Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Now That Was Sectarian, Mr. Maliki

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 18 August 2010 12:41

Now that the full Al-Hurra interview with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been aired, a more complete picture of his thinking in terms of coalition-making has emerged. Unfortunately, it is not good news.

It is strange that the reactions so far have focused so much on Maliki’s description of the Iraqiyya party as “representing the Sunnis” since this clearly was an attempt by Maliki at justifying the inclusion of Iraqiyya in government and as such not an attempt at sectarian discrimination. However, in the full interview, there were other remarks by Maliki that amount to the most primitive form of sectarianism that exists: His assertion that “The prime minister post should definitely go to the Shiite component”:

“إن الخارطة الجدية لتشكيل الحكومة هي إن رئاسة الوزراء ستكون حتما للمكون الشيعي ورئاسة الجمهورية للكرد ورئاسة البرلمان والمجلس الوطني للسياسات الاستتراتيجية للعرب السنة المتمثلة بائتلاف العراقية وتحديدا لزعيم الائتلاف اياد علاوي الذي قد لايقبل بهذا المنصب”.

That is sectarian, no matter how much you try to twist it. Nowhere in the Iraqi constitution is there a demand that the PM post should go to any particular sect; even the higher ranks of the Shiite clergy have reportedly suggested that the job could go to a Christian or a Yazidi as long as it is a competent person. This does not bode well for any kind of ideology-based rapprochement between Iraqiyya and Maliki’s State of Law, since the very aim of that scheme – admittedly supported only by a few brave politicians inside each of the blocs – would be to transcend the whole notion of sectarian quotas.

66 Responses to “Now That Was Sectarian, Mr. Maliki”

  1. Yeah, try to define the Shia (political) component = implicit in the argument does not include Allawi..

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Frankly, I don’t care whether it excludes Allawi or not. What it does, explicitly, is excluding anyone who is not a Shiite, by establishing the idea of a “component entitlement” to the job (pretty much just like the Kurds have been doing with the presidency).

    This is a grave violation of the constitution, first and foremost.

  3. Ali Rashid said

    It seems that Iraq’s politicians (Izzat al-Shabandar made very similar comments to Maliki’s a couple of weeks ago) are hell-bent on entrenching sectarianism in country’s political and social fabric. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Yeah, I was shocked when I saw that from Shabandar, around the end of July. He often makes positive contributions, but this one was really a shame:
    فهناك نظرة بأن هذا الموقع للشيعة، على حد تعبيره.

  5. Thaqalain said

    While matters are settled b/w Sadrists & Allawi, it seems Al-Maliki have no option other then take easy slogans to regain his lost image. Soil is sliding under his powerful feet.
    Yes any one can be a premier in an ideal scene and why should not we apply the same theory in London/White House. Why all models to be applied on Baghdad’s Power Desk? BTW Democracy is the name of counting but we don’t weigh each vote.

  6. SK said

    Do you think Iraqiyya are genuinely secular (or less sectarian)? Aside from Allawi, do their other leaders, as well as the rank and file, really hold to a non-sectarian platform, or do you think there is some smoke-screening going on?


  7. Ali W said

    Although constitutionaly this is wrong, I think there is a point when looking at the current situation, when the shia are constantly under attack in Baghadad, and fighting Wahabis and baathist bent on shia oppression and surrounded by hostile countries to the Majority of Iraqis like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt etc.

    Yes its wrong in normal circumstances, but Iraq is going through a rough time. I hope this will disapeare in the future when Iraq becomes safe and prosperous, as for now, we have to be realistic.

  8. Ali W said

    Might be a bt more relevant to the previous post!

  9. Reidar Visser said

    SK some are genuine secularists; some are Sunni sectarians disguised as nationalists/secularists. To me the litmus test is how people react to the “Shiites are the majority” assertion. Genuine secularists say “It does not matter.” Quasi-secularists object and say the Kurds + Sunnis are the majority.

