of leaders' taking personal responsibility for the actions of their parties rather than, necessarily, an indication that those men dominated the parties. Few supporters of the IIP, for example, felt that it was overwhelmingly dominated by Hashemi. The Tawafuq website was a window into other efforts to brand the coalition beyond the identities of the leaders of its two major parties. It offered photos of and information about all the candidates on the coalition list, a sign not only of technological savvy on the part of the young activists of the INTG, but also of investment in candidates as key party players. Moreover, Tawafuq candidates had their own promotional materials, the costs of which were defrayed by the IIP.
The electoral system for the provincial elections, a hybrid open-list system, allowed voters to choose either existing party lists or individual candidates from within lists. This required complicated campaigning, as candidates had to promote both their list's ballot number as well as their own. By establishing a strong brand through the use of songs, symbols and colors, the Tawafuq coalition helped candidates highlight themselves while also easily promoting the coalition in their campaign materials.
The INTG also branded itself as an entity independent of Sheikh Omar, creating posters, notebooks and other materials showing INTG symbols rather than images of the leader. Most political party symbols featured images of the state and flag, along with symbols referring to tribalism, reconstruction, justice or strength. The INTG's logo featured the flag and the outline of Iraq with symbols of tribal heritage. Promotional posters featured the party logo and group images of party members (mostly in tribal robes) with Sheikh Omar presented as a member of the group, at the front in the group shots, but in no INTG product that I saw was his image shown alone or larger than those of the others present. By depicting the leader as embedded in the group, the INTG reflects the traditional notion of a tribal leader as first among equals. Party activists stressed that their depictions of Sheikh Omar represented a conscious decision to illustrate to supporters that he was the leader of the party but that it was not his party. This stood in contrast to many other parties, whose activists often insisted that I meet only with their party leader, since, they said quite freely, "this is his party and only he can really tell you where it stands and why."44
A Willingness to Learn
Like many other parties without strong Iranian support, the INTG was disappointed that the United States only offered political parties training by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).45 However, party leaders took the fullest possible advantage of these offerings — far more than any other party — in order to develop their activists. In the lead-up to the 2009 elections, the NDI "Campaign Development Series" covered "research, drafting a campaign plan, identifying issues, targeting voters, message development, message delivery methods, candidate training, and get-out-the-vote and party agent training."46 IRI trained tribes in political methods, but also helped Iraq's parties "develop internal democratic mechanisms, issue-based platforms, and institutions, laws and procedures that promote open and transparent elections,…organization building, platform development, public communications, coalition building and campaigning for elective office."47 The INTG pressed both these organizations so hard to get its activists into training that one IRI employee said they had been forced to put on a special session just for the INTG in response to the demand.48 The party also had a committee on "training and development" of party activists, illustrating a willingness to build an organization from the ground up that moved power away from the center.
This openness to advice on party building and strategy was also evident in Sheikh Omar's personal approach to his dealings with non-Iraqis in all roles, whether political, military, aid-based or others. His statement below to an American colonel at a dinner gathering held after the 2009 elections nicely illustrates his political skills (including that of flattery), but also what I observed to be true throughout my dealings with the party leadership, an intense desire to gather information about democratic politics from all possible sources:
I learned a lot about politics from the U.S. military. They taught me about cooperation between military and civilian authorities, about not solving your problems in the media or in front of people but behind the scenes. I grew up in a village, and the first thing that I learned to do was use a weapon, and for a long time I thought this was the most important thing. But I learned from American brigade commanders that this is the least important tool you have. All these brigade commanders have gray hair, and I found out that it was because one minute they were learning that one of their soldiers had been killed and the next minute they had to sit calmly and talk to me, or some other community leader. I learned from NDI and IRI — but especially from IRI because they included the tribal side of things. I started working with NDI in 2005, and I really learned a lot.
Since at this point the INTG had just done poorly in the 2009 elections, Sheikh Omar went on to say, "I learned something from John McCain, too. When I lost, I conceded immediately and offered my congratulations."49
Explaining the INTG
Why did the INTG work to build an institutionalized party when many other Sunni groups either failed or appeared not to try? First, the INTG was more distant from the Sunni insurgency than the Istiqlal wa Nahda and the Al Ahrar, and it enjoyed the support of Sunni political elites active in the state. These factors gave the party the space and resources needed to engage in party building.50 Other young Sunnis also wanted to build parties, but they were farther from the circles of power that would have facilitated their efforts. Second, the INTG was strongly influenced by American ideas of how political parties should be structured, as conveyed through NDI and IRI. Finally, it is crucial that the INTG emerged from the IIP. Not only Sheikh Omar, but many other INTG leaders as well had been active in the IIP prior to 2008. They consistently stated that, while they were no longer comfortable with the IIP ideologically, they admired the IIP for the fact that it was a real party and that it built institutions to reach out to people.
