Iraq and Gulf Analysis

What Maliki Said

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 16 August 2010 21:41

Today’s news that the secular Iraqiyya list is breaking off dialogue with the Shiite Islamist-leaning State of Law headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is bad news. Unfortunately, it is also another indication that Iraqiyya is more focused on establishing pretexts for keeping a distance to Maliki as a person instead of moving seriously towards rapprochement on the many political issues where the two entities are in agreement with each other and much closer than the rest of Iraq’s political parties.

Ostensibly, Iraqiyya is cutting off relations because it is offended that Maliki called them a “Sunni party”. That description would of course be incorrect; whilst Iraqiyya has solid support in Sunni-majority areas, it is the only list to garner substantial support across Iraq from Basra to Mosul. However, the criticism of Maliki by Iraqiyya, too, is unfair. The transcript from the Maliki interview on Al-Hurra Television to which Iraqiyya took exception makes it perfectly clear that Maliki was seeking arguments for including Iraqiyya in the next government. So, he simply made the point that Iraqiyya has become the main representative of the Sunnis in Iraq:

قال نوري المالكي لقناة الحرة اليوم الاثنين

مسالة الاتفاق بيننا وبين القائمة العراقية ليست مجرد رغبة امريكية او رغبة طرف عراقي سواء دولة القانون او الائتلاف الوطني، انما القائمة العراقية، ولنتحدث بصراحة،  اصبحت تجمع يمثل المكون السني واي دولة (حكومة) تتشكل مالم يكون هذا التجمع وهذه القائمة التي تمثل هذا المكون موجودة ووجودها له شراكة حقيقية فلا يمكن ان تستقر الدولة. ..

هذا هو المنطلق الذي يجعلنا نركز على ضرورة مشاركة القائمة العراقية في الحكومة

That is not to say that Maliki denied Iraqiyya has important non-Sunni members or voters. In fact, members of Iraqiyya themselves have been making exactly the same point before. For example, in early June, Hani Ashur told Al-Hayat that a meeting of Iraqiyya, INA and the Kurds represented the “three components” of the Iraqi people. Of course that means Ashur, too, in some ways was thinking of his own party as a “Sunni-backed” one, since there is no way he could have meant that the Kurdistan Alliance or the Iraqi National Alliance represented the Sunnis:

وقال القيادي في «العراقية» هاني عاشور ان «بين الكتل الثلاثة تشترك في اجتماعها على الإسراع بتشكيل الحكومة، وايمانها بالحوار، وتمثيل هذه الكتل الثلاث لمكونات الشعب العراقي بأطيافه وقومياته وشرائحه الاجتماعية وقدرتها على تحقيق الأصوات المطلوبة في مجلس النواب لاعلان الحكومة وحتى ترشيح رئيس الجمهورية ورئيس المجلس»

It is depressing that Iraqiyya finds it useful to jump at statements like this one by Maliki, which in fact was meant as an invitation. (Also indicative of the temperature in Baghad is probably the suggestion by Iraqiyya that the accountability and justice board deal with Maliki under article 7 of the constitution: The whole critique of the de-Baathification of Mutlak and Ani was based on the (correct) assumption that the AJ board has no jurisdiction when it comes to article 7!) At the same time they continue “dialogue” with INA (which is still showing no signs of accepting Ayad Allawi as premier and probably never will) as well as the Kurdistan Alliance, pretending not to see that this conversation is in fact deadlocked. The full list of the 19 Kurdish demands has now been made public, and it includes the following nuggets:

15- التمثيل الكردستاني في الوزارات السيادية ومجلس الوزراء والهيئات المستقلة وكافة مؤسسات الدولة بصورة عادلة ووفق الاستحقاق القومي.

16- ان يكون للجانب الكردستاني حق البت في مرشحي الوزارات السيادية والوزارات الاخرى ذات الصلة باقليم كردستان.

18- تعد الحكومة الائتلافية مستقيلة حال انسحاب الطرف الكردستاني بسبب خرق دستوري واضح او عدم تنفيذ البرامج المتفق عليها.

19- تلتزم كتلة رئيس الوزراء في البرلمان وفي مجلس الوزراء بمساندة المشاريع الانفة الذكر.

Kurdish representation in all areas of the government on the basis of “ethnic entitlements”; a Kurdish veto on candidates for all leading ministers and those “connected” with Kurdistan (presumably oil, water etc.); a diktat that the party of the prime minister in parliament must embrace all these points; and not least, the automatic resignation of the government in case the Kurds detect a grave violation of the constitution! Do not these items provide a far better rationale for Iraqiyya for freezing their relations and finding more realistic partners?