  10. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, I just got a statement from Allawi’s office saying the talks are still off.

  11. Ali M said

    Maliki’s comments in a way imply that Allawi shouldn’t be allowed to take office for this reason, because he is a “representative of the Sunni community” and isn’t part of the “majority Shia component” from whom the prime minister has to come from.

  12. Jason said

    But are the calls for sectarian apportionment of power gaining any traction, either with the populace, or in the govt formation talks? (Not as far as I can tell) Or are people just getting fed up with the whole lot of them?

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Not among the general population, I think (haven’t heard about any popular demonstrations demanding that the PM be a Shiite yet) but it is the unwritten iron law of the politicians – little wonder since they would be out of business if their attempts at playing up ethno-sectarian cleavages should fail! In fact, along with some segments of the 22 July front, Maliki had been one of the few brave politicians to rise above ethno-sectarian power-sharing in a theoretical sense at least, especially when he talked about the idea of a “political majority” (circa March 2009-April 2010); by way of contrast Iraqiyya remained a tawafuqiyya (consensus) party for all practical purposes in this period.

    It should be added that Maliki has been severely criticised by several influential international players for daring to challenge the concept of ethno-sectarian consensus. Both Ad Melkert of UNAMI and Chris Hill have been prominent in this regard; Hill today held a spirited defence of ethno-sectarian apportionment “between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds” at USIP. Well now Maliki is back “on message” again… Doesn’t mean the chances of getting a government seated is increasing though.

  14. Santana said

    I always maintained that Maliki is sectarian and covertly pro-Iran..(Saudi Intel figured him out ages ago !)..anybody who cries that hard at fadhlallah’s funeral where his face is red and he is ready to have a coronary attack can’t be secular…last time he cried this hard was in Qum at the funeral of Khomeini. The sooner Iraqis stand up to all the Iranian sympathizers and Ahmedenejad “rear-end kissers” the quicker we will have stability and prosperity.

  15. Reidar Visser said

    Santana, I disagree with the part about Fadlallah – I think Fadlallah was seen as an important bridge between religious and secular forces in the ME at large.

    Also, Maliki did make an honest attempt at reaching out to Mutlak and other secular forces in early 2009 but was apparently put under pressure from Iran/ISCI at that point.

  16. Santana said


    That’s not my point- I am not reflecting on Fadhlallah- My point is how can you cry that hard about someone you hardly know ?….unless he was acting- and if so then Maliki deserves an Oscar for that performance.

  17. Reidar Visser said

    As far as I know Fadlallah was very central to the Daawa in the 1990s when others such as ISCI were busy fraternising with Khamenei and his entourage. I would imagine Maliki had contact with Fadlallah when he was based in Damascus?

  18. Santana said

    Yeah Maliki lived in Damascus- his real name is not Nouri it is Jawad and he had a small stand in the market selling worry beads they called him Jawad AboulSebah meaning Jawad the Worrybead guy….He definitly knows more about Worrybeads then runnin a government.

  19. Huner said

    Reidar, was it because of that remark – i.e that a shia should get premiership that Allawi broke off talks?

  20. Ali M said

    Santana only a cold-hearted pathetic animal will find it impossible to cry for the death of a great man just because you did not know them personally

  21. Ali M said

    So Santana do you begrudge the President of Russia for crying over the Orthodox Patriarch as a sectarian or the PM of Spain for crying over the Pope as a sectarian, or does your logic just apply with Shia Iranian fire-worshippers?

  22. Ranj Alaaldin said

    Reidar, great post as always. However, didn’t Tariq al-Hashimi say a similar thing a while ago when he said the Presidency shouldn’t be given to a Kurd but an Arab?

  23. Kermanshahi said

    I think Maliki has been playing both ways for quite a time, he’s been acting like a secterian sometines and nationalist at other times, for him it’s all a scheme to try get as many voters as possible.