While these elements all play a role in explaining the party's focus on institution building and learning from outsiders, I believe the relatively young age of the INTG leaders, especially Sheikh Omar and his inner circle, plays the key role. The party leaders themselves recognized this characteristic, remarking after the provincial elections, "The old guys in the IIP were surprised by us ‘shabab.' We beat them — winning four of the seven seats in Baghdad."51 The INTG leaders' age meant that at the time of the American invasion, these young Sunnis were not so steeped as their elders in the Saddamist-Baathist notion of what a political party was. Their youth made them more open to receiving advice from the West as well. They also saw a move away from personalization in parties as key to their own ability to ascend in the world of politics, where elderly party leaders had previously blocked their rise. This generational split within Arab parties has also been evident in Egypt. In the Islamist movement as well as parties of the secular opposition, "paralyzing disputes erupted between hoary party elders and restless middle-aged activists with a fundamentally different vision of how to play the electoral and regime games."52 In all, the INTG did not totally break the mold of personalism that characterizes secular politics in the Arab world, but this party of young people made a real attempt to graft the structures of a hybrid Western-Islamist party onto a nationalist-tribal ideological base. They were, however, ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts, for reasons that shed light on the challenges that young people entering politics face throughout the Arab world.
The INTG at the Polls
In 2009, more than 2,300 candidates vied for 57 seats on Baghdad's Provincial Council. The election results were an overwhelming win for Prime Minister Maliki's "State of Law" coalition, which secured 28 seats. Tawafuq was the next largest winner in Baghdad, with seven seats, followed by the Sadrist coalition with five, Allawi's Iraqi National List with five, Mutlak's Iraqi National Project with four, and the ISCI list and Jaafari's National Reform Party with three seats each.
Tawafuq and the INTG considered these results disappointing, but the INTG activists found a bright side. They had driven a hard bargain with the IIP in exchange for their membership in the Tawafuq coalition, demanding half of the seats overall, including the first four on the list, and equal billing for Sheikh Omar and Tariq Al Hashemi in the media. Voters had advanced some INTG candidates in the open-list system, and four out of the seven Tawafuq winners were INTG.53 The woman who had received the most votes in the INTG and a seat on the Provincial Council was from a rural area and had done quite well, a fact of which the party was proud.54 The elections had allowed the INTG to measure its strength, served as a training ground, and kept it on the political map — all good outcomes.
In keeping with its commitment to group decision making and institution building, five days after the 2009 election, the INTG held a meeting with representatives from 15 provinces to review what had happened and to make future plans. An unelected INTG candidate remarked:
After the election, the INTG leaders and candidates had to write a document on the lessons we learned and what we could do better next time. Some of the things I wrote were that I was not close enough to people. We thought it was enough to work for people, but in fact not a lot of people knew about the work we were doing for them. Also, we thought people knew about us — as individuals and our party — but they didn't.…We lost a lot of money on the media too — we just spent too much…. The key thing we learned for the future is that you have to serve people first, and then, when they know what you did, they will elect you.55
After some soul-searching, the INTG returned to the business of building the party. Compare this to Mutlak, who merely shed his coalition partners and looked for an ally to reinforce his nationalist credentials without blocking his personal ambition. Immediately after the elections, he announced an alliance with the Sadrist party Fadilah, which had been weakened by poor results. This alliance was eventually abandoned for one with Allawi in advance of the March 2010 parliamentary elections.
The INTG's disappointment continued with the announcement of the March 2010 parliamentary election results which, when they were certified, revealed a triumph of the old guard, though not of the INTG's ally, the IIP. The Iraqiyyah alliance between Mutlak and Allawi's parties, which challenged Prime Minister Maliki's State of Law coalition for control of the government, won 91 seats to State of Law's 89 in the now 325-member parliament. Tawafuq secured only six seats — two in Anbar, one in Mosul, two in Salahiddin and one in Baghdad — none of which went to INTG candidates. Upon the death of an IIP parliamentarian, Sheikh Omar briefly held a seat in parliament prior to the elections (his name was next in line for an open spot in a list that pre-dated the INTG's creation), but he was not elected in March 2010.
The institution-building strategy and the appeal to tribalism, youth and women, it seemed, had not paid off. Iraqis were attracted to Allawi's strong-state message. Iraq was in crisis, and this was not the time to risk putting untested young people in control. The INTG also suffered from widespread frustration with the IIP stemming both from the Sunni community's desire to move away from sectarianism and religious parties as well as the IIP's blatant nepotism.