17 Responses to “What Maliki Said”

  1. Ali W said

    I think sooner or later if this continues, Maliki will resign or be forced to resign which will bring about the rebirth of NA, and Iraqia would have shot itself in the foot.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Exactly. If Iraqiyya does not join State of Law in a majority government, only INA have the numbers to give them what they want. And they are not going to give them that anyway.

    Meaning that for the moment, with the freezing of talks with Maliki, every dialogue in which Iraqiyya is engaged leads to nowhere and is a waste of time.

  3. mostafa said

    Hi Reidar,
    some rumors say that Jeffrey Feltman (the Assistant Secretary of USA for Near Eastern Affairs) is the one who asked Iraqiyya to freeze the talks with SLA after coming back to Baghdad from Arbil. that may be because the Sadrists and Fadila are giving hints that they are going to accept Maliki as a PM, so Feltman is trying to prevent that by creating an anti-maliki atmosphere.
    (the silly cause of freezing the negotiations can proof the validity of that analysis)

  4. Ali M said

    How on earth does Allawi still delude himself into thinking he will be able to form the next government. INA have repeatedly rejected him and are probably more likely to accept Maliki (with sufficient Iranian pressure) or at least someone else from State of Law than Allawi. His latest move is incredibly narcisistic and arrogant; it is as if he is more concerned with the pride of his list than the interest of the country.

    I don’t see how things can go forward now. Unless INA have a change of heart and back Maliki, it looks like all avenues have been exhausted. I can’t see the likes of Hashemi, Mutlak and Nujayfi accepting an INA minion as the new prime minister. How much would you wager on new elections?

  5. Santana said


    Iraqiya did not break off talks cuz of this statement- the statement was the last straw and Iraqiya was not getting anywhere with SLA anyway. This whole thing is so frustrating -I am not optimistic about a deal with INA either….there are bigger ideological gaps between Iraqiya and them then there are with SLA but Maliki has crossed the point of no return with Iraqiya, ISCI and the Sadrists. So……clearly there is an issue with Maliki that needs fixin to get talks going again….the 19 points submitted by KA is just a wrench thrown into a broken/dead machine – it does have it’s merits or silver-lining as they say- it serves as a grim reminder/motivator for the others to swallow their pride, compromise and workout a deal with minimal dependency on KA.

    In my opinion-Shuttle diplomacy and a pro-active effort by the U.S and UNAMI is our best hope. November 2nd is getting closer and it may just be the fire under the USG butt that will entice USG to do something to break the stalemate….but as history has proven over and over again it will come at the 11th hour when all options have been exhausted.

    I think a Sistani directive is one sorry option that’s for sure !

  6. Reidar Visser said

    Mostafa, note that the recent statements by Iraqiyya on the US position have not been particularly friendly. The US is above all concerned with getting a new government seated, so why would it seek to destroy one of the few realistic tracks towards forming one?

  7. Salah said

    The US is above all concerned with getting a new government seated, so why would it seek to destroy one of the few realistic tracks towards forming one?

    Reidar, you kidding Reidar, isn’t?

    Reidar, tell us one GOOD thing that US done in Iraq for the past 7 years…, may we don’t know as you looks had good sources that different from ours maks you write the above statement.

  8. Salah said

    is one sorry option that’s for sure !

    you dont need to be sorry, it’s US favourite option

  9. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, there can be no doubt that the USG wants to have a government in place asap. As explained earlier, I agree as far as the urgency of the matter is concerned but not with the strategy of putting every player (with the possible exception of the Sadrists) inside the big tent. Hence my opposition to the Kurdish 20 points etc. On a lighter note but on the same subject, here is a quote from French WWI premier Clemencau: “Even God was satisfied with Ten Commandments, but Wilson insists on fourteen”….

  10. Mohammed said

    Hi Reidar:

    Similar to how Iran would never allow INA to support Allawi for PM, I suspect that Saudi Arabia is exerting pressure against Allawi and Iraqiya not to support al-Maliki for PM.

    It is quite obvious that Saudi Arabia has a deep seated hatred for al-Maliki (while still hosting al-Hakim and al-Sadr!). I cannot see Allawi going against regional arab governments. In the past few years, Allawi has spent more time out of Iraq than inside.

