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    Political process allowed Iraq to avoid civil war - analyst

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    Damascus, June 28 (RIA Novosti, Nadim Zuaui) - It has been a year since the transition of power in Iraq from the U.S.-led coalition to an interim Iraqi government. Twelve months on, the process of nation building in Iraq is still in its early stages.

    However, some analysts argue that Baghdad has made some progress toward restoring the country's sovereignty. "The principal achievement of the new Iraqi authorities is that they have started a real political process," Horshid Dalle, chief of the al-Alam TV channel's Damascus bureau, told RIA Novosti in an interview.

    This political process is what made it possible for the multicultural and multiethnic Iraq to avoid a bloody civil war, the analyst said. "There's a detailed political plan and a political will, which enable [Iraq] to prevent a civil war from breaking out," Dalle said. He praised the interim government for its efforts to bring all groups of the Iraqi population on board.

    Dalle acknowledged, however, that unlike the Shi'ites, who come mostly from Iraq's southern provinces, and the Kurds, from the north, the Sunnis were still not adequately represented in the country's government. He said this was a consequence of the Sunnis' boycott of last December's parliamentary elections, but added that now the Sunni community seemed more aware of the need for them to get involved in the political process. "This was clearly indicated by their broad participation in the work of the Iraq Constitution Committee," Dalle noted. He said a new election was to be called in Iraq before the year's end and that he expected the Sunnis to play a proactive role in it.

    When speaking of the Iraqi Kurds, Dalle said that they wanted their country to be united, but federal in structure.

    The analyst said that the interim Iraqi government had been able to win legitimacy in the eyes of the international community, thereby facilitating the creation of a national assembly and other government bodies.

    A pivotal role in the restoration of Iraq's sovereignty belongs to its neighbors, who have consistently spoken out in favor of that country preserving its integrity, Dalle said. He added that after the start of military operations in Iraq, the foreign ministers of neighboring nations had repeatedly gathered to discuss ways of providing political and economic aid for Baghdad.

    "The recognition of Iraq's territorial integrity by neighboring states has become something of a pledge not to interfere in its domestic affairs, at least not militarily," Dalle said, adding that none of these countries had broken its promise so far.

    Exactly one year ago, on June 28, 2004, Paul Bremer, head of the U.S. Civil Administration in Iraq, handed over sovereignty to Prime Minister Ayad Alawi in an official ceremony in Baghdad.

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