Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Parliament Finishes the First Reading of the Strategic Policy Council Bill

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 11 August 2011 20:58

It may be that Ramadan exhaustion in combination with another hot Iraqi summer has made its impact: In a Byzantine development, the Iraqi parliament today voted “in principle” to continue working on the strategic policy council bill.

The procedure adopted today is in itself extraordinary. Normally a bill advances through parliament by way of two separate readings, each of which is followed by discussions and amendments before a final version of the bill is voted on. Nonetheless, at the end of the reading, parliament found it necessary to vote “in principle” on continuing to read the bill! The move was even misreported in some media to the effect that the bill had already been passed.

The bill itself is as convoluted and ambiguous as the early versions that circulated. A wide scope of operations is outlined for the projected strategic council, with areas ranging from the energy sector to foreign policy. In practice it amounts to a parallel government in everything but the name, except that unlike the government proper it will not be based on the input from specialised ministries. Just to make matters even more confusing, separate items specified as falling within the jurisdiction of the council include vague national-reconciliation tasks as well as making suggestions for the projected federal supreme court. An interesting new focus is the idea of limiting the council effectively to one parliamentary term, which would give it a certain transitional character.

There are however some serious caveats that will limit the power of the council in practice and makes you wonder whether it is worth going through all the trouble of trying to adopt it anyway. Firstly, in order for the decisions of the council to be binding, an 80% majority will be required as per the draft law requirements reported in the press. As is all too well known, 80% agreement on anything is a rarity in Iraqi politics.  Secondly, look at the projected composition of the council. It will include the president with his deputies, the parliament speaker with his deputies, and the prime minister and his deputies. Additionally there will be the president of Kurdistan, the head of the federal supreme court as well as two representatives from each of the four major blocs in parliament (incidentally the latter criterion seems to recognise that the so-called National Alliance of Shiite parties is in fact two separate alliances). The point is that these will all be familiar faces that will reproduce the stalemates of parliament rather than bring in new dynamics that can help solve them. And finally, look carefully at the draft law. Early versions seemed to indicate a power to introduce legislation to parliament, making it analogous to the presidency and the cabinet in this respect. However, in keeping with the ruling of the federal supreme court that insists on differentiating between just proposing a law (muqtarah) and preparing it as a fully-fledged project (mashru), the latest draft puts the strategic council on par with the parliament and reserves the right to initiate detailed legislation for the two existing branches of the executive.

In sum, if the council is adopted, it is unlikely to be effective in other ways than buttressing the stature of its projected leader, Ayad Allawi of the Iraqiyya coalition. The rest is likely to remain theory, but in this respect it would certainly make Iraq into a crazy-quilt political regime without any clear parallels anywhere in the world. Cohabitation on the French pattern? No, not quite so, since French dualism in the executive consists of a president with a clear popular mandate and a prime minister answerable to the legislative assembly.  Also, French presidents and prime ministers have tended to divide the tasks of governing between themselves during periods of cohabitation, whereas the Iraqi proposal looks more like an attempt at creating a second government that will spend most of its energy in Sisyphean attempts at agreeing internally. In fact, if adopted, it would create a tripartite executive in Iraq, alongside the cabinet and the mostly symbolic presidency.

If implemented, the council would clearly be antithetical to the spirit of the limited Iraqi spring (with its call for an end to superfluous top government positions) as well as to the recent downsizing of the government (which to some extent represented a response by the government to those new trends in Iraqi public opinion. Resistance to the bill, which is perfectly logical from the constitutional point of view, has however so far been mostly limited to the State of Law bloc of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Today in parliament, even Ibrahim al-Jaafari reportedly said the bill was broadly compatible with the constitutional framework. Since Jaafari is often seen as closer to Iran and one of the key players in maintaining the sectarian Shiite alliance, it makes you wonder whether Iran, too, is in favour of the formula of more fragmented government in Iraq of the kind that the Kurds have been promoting quite actively over the past years (as seen for example in the way the projected oil and gas council of politicians that is supposed to supplant the regular oil ministry and its technocrats in many important decisions). It seems all the opponents of Maliki are happy to press along with the council despite its glaring weaknesses, with only the Kurdish oppositional Gorran party presenting some good criticism so far, saying Iraqiyya should focus instead on passing legislation for the projected senate (which at least is stipulated in the constitution).

