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November 20, 2008



im an iraqi citizen and saying when that parliament turned into circus? its already a circus,from the first session.they dont represent us in their manners and many ideas. what did the iraqis earn from that parliament except headache? i hope to see qualified people in parliament government.


In the past weeks it has been reported that "thousands" of Shiite are protesting the SOFA agreement. Every time I read about these protests they are painted in such a way as to make it appear that this is an indication of failure for the Iraqi government and for the USA. I see just the opposite.

First, the protests were peaceful protests. They have achieved the right to peaceably assemble! Why, that's great! What do you suppose would have happened to these people if they had attempted to protest under the Saddam Regime? I can hypothesize that there would have been more mass graves. There were security forces around with weapons, waiting for trouble. I have never seen a large protest in the USA where there were not Security forces all over the place incase there is trouble. How anyone can look at these protests as anything other than overt indicator of immense progress is just beyond me.

You now have people protesting for SOFA, Against SOFA and the important thing is, they all seem to want to be at the peaceful assembly. Very different from the times of Saddam when people where forced to go to places and shout phrases that they did not want to say. In parliament, would there have been any words of descent allowed under Saddam? Would there have been debate? With or without banging books? Absolutely not.

These are not indicators of something negative, these are certain signs of wonderfully positive progress! Certainly, there is still much work to be done on the ground by all of the forces involved. There is another election that has to happen where Iraqis will again be able to choose. To CHOOSE. Immense progress, by any standard. Many other people in the world still live under repressive regimes, they hunger and thirst for the chance to engage in a process the way that the Iraqis are certainly now free to.

If the Iraqi people feel that the parliament is ineffective then they need to act by voting accordingly in the next election.


I saw some clips of the earlier phases--the notebook banging and shouting--but the scrum at the front of the hall was never seen on US television. Thanks for an excellent description of the rest of the scene, Leila.

Before US commentators here post any smug and self-satisfied comments about parliamentary decorum, they would be well to remember some on-the-floor behavior in the US Senate during times of extreme stress.

A notable example: Before the Civil Wa--and on the floor of the chamber--a southern Senator attacked a northern Senator with a metal cane so severely that the latter was crippled for the rest of his life. Plastic flowers and thrown water bottles seem pretty tame in comparison.

Bohdan Szejner, STL

Minor skirmishes happen in every parliament and I wouldn't make much of it. Leila should be reporting things of substance, like al-Maliki's inability to fix Baghdad sewers! The Iraqi people deserve better. Al-Sadr is being vindicated by the Iraqi government's cavalier attitude toward human suffering!

coffee fiend

they should have "taken it outside..."


Sounds like normal growing pains for a democracy. Even 80 years after the establishment of democracy in the U.S., American Senators were beating each other on the Senate floor over the issue of slavery. I seem to remember some massive civil war followed. Its all okay.

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Baghdad Observer is written by McClatchy journalists staffing the Baghdad bureau.

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