The real question of interest is whether young INTG party leaders interpreted the results of the 2010 parliamentary elections as a lesson that spending time and energy on party building was not worthwhile. The tentative, early answer to these questions seems to be that the party is undeterred in its strategy of party institutionalization, which it understands to be long term. Despite its poor showing in 2010, INTG activists continued after the election to express enthusiasm for building a decentralized party that involves a broad array of members and activists in decision making and that has a strong structure geared to providing social services and mobilizing voters through specific political-party structures. Activists I contacted reminded me that the party still has a chance to prove itself, especially in Baghdad, through a good performance in the Provincial Council, where it has four out of 57 seats. In the words of the party's deputy, Hammad Khalaf, "Now we in the INTG are working hard to develop our plan for the next four years. It will focus on public relations, media and professional training for our team."56 If you look "deep into the formation" of the parties that did well in 2010, another INTG activist pointed out, "you will see that they have no national agenda and are not organized. They are hollow."57
THE INTG AND THE ARAB SPRING
By the time of Iraq's provincial elections, few Sunni parties had made the same self-conscious efforts to institutionalize that the leaders of the INTG were undertaking. Only the IIP with its focus on the activist and highly institutionalized Muslim Brotherhood, its years in exile, its access to state funds, and its longstanding ideological identity could have been truly called an institutionalized Sunni party in 2009. The INTG's relatively greater focus on building an institutionalized party can be explained in part by its emergence from the IIP, but also by the age of the party's leaders. These relatively young politicians had a view of what a political party should be that united both Western and Islamist views of the importance of institution building.
In certain respects, the INTG's experience does not bode well for the prospects of the young democrats of Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen. The party's electoral failure may have resulted in part from Iraqis' desire, in times of crisis, to fall back on those who are older or have more experience. Again, however, the INTG did not have the credibility that those other young democrats had gained on the streets and indeed suffered from a perception of Sheikh Omar as self-aggrandizing. The choice to create their own political party may not have led to great immediate victories, but it did provide an excellent learning experience for the group, and their poor electoral showing does not appear to have distracted them from the intention to build their own "real" political party. However, the INTG's experience does suggest that youth interested in creating political parties and other institutions would benefit from cooperation with those who have significant political and organizational experience (such as the young Islamists, or former Islamists, of the Wasat party in Egypt). The INTG's experience also suggests that, despite such frustrations with the United States as those expressed by the Egyptian 25 January Revolution Youth Coalition, who boycotted a March 2011 meeting with Hillary Clinton, America should move forward with its current plans to offer more intense assistance in political institution building through NDI and IRI, at least.58 Some groups may choose to take advantage of this, and the evidence from Iraq suggests that it is valuable and encouraging to youth.
In all, the experience of the INTG is a hopeful one for Iraqi democracy. This young and politically ambitious group of men (a few women were involved in the INTG but were not a consistent presence in the leadership circle) appear committed to building a modern party, and thus far they have maintained that commitment despite serious setbacks. Their political strategy was well thought out and flexible, and it showed a high degree of pragmatism in the face of obstacles. If they can maintain their dedication to democratic procedures and focus on institution building and enthusiasm, they will offer an important ongoing alternative to Iraq's aging elite.
1 I wish to thank Brigadier General Bill Hickman and Colonel Joe Martin, as well as the soldiers of the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division and of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division for their support in conducting this research. Thanks also to William Quandt for his comments on an earlier draft.
2 "The Politicization of Yemen's Youth Revolution," Arab Reform Bulletin, April 27, 2011, accessed May 23, 2011, http://www.carnegieendowment.org/arb/?fa=show&article=43735.
3 The examination only of a predominantly Sunni party is admittedly problematic for drawing conclusions about Iraqi youth and politics in general. The focus stems from the limitations on my opportunities for research, predominantly. However, I am also convinced that Sunni integration, through parties, into the Iraqi political system was, in 2009, critical to the survival of Iraqi democracy. This was especially true for youth who might be particularly willing to challenge the system through violence. A focus on young Sunnis also reveals more about creating an institutionalized party under the current conditions in Iraq. Many of Iraq's Shia parties developed substantial institutional structures (for building a base, accessing the media, etc.) either during exile (Dawa and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq [ISCI]) or within Iraq under the thumb of the former regime (the parties of the Sadrist trend). Sunnis, by their own admission, are playing "catch up" in learning party building in a democracy, making their efforts a distinct and interesting measure of the current Iraqi political environment.