  24. Reidar Visser said

    Huner, Allawi has repeated in a public statement that it was the designation of Iraqiyya as representing the Sunnis that made him break off talks. To my mind, some of the references by Maliki to the strength of Iraqiyya in Sunni areas were rather inoccuous and actually an attempt at justifying their inclusion; to me the red line is this concept of restricting the premiership not to a particular party or alliane – real or imagined – but to a specific “mukawwin” or sect/component.

    Ranj, that is aboslutely right, I think I have criticised Hashemi for that previously in a post or in the comments, I think it was some months ago. I asked various Iraqiyya people about it and they all say Hashemi was severely criticised internally for making that kind of racist claim to an “Arab” presidency and it hasn’t surfaced any more to the best of my knowledge.

  25. Thaqalain said

    I think Allawi was waiting for token withdrawal of US Troops to reach on brokered deal of Syria. I am sure Al-Maliki will remain in good book of White House and they both need to share power, for White House they both will serve for it’s interests.
    The conflict or broken deal is for media session and records. World knows how Abudullah Abdullah was made silent while defeated Karzai retaken Kabul.

  26. Ali W said

    Everything in Iraq is sectarian, sectarianism has always exised in Iraq at some level and it has only boiled over when the shia took their rightful place at the top of the political heirarchy.

    It will never go, but will subdue to a level in the future were it can be manageable. And there is no single party that is not sectarian except for maybe Mithal Alusi’s party and unfortunately he did not get a seat.

    Hashemi has made racist remards, the Kurds and now Maliki, this is Iraq!

    Ali M- dont bother with Santana, read his posting two blogs ago, its best to avoid direct dialogue with him, we must not allow him to drag us to his level, and use the manners of baathist.

  27. Santana said

    Ali W.

    I am entitled to my opinion just as you are entitled to yours. If all Iraqis had the same opinions and views on things then gov formation would have happened within 24 hours of the election results ratification……..and I couldn’t care less whether you ignore my posts or not…I am quite sure you will keep reading them- just like I read yours.

  28. Jason said

    These occasional sectarian outbursts do not appear to be so much a coherent scheme as flailing in desperation for anything that might budge the deadlock. I believe that there may be a silver lining – every time a politician attempts a sectarian maneuver and there no public response in support, no demonstrations in the streets, means that sectarianism is failing to carry the day, and becomes weaker and weaker as a bludgeon for forming a govt.

  29. Mohammed said

    Hi Reidar:

    I very much agree with you and I am also disappointed by al-Maliki’s comments regarding the post of PM being designated for a Shiite.

    Whether you and I like this or not, I think the sectarianism in Iraq today is not going to go away any time soon. Iraq is in the middle of a region surrounded by sectarian governments. Obviously, the sunni parties will be at a big disadvantage if they endorse sectarianism because sunni arabs are probably in the minority (I am basing this off interpretation of the latest elections).

    Santana, I agree with you that Iran is up to no good in Iraq. I have a very simple litmus test. Iran’s government does not treat its own people very well. Thus, it is quite obvious that they do not have the best of intentions for Iraq. However, I disagree with you with respect to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has the most severe restrictions in terms of freedoms on its population. Furthermore, the state of saudi shiites is horrible. Thus, if Saudis treat saudi shiites that bad, how can you expect them to want what is good for iraqi shiites.
    Thus, your belief about what Saudi Intel thinks regarding Maliki cannot be very persuasive.

    In the end, there are likely 3 important countries in the gulf area (putting Turkey aside). Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq. Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting for regional influence and power. If a future Iraqi government aligns with Iran, then Saudi Arabia’s position will be weaker, and the converse hold true if Iraq (under Allawi) aligns with Saudi Arabia. Thus, I expect both these regional actors to continue to push to make sure that the sect that is the most loyal to them comes out on top. However, I still think that Maliki is not as much of an iranian puppet as you think. You should not mistake aligned interests with being a puppet. I think both al-Maliki and Iran do not want to see the baathists come back to power, thus their interests are aligned. He will respect Iran because he knows how influential they are in the shiite south, and can cause him trouble if they should desire to do so.

