Iraq and Gulf Analysis

The VP Saga Goes On

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 30 April 2011 23:01

The question of who will become the next vice-president(s) of Iraq is not particularly interesting in itself, since the office is largely powerless and without any clearly defined prerogatives. Nonetheless, the inability of Iraqi politicians to settle the issue and move on is interesting for what it says about the state of play in Iraqi parliamentary politics more broadly.

The latest development in the saga is a dramatic statement by the State of Law candidate for one of the posts, Khudayr al-Khuzaie, to the effect that the failure of parliament to approve him as one of three deputies would mean the collape of the all-Shiite National Alliance and could prompt an “explosion” in Iraqi politics. For good measure, Khuzaie added that “Baathists and enemies of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki” were behind the moves to prevent him from becoming one of the deputies.

The problem for Khuzaie is that many of those enemies evidently come from the other Shiite parties: His statement prompted angry reactions from Sadrists and ISCI alike, and even Sami al-Askari of the Daawa has suggested that Khuzaie should withdraw. Alternative approaches are also on the cards: The Kurds are promoting a bid to change the law on the presidential deputies in order to reserve it for a female Turkmen (this would clearly serve to entrench the concept of quota-sharing and consociational formulas for government in Iraq), whereas ISCI representative Ali al-Shubbar has even demanded that the top Shiite clergy must be consulted and their views respected on the issue! That sounds very much like a light version of the Iranian wilayat al-faqih concept.

The nomenclature of these debates is interesting in itself. ISCI representatives are complaining that “State of Law” is preventing progress on the VP question. Of course, State of Law is supposed to have merged with the other Shiite parties in an all-Shiite National Alliance, but it is clear that the subdivisions of the past remain as powerful as they used to in 2010. Those same subdivisions are also preventing progress on an issue that is altogether more important – finding suitable candidates for the three security ministries that still remain vacant – and serve as a constant reminder of the flimsy parliamentary basis of the new government that was formed back in December 2010.

7 Responses to “The VP Saga Goes On”

  1. Salah said

    “Khudayr al-Khuzaie”?

    Although this guy had very interesting background from his credentials to his involvement of firing on high school student during their examination sessions and more.

    There is an article in regards to the matter why he or his ilk should leave the ministerial positions to vice-president deputies.

    the Iranian wilayat al-faqih concept

    This matter have a lot of debates from 2003 till now, its wildly discussed but all the time specially western s view telling Iraqi pro Iranians are not fan of “wilayat al-faqih concept” Also those supporters inside Iraq and outside are talking in same vein.

    But what Iraq and Iraqi experiencing by those who came to the power, are working slowly toward putting Iraq similarly to Iranian style hierarchy style and concept. Please correct me if I am wrong in this.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, to the best of my knowledge the principal complaint regarding Khuzaie’s past concerns an aborted project of building new schools when he was at the education ministry.

    I disagree with you that all the Shiite Islamists favour wilayat al-faqih, but I have in past writings tried to show that at least ISCI has failed to take a definitive stance against it (despite some Western punditry to the opposite effect). What is interesting in Shubbar’s concept of wilayat al-faqih is that it dovetails with the public pronouncements of the Najaf marjaiyya and once more seems to debunk the myth that the Najaf clergy is so “quietist” i.e. passive in politics. The truth seems to be, at least judging from the bayans of senior clerics like Sistani in the post-2003 period, that they aspire to exactly the same level of authority as the Iranian clerics but at the same time are seeking to avoid the entrapment of institutions and formal positions. To what extent this will ultimately constitute a system that is essentially different from the Iranian model will depend on how politicians like Shubbar opt to use, or try to use, the legitimacy of the marjaiyya in party politics.

  3. I take it as a given that the “National Alliance” is a legal fiction at this point. Lots of people still use “State of Law” as a reference for Maliki’s bloc; you even still see occasional references to the itilaf al-iraqi al-watani, or Iraqi National Coalition, the ISCI-Sadr electoral list from last year. I think at this point everyone realizes that it doesn’t matter.

    On the role of the Shia clergy in Iraq, I do think they are very far away from the wilayat al-faqih or Iran. Sure, Sistani reps make regular statements about the government should “fight corruption” or appoint “competent officials” or improve services or whatever, but they are framed at such a general level as to be meaningless. Even when they say something specific like get the security ministers confirmed, Maliki doesn’t compromise. The last time Sistani exerted real influence was back in 2008 when he slowed down the passage of the US security agreement. I think they realize there is nothing they can do to make the government work, so are keeping their distance to avoid further damage to their credibility.

  4. Salah said

    Reidar, I hope when you talking about someone like Khudair Khuzaie you will bring to your mind the German defence minister story what he done and how they treated by the Germany intellectuals and government officials

    It is worth mentioning the state of law candidate position of Vice President of the Republic , Khudair Khuzaie faced serious reservations by the parties of the National coalition and some components of AL-Iraqiya, which accused him of failing when his he took the post of Minister of Education, and his ministry’s inability of improving the the education reality and address the failures witnessed in the education march during the past four years.

    I disagree with you that all the Shiite Islamists favour wilayat al-faqih

    Looks you misunderstand me or you miss my point, I did not said “All Shiite” but what American have brought to Iraq and supported them from Da’awa, ISCI to Sadra and other fanatic groups like Hezbollah, al Fadilla all these to some level they thinking as same as Iranian Mullahs specially they midwifed/ created and supported by Iranian Mullah all along the years.

    Reidar, I born in Iraq in Babylon I raise watching closely all sort of these things, as Iraqis we do not interested in Iranian style of “” wilayat al-faqih” , after all these years I cannot be mistaken to such degree when expressing my views further more I served in military as I was recalled for two wars and moved been North and south of Iraq been in Kuwait saw a lot of folks who are mixed from different ethnics and sec. most of them do not likes Iranian style of ” wilayat al-faqih”

    I can say those what you call them “Shiite Islamists favour wilayat al-faqih” in Iraq from 2003 till now they having troubles and faced strong apposition of deploying “ wilayat al-faqih “ in Iraq this makes them rethinking, they changing their skin and colour sneaking different things but they did not forgot their goals.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Kirk, I’m simply making the point that on those occasions when Sistani opts to speak, there’s nothing quietist about his choice of words. He imposed conditions for the SOFA to pass and more recently called for the demands of the street demonstrations to be respected by the government. The key difference with Iran does not relate to the aspirations of religious authority but to the methods by which that religious authority is enforced or not. True, the Daawa sometimes ignored this – as they have done on previous occasions historically – but other parties, like ISCI, are clearly challenging them by trying to establish a more intimate link between the power of the clergy and government, as seen in this case.

  6. Santana said

    Seems that Iran can’t wait to get troops into Iraq…the Iranian Ambassador has been very active in making the rounds with their “assets” in Iraq to convince them that Iraq needs to form a Security/Defense pact with Iran that “would bolster stability and security for Iraq and the region”…..hahahahaha..what a crock of manure !!.this is the biggest lie to date….
    What Iran really wants is to form a coalition against the Desert Shield force and more importantly to legitimize Iranian troop presence in Iraq once the U.S pulls out…see the following link regarding today’s meeting between the Iranian Ambassador and Babeker Zebari the Iraqi Army Commander…

  7. Kermanshahi said

    It’s funny how some thing the Iranians are such menacing force, plotting everything, while in reality the truth is that Iranian politicans are just as incompetant as their Iraqi counterparts.

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