    The only way the SOL + Iraqiya talks would have gone anywhere would be for Iraqiya to concede PM to al-Maliki. If you are SOL, even though you may have some policy similarities with Iraqiya, there is no way they can support Iraqiya to head the security services (allawi has already promised to sack many generals in the military if he were PM). Nobody would trust the future of Iraq’s security to the type of people Allawi, Nujaifi, and al-Hashemi would appoint to head the security. If push came to shove, al-Maliki would just allow somebody else from state of law to be nominated, and I think Iran would force INA to accept this, and that would be the end of it.

    Thus, until Iraqiya is willing to make such a concession, I think negotiations are fruitless anyways. In the language of Iraqi politics, breaking off talks is just theatrics again. This is all about who will blink first.

    The question is why would Iraqiya behave in this manner? If anything, they are not stupid. They know INA will never support them. For some reason, Iraqiya wants to drag this out. There must be something else that they see or are planning that is not apparent to the rest of us. Perhaps they are waiting for some spectacular attack against the goverment, riots to break out, or some military coup.

  11. Santana said

    Mohammed- It is true that the Saudis don’t like Al-Maliki but neither do any of Iraq’s neighbors (except Iran) . He is kind of in the same boat as Obama as far as popularity…if elections were redone today in the U.S and in Iraq Obama and Maliki would not even get half the votes they got.
    Anyway- you mention the possibility of a Military Coup….I think that the way things are going it may be the only and the best option besides a Iraqiya-SLA merger…… but it would only be the best solution if it was done by Iraqi nationals with no ties to Iran and MUST be covertly supported by the USA .
    I would be dancing in the street for days !!! LOL

  12. Ali W said

    I dont think that Iraqia are smart as Mohammed says, firstly they are backed by Saudis, making them 100 times worse than the Iranian agents and stupider and that they are living in a different planet.

    As the majority of Iraqis are shia (Santana would love this), and they have shown support the shia parties, INA and SLA would lose face for backing the biggest enemy to Iraq which is the Wahabi sunni, woman beating Saudis, and the the baathists who destroyed Iraq for the last 35 yrs. They know that in the next election, anyone who has been seen making a deal with Allawi, he and the pary would be decimated in the elections.

    Times have changed, sunni Arab minority can never rule Iraq again by itself, the sooner Allawi and INM relaise that, the sooner they would give up the PM position and let things progress.

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Ok this is getting really uninteresting. Any comment relating to claims about the “true sectarian balance” in Iraq is automatically disqualified from now on. You all claim to be secularists: Then you should care about which percentage of Iraqis want a centralised government and which percentage want a confederation Barzani-style, not about numbers of Sunnis and Shiites. There are thousands of other places on the internet where you can carry on that discussion but not here please.

  14. Thaqalain said

    Reidar what will be immediate impact of today’s worst bombing, its same like 2006-07 days, what will be shape of the middl east region if Americans will really leave Iraq in status-quo. I am sure cries of dead recruiters will cross 7 skies and 10/14 Commandments will not remain silent.

    Who is responsible for the bloodshed, honestly tell us.

  15. I think the political process in Iraq is driven by short-term psychology, not foreign influence, not money, just plain insecurity. And if you can identify the person or the party who feels least secure then that’s your momentary leader. I think Allawi’s decision to boycot Maliki is a bad short term reaction and not characteristic of Allawi’s openness to dialog and it will be reversed, and I think the main driver of insecurity is Maliki in his siege mentality and track record of not meeting his word with the Kurds, the Sadrists and others. The main danger is not in letting Maliki be PM per se, it is in letting his government oversee the next elections, that’s why the squabble over who will be the PM for the second period when negotiating alternating premierships. It is high time to consider UN supervision over census and elections.

  16. Reidar Visser said

    Thaqalain, for discussion of security developments, bombs & whodunnit etc. you’d better look elsewhere. It is not the sort of thing that makes sense to comment on from a distance.

  17. Kermanshahi said

    Well Reidar it’s always been said that the Supreme Council are skilled negotiators and so far they’ve always managed to make the best from the worst. What we’ve seen in the election aftermath is this skill of ISCI. However they might very well be heading for the end of their days in power.

    It is the question weather their problem is al-Maliki, or the will of the Iraqi people. Even they manage to unseat al-Maliki and get all the Shi’a parties, it will only give them another 4 years in charge and if it wasn’t Maliki which weakened them but infact the Iraqi people which reject them, they will loose the next election anyway. In a democratic system there is a clear limit to how long they can stay cling on to power without public support.

    And Santana, the Iranians are all but happy with al-Maliki the last 2 years.

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