    As for me, I want people to have freedom and democracy so that a shiite can vote for a yazidi and a christian can vote for a jew. I also disagree with you about a military coup. I do not want another military dictatorship. We have gone through so much to gain the precious freedom we now have. Things are not great, but they are not hopeless. In a true democracy, it will simply be a matter of time when truly cross-sectarian coalitions can emerge as powerful actors. There is not one significant list right now that can boast to be representative of Iraq. Iraqiya is mostly made up of sunnis, and SOL and INA are shiites without sunnis. An SOL + Iraqiya coalition would have been great, but it is not in the cards right now.

  30. I saw that Juan Cole a few days ago warned about the possibility of a military coup if the politicians can’t overcome their sectarian and personal differences and put together a working coalition led by a reasonably strong figure. And Tony Shadid seems to allude to that possibility as well in today’s NY Times.

    Can any of you identify a high-ranking and/charismatic officer around whom a coup might coalesce?

  31. Ali W said

    still hope of smething being done in regards to to INM/SLA alliance.

    And in regards to a coup, I put it as near impossible, firstly because the Iraqi army is weak and dos not possess enough heavy weapons to control the population, secondly many in Iraq wont stand for it, thirdly the international community would not tolerate it.

    I think currently its impossible, and Obama wont back it.

  32. John Robertson,
    I agree in priciple with Ali W that a coup is nearly impossible to succeed, given the near total lack of air cover for any Iraqi actor. But I think the only plausible instigator could be Maliki in case of not getting PM post. Some of his supporters are under the illusion that he has wide popular support, this is a particularly dangerous factor to tempt him in trying something foolish.

  33. Santana said


    You are correct about the possibility that Maliki can try something stupid- infact this is one of the reasons the Americans were pushing very hard to have the gov formed before Aug. 31st however it would still be extremely hard to pull off….Coups require months of secret planning and coordination and the U.S military would see red flags way before it is put into action. Maliki would be removed immediately just for the attempt.

    The only military coup that would have any chance of succeeding would be with covert U.S help and support. Things would have to deteriorate to an extreme before that is considered.

  34. Salah said

    Any one who new Iraq well from inside knew that sectarian division was starting during the tyrant regime in lower profile but was booms and boosted when US invaded Iraq and occupied starting by Bremer’s CPA collection. Along the past seven years sectarian division deepening with what the talking about Maliki and his ilk’s in fact the signs of sectarian from their faces and their hands that full of BOG stones rings and their faces.
    This not the first time Maliki crossing the lines this from early this year when he met whom the called Iraqi tribes leaders similar to tribe leaders in 1990 during the tyrant days, Malik publicly calling no one can get the power from them.

    These guy you discussing and full your space and spending you time talking about democratic process in new Iraq.

    Please listen carefully what he said back then:

    المالكي ما ينطيها
    المالكي وهوة يقول “هوة لو احد يكدر يأخذه للسلطة حتى تنطيه بعد”

  35. Santana said


    What are “BOG stones rings” ??

    Anyway- Maliki publicly apologized but only to get the talks back on track- we know how he really feels.

  36. Salah said

    Santana, its typo error should be
    “A big Persian stone rings”

  37. Salah said

    “Anyway- Maliki publicly apologized”

    We don’t know how sincere are with their apologise, but time over time these guys proven they were faithful to their sectarian agenda/ attitude as they created and crying for its 30 years ago with help from midwife by Mullah in Iran. Can’t changed for sudden to be liberal, beer in mind with last election although they played lower sect. level but it was existed back then and after with all kutla form these who cry for the injustice for their sect. Which they keep this slogan going for their self necessities

  38. Ali W said

    This quite big news, right? This could pave the way for the solidification of NA. This should in theory force certain anti kurdish leaders in INM to for Allawi to yeild the PM job to Maliki!

