New York, Mar. 9 (ANI): While a high voter turn in Iraq's parliamentary elections has been lauded by the West as a symbolic step towards democracy, critics and political commentators across the Middle East are viewing it nothing more than a window dressing to tidy up the image of authoritarian leaders and absolute monarchs.
"It is very far from a real democracy. This voting exercise is not seen as the winds of democracy blowing through the region. People here still see Iraq as a very sad country, a lot of pain and hugely polarized," the New York Times quoted Osama Safa, general director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, as saying.
That perception, combined with Election Day violence, American occupation and Iranian influence, left few experts in the region declaring the elections a success, the paper said.
"It could be seen in the West as very symbolic, as nice, as something that proves it was worth getting rid of Saddam, but definitely not in the Arab world," said Randa Habib, a political analyst and newspaper columnist in Amman, Jordan.
"Jordanians still see Iraq as being manipulated by outside forces. Their minds have been manipulated by Americans and Iranians, and the outcome of the election will not be the best for Iraqis," he added.
"Iraq is a failure and a big mess. Iraq is a scary model right now. It is so divided, vulgarly so," said Hussein al-Shobokshy, a columnist for the Saudi Arabian owned pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Alawsat.
Some political scientists and experts however were cautious while praising the spirit of Iraqi people who cut through strict sectarian and tribal allegiances to cast their ballot.
"It's still a small step in Iraq; it's a small minor turning point. Iraq is still full of challenges, and they are formidable challenges," said Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, a political science professor at United Arab Emirates University. (ANI)