Iraq and Gulf Analysis

An Iraq Blog by a Victim of the Human Rights Crimes of the Norwegian Government

After P5 Plus 1: Time to Move on with Iraqi Politics

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 25 May 2012 13:05

As expected, negotiations in Baghdad between Iran and the P5+1 (permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) on the Iranian nuclear file have ended without any major breakthrough.

For Iraq, this means the country can get back to its normal politics, perhaps without the added distractions that inevitably come with a major regional event involving Iran. There has been plenty of speculation as to the causes for the conspicuous synchronicity between the nuclear meeting and the apparent peak of the crisis of the current cabinet headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Has Iran somehow exploited the opportunity to send a not so gentle reminder to international players about its leverage  in Iraqi politics?

Whatever the external pressures, the Iran nuclear file has for now been consigned to Moscow as its next destination in the second half of June. Maliki no longer has any major external event that can remove attention from internal problems and threats about unseating him. And those threats are gaining momentum. On 28 April, an unprecedented gathering of leaders of the Kurds, the Sunni-secular Iraqiyya and the Shiite Islamist Sadrists issued a letter at Arbil calling for Maliki’s own Shiite alliance to make Maliki change his ways within 15 days or else take steps to withdraw confidence in him. The ultimatum wasn’t presented to the parliamentary head of the Shiite faction, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, until 3 May, meaning that it expired on 18 May. One day later,on 19 May, a second summit was held in Najaf. Barzani and Allawi did not elect to descend from their Arbilian heights but the political representation at the meeting was broadly identical to the 28 April summit. After that meeting another letter was sent to Jaafari. It contained a message to the Shia alliance that their previous (very jejune and non-committal) answer to the first ultimatum didn’t really address their concerns. Accordingly, the Arbil signatories now asked Jaafari to identify a new prime minister candidate. It is widely understood that another deadline of 1 week was imposed, although this is missing in the draft of the letter that has been published.

This takes us  on to Saturday 26 May as the new deadline for Maliki. Or, maybe we should say, “for the Arbil signatories”. Their bluff has already been called once and unless there is action this time (the second letter is more of an order than an ultimatum) doubts as to the parliamentary punch of their alliance will set in. Come Saturday and it will be crunch time. Already, there are rumours about a planned third summit of Maliki critics, this time in Mosul.

The problems are however about more than the sheer timing of the no confidence initiative. A second set of issues relates to the modalities for getting rid of Maliki envisaged in the proposal. In the leaked letter the Shia alliance is given the job of finding a suitable replacement, because “it is considered the framework for choosing the prime minister”. Not so fast, please! The constitutional problems here are perhaps best understood through a little bit of prospective history writing. If indeed the Shia alliance votes to change Maliki, it will likely break apart. Now, if all or nearly ally of Maliki’s alliance defects in solidarity with him, the rump National Alliance is no longer the biggest bloc in parliament, and hence has no right to appoint the next PM. Nor has Iraqiyya, which has already dwindled in size to 85 deputies with indications it would be further reduced to at least 75 if an attempt were made to force out Maliki. To avoid Maliki’s bloc getting hold of the nomination of the next PM, Iraqiyya would need to first form a bloc with the Kurds or the Shiite Islamists, agree on a bloc leader and so on. Incidentally, this would imply a negation of their own interpretation of article 76 of the Iraqi constitution on the prime ministerial nomination procedure (which Iraqiyya in 2010 saw as belonging to the biggest electoral list).

Also, there seems to be a prevailing theory that the current Shiite alliance can simply swap Maliki and someone more likable as premier with the rest of the cabinet remaining in place. Again, this is erroneous. Constitutionally, the whole cabinet is considered resigned if a vote of no confidence in the prime minister succeeds. Accordingly, every single member of the cabinet will have to leave their posts and it is for the Iraqi president to identify the next prime minister on the basis of the “biggest bloc”. This is what makes it so hard to understand another bargaining chip used by the opponents of Maliki these days – that of the possible resignation of the current president, Jalal Talabani of the Kurdish alliance. Such a scenario would leave the current deputy president that remains within Iraq, Khudayr al-Khuzaie, in charge for the next 30 days until parliament has elected a new president. Khuaie is a Maliki ally. Also, attention would inevitably be deflected from the prime ministerial question.

The most recent developments have seen Ahmed Chalabi assume a leading role among Shiite critics of Maliki, with frequent meetings of the original half of the Shia alliance known as the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) that was formed in August 2009 with Iranian backing. Some even consider Chalabi a forerunner for replacing Maliki! We should soon find out who they have in mind, because it will be very hard for the Maliki critics to backtrack for their latest string of ultimatums without stultifying themselves in a serious way.

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84 Responses to “After P5 Plus 1: Time to Move on with Iraqi Politics”

  1. observer said

    RV – you have a lot of assumptions in this article. Not typical of you. But why assume that the PMs in Dawlat al Fafon are different than their counter parts and would not abandon their erstwhile leader in the last minute and maintain unit of the INA block being the largest. As for Iraqia “abandoning” their position with respect to the interpretation of the constitution – the question has already been settled by the court and unless its composition changes, there is little need to go back to them for a different interpretation. So our position is moot wether we abandon it or not, but I can understand that in order to maintain your academic neutrality, you have to have a “dig” against us regardless of the context. :)
    Enough for now.
    Peace

  2. Reidar Visser said

    By all means, Observer, State of Law can disintegrate, too. But If you look at the last critical year, the Iraqiyya defections are in the two-digit range whereas State of Law has only had a couple.

  3. Santana said

    Yes Reidar- You are right- why would any SOL guys wanna leave? They are robbing the country blind with the help of the PM – Being a member of SOL is like winning the lottery….there is nothing that Maliki can say or do that would get them to oppose him…..some qualify to be on Forbes’s list now….and whatever defections from Iraqiya or others are prompted by Daawa -buying the weak souls within the other groups…or threatening to do to them what they did to VP Tareq Alhashimi.

  4. bb said

    Thank you RV, for supplying a clear chronology of what is going on. I couldn’t follow what was happening, especially Observer’s portentious “Four to go. The end game is on” burblings.

    Can you enlighten me as to how solid the Kurd numbers are on this move? Were PUK and Golan represented at the April 28 meeting?

    btw April 28 is my birthday, a date I share with a famous Iraqi leader, the late, very late S Hussein!.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Bb, Talabani was present on 28 April but did not sign the letter. He was not at Najaf though I think Barham Salih represented the PUK. Goran is outside this as far as I know.

  6. Lars said

    Maliki certainly has his own (sick) way of moving on with internal politics; http://www.ninanews.com/english/News_Details.asp?ar95_VQ=FLJFEJ Baghdad (NINA) – The Office of the President of Kurdistan region announced that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has deployed combat forces on the region’s borders.

    A statement issued on Friday, May 25, said that coinciding with his visit to Kirkuk, Maliki has deployed five divisions, on alert, south of Kirkuk, as well as 2 artillery battalions in addition to the 17th Division.

    The statement pointed out that the American side has confirmed the information presented by the region’s Ministry of Peshmerga, during the meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee, adding that the Americans are observing the area where Iraqi forces are being deployed and affirmed their movement. / End

  7. observer said

    some more portentousness just for you BB.. One more day!!!!

    Count votes all you want. Here is the worst case:

    85 Iraqia
    57 Kurds (and Yes Goran is in)
    40 Sadrists
    7 Majlis (no badrists)

    Even if you allow for defections, there is plenty enough. The key was an remains the Sadrists. What is Iran doing to save her client?

    Even if Dawlat al Fafon decides to leave the INA to stop the selection of a PM replacement, as RV theorizes, the others will give the “honor” to the remaining She3a coalition. If that is a good or a bad precedence, remains to be seen, but it certainly is better than leaving Da3wa and maliki, in charge of Iraq for the next 2 year, let alone the 20 after that ;)
    Peace

  8. bb said

    Thanks. I remember during negotiations for formation of govt in 2010, asking here how solid SOL members would be in backing Maliki. The answer turned out to be – very solid.
    Has anything changed with them?

  9. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, I think that in the above numbers, the main problems are with Iraqiyya. The 85 estimate does not take into account the specific promises of support for Maliki mentioned in my previous post, which means at least 12 of them are not in. Add to that the general attendance level problem in parliament and I think it will be very hard to reach 163.

    We’ll see. The full Shiite alliance is reportedly meeting in Baghdad tonight.

  10. bb said

    Observer : Who’s it going to be? Chalabi?

  11. observer said

    RV – Let us take care of Iraqia numbers. IMHO, you are focusing on the wrong block. Sadrists and the Iranian pressure is where it is at.
    Peace

  12. observer said

    bb.. the choice is up to INA. Many names are being bandied about. Firt things first, though. Maliki is still hoping that Iran will save his behind one more time. I know I know, it is all Iraqia’s fault for pushing him into Iran’s arms… Rolling my eyes.

  13. Santana said

    In my opinion IF there is any possibility of the Sadrists jumping ship (which I still seriously doubt) and joining Iraqia and the Kurds…. then I am 100% sure Iran must have approved it…..and this means IF Iran approved it ,then it must serve their interests even better ….otherwise why would they let it happen?…..I also think Chalabi or Jaafari are both disasters and 100% Iranian puppets in heart and soul……infact-the only good thing I see in all this is some negative impact and weakening of Daawa if we can get the scumbag Maliki out..God willing-….

    Anyway- Observer is closer to the action and I figure what the hell- if he is excited about all this, then it must be good for Iraq no doubt.

    Peace

  14. Observer said

    Santana,
    If iran is as omnipotent as you portray, then we are wasting our time, and it is time to cleave iraq apart and move on. While iran is strong and influential and has a lot of contact and relations with many different bodies with in iraq,they do not hold all the cards. The biggest fiction over the past 7years, perpetuated in no small part by think tankers, is that da3wa and maliki are not influenced by iran when in fact they are stratigic allies and in bed together with the ultimate goal of a theological state.

    Anyway, the bottom line is that i am excited not because suddenly we will have a democracy all of the sudden, but there MAY be an end to one pary hegemony which is certainly where we are today. Enough said on the future. As they say lets keep our eyes on the ball. If we do not cut malikis fangs now, then there will be a war with the kurds, and there maybe a huge shift in the dynamics in politics in iraq. I hope talabani was able to make maliki understand what is at stake.
    Peace

  15. Mohammed said

    Dear All:

    Maliki has been called a “dictator” by those seeking to replace him with this upcoming “Mother of All Votes.”

    Call me simple-minded, but can somebody enlighten me on the definition of a dictator?

    I looked it up—being the academician I am—and I came across many associated concepts of dictatorship. Much to my surprise, I did not find a single dictionary or Wikipedia that suggested holding a vote of no confidence to remove a dictator, by a democratically elected parliament, is part of a dictatorship.

    I can see only three possible outcomes:

    1) Vote succeeds to oust Maliki, Maliki is replaced, and a peaceful transfer of power ensues.
    2) Vote fails against Maliki, and he remains the PM through peaceful means.
    3) Vote succeeds to oust Maliki, or (Maliki prevents a vote from taking place through force) and uses military to continue in his position, and Maliki remains.

    According to Iraqiya, logically we can expect only option 3 to occur if their vote succeeds.

    Otherwise, they owe Maliki an apology. ;-)

    regards,
    M

  16. Santana said

    Observer-

    I hope you are right in that Iran is not as hand on as I say- nor as handsoff as others claim on here …..but can you please explain why Moqtada “ruyeh kherree merree” to Iran every week over the past few weeks??? For those who don’t know what kherree merree is that means shutting back and forth……..

  17. faisalkadri said

    Mohammad,
    You (and others) are assuming that Maliki will allow a vote of confidence where he is likely to lose, I am skeptical.

    Observer,
    Iran’s political influence in Iraq does not depend only on its power. Iran has flexibility which draws circles around the U.S. and its politics. Sure you are close to action and know a lot of details but you could get bogged down by details and not see the possibilities of failure caused by Iran’s flexibility.

  18. observer said

    ok MO,
    Have it your way Maliki is the best leader Iraq ever had and he is being beaten oer the head by small time dictators. Happy?

    We are bad asses who are power hungry and are unreasonable and want nothing but the worst for Iraq.