  39. Reidar Visser said

    Just more of the same, I would say, perhaps with a slight movement towards greater emphasis on the all-Shiite alliance. But Iraqiyya is still going on with its hopes for a “Sadrist miracle”, and today there were actually statements purporting to indicate Sadrist support for Allawi. I think it is just a means of putting pressure on Maliki in the game within the would-be Shiite alliance.

  40. Reidar,
    If psychology has anything to do with the process then the rapproachement between the Sadrists and Iraqiya is more than a means to put pressure on Maliki, look at the body language.

  41. I just read a comment by Ray Odierno which says that the US is against including the Sadrists in the new government. Psychologically, this makes it even more likely to assert an alliance between Iraqyia and the Sadrists, mediated by Syria and opposed by Iran and the US. Wow.

  42. Reidar Visser said

    Faisal, just to be clear, are you envisaging the Sadrists breaking out of INA to support Allawi, or pushing all of INA towards supporting an Allawi premiership?

    I am still unconvinced and think it is just a way of putting pressure on Maliki…

  43. Reidar, I think pushing all INA towards supporting Iraqiya is a real possibility. Will they support Allawi premiership? I don’t know.

  44. Santana said

    Guys- The Sadrists don’t need to convince INA to accept Allawi- the Sadrists will do it thru the Iranians cuz that is who INA listens to….the fact that the U.S is against a Sadrist ascent will help soften the Iranian stand against Allawi – and IF Iran agrees (a big if)it would be under the assumption that a strong Sadrist and INA presence in the new government is the best they can hope for at this time – before SoL makes a deal with Iraqiya.

  45. Kermanshahi said

    I think if INA will support the Allawi premiership really very much depends on what their plan is. If the plan is infact to unseat Maliki, get the Shi’a from his bloc to desert, then ditch Allawi and create an INA+elements of SLC alliance with the Kurds, than they’ll try to get one of their own or someone who they can control as Premier. If they believe that they can control Allawi and intend to keep the alliance with him (which can possibly lead to some Iraqiyya factions leaving and thus weakening the faction and strengthening INA inside the government), than they will accept.

    As for Iran, they will leave it up to ISCI to do the negotiating and coalition building but they’ll use their influence to help them as much as possible in doing so.

  46. Mohammed said

    It should give one reason to pause, and to think about how principled Iraqiya is to cozy up to Muqtada al-Sadr. His Mahdi army butchered many innocent people for no reason than having a name of “Omar” or “Othman”. I know Faisal you showed those interesting body language pictures. Did you ever see the video of when Allawi was in Najaf and how al-Sadr’s followers chased him out with shoes?

    It is quite strange to see these political pairings. I wonder what it is about al-Maliki that al-Sadr and al-Hakim hate so much. I wonder why Allawi would rather work with them than deal with Al-Maliki. I agree with Reidar, all of this political posturing is only meant to get Maliki to drop out of the scene. In the end, al-Sadr and al-Hakim will never support Iraqiya to gain the PM position. If you think that al-Maliki was authoritarian, does anybody seriously believe that Allawi would be less so? Why would they allow him to have this position now when they have refused for the last 5 months? How have the political equations changed?

  47. Santana said


    At the moment it seems everyone is still in a bit of a shock about the comments Allawi made in Moscow that the U.S “wants a PM close to Iran” !….I would love to hear the views/comments to that.

  48. Ali W said

    Tawafuq, Mutlaq, Nujayfi are all linked to batthist insurgecny that have targeted people called Ali, Hussein etc in the triangle of death, it was only when the shia started to defend themselves (and some credit goes to JAM) + the Iraqi army managed to defeat them.

    My point is there are no principles in Iraqi politics, a few months ago INA and SLA called INM baathist, although fairly accurate, they are now talkign to them to form the government and Maliki is prepared to reverse the debaathification process just to stay in as PM.