A far more workable objective for Iraq would be to drop the council entirely and instead seek agreement on the security ministries that remain undistributed. Lately there have been some positive ideas about possible candidates from within the Iraqi security forces (instead of politicians) that would be nominated from Iraqiyya and State of Law for defence and interior respectively. However, today much of this was characterised by the official Iraqiyya spokesperson as unsubstantiated, and if the debate over the useless strategic policy council continues to consume the energies of Iraqi politicians over coming weeks and months, agreement on the remaining portfolios in the second Maliki government may prove even more difficult to reach.

28 Responses to “Parliament Finishes the First Reading of the Strategic Policy Council Bill”

  1. Nathaniel said

    Hi Reidar,

    Can you provide a link to the text of the bill? I’m assuming it’s in Arabic, and that’s okay.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Nathaniel, this is the reported latest draft that I have been working on the basis of:

  3. Nathaniel said

    Thank you! Your site is great by the way. I do research for a think tank in DC and it’s one of my bookmarked go to spots. Keep up the good work.


  4. Reidar Visser said

    I’m always happy to learn about Arabists in DC!!

  5. observer said

    Had the court not been pressured to change the definition of a winning block, the whole problem would not have been there to solve in the first place. Maliki was so confident that Da3wa was going to win the largest votes, that he refused to enter into a larger she3a coalition when the Sadris and Isci refused to give him more than 48% of the seats. ISCI wanted their turn at the pmship and giving Da3wa more than 48% was out of the question.

    Of course at the time they were operating under the “closed list” assumption. Then they were snookered with the open list. Sadris (I am sure with outside help) came up with the best organization to win 40 seats (more then their strict numbers would have given them, but voting in blocks helped them get the 40 seats by taking advantage of the open list system) .

    Anyway, Da3wa were able to get a “judgment” from the court muddying the definition of the largest block and with Iran’s help (after a 7 months impasse), were able to put Maliki on top with US acquiescence if not out right help, and with the creation of the policy council.

    Bottom line, Iraq can not be ruled by a single party nor sect nor race. All decisions must take into account the needs and grievances of all the different entities that formulate this land. The council would have been better had it been based on simple majority, but it seems that 80% is what we need to get it done and move beyond.

    If you want to be strict on the interpertation of the lame constitution, well then this is not the first (nor will it be the last) extra-constitutional measure. Recall that the government is supposed to be formed within a month of the PM being selected. But they kept the session “open” for 7 months. Now talk about loose interpretation or stretching of constitutional language.


  6. Nathaniel said

    The politics in Iraq at the time absolutely prohibited an Allawi premiership. As Allawi himself is over-fond of pointing out, when both Iran and the US are working in tandem to ensure another al-Maliki term, he was dead in the water.

    As to constitutional infractions, they have been a constant theme lately in Reidar’s posts. In fact, I think he should add one of those goal charts they use for fundraisers. Every time the government acts unconstitutionally, the thermometer should go up. When they reach the goal, they should get a prize (maybe a new constitution?)

  7. Reidar Visser said

    I think Iraqiyya are doing an unneccessary detour with the council. It would have been far easier to go directly to Maliki and make a deal on the defence ministry and maybe sack some of the Sadrist and ISCI ministers to get a smaller government. Instead of doing this Iraqiyya leaders keep getting back to 1) what I see as the myth about the betrayal of the supreme court (Sorry, Observer, and Faisal as well: In autumn 2010 Many Iraqiyya leaders were talking about doing the same thing i.e. create a post-election super-alliance with the Kurds and ISCI to take the premiership if State of Law emerged with most votes) and 2) the carefully constructed narrative that Maliki is the new Saddam and that his mentality can never change. I think it could, if he were given the right offer by Iraqiyya.