    Santana,
    iran is very pragmatic and when they see that their preferred way is not going to work, they will choose the next best thing and live to fight another day. Look at their negotiations with the west. It is all about buying time. The same thing will happen in Iraq.

    Forgetting the attitude of people like Mo, the bottom line is that we are heading very fast towards a 1979 end game with one party rule. Maliki and Da3wa, if given more time at the hem, will be too deeply rooted to take out by democratic means. All the parties at the table recognize this and that is what is uniting them – an “un”reasonable desire (if you take Mo’s attitude into account) not to repeat the past.

    That Muqtada is going back and forth is no less concerning than Maliki and company going back and forth, or Hakim going back and forth. It is all the same. All religious parties are allied with Iran in one way or another.

    To change the game, what other choice do you suggest we have? Oh I forgot, accomodate with Dawlat al Fafon, screw the Kurds and the other she3a parties and then await our time to get slaughtered…Thanks, but no – thanks.
    Peace

    Faisel, I refer you to answer to Santana. Flexible- we are as well…

    PS
    Mo, despite RV’s protestations, you are certainly sounding like a Maliki apologist just like I am out and out an iraqia guy (but at least I have the courage of my convictions and do not pretend to be neutral)—
    Peace

    Sorry- but had to take that “dig”

  19. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, you write about the fate of the other “parties” if Maliki continues in power. But would you accept the idea that beyond party politics, Maliki may well enjoy a degree of popular legitimacy in some quarters, and that it is not only me (who is not Iraqi) and Mohammed (who is in exile) and a few others who are sceptical about the viability of the plans to unseat him?

  20. observer said

    RV.. Instead of getting into a useless circular debate with you, lets see what the next few days will bring about. You may consider him legitimate, but there is now more than 50% of the MP’s who think he is not, and honestly, we are better equipped to judge than you think tankers and Maliki apologists (disguised as academics – sorry Mo, I can’t resist taking digs tonight :) ).

    Maliki can play all he wants while he has control over all aspects of the government and judiciary and Iraqia TV and commission on oil deals, and sugar, and wheat, etcc, etc. (you know- just the fact that you are willing to over look all his transgressions makes me wonder about you guys). Once he is out (if eventually we succeed – it is still a big IF still, and it is a miracle that we have even gotten to this point) there will be a different dynamic. Maliki can choose to run as the “party that was robbed” in 2013 and 2014 and you all can vote for him when the time comes
    Peace

    PS
    RV just talk to former communists about how much they regret the “National Front” they formed with the Baathists and gave them all the time in the world to take root in government. You MAY then understand our psyche

  21. bb said

    Observer: ” Maliki is still hoping that Iran will save his behind one more time. I know I know, it is all Iraqia’s fault for pushing him into Iran’s arms… Rolling my eyes.”

    It’s nothing to do with Maliki being “pushed into Iran’s arms,” Observer.

    You seem to be unware of the strangeness of your argument:

    1.Prime Minister Maliki/Dawa are totalitarian Iranian lackey’s who will impose a theocratic state.

    2. Should therefore be replaced by another religious party shiite acceptable to the Sadrists.

    When:

    3. Sadrists were entirely financed and protected by Iran.

    4 Imposed sharia law on every territory they controlled during the insurgency.

    5 And the first time Allawi took your party out of the government in support of the Sadrists in 2006/07 the Sadrists were running an operation out of a hospital they controlled, courtesy of them having the Health ministry, to kidnap Sunni youths, parade them before religious courts, bore their brains alive with electric drills and dump their bodies on vacant lots.

    A very tolerant, forgiving lot you all seem to be, Observer.

    Do you think the Sadrists might be expecting to be rewarded with the Interior ministry?

  22. Mohammed said

    Observer:

    Dig away all you want. All I ask is that you quote me accurately. Please find where I have said “I am neutral.” Previously, I have stated clearly that I am NOT neutral. Overall, I agree more with Maliki’s policies as opposed to Allawi’s policies (or Sadr or Hakim or Barzani for that matter). However, that doesn’t mean I agree with everything Maliki does, and I have condemned certain actions, inactions, and statements when I did not agree with them. Nor am I a Da3wa member.

    I know it may be frustrating for you that you can’t tie me down to a single political party, but I find it quite liberating. You, on the other hand, are an Iraqiya member and cannot criticize Allawi’s shortcomings in public or on this forum (knowing how passionate you are, I am quite sure you have frank discussions with Allawi in private). When I bring up issues like how Allawi is buddies with Barzani (while Barzani’s political opponents were murdered in the KRG, or unarmed protestors shot down in KRG, or the Barzani clan can accumulate such massive wealth and hereditary power), you try to avoid those uncomfortable questions by either calling me an apologist or just changing the subject altogether.

    Maliki vs Da3wa
    Faisal here is one for you. At a gathering of 20 shiites in Montreal, the overall l sentiment is that Da3wa was stinking with corruption. Yet, the crowd all supported Maliki! For some reason (don’t ask me to explain), I am seeing more and more people view Maliki as above the dirt of Da3wa. Even his enemies have called him a dictator in public, but never a thief. He comes out looking “clean” and many Iraqis admire his perceived strength and decisiveness. I believe for a great number of shiites, they view him as the best option in an incredibly weak field of alternatives. Faisal, if you don’t believe me, just go to any shiite hussainiya in Montreal and ask them yourself. These people all have family in Iraq that they hold dear and travel there frequently, and I doubt that their views are in conflict.

    Do I think Iraqiya are “Bad Asses” ?
    Far from it. You guys want to play power politics? Go for it! If you can convince the Sadrists that it is in their interest to align with you against Maliki, that is democracy in action. I can’t fault you for that. If Maliki can convince them otherwise, or Maliki can win over some Iraqiya and White Iraqiya members to his side, that too is his prerogative. Personally, I would love to see the Sadrists jump ship and join Iraqiya, and at the same time see 15+ or so Iraqiya/White Iraqiya join with Maliki. Such a move would help to disrupt both the “sectarian master narrative” as well as “Iran-holds-all-the-cards narrative.”

    The reason I made fun of the title of “dictator” in my prior post is that I frankly find that description of Maliki to be absurd. Votes of no confidence by a democratically elected parliament just don’t happen in dictatorships. Please find such a precedent. If Maliki uses force to stop such a vote or refuses to step down, then you have your point, otherwise, use of such hyperbole appears highly disingenuous.

    Is Iraqiya just out of touch (instead of being “bad asses”) ?
    Let me ask you a simple question Observer— do you actually have any friends that are Maliki or Da3wa or State of Law supporters or members? When I mean friends, I mean people you can sit down and argue over a jidriya of dolma (popular iraqi dish for the non-iraqi readers) and some nice chai afterwards without tearing each other’s heads off.. If it compromises your identity, you don’t have to answer. The reason I ask, is because in all honesty, while you know I admire your integrity and candor, you appear out of touch with the “average joe shiite.” I hate to get sectarian, but you have to remember that shiites are the majority and that matters in elections.

    Maliki in the last election was by far the most popular politician in Baghdad, and received more votes than Allawi and Hashemi combined. If you had that vote today — mano et mano— my guess is Maliki would win it by even wider margins with even the UN running the elections. Maliki’s problem in the last election was the shiite vote was split with sadrists/isci/badr/fadhila, while all the sunnis voted for Iraqiya.

    regards,
    M

  23. observer said

    pps
    A thought just occurred to me RV. I recall that Saddam and the Baath were also popular in Iraq during the 70′s. One of the admirers was my own father whose leanings were socialists and was impressed with oil nationalization, illiteracy campaigns, the economic jump program, etc. Had I listened to him, i would have joined the Baath party myself… So what is implied by your “question” is rather slippery in terms of my own experience. Just because the rabbel support Maliki because they are not steeped in history or he plays on their emotional buttons, does not mean that he is the best leader iraq ever had, despite what MO and others are claiming.
    Peace

  24. observer said

    BB
    retail politics is different than your arm chair theory. You want Maliki to stay in place, fine – that is your opinion and your are welcomed to it. To state to me that it is ok for Maliki to use Sadrists support to stay in power and it is prohibited for the others because it is hypocritical is doubly hypocritical.

    In view of the deepening roots of Maliki and Da3wa in the state we have to do something to change the dynamics. Your collective “shoulder shrugging” to such danger shows you are either partisans with maliki and Da3wa or were to young to experience the ascendence of Baath to the one party rule in Iraq nor are you willing to learn from history.

    I ask you the same question I ask Santana, what other choice do we have in a semi democratic state? I know that Maliki will describe our attempts to unseat him as a coup against the constitution. The same constitution he rapes everyday while you all (outsiders) shrug your collective shoulders or throw the “theoretical condemnation” as if your words have moral value inside Iraq.
    Peace

  25. observer said

    Mo,
    So you are not neutral after all. Ah finally it comes out loud and clear. You are a Maliki supporter through and through and only throw the occasional condemnation to shore up your “moral credentials”. Good for you. Finally you have the courge of your convictions, but you really need to work on writing quick short blurbs as nobody has the time to read your exhaustive long dissertations.

    I am not going to give you hints as to where and what I do, but rest assured I have regular meals with people you would not even consider to sit and drink yogurt from the same cup. As for your diatribe about Allawi (and I am glad you limited it to Allawis as you know very well how much “respect” I have for Mutleg and company), I will let it be as I have no time for it, but really just a small question – why is it ok for Maliki to have good relations with the same thugs that you condemn Allawi deals with. Is Talabani less of a tyrant than Barazani? – double standards is the least I will say.

    From now on, I look forward to your attempts at justifying outright the moves of Maliki as opposed to just throwing rocks at our side of the table. I know I know – you are nto a da3wa member and therefore you have no responsibility to defend them, but look at your post, they are all defensive of Maliki and Da3wa (with the occasional rock thrown at them to maintain your “neutrality guise”).
    Peace

    PS
    Mo ask your friends about Ahmed Maliki. maliki is clean – huh. rolling my eyes.

  26. Mohammed said

    Observer:

    You said: ” they are all defensive of Maliki and Da3wa (with the occasional rock thrown at them to maintain your “neutrality guise”).”
    My response: Let me quote Ronald Reagan CORRECTLY this time: “There you go again!” (btw, in a prior post you switched “here” for “there,” so I just thought I would bring that to your attention should you decide to use that quote in the future ;-) It is YOU who is ascribing neutrality to me!

    Please do not speculate regarding my motivations for when I am critical of Maliki as attempts to maintain a “neutrality guise.” I may be Satan himself and a pure hypocrite, or genuinely trying to stick to my moral compass but sometimes veering off because maybe I am naïve about facts on the ground, etc but I mean well…or somewhere in between…You just aren’t in a position to know.

    Remember, unlike you, I am not formally bound to a party or shackled to a particular leader— and thus, I am allowed to speak up publicly. Also, I gain no material benefit from defending or condemning any leader.

    Observer you said: ” why is it ok for Maliki to have good relations with the same thugs that you condemn Allawi deals with. Is Talabani less of a tyrant than Barazani? – double standards is the least I will say.”

    My response: I will not get into the differences between Barazani and Talabani, (for a few reasons I would take Talabani over Barazani). My point is I find it perplexing that Allawi is so repulsed by Maliki while actually being FRIENDS with Barazani. Barazani is no less thuggish or autocratic than Maliki. It certainly does cause one to wonder if Allawi condemns Maliki merely to maintain a “guise” of moral superiority to Maliki.

    My real take is that all these guys— Allawi, Barazani, Maliki, Talabani are tainted politicians. They are not saints. They do what they have to do within certain bounds (Saddam, on the other hand, had no bounds) to increase their power and advance their policies and supporters.

    We can go at this “morality” question forever, but it is getting boring and we are repeating ourselves. It is far more interesting and educational to discuss the soundness of certain policies to move Iraq forward and how such policies should be prioritized.

    regards,
    M

  27. I was just reading Ali Allawi’s book, “The Occupation of Iraq”, Chapter 18 “Showdown at the Shrine” the other day. The chapter details the Sadr movement taking over the Imam Ali Shrine at Najaf and the attempts of the Iraqi Govt, that time under the reign of Iyad Allawi, to… “resolve” the situation.