    And the previous government which had a big chunk of Tawafuq, and their leaders kept getting caught with explosives, but they remained in government.

    However I agree that INA will never accept Allawi as PM. INM’s stupidiity in view will give enough time for NA to form and it will cost them dear.

  49. Jason said

    Let’s cut through the sectarian crap and look at the real interests:

    The Sadrists hate Maliki because he has locked up many of their followers and ended their mafia-like control of Basra and oil smuggling which was a huge revenue generator for them. They will NEVER agree to Allawi for the same reasons.

    Allawi and Maliki are apparently too hung up on their personal ambition to care what happens to Iraq if they do not join forces.

    The U.S. would prefer Allawi, but would also readily agree to Maliki, for PM. Ideally, they would join forces to form a cross-sectarian govt without the Sadrists.

    The U.S. wants to contain the Sadrists because it believes Iran is using them as proxies to attempt to turn it into a puppet state. If Sadr (or one of his designates) comes to power, any subsequent elections would be of the Iranian variety where the outcome is predetermined. Iran particularly covets indirect control of Basra and its giant oilfields.

    The best outcome for the U.S. is an Iraq that is a stable, peaceful democracy and a steady producer of lots of oil, that is entirely independent of either Iran or Saudi Arabia. The U.S. anticipates that eventually the dictatorships in Iran and Saudi Arabia will finally collapse (either internally, or with a push), and it needs Iraq as a hedge against disruption in the world oil supply when that happens. The U.S. may complain more about the danger from Iran, but make no mistake, we all know that the Wahhabi terrorists that struck us came from KSA. We are just too dependent on their oil to do anything about it until we have reliable alternative suppliers.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. has a wimp for a President that is merely trying to survive. Obama’s party is going to get smacked hard in November, leaving him even much weaker than he already is.

  50. Santana said

    JAM is nothing but a bunch of lowlife criminals,thugs and sectarian terrorists- they alternate their time between stealing, killing and rackateering.

  51. Reidar Visser said

    Santana, I’ll certainly have more to say about those issues later in the week. For now, I think Allawi is just referring to the perception that the US seems interested in a second term for Maliki. To my mind, what Iran wants is simply any figure that keeps the Shiite alliance alive, be it Maliki or someone else, but I guess that is where he sees some congruence between the positions of Washington and Tehran. I am personally still not convinced that Iran really prefers Maliki to, say, a weak INA candidate. After all, I get the impression that the idea that Iran really wants Maliki is something we hear about mostly in the Saudi press, with unnamed ISCI sources and that sort of thing – it does not always sound convincing, and they do have an axe to grind.

  52. Jason said

    No, Maliki would not be Iran’s first choice by any stretch of the imagination. That would probably be some member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

  53. bks said

    Jason writes: The best outcome for the U.S. is an Iraq that is a stable, peaceful democracy and a steady producer of lots of oil.

    And world peace and no more hunger or disease and everyone will live
    happily ever after. And a pony.


  54. Jason said

    You can attempt to trivialize it all you want, bks, but most all of mankind’s achievements of the last 100 years have been possible because of abundant, affordable energy from the ME, most especially mechanized farming that allows 3% of the U.S. population to feed the other 97%, and transportation that allows us to drive or fly anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes, even spaceflight. Continued availability of affordable energy is crucial to avoiding world hunger catastrophe of Biblical proportions, and yes, if Iran and KSA implode at the same time, I would recommend a horse or pony, because gasoline could go to $20-50 per gallon.

  55. Jason said

    And as for world peace, yes, most of the terror being committed in the world is orchestrated by Iran and/or KSA funded Wahhabi fanatics. So they are two of the primary obstacles to achieving a lasting world peace.