4 These conclusions are drawn largely from approximately six months of field research conducted in Baghdad in the lead-up to the 2009 Provincial Elections, including approximately 50 interviews with Iraqis involved in politics at all levels. Although American soldiers were not present during the majority of my interviews, when I did them I was a member of one of the U.S. Army's Human Terrain Teams. These teams provide combat brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan with help in taking the social, political, and cultural environment into account in military decision-making. The Iraqis I interviewed for this article understood that I would be drawing on their responses to advise the military and in future academic writing. However, because these interviews were conducted during wartime, I have chosen not to identify most of those Iraqis I spoke with by name.
5 Adeed Dawisha and Larry Diamond, "Iraq's Year of Voting Dangerously," Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, No. 2 (2006): 100. According to Dawisha and Diamond, Kurds voted overwhelmingly for Kurdish parties, Sunni parties received 88 percent of the vote in Sunni areas, and Shiite parties received 86 percent of the vote in Shia areas. Election results also tracked ethno-sectarian breakdowns in mixed provinces.
6 Only 14 of the 18 provinces held elections in 2009. Elections in those provinces with substantial Kurdish populations were postponed until 2010.
7 Turnout figures are from The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), "Council of Representatives Election Composite Report Iraq: Final Report," December 15, 2005, 1, accessed November 10, 2009, http://www.ifes.org/~/media/Files/Publications/Project%20Report/2005/28….
8 I am not including Allawi's Al-Wifaq in this number, although by 2009 the party, though secular, appealed most strongly to Sunnis, as Iraqis repeatedly stressed in interviews. This was borne out in the result of the March 2010 parliamentary elections in which Iraqiyyah did not do well among Shia outside of elites in urban centers. In the nine predominantly Shia provinces of Babil, Basra, Dhi Qar, Najaf, Karbala, Maysan, Muthanna, Qadissiya and Wasit, Allawi's list won only twelve of 119 seats. Haider Ala Hamoudi, "Identitarian Violence and Identitarian Politics: Elections and Governance in Iraq," Harvard International Law Journal Online, Vol. 51, No. 78 (2010): 83.
9 More than three-quarters of the parties and individuals registered for the 2009 elections did not exist in 2005. J. Scott Carpenter and Michael Knight, "Provincial Elections Kick Off Iraq's Year of Choices," Washington Institute for Near East Policy PolicyWatch #1464, January 26, 2009, accessed November 12, 2009, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05.php?CID=2998.
10 Those six main Sunni parties outside coalitions are the National Independence Movement, the National Front for the Liberation of Iraq, the Iraqi National Council of Commons, the Group of Scholars and Intelligentsia of Iraq, the Movement for the Sons of Mesopotamia and the Islamic Movement of Iraq.
11 These failures have been extensively investigated. Ellen Lust-Okar, for example, concludes that "whether measured by the parties' success at the polls, their ability to mobilize the masses in the streets, or their success in establishing media outlets," the linkages between Jordanian parties (and here she refers to Islamist as well as secular parties) and citizens appear weak, much to the detriment of democratic development. "The Decline of Jordanian Political Parties: Myth or Reality?" International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2001): 546. Ottoway and Riley argue that Morocco's secular parties — the Istiqlal and Union Socialiste des Forces Populaires — have real but "fossilized" structures. Progress towards democratization requires internal party reforms such as convening regularly scheduled congresses and renewing party leadership through elections of new officers. Democracy Challenged: The Rise of Semi-Authoritarianism (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003), 48. According to Jeremy Jones, "For many analysts of the politics of the Middle East, the relative absence of effective political parties…appears to be a substantial obstacle to the development of sustainable democratic institutions." Negotiating Change: The New Politics of the Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2007), 83.
12 Adeed Dawisha, Iraq: A Political History from Independence to Occupation (Princeton University Press, 2009), 61-62.
13 Tariq Ismael, The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party of Iraq (Cambridge University Press, 2008), 318.
14 Jones, 109.
15 Asad Abukhalil, "Change and Democratisation in the Arab World: The Role of Political Parties," Third World Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 1 (1997): 153-154.
16 Ottoway and Riley, 48.
17 Dawisha, 150.
18 Adnan Dulaimi's General Council for the Iraqi People presented a blend of Sunni Islam and Sunni policy issues.
19 These included, but were not limited to: the National Independents Grouping (Kamal Turki Al-Kubaysi); the Iraqi Ambition Party (Sheikh Abd Al-Jabbar Al-Fahdawi); the National Front for the Salvation of Iraq (Sheikh Ali Hatim Al-Sulaiman Al-Dulaymi), the Anbar Salvation Council (Hamid Al-Hayyis), the National Justice Movement (Muayyid Ibrahim Hamadi Al-Thiayabi) and the Iraqi Popular Front (Sheikh Wissam Ibrahim Al-Aethawi).