    If the events took place as Ali Allawi describes them, Iyad Allawi and his clique did their best to resolve it militarily while maneuvering in such a way as to make it seem they had no choice in taking such a course of action.
    The insistence of Iyad Allawi on eliminating the Sadrists by military means led all the Shia groups to believe that would the Central Govt. continue under Iyad Allawi’s stewardship, he would eventually deal with them in the same way. This resulted in the grand Shia electoral Alliance of 2005, so that history would not repeat itself; or at least if it did, it would not be the Shia under the boot.

    Every current Iraqi political party has its roots in the 1970s, and were oppressed by the Ba’ath. None of them want to repeat history.
    However, none of them have a true understanding or belief in power-sharing, democracy, human rights, etc.
    Furthermore, none trust the other. All believe the others will become Dictators and will institute an authoritarian state. All others therefore try to derail another group as it begins to have a firm hold of government, while the group in power attempts to move toward sidelining and marginalizing the other groups.

    The fears of Observer and his opinions regarding Maliki and the path Iraq will take under Maliki appear to be the exact same opinions the Shia groups had in late 2004 of Iyad Allawi.

    Let’s see what happens.

  28. Mohammed said

    Observer

    I noticed that in your prior post, you called Iraq a “semi-democratic state.” I would say that is an upgrade from dictatorship!

    M

  29. observer said

    Mo,
    Now who is pushing words into the other’s mouth? I never said that Maliki is a dictator. That was Mutleg ;) and trust me my english is miles better than his. What I have said is that maliki and Da3wa are repeating a chapter of Iraq in 68 to 75 when they moved from a small party in control of government and the army to the ONE party With ONE leader. If you have not figured that out from my writings, then you are either reading too quickly or I am nto expressing myself (i doubt the latter).

    On “there” vs. “here” – hahaha if that is not a remark of an academic, I don;t know what is. I love you guys since I was one your sorts until I felt like a fraud telling people how to do things when I have not doen anything in practice. Academics and their ivory tower. Love them. The world would be a lot less fun if we have less of you guys matriculating and hypothesizing and discussing counting how many sand grains are on the beaches of the world.

    On neutrality – that is how you come across and if one does not follow this blog daily, they are easily fooled by your seemingly neutral critiques when in fact you are consistent. Hell, you even fooled RV who came to your defense not too long ago saying that you are in fact neutral. SO again, congratulations for making the break through anc coming out to the rest of the world. yeh yeh, I know you are not a member of Da3wa and you are a liberated independent and all that crap that may fool those who have not been in this work for a long time.

    On talabani vs. barazani- I had to really suppress my laughter lest I disturb those around me. You have been reducing to splitting hairs. It is ok for malik to use the Kurds to stay in power and it is ok for him to use the sadirs votes to stay in power and it is ok for him to sue the power of the purse of the Iraqi government to buy this or that politician, but it is prohibited for others and the others have to be angles before you can bless them with your confidence. At best it is double standards, at worst it is hypocrisy.

    If da3wa does not want to be the only party, as you state that no Iraqi party wants to repeat the past, then why, pray tell, are sadris and ISCI against Da3wa, is it the result of what Mustapha called out here a Saudi/sunni conspiracy? Or as those who are with Dawlat al Fafon claiming today that it is a Qatari/Saudi/Isreali conspiracy.

    Give it a break MO. Now that you have lost this round when your arguments are turned against you, you want to stop talking about morality. Ok fine. Next time do not come onto me with academic arguments and attempting to sound morally superior to us old devils of Iraqia…

    Peace

  30. observer said

    Serwan,
    Al Bait al Shee3i was formed at the governing council, so the gran alliance predated allawi’s time as PM

    On the Imam events, Barham Salih told me several years back that he (Barham) was brought in by Allawi to consult on the decision about what to do when Sadir went into hiding in the Imam shrine. Barham was the only one who advised against the attack and Alalwi’s face, according to Barham, turned with a smile immediately and said to all the people in the room, that is the best advise I heard all day. The decision was not to attach the Imam shrine.

    Your post included this”

    If the events took place as Ali Allawi describes them, Iyad Allawi and his clique did their best to resolve it militarily while maneuvering in such a way as to make it seem they had no choice in taking such a course of action.
    The insistence of Iyad Allawi on eliminating the Sadrists by military means led all the Shia groups to believe that would the Central Govt. continue under Iyad Allawi’s stewardship, he would eventually deal with them in the same way. This resulted in the grand Shia electoral Alliance of 2005, so that history would not repeat itself; or at least if it did, it would not be the Shia under the boot.”

    this is your interpretation and speculation – not “just the facts mam” as our cohort Mo would state in his very academic manner. Of course you are free to speculate as much as you would like, but that is only your interpretation. Todate, the only OM who ran a clean elections and gave it up power willingly and without resorting to negotiations and time wasting is the “wanna be dictator” Iyad Allawi.

    and talk about a coalition that is run as a dictatorship. I am amazed at the solid line up of Iraqia and how disciplined they are in keeping the party line and taking decisions made by the one and only leader, bless his shadow, Iyad Allawi. Sorry for the sarcastic manner, but really Serwan, which block is more “dictated to” – Iraqia or Dwalat al Fafon?
    Come on man.
    Peace

  31. Santana said

    Sorry Observer…..I beg to differ…Maliki is a dictator…and a Sectarian one too…I don’t agree with all that Mutlaq says either….but him calling Maliki a Dictator is spot on…infact there is nothing good I can say about Maliki……NOTHING….I call him “scumbag” consistently…which is not very professional but I gotta vent bud…I have more choice words and names….but Reidar would never allow em on here….infact am just grateful he allows me to say what I do say….

  32. faisalkadri said

    Not sure how credible this news is considering it came from an Israeli source, but if it can be verified then it could be very serious: 13,000 Iranian troops in Syria

  33. Mohammed said

    Observer:

    Sorry, Observer, brevity was never won of my strong suits, but I promise that this post will at least entertain you ;-)

    You said: “I never said that Maliki is a dictator.”
    Ok, that’s my bad. That was Santana. I think you have called it “dictatorship in the making.” As an “academic arm-chair quarterback,” I appreciate the nuanced differences. But whatever you want to call it, as long as you can peacefully remove the PM through a vote by a democratically elected parliament, it’s not too shabby.

    You said: ” On “there” vs. “here” – hahaha if that is not a remark of an academic, I don’t know what is.”
    Come on Observer, you should know me well enough to appreciate my sense of humor. It’s a serious business you’re in, but you have to smile every once in a while. Stress is bad on the heart. Trust me, I am a doctor—practicing not just academic BS-ing this time. ;-)

    Observer you also said: ” Hell, you even fooled RV who came to your defense not too long ago saying that you are in fact neutral.”
    Let’s be precise. I never recall him calling me “neutral,” as I have never called myself that.

    RV only said: ” I find the attempts to label Mohammed as an uncritical Daawa/Maliki supporter to be particularly unjustified. In general, it should be permissible to credit Maliki for some of the things he is doing well, especially regarding state structure, as long as one is also attentive to many of the problems in his premiership, including the rule of law, corruption and various authoritarian tendencies”

    And since I usually agree with 99% of RV’s criticisms of Maliki, I hope RV still stands by that statement.

    Observer, you said: ” It is ok for maliki to use the Kurds to stay in power and it is ok for him to use the sadirs votes to stay in power and it is ok for him to sue the power of the purse of the Iraqi government to buy this or that politician, but it is prohibited for others and the others have to be angles before you can bless them with your confidence. At best it is double standards, at worst it is hypocrisy.”

    My response: Please read my prior post (yes, I know it is loooong)…Summary: You guys can cobble up any coalition you want. All is fair in love and politics. If you can convince the Sadrists to support you, go ahead! Maliki can try to retain the Sadrists or let them jump ship and go after disgruntled Iraqiya people to join him! But when you welcome Sadrists in your coalition, and allow Barzani to bully the rest of Iraq into securing his narrow Kurdish interests in order to gain his support against Maliki, it may cost you support with Iraqiya’s sunn base. We shall see.

    Observer you said: ” you state that no Iraqi party wants to repeat the past, then why, pray tell, are sadris and ISCI against Da3wa.”

    “Repeating past” is Seerwan’s argument not mine. In regards to Sadrists and ISCI supporting Iraqiya, I have already explained that. My guess is that they fear Maliki’s growing popularity with the core shiite base and Da3wa hegomony. Imagine if Maliki is able to wrestle away 20-30 seats from them in the next election, they will be finished and they know it (hence my prior statement about “nobody standing a chance.”) So, if I was ISCI or Sadr, I might join Iraqiya and bring Maliki down to size so he is not so powerful going into the next elections in 2014. It is basic survival for them. I don’t blame them. They want to hold on to whatever power they have like any politician would. I have never claimed otherwise.

    Observer you said: ” Now that you have lost this round when your arguments are turned against you, you want to stop talking about morality.”

    I never wanted to talk about morality in the first place because I think all sides stink with corruption and hypocrisy. It’s Allawi who is talking about all of Maliki’s “transgressions” while Allawi is happy to be buddies with Barzani who is guilty of similar transgressions. Iraqiya claims to be all about protecting democracy in Iraq, yet stands shoulder to shoulder with GCC dictators who despise Shia3. Call me cynical, but that’s fair game for me to point out and be alarmed by. Your only rebuttal is to call me a “Maliki apologist” or “supporter” or “armchair quarterback” or “academic” without actually addressing my charges at all. We “academics” find such lines of defense to be weak in general. It might fool some of the dullards out there, but not me.

    This is not about winning or losing an argument for me. These issues matter because I still do have close family that lives there; that has been kidnapped there; that has been murdered there; and I still visit there. And yes—God-willing—one of these days I will get off my lazy rear-end, and try to make a big difference there.

    regards,
    M

    p.s. Observer, I sincerely hope that someday you and I can meet when all the dust is settled, and you can reveal yourself, and we can share many meals together and chat. Every meal will be on me (unless of course you are a minister by then, in which case you better pay buddy!)

  34. observer said

    MO,
    I really do not have time for a detailed response as we have heavy meetings with Qatari, Saudi, Turkish and Israeli agents to continue the conspiracy and execute the coup so we can get rid of the “legitimately” elected PM of Iraq, your personal hero, Bless his Shadow (especially his 5″oclock shadow), Mukhtar al Zaman, the Nuri of Beni Malik of Twaireej. ;)

    But quickly; Two sentences had me choke on my watermelon and fruits dinner

    “Imagine if Maliki is able to wrestle away 20-30 seats”

    How is he going to do that? By bragging about the improved security, electricity, oil income, and increased employment? Or is it by agitating the sectarian feelings of the she3a agains ISCI and Sadrists? Or maybe it is by claiming that he is the one and only Mukhtar al Zaman in charge of protecting the she3a until the Mahdi comes in a few years?

    “I never wanted to talk about morality in the first place because I think all sides stink with corruption and hypocrisy”

    really? so why are you splitting hairs on Talabani vs Barazani ? And what about the torture in your man’s jails? Pray tell, what do we tell the families of the people being tortured and how do you repair the damage affected by torture, both physical and psychological. Oh sorry, I forgot. You condemned that part of Maliki’s behavior and that is supposed to be enough for me to accept your argument that your position is clean and moral. Do you see where you deserve the title of “armchair quarterback” and Academic?

    Peace,

    PS – yours truly will never accept a position in the government of Iraq (do not worry, it has been offered plenty of times). I doubt I will ever reveal who I am in the near future, and we do not run in the same circles so I doubt that we will cross paths even when I visit DC. If by chance you recognize the passionate arguments being made by an old Iraqi fart, ask him if he knows who observer is ;)

    santana,
    You can call maliki a dictator if you like. He certainly holds more positions (PM, minister of interior, national security and leader of the armed forces) than Qadhafi, or Hitler had.
    Peace

  35. placebo12 said

    Mohammed, perhaps I am a bit late in jumping into the discussion at this point – please forgive me if this is the case since I’ve been quite busy of late – but let’s continue where we started.

    My point about your insinuations of Maliki and co holding the best interests of Iraq are valid simply because you remain so adamant that the status quo (preferably without the oppositionary veneer that is Iraqiya) is the solution going forward. You’ve already stated your support for this above, so I cannot be seen to be misquoting you. Since that’s the case, I would either have to state that you would like this to continue because you DO believe they hold the Iraqi people’s best interests at heart (or would love to and cannot because of the evil rabble of politicians who get in their way); or you are suffering from an irrational bout of academic analysis and believe that our government should be formed of corrupt and blood-stained men and that this is somehow acceptable.

