Iraq putting the squeeze on minorities

Buried in an article this morning about another deadly roadside bomb attack and an assassination attempt against an Iraqi deputy oil minister was the following:

…on Monday, Parliament passed a bill that would grant the country’s embattled minorities fewer guaranteed seats in coming elections than the United Nations had recommended. The prospects for enactment of the bill, which requires the approval of Iraq’s executive council, are unclear. In September, Parliament passed a bill on provincial elections but, in a controversial action, deleted from it an article dealing with representation of Iraq’s many minorities.

In passing legislation that could stoke further tensions between Iraq’s fractious ethnic and sectarian groups, Parliament voted to guarantee minorities significantly fewer seats on provincial councils than had been recommended by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq. The bill would give Christians a single seat on councils in Baghdad, Basra and Nineveh, instead of the three seats in Baghdad, three in Nineveh and one in Basra that were proposed by the United Nations mission.

The new bill is supposed to be a compromise following the controversy that erupted in late September when Parliament passed the elections bill but deleted an article that had provided 13 seats in six provinces for Iraqi Christians, Yazidis and other minorities. The new bill would grant only six seats. The United Nations mission had proposed 12.

Younadim Kanna, one of two Christians in Parliament, described Monday’s vote as “a great insult.”

This will be one of a number of metrics that we can assess the success of the American intervention in Iraq. Overthrowing a minority autocratic government, at tremendous cost in U.S. lives and treasure, to be replaced with another autocratic, non-representative government is hardly the stuff of legends.