20 Interviews by author, Baghdad, November 2008 and February 2009.
21 The information in this section comes from the Al-Ahrar website, accessed November 23, 2008, http://www.alahrar.com. Interview with Al-Ahrar activists, Baghdad, November 2008 and January 2009.
22 Interview by author, Baghdad, November 2008.
24 Interview by author, Baghdad, January 2009.
25 In the end the Al-Ahrar ran outside of a coalition and received no seats on the Baghdad Provincial Council, while the Istiqlal wa Nahda ran in the Iraqi National Project in Baghdad (Salih Al-Mutlak's coalition) and secured two seats.
26 Interview by author, Baghdad, March 2009.
27 Interview by author, Baghdad, February 2009.
28 Interview with former Allawi coalition member, Baghdad, October 2008 (all but one 2005 coalition member split from Allawi in 2009); Interviews with members of Allawi's party, Baghdad, August 2008; Also, discussion with American party advisor, Baghdad, October 2008.
29 Quintan Wiktorowicz, ed., Islamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach (Indiana University Press, 2004); and Richard P. Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers (Oxford University Press, 1993).
30 Interview with author, Baghdad, March 2009.
32 Interview with author, Baghdad, November 2008.
33 Nominally the INTG was headed by the top sheikh of Sheikh Omar's tribe, Umar Hayjal Hamad Shabib Al-Jiburi. However, this was merely a nod to tribal practices: Sheikh Omar was the party's true leader.
34 "Provincial Elections Guide," Open Source Center, January 21, 2009, 35, accessed November 6, 2009, http://www.fas.org/irp/dni/osc/iraq-elections.pdf.
35 Interviews with INTG activists and Sheikh Omar, Baghdad, fall 2008 and spring 2009.
36 "Elections Guide," Open Source Center, 35.
37 Interview by author, Baghdad, October 2008.
38 Interview by author, Baghdad, August 2008.
39 INTG activist, email to author, July 30, 2010; and a meeting between INTG leaders and USAID, author's notes, September 2008.
40 Interview by author, Baghdad, February 2009.
41 I was present at this rally. Thanks go to the soldiers of the 2-101st Brigade for providing my security and to Adele Elsadder for simultaneous translation.
42 According to one party member, a week after making the alliance with the IIP in Tawafuq, the INTG tried to get out of it because the IIP was not keeping its promises about seat allocation. However, the Iraqi electoral body in charge of coalition lists (IHEC) would not permit this. Interview by author, Baghdad, March 2009.
43 Phone conversation with INTG leaders, Baghdad, September 2008.
44 Interview by author, Baghdad, August 2008.
45 USAID channels its party assistance in Iraq through IRI and NDI.
46 "Iraq," National Democratic Institute, accessed November 12, 2009, http://www.ndi.org/iraq#PoliticalPartyStrengthening.
47 "Iraq," International Republican Institute, accessed November 12, 2009, http://www.iri.org/countries-and-programs/middle-east-and-north-africa/….
48 Conversation with author, Baghdad, October 2008.
49 Conversation among Sheikh Omar, Col. Joseph Martin, Commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division, and author, Baghdad, February 3, 2009.
50 Jalal Talabani provided the party's headquarters — the former home of Adnan Khairallah — at a reduced rent.
51 Interview by author, Baghdad, February 2009.
52 Mona El-Ghobashy, "The Metamorphosis of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood," International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 37, No. 3 (2005): 387.
53 The party's results in other areas where it ran were: Wassit (INTG ran alone), 6500 votes and no seats won/Anbar (INTG ran with IIP), no candidates elected/Diyala (ran alone) no candidates elected. "In Babil there were five Sunni parties running independently, so we split the vote and ruined it for ourselves." Interview with INTG leaders, Baghdad, February 2009.
54 Quotas for females in the elections meant that every fourth seat would be won by a woman, and most women — even winners — did not receive many votes.
55 Interview by author, Baghdad, February 2009.
56 Email exchange with author, June 21, 2010.
57 Email exchange with author, June 30, 2010.
58 Washington has just announced a $150 million Egyptian "transition fund" for 2012 — three times the 2011 funding. This money would go to support more intensive training by organizations including NDI and IRI. Charles J. Hanley, "U.S. Training Quietly Nurtured Young Arab Democrats," Yahoo! News, March 13, 2011, accessed May 23, 2011, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110313/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_mideast_a_little_….