    Allow me to anticipate your response here: you will of course justify your position by contrasting Maliki with Barzani, Sadr, Allawi and others. But at no point did I allude to the deeds of these men. My position has been very simple. Accept who is responsible for Iraq’s current woes and we can then move on to discuss viable solutions. Unfortunately, you decided to avoid a direct question (describing these as “allegations” was a very shameful move of you Mohammed) and pointed me towards the HR abuses under Allawi’s 1 year premiership, whilst claiming that Maliki is unaible to “control” all his officers. If that’s the route you’d like to go down, I can similarly claim that the Ba’ath party’s shameful attack on its own people was a function of years of authoritarian government prior to their own rise. Saddam himself, the poor soul, was rarely aware of the acts carried out by his lieutenants against the she3a and Kurds. And oh, of course, the uprising in 91 was rightly put down in lieu of due process because it can be seen as a moment of “civil war” in which it becomes very difficult to ensure law and order.

    The sarcasm is very real here Mohammed because although the scale of proceedings are not currently the same, the logic behind your arguments certainly are.

    Maliki and Da’wa have held complete control over Iraq’s Interior and Defence ministries for the past two years. This is in addition to a further 4 years of political control over the interior ministry and oversight as Head of Iraq’s armed forces and Prime Minister. When it comes to military institutions, assignment of responsibility is always clear. Maliki is either unable to exert his authority as both party leader and head of these ministries over those cadres committing the atrocities (bad); or he’s implicitly accepting of what they do (very bad); or, in the most likely scenario considering how Iraq’s structures have always revolved around the ministry / PM’s god-given right to rule, he is explicitly ordering these atrocities to take place (insert your own choice of adjective here…)

    This ties very nicely into your examples of leaders giving up power peacefully when they’ve failed to do their job correctly (as laid out in the example of security forces, you’re well aware of the many other abuses although you chose to ignore them / reference others as opposed to the example in question). Maliki, in no uncertain terms, has failed for the past 6 years. If the examples put to you do not warrant failure in your opinion, then your standards are very low. If you subsequently believe the Iraqi people’s standards to be equally low, I would hope that you would stick to your medical practice in the US and afflict only your American patients. How many more years do you propose Iraq suffer until you and your fellow apologists can accept the status quo is no longer sustainable? Maliki has thus far given no indication of accepting his failures nor a willingness to step down. Ironically, he has already given signs of reneging on his “pact” to step down post-2014. Since you mention it, there was no dilly-dallying when Allawi stepped down (there was quite a lot of it when Jaafary eventually succumbed lest I remind you). In the case of Apartheid S. Africa, you excluded the context entirely. It followed years of violent and non-violent domestic pressure. It also followed a large global campaign for black emancipation. In Iraq’s case, domestic protest is currently being heavily suppressed (here’s a non-HRW link for you!
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/iraq/report-2012) and a “neutral” expat-Iraqi like yourself cannot even bring himself to acknowledge where the responsibility lies for CURRENT abuses.

    Finally, if you admit Da’wa are a sectarian organisation without the ideological clout to find success in every corner of Iraq (or at the very least outside of the KRG), why do you believe they are fit to rule, let alone wrest control over the majority of its major institutions?

    I have succumbed to the “Mo”-style of long-winded answers, so for next time I’d appreciate if you can keep your answers brief and in-line with the points raised as I have done above. Referencing the actions of other groups both past and present is not a form of debate. It only serves to avoid and distort. Unlike Iraqi politicians we all have day jobs to attend to!

  36. bb said

    Well Observer I see you did not address the central logical disconnect in your argument: namely it is the Dawa led govt that is controlled by Iran and bent on imposing a theocratic while the sadrists – whom Iraqiyya is backing – are and were financed, armed and controlled by Iran, introduced sharia law in every territory they controlled are apparently not?

    Understand the “what choice do we have in a semi democratic state” – assume you mean “bedfellows” – position. But in making that choice, can you say with confidence that Iraqiyya is not being reeled in as suckers by Iran with the goal of replacing PM Maliki with another shiite Iraqi leader more compliant to their dictates and facilitate their long term goal?

    I ask this in the context that back in 2008 Iran backed its puppet sadrists at the time when Maliki’s government defeated and forced the Sadrists to disband the Iranian armed Mahdhi army. Since then, Iran’s and Sadrists motivations for getting rid of Maliki and its long term goals for Iraq have been obvious for all to see, no?

  37. Observer said

    Ps
    Santana, i forgot Chief Justice of the Supremes of the Green Zome ;)

  38. Observer said

    Bb
    What i state in my response to you is that you are allowing to maliki whatnyou are disallawing to us. Before i go into mind numnimg explaination of retail politics to you, answer my basic question to you. Why is it ok by you that maliki and da3wa use kurdish and sadrists votes to stay in power and it is prohibited for us to use same to take him out?
    Give me a good answer to this before i will spend the time explaining what our agenda is for the future.
    Thanks
    And fe aman allah/peace

  39. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, I think you need to consider the potential scenario that Sadrists may go ahead and vote to remove Maliki and that the opposition to the move may come from Iraqiyya MPs who rebel against such a move by their own leadership. Again, at least a dozen of those deputies quoted in the previous post are real, current Iraqiyya members from northern Iraq who have pledged to not sack Maliki. They are from Nineveh, Anbar, Salahaddin, Kirkuk – is their opposition to sacking Maliki mainly due to Iranian pressures or might it have to do with popular sentiment in those areas?

  40. observer said

    Kaka RV,
    Like i said before, let us worry about Iraqia members. Just like Maliki tried to buy leadership of Iraqia, he is trying with others. We know and he knows that we know. When the rubber hits the road, it will all come to a head.

    I wish I can write more. But I shouldn’t. They think that they are dealing with amateurs…Oh well. Let them be.
    Peace

  41. Santana said

    Watch this video guys- another illegal and televised kangaroo court —-thses poor guys are forced to make false confessions- the guy screaming is from the Baghdad City Council Mr. Laith Al-Dulaimi…..he snapped and pulled back the forced false confession he was supposed to make in front of the cameras…..my heart goes out to them and I am seething with anger when I see what the scumbag Maliki is doing….this is the same crap they did to Hashemi’s guys….in Mohamed’s new “Democratic Iraq”

  42. Mohammed said

    Placebo:

    You asked me to be brief, but made a million accusations. It’s far easier to be brief and hurl accusations. I can answer each question as yes or no and hurl in an insult at Allawi and Barzani and be brief, or I can explain things as I see them to you and RV’s readership. I will choose the latter.

    You stated that I “DO believe they (Maliki/Da3wa) hold the Iraqi people’s best interests at heart.”

    My response: Since you failed to accept my prior explanation, you are forcing me to speculate and make assumptions. I believe a rational leader like Maliki wants to enjoy the support of the people (like any leader of a democracy would). That support provides him with greater power to advance his agenda. Improving Iraq’s economy, infrastructure, and security are goals that would also increase Maliki’s popularity and thus motivate him to achieve such objectives. Logically, Maliki would also avoid needlessly antagonizing the population as a whole (he may antagonize certain segments of the population to gain favor from the majority like he did with the visit to Kirkuk). Is this for altruistic reasons (guided primarily by the people’s best interests at heart as you say), or for ultimately gaining more power and promoting his grand agenda for Iraq as the end-goal? I am not in a position to know.

    If Maliki is caught stealing millions or billions of dollars for himself, then you have your answer. As far as I know, not even Allawi has yet to call Maliki a thief.

    Placebo you stated: ”Accept who is responsible for Iraq’s current woes and we can then move on to discuss viable solutions.”

    Iraq has woes currently, but Iraq’s conditions were far more “woefully inadequate” to meet the needs of the people prior to Maliki. The trade off on security and human rights is clear cut.

    I assure you that my explanations regarding human rights violations in Iraq are well grounded in REALITY. Your assumptions and expectations of Iraqi security services in a time of civil war are wholly unrealistic and academic fantasy.

    It is commonly accepted that the US military is one of the most well disciplined and trained militaries in the world (including basic training in human rights and Geneva conventions). In the fog of war, look at the multiple examples of torture, murder, false imprisonment, prisoner humiliation, etc that have been uncovered in Iraq and Afghanistan. If Bush and Obama cannot control the finest military in the world, do you seriously expect Maliki to do better?

    I am no soldier, but I deal with life and death every day as a physician (no Observer, I don’t sit around and ponder how many sand particles there are on the beaches, although since I do have a PhD in engineering as well, I can probably provide you a rough estimate if you’re curious). Under the “simple” stress we face in an elite American hospital (we routinely have gone 36 hours of no sleep while running a busy ICU), and life and death decisions that have to be made, I have seen physicians succumb and become verbally and physically abusive to other physicians, or nurses, and yes—I have even seen nurses become verbally abusive to patient families. The chief of surgery literally slammed one of his junior resident physicians against a wall with a choke to the neck when he disobeyed him. He was simply reprimanded with “anger management courses.” You want to compare that with Iraqi “military professionals?” Please.

    Imagine Iraq with infinitely more stress than my ICU. Iraq was in a civil war and we still have suicide bombs and snipers killing civilians/police/traffic cops/army on a daily basis. You throw in those stressors, a poorly trained rag-tag Iraqi military, lumped with some bad apples, and you will have human rights abuses, torture, and false imprisonment even if you had Thomas Jefferson as the PM of Iraq. Anybody who thinks otherwise is living in la-la land.

    In such situations as Iraq has endured, security trumps human rights. That is not an academic statement. That is a cold-hearted, no nonsense assessment of societal prioritizations. The end result is security has improved. Less people are dying from violence. In short, the Iraqi people at a population level ARE better off than they were prior to Maliki (even if you lump in all the abuses). Of course, that doesn’t mean there is no room for REALISTIC improvements, and that is where we should focus discussions.

    So Placebo, you want to be an academic idealist about human rights, go ahead. I doubt the Iraqi people agree with you. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (quote from Spock in Star Trek II).

    Placebo, you stated: “I can similarly claim that the Ba’ath party’s shameful attack on its own people was a function of years of authoritarian government prior to their own rise. Saddam himself, the poor soul, was rarely aware of the acts carried out by his lieutenants against the she3a and Kurds.”

    My response: Comparisons to Saddam and 1991 uprising and suppression are nonsense. Saddam was a dictator. He (and the Baath) had no legitimacy for ruling Iraq except through force. Maliki is the elected PM of Iraq—elected by a parliament that was chosen by the Iraqi people under fair elections (according to the United Nations).

    Iraq is NOT a police state. My Sunni relatives living in Baghdad have extremely anti-Maliki (and pro-Saddam) posts on Facebook with their real names listed—they are not losing any sleep over the police bursting in on them in the middle of the night. If the Iraqi people do not want Maliki, the Iraqi parliament (ostensibly the “voice of the people”) has the constitutional authority to remove him with a vote of no confidence. Such options never existed for Saddam. Saddam had no business violently suppressing any uprising against him, or maintaining societal security, because he had no right to be the leader of Iraq in the first place! If you can’t recognize the difference then either you were too young during Saddam’s days, or living in denial.

    Placebo, you stated: “Maliki, in no uncertain terms, has failed for the past 6 years. If the examples put to you do not warrant failure in your opinion, then your standards are very low.”

    My response: Placebo, who appointed YOU or ME the decider of failure or success? Check out IHEC results of 2010 (reflects Maliki’s performance from 2006-2010) and you will see that Maliki gained 624,247 votes. Next closest two politicians were: Allawi (410,223) and Hashemi (202,467) see http://www.ihec-iq.com/ftpar/baghdad.pdf. Maliki beat both of them combined. Those were fair elections. The recent NDI poll shows Maliki is probably even MORE popular today than he was in 2010. Iraq is a democracy (or semi-democracy according to Observer), and the people decide on who is serving their interests. Not you, not me, not Observer, not Allawi, and not Barzani.

    Placebo, you asked: “Finally, if you admit Da’wa are a sectarian organisation without the ideological clout to find success in every corner of Iraq (or at the very least outside of the KRG), why do you believe they are fit to rule, let alone wrest control over the majority of its major institutions?”