  8. observer said

    The super alliance was a thought that if they actually had a deal, then even if Maliki gets the highest block, then he would have a month to do it and fail. At any rate, my point is not about the past per se, it is about the constitutional infractions. Why is it so important now when it has not been important forever?

    Now as for the narrative. You may think that it is no real, but for those of us living in Iraq – it is a repeat of history.

    The right offer from iraqiay is for him to be on top and for his party to have the upper hand. Not gona happen. Biden tried, Gates tried, and even Obama.. but that is for the history books.


  9. Reidar Visser said

    Observers, what astounds me is that Iraqiyya supporters, who are supposed to be interested in building a strong Iraqi state, don’t see how the council is likely to be the antithesis to a strong state and that it points in the opposite direction – i.e. towards ever greater fragmentation. Conceptually, I think it should be seen as belonging to the same category as the three-way partition ala Biden in terms of potential destructiveness to Iraq.

  10. Nathaniel said

    I have to agree with Reidar on this. Yes, by rights, Allawi should have been given first shot at forming a government. But as I said above, the politics made this all but impossible. Allawi’s inability to accept the political realities on the ground has greatly hampered his ability to influence the direction of government. And as Reidar noted, he has been carefully constructing the narrative of a new dictatorship for months (it almost seems as though he’s been bogged down by his own private pity party, some of his statements are really divorced from reality).

    I’m really puzzled by his almost obsessive fixation on this council. I can’t imagine he would have been naive enough to believe that a council with real power would have been created at the time of the agreement, let alone now. I always assumed it was a face-saving way of getting out of a difficult political situation and that the real victory was a-Nujaifi as President of the Parliament as well as the ability to declare that he took the moral high ground by relinquishing Iraqiyya’s claims to the Premiership for the greater good (something he never misses an opportunity to remind us of). Yet the mandatory period of face-saving complaining has more than passed and his moral high ground rhetoric has become boorish.

    I think the “right offer” (from the perspective of Iraqiyya’s political strategy, not necessarily what’s best for Iraq) is to become a sincere coalition partner with al-Maliki. State of Law has a real incentive to relieve itself of its dependence on the Kurds given the variety of tough demands they’ve been making. I think Iraqiyya could leverage that to significantly improve its influence over policy.

  11. Santana said


    It is obvious from what you keep suggesting (as far as Iraqiya should do this instead of that, work a deal with Maliki and Daawa, reduce the Sadrist and Isci power, make a special deal on the Defense Ministry….etc…) it really shows that you lack access to the innerworks of the seven month period post elections…and you are unaware of what transpired in tens of meetings between Iraqiya members and Daawa members……My dear- the reason Iraqiya is hanging on to the NCHP is that THERE IS NO OTHER option !I ASSURE you that EVERYTHING you suggested had been suggested and offered !!……and without saying too much , I can tell you that there were even bigger compromises offered to Maliki, compromises that were just short of bending over and kissing his rear-end, compromises that Iraqiya would never dare publish publicly…….. he turned EVERYONE of them down cuz he is riding the high horse and supported by Iran and to a lesser extent the U.S (but for different reasons)..every suggestion we made was relayed to Tehran by Sadeq or Hamed and the next morning the answer was “NO !”..I honestly wish I can show you the Minutes of the meetings !!….it became obvious to Iraqiya that we were NOT negotiating with Maliki- we were negotiating with Iran. Iran does not want Iraqiya to have anything more than what they have now. Iran knows that the real threat that can prevent Iraq from becoming a satellite state for them in the future is Iraqiya.No one else to worry about that”s for sure.

