Disappointment Expressed Over Iraqi Election Results

( [email protected] ) Jan 23, 2006 03:50 PM EST

Final results of last month's Iraq election did not surprise many, but left some disappointed as the Shiite religious parties took the largest victory.

Reports released Friday revealed a decrease in seats, down to 128, for the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance from the January 2005 balloting and a larger representation from the Sunnis, who won 44 seats.

"I think we can expect [this] because the nature of Iraqi politics at the current moment is primarily sectarian," said Dr. Carl A. Moeller, president of Open Doors USA – a ministry to the persecuted church.

Short of the 138 seats needed to rule without partners, the Shiite religious groups must form a coalition government.

Although the Sunni Arabs gained a bigger voice in the new legislature, amid their complaints on election fraud, the Kurds took less seats from the January vote - 53, down from 75.

Moeller expressed disappointment in the loss of the Kurdish Alliance seats, noting that they are the "strongest segment of Iraqi society in terms of the Christian population."

Other concerns he had was the decreasing Christian presence in Iraq and its surrounding countries. According to a recent report by Voice of America, the Christian population has been declining "noticeably" in most Middle Eastern countries since the 20th century, including Iraq. As amendments to Iraq's constitution lay ahead for the new government, the largely seated Shiite groups create the possibility of the country leaning towards the influence of Iran's Shari’a law.

Such influence by Iran poses a big problem, according to Moeller.

"The Irani government is cracking down on Christians horrifically," he said.

While the human rights situation has improved in Iraq, the Open Doors president said in reaction to the election results, "We still hoped for a better outcome."

Still prayerful for the constitution, Moeller hopes it will "not reflect permanent republic rule" but contain "all religious viewpoints in Iraq, [including] the legitimacy of free Christian faith, in particular.

"The ghettoization of the Christian community in Iraq will produce nothing more than increased tensions and a lack of positive influence that the church can have on Iraqi democracy."

Among the estimated 27 million people in the country, Shiites form about 60 percent; Sunni Arabs, 20 percent; Kurds, 15-20 percent; and Chaldeans, three percent. Christians have continually decreased in number and now are fewer than one million in Iraq.

[Source: The Christian Post]