    My response: Unfortunately, their “fitness” to rule is irrelevant. I have stated many times that most people in Da3wa or the other Islamist blocks have no business running a kabob stand much less a major political office. The constitution does not specify a minimal IQ needed to run for major political office, but does stipulate holding a college degree (can be purchased online these days). Iraq is a parliamentary democracy. If Da3wa can attract enough votes in fair elections, you and I have no choice but to accept the results.

    In regards to controlling major institutions of government, that is part of the “spoils of power.” When Obama first came to office, the democrats controlled the house, senate, and every cabinet member (except the sec of defense) was a democrat. Maliki certainly cannot run the parliament as he chooses. The speaker of the parliament at this very moment is trying to garner the support to vote Maliki out of office. There are many ministries in the hands of Iraqiya and the Kurds as well. The judicial system in Iraq is deeply flawed, and that certainly needs remedies.

    Finally, with respect to replacing Maliki—the trick is to find a better PM through democratic means. If you guys want to hold a vote of no confidence and then select me instead of Maliki, just send a 747 plane to whisk me over to Baghdad, have the palace cook get the Pacha ready, and have my armored limousine waiting. I’m sure I will do a bang-up job.

    However, if you want to replace Maliki with a realistic alternative, I don’t think any of the choices discussed will do a better job than Maliki, and I think most will do worse. Dr. Mahmoud Othman just put up on Twitter: “Changing the PM post will not make a radical change, importance should be given to solving outstanding disputes between Baghdad and the KRG.”

    If Iraqiya wants to win over the Sadrists with some good old fashioned wheeling and dealing, I don’t blame them. That’s how democracy works. But don’t expect me to like have a Sadrist PM (I will have to accept it though). If Maliki can win over Iraqiya members or retain the Sadrists, that’s how reality politics works as well.

    Regards,
    M

  43. Santana said

    Thanks Mo- You would be the first Cardioligist I know that likes to eat “Pacha” LOL…which could disqualify your medical degree…..I did not read your whole post because I am certain it is a “Copy and Paste” from one of your previous posts…..nothing has changed….we are all wrong about your beloved “Abraham Lincoln Maliki”……AKA “God’s gift to Iraq” …….

  44. Brother Observer,

    Well, the Bait Al Shiee was formed under the reign of Bremer and the CPA as an informal forum for Shia to discuss matters of Shia interest. From what I read between the lines of Dr. Ali Allawi’s book, the SHia banded together to become a formal *electoral* alliance in the run up to the 2005 elections.

    Sir, I may be summing up a chapter in a paragraph or two, but the events of Moqtada Sadr taking over the Najaf Shrine *as Dr. Allawi portrays them* in his book leave no room for any other interpretation as the one I described.
    According to Dr. Ali Allawi, Iyad Allawi and his group did their best to kill Moqtada and not resolve the conflict peacefully.

    That may be what Iyad Allawi said in one meeting, but the occupation of the shrine lasted nearly a month and multiple efforts at peaceful resolution were, according to Ali Allawi, derailed by Iyad Allawi and the Americans, both of whom wanted to kill Moqtada.

    As for which group are dictated to more, Iraqiya or Dawa, I have no idea. As I recall, Iraqiya members have complained that Iyad Allawi is autocratic, but considering how undisciplined they are, I wouldn’t blame him.

    And I asked in a comment on this forum a few blog posts ago on the extent of Maliki’s control of Dawa, but no one here responded…
    In any case, Iraqiya is a coalition of different groups formed recently while Dawa is a political party that is decades old. Naturally Dawa would have a more unified platform than Iraqiya.

  45. observer said

    Mo,
    Iraq is not a police state. That is one sentence from your loooong post. Please explain to me if the video that is linked in Santana’s email supports your statement or negates it.

    Mo, you have morals and I know that you would never support or excuse such behavior. However, to me your hair splitting is just semantics. Iraq is going to hell and you are theorizing. Sand particles aside – the situation in Iraq does not bear theory. We have a real problem on our hands and this place is going to hell in a hand basket. You can agree or disagree all you want, but the price being paid on the ground is too much to bear to keep Iraqi united. I exaggerate not.
    Peace

  46. Mohammed said

    Santana:

    I threw that Pacha joke in just for you. And yes, you are right, I would probably have my license suspended for the kind of Iraqi foods I like.

    Also, you are right that some of what I posted above is a rehash of issues previously discussed, but placebo wants to bore us to death, so I had to answer him/her. I do urge you to read my actual accounts of what happens in a hospital though, it will be an eye opener….There is a reason they always have shows about what happens in hospitals (see above).

    Santana, while I don’t mean to make light out of the issues Placebo has raised, but the real crux of the matter is that this impasse is really about two issues 1) the Baghdad-KRG clash that defines the bounds of Kurdish autonomy/oil rights, and 2) a statement I remember you (Santana) made once regarding something Allawi told you: “Baba, hadha mayreed shiraka.” (For the non-arab folks out there, Maliki doesn’t want to share (power that is)). The rest is really a sideshow.

    And Santana, you know me well enough to know that I don’t think Maliki is the second coming of Abraham Lincoln. He has many flaws.

    But if a gun is put to your head, and you have to decide who runs Iraq between the following:

    1) Maliki
    2) Jaafary
    3) Chalabi
    4) Sadrist (i.e. Muqtada Sadr completely running the show behind the scenes)

    My guess is you would probably yell “just shoot me now!” and not pick.

    I will pick Maliki, but I agree that many problems need to be addressed (judiciary, security ministries, cabinet by-laws, KRG/Baghdad clash, etc).

    Regards,
    M

  47. observer said

    Mo,
    while your post is to Santana, speaking for myself, I think your choice for PM lack imagination ;)
    Peace

  48. Mohammed said

    Observer:

    Regarding the video Santana posted, yes, it does tug at my heart. As I have stated in every post, Iraq’s security apparatus is flawed. People are falsely imprisoned.

    Why should I waste your time to describe what is and what isn’t a police state (you will then of course accuse me of academic theorizing). It’s like pornography—you know it when you see it. North Korea, Saddam’s Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria are examples of police states. Iraq is not there (even you Observer just called it a semi-democracy).

    If Maliki is giving orders to imprison and torture people that he knows are innocent of the charges (and you can provide evidence of that), I would completely renounce him and rather that you randomly pick any Iraqi off the street with a college degree as PM. In the present case, Maliki has ordered that an investigation be opened to determine if an injustice was carried out (Maliki may be doing it for show or he may really be concerned— I don’t know). Even if Maliki is a selfish bastard, I don’t see what he gains by scooping up this poor guy.

    When you say, I am theorizing, you have lost me. I am telling you security trumps human rights. That’s a cold hard policy decision I would reluctantly make if I held the reigns of power in 2006. Am I supposed to say, “All you police officers go home! We will have Amnesty International and HRW conduct a thorough review, issue recommendations, and we will regroup in a year?” Come on man, Iraq was HEADED to hell in a hand basket in 2006. I don’t live there, but my Sunni Baghdad relatives do, and they say life is MUCH better in Baghdad than it was in 2006-2007. I wouldn’t dare visit back then, but I do now. Do you disagree?

    As for Iraq’s current state, the biggest problem is between Baghdad and KRG. The Kurds want de-facto independence and be part of Iraq in name only for the time being, until they achieve their dream of complete independence. Even Dr. Mahmoud Othman states self-determination is their right, and you know I admire him. Otherwise, I see little evidence that Iraq is coming apart.

    As for choices instead of Maliki—ok, pick some lesser known Da3wa figure. According to you, they are all corrupt slime balls. What’s the point? He just won’t have the personal popularity with the people that Maliki has (is that supposed to be more democratic?). Apparently, Da3wa is like the “borg” from Star Trek (conquers and assimilates all in its path). Will they suddenly turn into choir boys?

    We will not experience dramatic drops in false imprisonments, nor will we have 24/7 electricity and jobs for everybody. Allawi/Barzani will just sleep better knowing their nemesis Maliki is not the PM. Whoopie!

    Regards,
    M

  49. bb said

    Observer: I wouldn’t have problems with Iraqqiya using Kurdish and Sadrist votes to gain power if that mean’t Allawi was prime minister, although, imo, you’d want to be very careful about what portfolios you gave the sadrists and you’d also want to be very certain that Allawi would use the security forces to quickly put down any re-emergence of the Mahdhi army, as Maliki did.

    But Iran and the Sadrists don’t intend to empower Allawi, do they? The intention is to empower another religious shiite leader more amenable to their long term aspirations which are demonstrably to see a shia theocratic state in Iraq by whatever means, just as it is demonstrable that Tehran did and does not regard PM Maliki as their favorite son who will give them their theocratic state, and want to.get.rid.of him and his party.

    The obvious danger here is that Iraqiyya is being used and manipulated.

    As to the retail politics – my belief, fwiw, is Iraqiyya should be playing a long term game – building a strong relationship with the Kurds, building its base in the governorates and the ministries it controls, using the parliament and the media to expose Maliki authoritarianism, and pitching a consistent reconciliation/reassurance/inclusive message to the shia constituency.

  50. Observer said

    Mo,
    Really???.you want evidence that maliki personally targetted a specific poor schmuck who crossed him and order his torture to confess to crimes then and only then you would denounce mukhtarar al zaman, thhe nuri of beni malik. Interesting criteria you have. You surely do not use the same criteria to judge the anti democratic temdencies of malikis competitors. Do you have such evidence againt allawi and barazani for example? Does the term “double standards” apply here? I am sure you are going to come up with a neuanced response to squirm out of this argument. I look forward to hearing it though. I still think you should have become a lawyer. You are wasted on egineering and medicine. ;). You could argue againt Olsen and win a precedent setting case in thensupremes of dc.

    On secuirty vs human right. You do realize that your execuses are similar to those used by supporters of jamal abd alnaser, saddam, even asasd today, muamar a few years back, saudi arabia kings of today, etc., etc. so before you would denounce maliki you want to see iraq as a complete jail.. Well dude, it would be to late then, and your denouncation would be worthless.

    On second line cadres for pm. Why would you assume that it would be da3wa member? I thought you are smarter than that and more tapped into the situation in baghdad. Further, your reduction of the problem today to krg/baghdad, serves your argumentation but it does not reflect the truth. Enough for today.

    Sorry to leave you, but there are isreali and saudi and qatari and turkish agents in town. I need to seek them out to meet with ;)
    Peace

  51. Observer said

    Bb
    You are not following the news. Iraqya will not get the pmship. Enough for now
    Peace.

  52. Observer said

    Bb
    Sorry i just re read ur message. So your answer is that we fearmali,i and da3wa more than anything. We do not want to repeat past chapters. So your fears not withstanding, please do not assume we are idiots who know nothing and are dummies manopulated by outsiders.
    Peace

  53. Mohammed said

    Observer:

    You stated: “Interesting criteria you have. You surely do not use the same criteria to judge the anti democratic temdencies of malikis competitors. Do you have such evidence againt allawi and barazani for example? Does the term “double standards” apply here?”

    My response: Dude, I am beginning to see where my long posts have been working against me. You have NOT been paying attention. I have said over and over and over again, that ALL these guys (Maliki, Allawi, Barzani, Talabani) are tainted politicians. They are NOT saints. They will do whatever they need to do to advance their agenda within some bounds.

    When I brought up the HRW report citing Allawi’s administration in 2005, I did not use that to condemn Allawi as a tyrant. Allawi did what he had to do in attempts to maintain national security. I don’t blame Allawi one bit. I am simply showing you that all these types of human rights allegations/charges/etc against Maliki can also apply to Allawi. I am not giving Maliki a “get out of jail free card” and sending Allawi down the river. Again, find where I have called Allawi a “criminal or murderer?” Allawi gets in bed with disreputable characters, so does Maliki. For Allawi, you call it “sausage-making,” but apparently when Maliki does it—it’s bloody murder. It’s that simple. It is your side who tries to ride the moral high-horse. I say they are NO different. Where’s the hypocrisy? With respect to Barzani, again I have listed for you example after example of parallels to the charges you bring up against Maliki. I am saying they are no different. Allawi is saying he won’t get in bed with Maliki, but he will with Barzani. Who is the hypocrite here?

    Regards,
    M

  54. Observer said

    Mo,
    A manuver worthy of a grand master of a lawyer. A combination of straw-man manuver, and misdirection. Impressive indeed. Your talents are wasted in that hospital my friend.