    I mentioned this before on another post-but I (and others like me) had made many of the same suggestions you are making now to Allawi and he got fed up at one point and shouted at me ” Huy Shbeek ? Baba hadha mayreed sharaka” !!! The HPSC is an American idea and Iran is not too happy about it. It may not do much and may even end up as you said -“counter-productive” but as Bob Dylan says ” When you ain”t got nothin….you got nothin to lose”.

    Unless Iran’s intimidation and interference in Iraqi affairs stops then nothing will happen. Daawa, Sadrists, ISCI and Talabani are all threatened by Iran in more ways than one.

    Just cuz there is an agreement to continue working the process for the NHCP doesn”t mean a thing except to fool Iraqiya into thinking there is hope and so Iraqiya calms down a bit and may even support the withdrawl that Iran wants so badly.

  12. Reidar Visser said

    Santana, I wish you were at liberty to publish more details of those meetings. What still puzzles me is that Iraqiyya is failing to give Maliki credit for taking a stance that appears to be different from what Iran wants on a number of issues. Such as the instructors. And why is it that in parliament, Jaafari (who is probably closer to Iran than Maliki is) and Jumayli (of Iraqiyya) are now together praising the strategic council, whereas State of Law is rejecting it?

  13. observer said

    I note that you like other “think tankers” have an attitude that Allawi is a soar looser. I am telling you that what you guys want (and USG – but then again you live in the same bubble) by having Iraqyai and Dawa set the Kurds aside and exclude Sadris is not possible because Da3wa and Iran had a different agenda. Excluding Sadris and marginalizing the Kurds is not possible either, but I am not going to go into it now.

    The only other option was for Iraqiay to take the opposition but then again that would have meant that Iraqiya could not have maintained its unity and it would have fragmented. As it was, Hassan Alawu acted like a child and formed WHite Iraqya when he did not get his Minister of Culture and instead it was offered to Maysoon Damalouji. Long story and it is for the history books.

    To cover what Santana said. Frequently an agreement is reached with representatives of Da3wa then the next day they come back and say well we can not execute what we agreed to yesterday. Just three weeks ago, and FINALLY, Iraqiya said that they will not negotiate with second tear representatives because their words or signatures mean nothing. It seems to me that they must get the green light from Tehran before they are allowed to do what they would is right.

    Anyway.. As I said before here. The US claims that they KNOW that Maliki does not take instructions from Iran or is “less likely” to be influenced by Iran. Well good luck to those who think that.

    what do you all think of the move to nominate Jawad Bolani for minister of defense?

    Will he be able to reorganize and reverse the placement of Da3wa operatives that has been on going for the last seven months?

  14. Reidar Visser said

    Santana and Observer (or anyone else), you refer to secret meetings and deals, but can you indeed confirm that an attempt has been made by Iraqiyya to do a deal with State of Law that would involve Maliki as PM, a simple, balanced distribution of ministries between Iraqiyya, State of Law and the Kurds, and no special role for Allawi other than a ministry if he wants one?

    I think that formula would have been perfectly workable.

    PS Observer, I saw the report about Bulani again today. I hope it is real this time. The same report circulated two days ago along with some others and then Damluji denied any truth to them. This time it is Mulla Haydar who is the messenger. I think Bulani makes some sense based on some good tendencies during his tenure from 2006 to 2010. Now, the interesting thing is that Ali al-Sajri, the former Unity of Iraq minister of state, also said today he is now an Iraqiyya candidate for defence, with the support of State of Law and the Kurds! Will be interesting to see the stance of Maliki, who lately has taken a somewhat sectarian attitude to the allocation of the security ministries, saying “defence is for a Sunni”: Bulani is of course a Shiite whereas Sajri I think is a Sunni.