  56. Kermanshahi said

    Iran would prefer Adil Mahdi for ISCI is Iran’s nr.1 choice to rule Iraq. After that they would also favour Jaafari, or a Sadrist, a weak INA candidate as Reidar suggests or even Challabi over Maliki. Infact they might even prefer Allawi (and we know he’s Iran’s ally Syria’s favourite) over Maliki they don’t like his allies (al-Mutlaf, al-Nujayfi, al-Hashemi).

  57. Mohammed said

    Interesting viewpoint Kermanshahi.

    I wonder why do all of Iraq’s neighbors hate Al-Maliki. Is he not obedient enough? Whose purposes is he trying to serve or perceived as serving?

  58. mostafa said

    Hi Reidar,
    Seems like the Sadrists are gonna accept Maliki as the PM… look at this:
    but ISCI are still saying that they are refusing him.
    is it possible that ISCI could stay out of the government with the Sadrists in it?

    Also, what about Allawi’s involvement with Crescent Petroleum?

  59. Mohammed,
    Maliki doesn’t need neighbors’ money, he has the Iraqi state. I think Maliki’s problem is his credibility, let me tell you a story which I think is true: When Mutlak tried to decide which block to join for the March elections Maliki told him: Join me and I’ll make you (vice) president. Mutlak decided at that moment to join Allawi because of Maliki’s track record and because the promise was so unbelievable.

  60. Reidar Visser said

    Mostafa, first, isn’t Mukhlis al-Zamili from Fadila? At any rate, everyone seems to be making claims about Sadrist supports these days. For weeks now, Iraqiyya has said the same thing. I still think they might be playing both sides against each other. The other day there was a rumour they were interested in Muhammad Allawi as PM instead…

    To your question about Crescent Petroleum, I must admit I did not know about Allawi’s role on the board of that company, which invests in Kurdistan in bilateral deals with the KRG. It does seem like a major contradiction to me. Maybe some Iraqiyya supporters can explain?

    Faisal, I have heard many different versions of that story, including very different ones that were circulating last autumn when some Iraqiyya members made the case AGAINST joining with Mutlak… It sounds a litlle incredulous given that both men must have known at the time that there would be no significant powers for the president in the next term – and certainly not for the vice president.

  61. Mohammed said

    Dear Faisal:

    When it comes to credibility, I think there is more than enough examples that one can look at each candidate with a big question mark. That is not a very convincing story you offer.

    My own theory is the following: with respect to the Shiite parties, they don’t like Maliki because he is too independent (not a team player). When you really look at things, Al-Maliki, Al-Hakim, and al-Sadr are targeting the same Iraqi base—“religious shiites.” The last 4-6 years in Iraq have been so unstable, without basic services, with near daily bombings, that each candidate is more likely just in survival mode. Imagine if the next 4-6 years there is relative stability, more electricity, more oil and wealth creation, Maliki as PM would look like the savior, and I think that the other shiite parties would be quite weak in comparison. Furthermore, his party would become so well entrenched in Iraq, that he simply wouldnt need to be a puppet for Iran or Saudi Arabia. Say bye bye Muqtada, and bye bye al-Hakim….that is why they hate him.

    With respect to Iraqiya, I think that they can ill-afford to have “religious shiites” at the helms for another 4-6 years when there may be more peace. Things are so unstable in Iraq now. If Allawi came into office, he would be able to put military people in place that are “secular” and consolidate power around his base (sunni voters and secular shiites). Iraqiya and Allawi would then get the credit for turning Iraq around, and the shiite parties would have little chance for dominating Iraqi politics like they did during their golden age of the last 7 years. On the other hand, if Al-Maliki did hold on to the PM position and did get the credit for making Iraq prosperous, and continued to consolidate power behind his type of supporters, I think it would make permanent the new balance of power. Namely, sunnis fear that they would never again be able to dominate Iraqi politics. They would be minority players.