    Here is the quote: “if maliki is giving orders to imprison and torture people that he knows are innocent of the charges (and you can provide evidence of that) i would completely renounce him,….”.

    So you get out of this one by saying they are all the same! Yet go read the other posts where you tell me barazani s worse an talabani and imply in the process that allawi is an immoral person for allying with barazani, etc,etc.

    Anyway, you want to have the cake and eat it too. Be that as it may, all i will say is at least in part due to this exchange, it is quite clear to all now that you are a capable lawyer for maliki and da3wa. I look forward to your attacks against his replacement ;)
    Peace

  55. observer said

    PS

    MO

    I forgot to mention that you avoided in your rebuttal the other quote “I am telling you security trumps human rights”

    You do realize that this a quote that I can get out of those defending Asad, ameer of Kuwait, King of Bahrain, and even Saddam 10 years ago, and Mubarak, and so many tyrants around the world. You know that you are bankrupt when you use this kind of argument. Sorry my friend, but your Maliki is done and soon you do not have to take the mantle of defending him and enjoy the position of opposition just like me. I look forward to joining you in critiquing the next august PM of Iraq ;)

  56. faisalkadri said

    M,
    FWIW I don’t think you are a Maliki apologist, I think Observer is wasting his energy on fighting you..
    Out of your four candidates I would choose Chalabi under the present circumstances; he is the most likely to stick to the rules, the rest of them look at democracy only as a mule to carry them to their destination.

  57. observer said

    faisal,
    Mo may not be an apologist, but he is a great lawyer for Maliki with double standards galore. As for my energy, please, i have boundless energy when it comes to the cause of making sure that Iraq does not become a theology or a one party state, or for that matter, a Qaid Dharora, even if that Qaaid is Allawi, or Barham Salih. As for the list of choices Mo presents, as I said before, it lacks imagination for there is no name on it that I heard as a potential replacement ;)
    Peace

  58. Mohammed said

    Observer:
    You said: “Yet go read the other posts where you tell me barazani s worse an talabani and imply in the process that allawi is an immoral person for allying with barazani, etc,etc.”

    Your honor, I will begin my case by presenting the facts.

    Here are the facts about what I have said:

    ***********
    Excerpt 1 (http://gulfanalysis.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/the-hashemi-trial-begins-amid-signs-the-iraqi-constitution-is-dying/#comments) – see comment 53
    Finally, what I have never understood about you, Observer, is how you are in a position to make such sweeping judgments about Maliki’s flaws but forget that Maliki’s latest accuser, Barzani, is really no better. Weren’t unarmed protesters shot in KRG last year? What about Sardasht Osman’s murder for being critical of Barzani.

    http://www.ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc2012/5/state6187.htm

    How is that different from Hadi al-Mahdi who was also murdered in Baghdad? I assure you that Barzani has much better control over his territory and men in KRG, than does Maliki over Baghdad, and any serious analyst would agree. Regarding power-sharing, Barzani/Talibani run the KRG as their own little fiefdom. Barzani can be implicated in pretty much everything that Maliki is accused of, except he is much better when it comes to public relations. Yet, he is a close ally and friend of Allawi. Care to explain that paradox?
    ***** *** ****

    Notice, my point is not about Allawi allying with Barzani instead of Talabani. My point is that if Allawi can stomach Barzani (and Allawi and Barzani are BFF (Best Friends Forever)), then Allawi has no business making gripes about Maliki’s short-comings. If Allawi was fair, then he would condemn Maliki and Barzani.

    Let me help you out here. I don’t claim that Maliki being with Talabani is a morally superior combination than Allawi and Barzani. In fact, if you really want to go after Maliki, you can point out that Maliki also sought the support from Muqtada Sadr (as is Allawi as I am typing away this very minute).

    So ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my “client Mr. al-Maliki,” is really not guilty of any more egregious offenses than his opponents have been implicated in as well. Maliki’s opponents would have you believe that they are morally upstanding global citizens. Don’t believe their words. Their ACTIONS and HYPOCRISY speak loud and clear. This is a big ruse and sideshow. This impasse is really all about power politics. Kurds want more power. Allawi wants more power. Maliki won’t give it to them. So they want to bring him down. There are no saints here (including my client). The double standards are with those against my client.

    I rest my case.
    M, JD MD PHD

    p.s. Observer, I hope you realize I am joking about the “client” label. Maliki couldn’t afford me. I charge too much. ;-)

  59. amagi said

    Observer,

    We have a saying in the U.S., “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings,” I don’t know what the Iraqi equivalent might be, but let me say your triumphalism makes me nervous. I never thought Maliki would make it as far as he has, I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment again.

  60. observer said

    Amagi, it is aint done yet but he fat lady is warming up right now. I hope I do not come out triumphant, because truly we are not done yet (there is still one more hurdle to cross before we move ahead). Even if we get the vote, this is not an outright victory. I do not want to say too much at this point.

    Maliki has given in on so many things and has given enough promises to fill a three page letter, but the bottom line is no body believe him or trust him or his team. This is what is important for you outsiders to understand about politics in Iraq. TRUST is soooo important. Once you develop a reputation for lying and being slick, you never out live it.

    Given that nobody believes him, the decision to replace him is a done deal. Of course now we have to cross the mine field that we knew we had to cross. All “extra constitutional” maneuvers that I am sure Maliki will get blessed by the supremes of the green zone. You can see hints of it in the pronouncements by Dwalet al Fafon reps in the parliament – it already started this AM with one announcement saying that all three positions will have to be brought to a vote or be replaced (pres, Speaker, and PM). Never mind that it is not proscribed in the constitution… The bottom line is that we all know that Dawlat al Fafon want to create a dynamic where they are in charge of a “caretaker government” where they can do as they please until a replacement is found and to create the stalemate that followed the last elections. They also want to be in charge when the next elections comes through.

    Iran is applying so much pressure and I know the Americans are aware so I hope the “experts” in the embassy and their counter parts in DC (be they DOS, Pentagon, or National Security) are preparing their briefs as to why they were wrong to say that Maliki is no friend of Iran ;).

    In summary, the game is not over yet. But that we are even here, is a testament to the intransigence of Maliki and Dawlet al Fafon NOTE MY WORDS please. This is not our victory, this is their loss.
    Peace

    PS

    By the way, Maliki can always come at us with “suspending the constitution”… then I am sure I will get “you were right” from the likes of Mo, and others – please do tell me where I can go to cash those “you were right” checks.

  61. observer said

    Mo.
    I wish I had the time available to go mine this blog for your quotes and show where you are being selective (like a good lawyer should of course)- but truly, i have to go to a meeting NOW.

    Your argument can be reduced to: They are all guilty of torture and heinous crimes and thus they are all bad.

    (that is the first step in my own straw man manuver – so that you do not coem back and accuse me of using straw man, please indicate if I miststate your position).

    Now, I will proceed with the next step, which is to demolish that argument with evidence that proves that your client is guiltier than all of them. But before I proceed to the next step, I need your affirmative answer to my first question. Please answer “yes” or “no”
    Peace

    PS

    By the way, you should begin your presentation by
    “if it may please the court” ;)

    oh a hint for you, I am not a lawyer ;)

  62. observer said

    MO and rv
    congratulations – your thinking is being reflected in Israeli analysis. Brilliant, until one the checks of “you were right” get cashed….:)

    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=271916

  63. Reidar Visser said

    Well Observer, I need to seriously protest the apparent underlying assumption in your comment that anything said in an Israeli forum is by definition false, misleading or immoral!

  64. placebo12 said

    Observer – I would be careful with stating a question in that format to Mohammed, he has already managed to slither out of a few of those situations above. Not because he answers the questions academically or logically as should be the case on this blog, but because he has the stamina of 40 men to blabber on endlessly (and I mean that as a compliment to you Mohammed, it must be all those long nights that you spend in the ICU!).

    On a more serious note Mohammed, below are my answers to your “defence of Maliki & Da’wa, chapter 46″. I’ve ordered them in line with your reply, should make it easier for you to follow and stick to the points raised.

    1. On the “rationality” of Maliki – your argument suggests that Maliki is a) a rational leader; b) therefore, we can assume he wants power; c) being a leader in a Democratic system means he wants this power secured by the population; d) therefore, he will work for the benefit of the country, and will avoid needlessly antagonizing the population as a whole.

    If we accept that Maliki wants to retain power, then it is a sweeping generalisation that simply ‘being in a democratic system’ means he wants to secure the power democratically. The whole argument is that we are moving away from a democratic system. EVERY autocracy that has developed in recent times has been a move from more towards less representation. There are dozens of countries that have had a similar historical trajectory to that of Iraq’s and then tried to establish a democracy; only a handful (around 5 to 7) have succeeded in establishing a lasting democracy.

    2. “Iraq being better in Maliki’s years” – you argue that the situation in Iraq was very bad prior to Maliki and not as bad after Maliki came to power. You’re clearly a man who likes absolute results over fannying around over the poor people and their human rights (and bla bla bla), you’ve said this to me enough times. Yet, since the levelling out of annual deaths post US-surge in 2008, the figures have remained EXACTLY the same. You somehow attribute this “success” to Maliki, yet the logic of causality suggests entirely otherwise. Civilian deaths per year (from violence) have remained at just above 4,000 since 2009 (incorporating the 2 years in which Maliki has also run the interior and defence ministries to his heart’s content). This year’s figures are heading for the same annual total. Tracking back, the huge jump in deaths occurred shortly after the end of Allawi’s 10-month tenure (in which deaths from violence actually dropped) – the moment the Da’awa PM’s started their long reign.

    3. “It is unrealistic for Iraqi security services under Maliki to not conduct Human Rights buses” – again, your conclusions simply do not follow from the arguments you make. Why do you compare the incidences of human-rights violations of U.S. military forces that have INVADED AND OCCUPIED A FOREIGN COUNTRY with (the massive number of) human rights violations that have occurred and CONTINUE to occur even after being brought to the limelight by INTERNAL SECURITY FORCES in Iraq?? Furthermore, do you seriously mean to argue that examples such as politically motivated assassinations (Hadi al-Mahdi) or mass imprisonment without trial (such as with the Sadrists) are due simply to Maliki being unable to control security forces?? Let’s not forget about who is in control of our security ministries – is 2 years in charge of all security-related portfolios not sufficient to even bring about a small noticeable change Mohammed? Ironically, the trend is in the opposite direction…The second irony, of course, is that in this instance you can’t resort to blaming other politicians for sabotaging Maliki’s good-efforts. Instead, you’re left with the good old “terrorists” and the “poor training” excuse – hmmm rings a bell…

    4. The results of “stress” and your ICU example – People get angry under stress. Great. What has this got to do with routine and rampant examples of torture, forced false testimonies, pre-meditated assassinations, mock trials and imprisonment without trial? Btw, was it you being held by the neck? Maybe you’d think about it differently…

    5. “security trumps human rights” – I am not an academic idealist by any stretch of the imagination. But, very worryingly Mohammed, your argument seems to border on the reasoning that human rights violations are actually JUSTIFIED today, rather than simply inevitable to some extent. I sincerely hope you have not crossed that border, lest your moral compass completely disappear. Talk to me about ‘social prioritizations’ once you or a close family member ‘disappears’ of the street, not to be heard of again, locked up in a dark cell indefinitely and (at best) routinely tortured. Your argument that the government committing crimes has reduced the level of crime in the country is unconvincing.

    6. “Saddam was a dictator / Maliki isn’t” – do you mean to tell me that you are genuinely arguing that;
    a) Attacks by the government on the population were wrong under Saddam, as he was not a legitimate leader.
    b) Attacks by the current government against the population cannot also said to be wrong, as Maliki was elected into office?
    Mandate does not legitimise or de-legitimise violating the population’s human rights.

    7. “Iraq is not a police-state” – It is a recurring argument of yours that, because there are some political and liberal freedoms, Maliki is not a dictator. I am not saying Maliki heads a totalitarian government. But this is not an ‘either-or’ question; there are levels of autocracy. In the few years Maliki has been in power, he has kicked out political opponents from the political process (without trial and sometimes even without an allegation), repeatedly tried to bring INDEPENDENT executive bodies under his control, reneged on political agreements that actually allowed him to become PM and maintained control over the SECURITY MINISTRIES in a government of NATIONAL UNITY (which returned him to his PM chair) to name a very short list of some of his autocratic tendencies. He shows no sign of moving away from such tendencies but is, rather, continuously trying to consolidate his power through illegal means. Allowing criticism of himself on Facebook to go unpunished does not indicate that Maliki will not move toward dictatorship; Saddam was not a totalitarian ruler from day one- in fact he moved far more slowly than Maliki has in consolidating his power; Maliki faces a tougher challenge with some of today’s ‘democratic checks’, but he seems apt at dealing with them. I guess he’s learnt a lot from Iraq’s recent history.