  15. Santana said

    Bolani is not a bad choice actually- he is a Watani and secular Shiite – maybe assigning him in a position (dedicated by morons) for “Sunnis” can help start breaking this sectarian muhasasa crap. Sajri and Bolani had fist fight in parliament two days ago…boys will be boys…

    Reidar – I know for a fact that what you described happened twice in the last 6 months – if I am able to share the meeting minutes with you personally on those two I will but I doubt they will allow it, cuz it was shot down by Daawa/Iran the next day and there really isn’t anything for Iraqiya to gain by publicising it ? It can actually dissappoint our constituents if it gets out….and Just so we say….dammit – we tried !!??

  16. observer said

    As far as I know the suggestion was for “sharing” the power but without marginalizing the kurds. Allawi would not agree to “leave” Hakim and the Kurds and Sadris behind. Allawi is convinced that Iraq can not be governed unless all are included adn I agree with that attitude. It is not for one or two parties to run things as they wish. Hence the problems of the rest with Maliki’s attitude. Can’t say much beyond this. I was not part of the negotiations but I heard about them 2nd hand and third hand.

    I was supposed to meet Bolani yesterday but he canceled :). Allawi is out of the country for a visit to Kuwait. Can’t confirm or deny, but I would say that it would be a great move by Iraqyia to break the sectarianism of Maliki.

    A question to Nathaniel and other think tankers,
    I am still curious to find out why the US and Iran are supporting Maliki. My simple mind is just too simple to understand the basis. I mean beyond “we have evidence that he is not pro Iran”. Did anybody vet the evidence? We all know that it is very possible to fool our erstwhile intelligence community (i.e. curve ball and Chalabi episode) when the intelligence community is desperate to “find evidence” to support the wants of the policy makers in the US.

    Moreover, is it not possible to influence Da3wa policies and actions through the like of Adeeb, Snaidi, Shalah, 3badi, etc? Is it not that US interests require that we guard against Iran’s penetration of Iraq? Or is the anti Iranian rhetoric in DC is just that – rhetoric.

    I have no doubt in my mind that some of the people around Allawi are connected to Arab “friends” and similarly I would be astonished to find out that the gang around Maliki is not infiltrated by people who are at least friendly to Iran.

    So what gives? What am I missing. Please educate this simpleton.

  17. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, you wrote: “Allawi would not agree to “leave” Hakim and the Kurds and Sadris behind.”

    If true, and you’re well-positioned, this proves to me that Iraqiyya, or Allawi at any rate, is a pro-muhasasa party. As I have said before, I think the only way that Maliki could actually change would be to create a scenario in which at least two of those three forces – Hakim, Sadr and the Kurds – are deliberately left in the cold in a political-majority, non-power-sharing arrangement. As long as Iraqiyya continues to say that “everyone has to be included”, Maliki will continue to stick to a sectarian mindset.

    As I see it, it is the Kurds who have played it best by carefully managing to exploit Allawi’s hatred of Maliki to transform Iraqiyya from a state-oriented to a power-sharing party that makes proposals such as that relating to the strategic policy council.

    Also I wonder whether what Santana says above about recent meetings indicate that the two of you report from different factions of Iraqiyya or perhaps are emphasizing different periods in time.

  18. Nathaniel said

    I only spent one semester in DC, and I’m still doing research for a think tank, but I’m doing it remotely, so I was never really subject to the DC bubble, but I can offer some speculation. I think US support for Maliki comes from two sources, first, there has been a long working relationship between him and the US government. I don’t know how the relationship was with Allawi when he was PM, but the relationship with al-Maliki could be considered “successful” in that he doesn’t really interfere with our actions there. Second, he’s managed to strengthen the power of the executive during his term. I’m not saying this is a good thing, I’m saying it’s often perceived as a good thing.

    Personally, I hoped Iraqiyya would win with a large plurality. I thought Allawi’s message of post-sectarian nationalism was exactly what Iraq needed, particularly at that time. My earlier comments shouldn’t be viewed as support or opposition for one party or the other. Rather, I was trying to say that Allawi played the post-election politics very poorly.

  19. Mohammed said


    Here goes my naive explanation to your question about US support for al-Maliki.

