Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for January 9th, 2011

Musa in the Council of Component Representatives

Posted by Reidar Visser on Sunday, 9 January 2011 16:24

During his visit to Baghdad over the weekend, the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Musa, has met with fake vice presidents and deputies who have stolen their seats in the Iraqi parliament. In this way, just like the rest of the international community, the Arab League is contributing to the further erosion of the Iraqi state at the time when it should have done the opposite.

Salim al-Jibburi of Tawafuq/Wasat

Today’s session in the Iraqi parliament just highlighted these unfortunate tendencies. With nauseating predictability, Musa was greeted by a procession of three speakers supposedly representing Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish interests, followed by a Christian. The only exceptions to the predictable pattern were the contributions from Tawafuq and Gorran, probably meant as consolation prizes for having been largely shut out of the recently-formed partial government. Salim al-Jibburi of Tawafuq, in particular, must have felt he was on borrowed time, since he recently, in an unconstitutional fashion, became the fourteenth member of parliament from Diyala, thereby snatching one seat from Salahaddin’s quota of 12.

After the niceties had been completed, parliament also attended to some ordinary business. Abdallah Hasan Rashid al-Jibburi was sworn in as member of parliament for Iraqiyya to take the place of Salah Muzahim Darwish who recently became a minister. The change, which was constitutional since both were candidates for Iraqiyya in Diyala (though it is thought Muzahim was originally with Salih al-Mutlak whereas Jibburi has been reported as belonging to the Allawi faction), is interesting because the new member earlier got excluded from the seat he won with most votes in Diyala after Maliki’s State of Law in May 2010 complained that he had been previously convicted and hence unqualified to become a deputy. Possibly some more extrajudicial ad hoc reconciliation has been going on?

The parliament also passed the law on a deputy or more for the president. No mention of the presidency council there, for sure. The law also confirms that the deputies have no other power than whatever the president himself delegates from his own, largely ceremonial prerogatives. We will still have to wait a little more before parliament confirms the maximum three deputies that the president can select, though it is widely expected that he will settle for Adel Abd al-Mahi of ISCI, Tareq al-Hashemi of Iraqiyya and Khudayr al-Khuzai of Daawa (Tanzim al-Iraq), with a Turkmen representative who ran on the National Alliance ticket today promising a “popular revolution” unless a Turkmen is given a seat! Alchemist of the revolution indeed.

At a time when most of the Iraqi parliament is concerned with being Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, minorites, and women, it is gratifying to find at least some positive exceptions. Gorran’s representative Latif al-Shaykh Mustafa recently pointed out that the alleged promise by Maliki to extend veto powers to the president as part of the Kurdish 19 points is in fact unconstitutional. (It should be added that there are absolutely no signs that Maliki has any intention to keep the promise, since there is no constitutional way for him to do so.) Similarly, Jawad Kazim al-Buzuni of Daawa (Tanzim al-Iraq) has attacked the intention of Talabani to create three presidential deputies, which he says is superfluous and a waste of government money since the presidency has no real power and responsibilities beyond ceremonial functions anyway. Maha al-Duri, a female Sadrist, has called for urgent decreases in the salaries of the “three presidents” (Maliki, Nujayfi, Talabani) and presumably their deputies also.

Actions that challenge the muhasasa (quota) logic of the presidential deputies and the recent backroom deals on replacement deputies are welcome steps towards a more mature form of politics in Iraq. For now, though, the Iraqi parliament remains a council for self-proclaimed component representatives (majlis nawwab al-mukawwinat or مجلس نواب  المكونات ) rather than a national parliament as such.

Posted in Iraqi constitutional issues, Sectarian master narrative | 9 Comments »