    8. “Maliki is popular with the Iraqi people” – my argument was not to do with Maliki’s electoral success. If that is what our entire discussion boils down to then we should stop arguing, turn off our computers and wait and see what the electorate, or their elected representatives do. This discussion revolves around two questions;
    a) Is Maliki working for the short/long benefit of Iraq, or to its detriment?
    b) Is Maliki moving towards consolidation his power illegally, discontinuing Iraq’s rocky transition to democracy?

    To my eyes, there is more than enough evidence to suggest the negative in both those cases. To yours, despite what I say here, it is most likely to be in the positive. But the very fact that we are spending hours debating this issue should be a sufficient eye-opener for you to understand that something is seriously wrong with the government we currently have in Iraq. You excuse yourself from this debate because of the apparent lack of “realistic” / better alternatives to Maliki, yet I would tell you that that is simply to take the lazy, short-term way out of the problem. And a bunch of short-sighted expats performing political “surgery” on those of us who (hope) to see things a little clearer is not the solution Iraq needs right now.

  65. placebo12 said

    P.S. – I take back my complaints of Mohammed and essay-writing. I’ve ended up just as bad. Wouldn’t want to be seen as a bit of a hypocrite though…

  66. observer said

    RV -
    hahaha

    “Apparent underlying assumption”

    You know when you “assume”, you make an “ass of “u” and “me”.

    You are reading way too much between the lines RV. The point you missed… your blog is mentioned by name in the article i linked. That means that people read this blog and what is said here influences OUTSIDERS. So give us a break. You have to take the responsibility of being the originator of “ideas” that eventually make it to the think tankers all across the globe. You do not want that responsibility, then stop issuing “reports” that Maliki is god’s gift to democracy and anti Iranian influence in Iraq that will reach the desks of decisions makers in the morning. Guess why I decided to make it a personal mission of mine to counter your and Mo’s thinking and make you see the TRUTH from the inside of the trenches.

    Again, you guys on the outside have no idea what it is like to live in a country that is on the edge of lossing yet another 40 years of its life to theology after spending 40 years to dictatorship just because it is the source of the freaking hydrocarbon of the world economy.
    peace

  67. observer said

    Placebo,
    way to go baby. I admire your diligence, Though, you lost me a couple of times and I had to re-read to understand. Too dense. Make it simple for us stupid people ;).
    Peace

    PS
    as long as the next generation is as smart as you are (and I know you belong to the same trend as Mo), I have hope. THANK YOU big time. You make me work harder!

  68. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, just to be clear, I stand by every iota I write and always assume it may be read in any territory of the Earth, even Israel.

  69. observer said

    RV.
    you can write whatever you wish, and I thank you for allowing me to disagree with you on your own forum. I only wish that you man Maliki is 1/10 as democratic as you are.
    Peace

  70. @ Observer and RV,

    That article Observer linked to is not Israeli analysis; it’s Iraqi.
    The article is an opinion editorial by an Iraqi student at Oxford University, Aymenn Jawad Al Tamimi.

  71. observer said

    Seerwan,
    It is published in Jerusalem Post. Are they in the habit of publishing opinions they do not agree with? I am not sure as Jpost is not on my regular reading list of browsed sites.
    Peace

    PS, not that it matters – the point is that opinions expressed on this blog find their way in “analyses” by experts.

  72. Mohammed said

    Placebo:

    I would like to second Observer’s commendations of your valiant effort to show me the error of my ways. Iraq does indeed have a bright future if there are more intelligent folks like you out there. But enough of the pleasantries, let’s get down to business.

    To ensure that I am being fair, I will cut-n-paste your points so: a)I make sure I don’t “slither” out of them, and b) make sure I use your words to instead of try to speak for you. The post will be longer, but don’t penalize me for copying your lines. Also, my Da3wa “handlers” pay me by the line, so just humor me so I can make this month’s payment for my new BMW.

    Placebo you stated: “1. On the “rationality” of Maliki – your argument suggests that Maliki is a) a rational leader; b) therefore, we can assume he wants power; c) being a leader in a Democratic system means he wants this power secured by the population; d) therefore, he will work for the benefit of the country, and will avoid needlessly antagonizing the population as a whole. If we accept that Maliki wants to retain power, then it is a sweeping generalisation that simply ‘being in a democratic system’ means he wants to secure the power democratically.”

    My response: I agree with points a) and b), but your point c) is inaccurate and a departure from what I stated. Again, to be accurate, I previously wrote: “That support (from the people) provides him with greater power to advance his agenda.” That does not imply that I believe Maliki wants secure his power ONLY through democratic means. Popular support is only one element that a leader seeks (very well described in Machiavelli’s “The Prince.”). Obviously, Maliki also seeks support from the other pillars of power in Iraq: Tribal leaders, religious ulema/Marja3iya, Iran, military officer corps, Da3wa senior leadership, American administration, etc. I wouldn’t call that “Democratic,” but it’s reality. In the USA, candidates fight over endorsements/support from religious leaders, businessmen, etc. That’s how the game is played.

    Placebo you stated: “The whole argument is that we are moving away from a democratic system. EVERY autocracy that has developed in recent times has been a move from more towards less representation.”

    My response: Explain how we have moved away from a democratic system? Have elections been suspended or rigged? Iraq’s parliament today is even more representative than 2005 (when many Sunnis boycotted the elections). At this very moment, the parliament is trying to vote Maliki out of office. If he refuses to go and uses force, you win your point. Not sharing “certain” ministries with Iraqiya does not constitute a lack of democracy. The constitution guarantees Iraqiya and other parties representation in the parliament as a function of their total votes—no more, no less. The rest is pretty much a “spoils system.” That Maliki has not always abided by the constitution is something that I have myself condemned. I repeat—Maliki is no Jeffersonian democrat. He has flaws. But his flaws (that I have read about or learnt about from secondary sources) are not show-stoppers in my book.

    Placebo you stated: ”There are dozens of countries that have had a similar historical trajectory to that of Iraq’s and then tried to establish a democracy; only a handful (around 5 to 7) have succeeded in establishing a lasting democracy.”

    My response: Yes, democracy is hard. We should always hold our leaders’ feet to the fire. Agreed…but, what’s your point? You want to remove Maliki using constitutional methods? Go ahead. It’s your right. But, if you can’t muster the votes, then what?

    Placebo you stated: “Iraq being better in Maliki’s years” – you argue that the situation in Iraq was very bad prior to Maliki and not as bad after Maliki came to power. You’re clearly a man who likes absolute results over fannying around over the poor people and their human rights (and bla bla bla), you’ve said this to me enough times. Yet, since the levelling out of annual deaths post US-surge in 2008, the figures have remained EXACTLY the same. You somehow attribute this “success” to Maliki, yet the logic of causality suggests entirely otherwise. Civilian deaths per year (from violence) have remained at just above 4,000 since 2009 (incorporating the 2 years in which Maliki has also run the interior and defence ministries to his heart’s content).”

    My response: When you start providing numbers, I will demand reliable sources (the old Reagan saying: “Trust but verify.”) According to: http://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/ In 2007, there were 22 deaths per day from suicide bombs, the numbers went down thusly: 2008-10, 2009-8.3, 2010-7.3, 2011-6.6, 2012-6.7. In 2007, there were 41 deaths per day for gunfire/executions and trended thusly: 2008-14, 2009-4.3, 2010-3.9, 2011-4.6, 2012-4.6.

    As a point of reference, the USA annual (2010) crime tables for murders shows: 14,748 (see: http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm)

    If you exclude bombs, violent deaths in Iraq are 4.6*365 = 1679 deaths/year. Iraq’s population is roughly 1/10 that of the USA. So if you normalize on a per capita basis, Iraq’s violent murders are on par with the USA when excluding bombs. Including bombs, then Iraq’s total violent deaths comes to (4.6+6.7)*365=4124 deaths per year. Roughly about 2.5 times the USA violent death rate when corrected for population size.

    As you can see, the non-bombing murders have barely budged since 2009 (and will likely not be much better any time soon as I don’t expect Iraq to be safer than the USA within the next 10-20 years). The deaths from suicide bombs have dropped from 2009-8.3 to currently 6.7. And, yes, that is a significant drop.

    Obviously security for the Iraqi population has significantly improved since Maliki took office. People were theorizing that once the Americans left, all hell would break loose with worse violence, but the numbers show Maliki has been able to keep things stable.

    Finally, what the numbers don’t reflect is the tangible differences the Iraqi people feel. A young Iraqi female doctor on Twitter was remarking how her family could stay out for several hours in Sadr City at night—something unheard of just a couple of years ago. My family feels safer in Baghdad (and the Sunni side hates Maliki more than Santana does). Concrete barriers are coming down, and people are not living in fear with dead bodies rotting out in the streets on a daily basis in every corner of Iraq as before.

    Of course Placebo— you, Allawi, and Observer don’t want to even provide even partial credit to Maliki for these improvements. I understand. However, I find it curious that anytime a suicide bomb does unfortunately go off and innocent people are turned into blood spatters on the cement, Allawi makes a mad rush to the microphone and blames Maliki for the security failure.

    Placebo you asked: “Why do you compare the incidences of human-rights violations of U.S. military forces that have INVADED AND OCCUPIED A FOREIGN COUNTRY with (the massive number of) human rights violations that have occurred and CONTINUE to occur even after being brought to the limelight by INTERNAL SECURITY FORCES in Iraq??”

    My response: My point here is about command and control of security forces. I assure you that the American civilian and military leadership has far better command and control of their forces with all their professional training, communications, and strict chains of command even when invading a foreign country than Maliki does of Iraq’s roughly one million poorly trained, poorly equipped security forces. As Abu Grayb episode illustrated, American soldiers were engaging in outrageous behavior never sanctioned by American generals like Abizaid or Patraes. Thus, I have no doubt that many of Iraq’s security forces are engaged in behaviors that were never sanctioned by Maliki.

    Placebo you asked: “Furthermore, do you seriously mean to argue that examples such as politically motivated assassinations (Hadi al-Mahdi) or mass imprisonment without trial (such as with the Sadrists) are due simply to Maliki being unable to control security forces??”

    My response: I have already addressed the Hadi al-Mahdi murder. No different than the media personality killed for criticizing Barzani in the KRG. Neither murder has been proven to be carried out under the direct order of Barzani or Maliki. Does Maliki have rogue agents working in his security forces? I am sure he does. Imprisonment without trial occurred under Allawi (see HRW report, but of course you ignored) and under Maliki. It is an unfortunate problem when a country has suicide bombers (especially at the level of 2006-2007), and is challenged to find the bad guys before the next bomb goes off. I imagine Maliki will bark orders to his lieutenants: “200 people just died in this bombing! You better go and find these terrorists. I want to see results! Or I will fire you just like I fired your predecessors.” Of course, the next guy barks an order down the chain of command and passes on the heat to the foot soldiers, and you have your mass arrests to show “results.” Are some of the people picked up innocent? Yes. Are some guilty. Yes. It’s an unfortunate evil that comes when society is threatened by massive violence. But, I doubt Maliki is doing it just to watch people suffer. And neither did Allawi when he was PM.

    Placebo you stated: “The results of “stress” and your ICU example – People get angry under stress. Great. What has this got to do with routine and rampant examples of torture, forced false testimonies, pre-meditated assassinations, mock trials and imprisonment without trial? Btw, was it you being held by the neck? Maybe you’d think about it differently.”

    My response: My point is that when people are subjected to stress, they tend to snap and do awful things to fellow human beings (even if under orders not to). A police officer must endure incredible stress going to work and pray that a bad guy doesn’t have his number with a “silencer gun.” Imagine having to bury his buddy who was killed by another terrorist. What will that police officer do when he gets his hands on a defenseless suspect and nobody is watching? Prison guards can also develop a “God Complex” much like physicians are accused of. There is no way Maliki can stop such abuses in our lifetime given what stress Iraqis have gone through.

