Ahead of Iraqi parliamentary elections next week, it is clear that the outcome will be born of corruption, and until regional relationships are negotiated, tangible change on the ground will not occur.
At the last elections, in 2010, it was clear that what the people of Iraq wanted did not really matter, and that with Iran’s backing, Nouri al-Maliki was sure to be re-elected. Again now, his re-election appears to be the only possible outcome of a vote to be held in a fractious domestic environment, with daily bombings continuing unabated and militant land grabs increasing around Baghdad.
Having endured so much over the last 11 years, with hundreds of thousands dead and a crippled economy, and even before that, with the rule of Saddam Hussein and the destructive sanctions program, the people of Iraq are now being asked to risk their lives to vote in a meaningless election.
But the daily obstacles they face will only endure after the vote. Unless, that is, Iran and Saudi Arabia work together in an earnest attempt to help stabilize the country. Optimists believe this rapprochement is surely inevitable, that both powerhouses recognize that a failure to work together would only send Iraq further into the abyss and threaten to take the rest of the region with it, fueling the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria among other things.
Whether it will happen any time soon remains to be seen, but it is clear that until it does, the people of Iraq will continue to suffer, and to risk their lives every time they leave the house.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 26, 2014, on page 7.