    If you call al-Maliki, pro-Iran, what does that make al-Hakim and Sadr? al-Hakim grew up in Iran, speaks farsi, his buddies are from there, and he goes back and forth there all the time (remember the famous episode with cash in the luggage at the iranian border?). as for al-Sadr, Iran saved his behind many times, and he owes them and they fund, arm, and train his organization. Now you have those three shiite parties that together have almost a majority of parliament. If I was america, and had to pick between these three, you go with al-Maliki. Look at the wiki-leaks story from Crocker “APPLAUDING” al-Maliki for being authoritarian in his cables to washington.

    In the 90s, there were so many fights I saw between dawah and isci, and dawah did the smart thing of relocating their headquarters outside of Iran and to Syria. In shiite husseiniyas in the USA and CANADA, they would get into physical fist fights, and the ISCI (or SCIRI guys back then) would slam Dawa for being against willayat al faqih, etc. etc. To the americans, its the lesser of the three evils. Observer, besides your personal animosity to al-Maliki, why go with somebody else from al-Dawah anyways? There is no evidence that others in al-Dawah dont have as good a relationship with Iran, if not better. Why should america take that risk just because al-Hakim and Sadr dont like al-Maliki?

    ISCI and Sadr were playing a waiting game to hope that al-Dawah would remove al-Maliki as their head, but it just didnt work. The USA does not want a new untested PM that could be bent by ISCI and Sadr.

    Then you ask the question, why not go with Allawi? Simply, Allawi could not and would never get the support from ISCI or Sadr because those two groups are TOTALLY under the thumbs of Iran, and there is no way Iran would let Allawi be the PM—NO WAY! When it comes to influence of those two groups, America cannot compete with Iran (it would be like getting Hezbollah of lebanon to defy Iran at behest of the americans).

    I agree having Allawi would for sure lessen Iran’s influence in Iraq, but Allawi tried for months to get ISCI and Sadr to support him, but I could tell you from day one that it was futile. I dont see what realistic alternative there was. The only other scenario would be to get Allawi and Kurds plus small minorities together and hope to get a tiny majority by a hair. But that is a long shot at best, and could lead to chaos in Iraq. Allawi and his associates are way too friendly with the Saudis. Iran would never tolerate that and try to destablize the situation, thereby leading to renewed violence and instability.

    And in the end, when you ask what does America want, the real question may be what does America NOT want. My conclusion is that they don’t want chaos and renewed civil war. Obama wanted that war to wind down and bring most of the troops home. He could not afford for another civil war to break out. They had one civil war in the battle for Baghdad, the sunnis pretty much lost it, and now you have a relatively stable situation.

    The USA can live with al-Maliki in iraq because while he may have good relations with Iran, the relations are at a level the USA can tolerate. Moving in one direction or the other, and you get chaos, and Obama cannot afford to worry about that with his job on the line. Al-Maliki is the choice by default for a lack of better options.

    My onely other hypothesis is that America is thinking more long-term (a post-mullah Iran that may emerge within the next 5 years). Iran may then likely be far more agreeable as a country to america. The iranian population is far more pro-american than even the saudis or arabs are, and if a government in Iran emerged that reflected the will of the iranian population, the strategic alignments of the middle east would require a total new american strategic thinking. All bets are off. Perhaps at that point you start to worry about making sure that Iran and Iraq are under america’s influence instead of China’s.



  20. observer said

    I am not part of Iraqya though I am a supporter of its secular based positions. You know who I am so you can vouch that I am not a government nor a political figure. I am simply a guy who is trying as best as he can build an Iraq worthy of the sacrifices of Iraqis over 35 years of Baath control and the coalition forces that expended lives and and treasure to remove Saddam.

    As for Muhasasa. Let us be clear. The Iraq that I envision (and dare I say Allawi envisions) is an Iraq where there is a partnership between Kurds and Arabs. If you want to call that Muhasasa, then so be it. But from my prospective, the two stars in the royal flag of Iraq were for Kurds and Arabs after all, not for Sunni and She3a. If you take that as your starting point, then you can see where Allawi is coming from and you can practically predict what his reaction will be on any given event.