    Regarding your question, no it wasn’t me being choked. For a minute, I thought you might think I was the guy choking the resident given what an awful brute I must be.

    Placebo you stated: “I am not an academic idealist by any stretch of the imagination. But, very worryingly Mohammed, your argument seems to border on the reasoning that human rights violations are actually JUSTIFIED today, rather than simply inevitable to some extent.”

    My response: My point is that human right violations are inevitable under the situations Iraq has endured since 2003. You need not worry about my moral compass. Imagine if the USA started to experience scores of suicide bombing by American Arabs and Muslims. I assure you, I would high-tail it out of here to Canada in a hurry. I have no doubt that they will target all Arabs/Muslims in America (the land of the “free”) like they targeted the Japanese during World War II, and apologize to us a couple of decades later. It is a basic human response. I wish all people were enlightened like you, Observer, RV, etc, but that is not the case.

    Placebo you stated: “6. “Saddam was a dictator / Maliki isn’t” – do you mean to tell me that you are genuinely arguing that;
    a) Attacks by the government on the population were wrong under Saddam, as he was not a legitimate leader.
    b) Attacks by the current government against the population cannot also said to be wrong, as Maliki was elected into office?
    Mandate does not legitimise or de-legitimise violating the population’s human rights.”

    My response: This argument is related to the aforementioned inevitable human rights abuses that arise when society tries to protect itself for existential threats. However there are other differences that also need to be remembered. 1) Saddam was an illegitimate tyrant, and when he abused human rights, his motivation was to secure his dictatorship and tyranny over the population. His motivation for securing the peace is quite different than a democratic government that is ostensibly trying to protect the greater public, while reluctantly adopting policies that may harm some innocent members of the population.

    Look at the example of Fallujah in 2005 when Allawi was the PM. Many academics believe that significant war crimes occurred in the 2005 Battle for Fallujah (a battle led by the Americans that Allawi sanctioned as PM). I know many innocent Iraqis died in Fallujah. Perhaps there were more creative, less violent ways of flushing out the terrorists in Fallujah. But, I really don’t put that in the same class as Saddam’s attacks on Iraqi cities. Allawi’s aim was not to preserve his hegemony over Iraq, but to protect Iraq from the bad guys.

    Placebo you said: “But this is not an ‘either-or’ question; there are levels of autocracy. In the few years Maliki has been in power, he has kicked out political opponents from the political process (without trial and sometimes even without an allegation), repeatedly tried to bring INDEPENDENT executive bodies under his control, reneged on political agreements that actually allowed him to become PM and maintained control over the SECURITY MINISTRIES in a government of NATIONAL UNITY (which returned him to his PM chair) to name a very short list of some of his autocratic tendencies. He shows no sign of moving away from such tendencies but is, rather, continuously trying to consolidate his power through illegal means”

    My response: We have debated the “political agreements” (aka Arbil agreement) a million times, and I am not going to waste space discussing it. Arbil agreement was unrealistic, unconstitutional, and could never be implemented. RV has discussed it in detail. If you’re interested, see his posts. RV has proposed ways of resolving the security ministry issues. With respect to the independent bodies, and the Supreme Court decision, I have yet to understand what it means in practice. As far as I know, Maliki does not run IHEC nor can he decide who the IHEC people are (it must be decided in parliament, and he just suffered a loss there last month regarding IHEC). Regarding the UNITY government, I was never a believer in it in the first place. Unrealistic. However, I remind you that Iraqiya received many ministries, and the parliament speaker position. Not too shabby. The Kurds also enjoyed a few ministries. Has Maliki behaved autocratically regarding certain points? Certainly, and I have condemned them.

    Placebo you said: “Saddam was not a totalitarian ruler from day one- in fact he moved far more slowly than Maliki has in consolidating his power;”

    My response: Please read a book on Saddam’s history. He was a thug and murderer from day one as a Baath enforcer. No Iraqi political leader in the early 70s would be able to insult Saddam and live. Look at all the insults hurled Maliki’s way on a daily basis.

    Placebo you said: ““Maliki is popular with the Iraqi people” – my argument was not to do with Maliki’s electoral success. If that is what our entire discussion boils down to then we should stop arguing, turn off our computers and wait and see what the electorate, or their elected representatives do. This discussion revolves around two questions;
    a) Is Maliki working for the short/long benefit of Iraq, or to its detriment?
    b) Is Maliki moving towards consolidation his power illegally, discontinuing Iraq’s rocky transition to democracy?”

    My response: You have already asked question a) before and I have provided you with an answer. As long as democracy is protected, ultimately, the only relevant answer or opinion belongs to the iraqi electorate.. As for b) he has consolidated some elements of power (namely in the security services). My biggest problem is that the division commanders were not approved by the parliament. You have to remember that per the Iraqi constitution, Maliki is the commander and chief of the Iraqi armed forces. I do not blame him for placing people in high ranking military positions that he can trust, he should follow procedure though. As for discontinuing Iraq’s rocky transition to democracy, I will hold judgment. If Iraqiya is successful in a vote of no confidence, and Maliki steps down peacefully, then it certainly would appear that he respects the overall will of the parliament in a peaceful way.

    Placebo you stated: “You excuse yourself from this debate because of the apparent lack of “realistic” / better alternatives to Maliki, yet I would tell you that that is simply to take the lazy, short-term way out of the problem. And a bunch of short-sighted expats performing political “surgery” on those of us who (hope) to see things a little clearer is not the solution Iraq needs right now.”

    My response: Whether I am an expat or not. I am an Iraqi citizen, born in Iraq, with family in Iraq, and I visit Iraq, and make contributions to Iraq in my own ways (outside of politics). I have every right to voice my opinion. Many of my relatives who live in Baghdad support Maliki. Many people on the other side opposing your political views that endured Saddam’s jails, and lived in Iraq all their lives, and continue to support Maliki would also beg to differ. So spare me the “expat” excuse. You’re smart enough to come up with better reasoning than that.

    Personally, I am not wed to Maliki. He has many flaws. I have never met the man, and if he were to be replaced tomorrow, I would not gain or lose anything materially. If Maliki is replaced, and all hell breaks loose with an indecisive and useless successor, it will be the weakest segments of Iraqi society that pay the price (not you, not me, and not Observer nor Allawi). I don’t think that such a gamble is worth it in light of the improvements that the average Iraqi has experienced over the past 5 years. With respect to laziness, and searching for a better solution, I am certainly not willing to put my trust in Barzani and Allawi and Muqtada al-Sadr to find a better PM.

    Regards,
    M

  73. observer said

    MO,
    OMG. I am not even going to start reading !!! Where do you get the time to even think about writing your dissertations!!…

    AMGAI, the fat lady is on stage ;)
    Peace

  74. amagi said

    Thank you, Observer! But where should I direct my attention? I am straining my ears, but cannot hear her yet!

  75. Santana said

    Guys- Maliki can’t ignore the build up towards a “No-confidence vote” anymore…the Sadrists may actually throw in their 40 seats and make it happen this time….. BUT I maintain my position – that it will all depend on what Iran tells Moqtada to do……if an “”Iranian approved replacement” is in the works …….and is also approved by the Kurds and Iraqiya then I do believe that Maliki is history….the DOS is watching closely now…they are not gonna jump in and support this :no-confidence” measure till they know 100% it will happen..till then we are on our own…….then if it looks real, there will be a statement by DOS saying how supportive the U.S is of this constitutional move and congrats to the new boss, and how the USG was uncomfortable all this time about Maliki’s modus operandi to establish a one man-one party rule supported by Iran and all the stuff they would not dare say now,,,, which in relity is cuz they are waiting for the fat lady to sing first………this statement by DOS will be released very quickly before the GOP and Romney’s buddies try and beat the dems to it.

    Here in DC……It’s all about the elections guys !!

    Mohamed…you are in lala land bud- where do you find the time to write all this ???????

  76. observer said

    Sabah Saadi just announced what I am not supposed to talk about.
    peace

  77. Mohammed said

    Believe it or not, it didnt take more than an hour or so. It was a a loooong frigging post for sure (written around 5AM so cuz I couldnt go back to sleep). I pasted much of placebo’s prior post, it looks longer than my prior posts.

    In any case, I have said what I have to say, and will say no more until we see if this move against Maliki is real, or just a bluff to get him to give up some powers. I still bet on the latter, but I am not in the game, so we shall see.

    M

  78. observer said

    santana,
    It aint over yet! There are still constitutional challenges rulings by the supremes who are awaiting orders of Qaid al Dharora, bless his 5 O’clock shadow, the Nouri of beni Malik. Do you think they are not capable of back dating “inquiries” about the constitutional basis of no confidence motions? Do you think that maliki is basing his intransigence on no plans? There is a huge mine field to come. Guys – never underestimate Da3wa and Maliki or their Iranian coaches ;)
    peace

  79. observer said

    http://www.shatnews.com/index.php?show=news&action=article&id=1973

  80. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, not sure whether the fat lady is truly singing yet:

    لكنّ مصدرا يشارك في اجتماعات دوكان، أبلغ “ايلاف” في إتصال هاتفي، أن الاجتماع استهدف إقناع طالباني بالموافقة على الطلب من مجلس النواب سحب الثقة من حكومة رئيس الوزراء نوري المالكي. وأكد أن قادة التحالف الكردستاني والقائمة العراقية والتيار الصدري ونوابًا من ائتلاف المالكي أكدوا لطالباني انهم مصممون على سحب الثقة من الحكومة ولذلك فإنه سيدعو إلى جلسة برلمانية طارئة تاركا للنواب تقرير مصير سحب الثقة

    In a telephone call to Elaph [oh well] a participant at Dukan said that the meeting aimed at convinving Talabani to agree to ask for a no confidence vote…. THEY impressed on Talabani they were set on withdrawing confidence and therefore he will call for an emergency session….

    Anyway, not sure why you are bothering with Talabani when 65 Iraqiya deputies can also ask for a NCV? To get him aboard to secure PUK votes that are not secure?

  81. observer said

    RV
    it takes longer to do it the way you are suggesting. It was our Plan B.
    Peace

  82. Ali Aboud said

    Mohammad,

    I find it strange that you call yourself an academian but yet you fail to understand the difference between a person being a dictator/having dictatorial tendencies and a system of dictatorship. Iraq is not a dictatorship at the moment but it has at least one (if not more) dictator in its government.

  83. Lars said

    Santana you wrote : ….the DOS is watching closely now…they are not gonna jump in and support this :no-confidence” measure till they know 100% it will happen..till then we are on our own…….then if it looks real, there will be a statement by DOS saying how supportive the U.S is of this constitutional move

    Are we getting closer with this :
    A source in the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that the latter received on Tuesday evening the U.S. ambassador to Iraq,

    …he found the Ambassador is informing him that Washington was with the Iraqi people and with its democracy and its constitution and not with a person specific “in an indirect reference to al-Maliki.
    The head of the Office of the Presidency of the Kurdistan region revealed in an interview published by “squares of liberation” a few days ago that Washington had informed the President of Kurdistan region Masoud Barzani during his visit last March on the “change-Maliki has no objection if it was constitutional and democratic ways.”

    http://www.shatnews.com/index.php?show=news&action=article&id=1974

  84. Santana said

    Yes Lars- I am getting the same indications here in DC from DOS……but still-what they are now concerned about is what may happen or what Maliki may do once 163 + have been collected- his reaction ((militarily ???) and how all the new positions are going to be handed out ….and again- all this during the election year…

    also – this was in Sot Al-Iraq….I hope it is true…but I remain skeptical…for non-Arabs…the translation ……. it says that last week Moqtada kicked Qassem Sulaimani the Head of Iran’s Quds Force out of his home in Najaf when Sulaimani asked Moqtada to ease up on Maliki and not to remove him and to keep the Shiites United with Maliki…….so he asked him to leave and quit interfering in Iraqi affairs….then it goes on to say that Ahmed Chalabi whispered in Moqtada’s ear “what if there is a fatwa from Iran prohibiting a no-confidence vote ? and Moqtada replied “If Haeri issues such a thing- will reject it and turn secular”……..all this sound honorable and wonderful…..but I have my doubts….I hope I am wrong,,,,here it is-

    http://www.sotaliraq.com/mobile-news.php?id=59034#axzz1wOM8V0Z6

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