    Of course, I do not believe that is what would actually happen if al-Maliki wins, but I think that is what people fear, and thus, that is why they oppose him. In reality, even if Al-Maliki does come out on top, politics will always be dynamic. If Iraq emerges as a true democracy, leaders can always emerge that can bridge different political groups into winning coalitions.

    However, Iraqis still have the psychology and baggage of Saddam, and tend to think of parties not in terms of their policies and philosophies, and more about their political personalities. In the end, I beleive it is not about the policy differences of Al-Maliki and Allawi (when it comes to domestic affairs where there is great similarity)—but you are likely to see very different types of Iraqis in positions of power surrounding al-Maliki in comparison to Allawi, and THAT is the reason people will like one over the other.

  62. Kermanshahi said

    Mohammed, while trying to turn his “Iranian/Sadrist puppet image” into a new “strong leader image,” Maliki has picked fights with almost everybody. His problems with Iran is in part that he’s not “obedient enough”, he cracked down on the Sadrists and broke with ISCI aswell meanwhile acting more Iran-critical to the media. Though he’s still Iran-friendly and Iran is still friendly towards him, he’s sure not noe of Iran’s preferred candidates anymore, specially since Muqtada al-Sadr has such a grudge against him now.
    As for Syria, Maliki picked a fight with them and that’s all there is to it. al-Assad wanted to make good relations with Iraq, however Maliki has been using Syria as scapegoat and is constantly accusing them in the media of funding and harboring insurgents. Meanwhile the Saudis and Jordanians already didn’t like him. As for the Turks, I don’t their government or people dislikes him.

    Also inside Iraq he’s been picking fights with all factions, that’s why he’s struggling so much now to form a government, there are factions with in the INA (such as the Sadrists, who are the INA’s biggest faction) which he’s attacked so much, they can just not accept him as PM anymore and he’s created a hostile atmosphere with ISCI and Jaafari aswell, not to forget Fadhila, which left the government because of him. He’s been picking fights with the Kurds the last few years aswell, refusing to hold a referendum, siding with hard-core Arab Nationalists in ther Kerkuk views, creating tensions in Khanaqin, creating conflict over the oil, so they don’t like him anymore either. Than during this election he angered the Iraqiyya by constantly calling for bans on their candidates and later even for their votes to be annuled so he would be declared winner.

  63. Kermanshahi said

    “With respect to Iraqiya, I think that they can ill-afford to have “religious shiites” at the helms for another 4-6 years when there may be more peace. Things are so unstable in Iraq now. If Allawi came into office, he would be able to put military people in place that are “secular” and consolidate power around his base (sunni voters and secular shiites). Iraqiya and Allawi would then get the credit for turning Iraq around, and the shiite parties would have little chance for dominating Iraqi politics like they did during their golden age of the last 7 years.”

    With all due respect, I think the vast majority of Iraqis would never trust the country in the hands of the kind of generals that the likes of al-Mutlaq, al-Nujayfi, al-Hashemi and other Allawi coalition partners would put in charge. Infact this could lead to war, since both Shi’a and Kurds would feel threatened by all those Saddam military officials returning.

  64. Ali W said

    “I wonder why do all of Iraq’s neighbors hate Al-Maliki. Is he not obedient enough? Whose purposes is he trying to serve or perceived as serving?”

    Could it be because he is his own man, Iraqia being close to Sunni countries like Saudi, and INA being close to Iran.

    To me, when neighbours, paricularly hostile ones like Saudi/Jordan/Kuwait etc dont like an Iraqi leader, that makes him more trustworthy in my eyes.

  65. Kermanshahi said

    Well when it comes to Iraqi neighbours, Ali, Iran and Syria are one camp and Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan another. al-Maliki has made himself unpopulair among both. Though I think Turkey still likes him as they hope they can cooperate with him against the Kurds.

  66. mostafa said

    seems like i was wrong about Alzamili but i think Bahaa Alaaraji said that Maliki may be their candidate. and I think Maliki’s supporters are now pretty sure that he is gonna be the next PM:

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