    Note that Allawi does not have a party in the same sense that Maliki has (nor does he have control over government revenue to build his party – wifaq). The Kurds are playing both sides against the middle, so is Allawi playing Talabani vs. Barazani vs Goran, but more importantly playing Da3wa against ISC/Sadris/Jaffari/Chalab. Leaving ISCI and Sadris behind not only will leave Allawi without potential partners in the she3a ismalic corner but will strengthen Da3wa to the point where they will be enable to repeat the the way Baath took over the scenes back in the days. You have to have lived in iraq to understand the palatable fear of a repeat of 68 to 75 period. Look at blogs by Chalabi supporters and those who are aligned with ISCI and you will see that their fear of Da3wa is just as palatable as that of Allawi. You are far removed from the Iraqi experience and use logic that just does not apply to Iraq.

    Keep on arguing for Da3wa and Iraqya to work together. It simply not going to happen not because of Iraqiya but because Da3wa have different plans altogether. Iraqya will not repeat the mistake of the communists who formed the National Front (Jabha Watanai) with the Baath that allowed the baath to strength its hold on power and eliminate all other opposition and then got rid of the communist when they were too strong to be challenged. The value of history is that you should learn from it.

    I know you are going to say I am exaggerating but I beseech you (and the US) to look closely at the people that they (Da3wa) are replacing in key positions and how slowly they are tapping their roots into the system of government and how they are using the state money to increase their influence and reach.

    And by the way, my hope is not for Iraqiya to take the mantel, but it is to protect the proto-democracy that we have and make it stronger. That is the way to build a strong Iraq, by building democracy and encouraging merit based systems not sectarian based systems. Granted it is a slower means of buildign a strong Iraq, but a more permanent one than that based on central control.

  21. observer said

    Nathan and Muhamamd,
    Your explanations have holes in them but I do not want to take over this blog for the purpose of trying to puzzle out what the American motivation is as in the end of the day it is really what Iraqis want that matter most. I just responded to Reidar with a long message that tries to explain the thinking of Allawi and the Kurds (at least as I understand it). It may explain to you both as to who has a longer strategic vision for Iraq and who has learned from its history.

    This is not about hate or love for Maliki. I have no idea who he is and I met him twice and in both times he did not impress me (nor did Jaafary) the way I was/a, impressed with Allawi and incidentally Chalabi. The latter two are smart and sharp and cut to the heart of the matter, while the former two spend ions with platitudes and empty rhetoric.

    If it is true that we are in a post cold war atmosphere and the way to marginalize extremist is to spread democracy then one would presume that the US would try to make sure that democratic traditions and practices are implemented in Iraq. Moreover, they would behave the way they behaved at the end of WWII by helping like minded secular movements. But I see them doing exactly the opposite. Unless the game being played is deeper and longer term than meets the eye and they would like the Iraqi people to see how incompetent Islamic parties are – well ok. Fine. Hands off and I will applaud the genius of the seventh floor at Foggy Bottom. Some how I doubt that they are that sophisticated and more than likely they are inventing the rules as the game is played. Flying by the seat of the pants based on half truths reported from Baghdad.

  22. Jason said

    The American motivation was simple. Faced with a choice of Maliki, Sadr, and Hakim, Maliki was the least beholden to Iran. Alawi didn’t have enough support to be an option.

  23. Jason,
    To suggest that Sadr or his block offered a viable PM is truly sorrowful, the rest of your “motivation” is no more than smart guessing democracy. Allawi should have been asked to form a government then be challenged in parliament.
    The delay beyond 30 days for naming a PM was not constitutional and a precedent for denying the possibility of a minority government in the future, this in itself is a blow to stability and democracy.

  24. JWing said


    If you look at U.S. foreign policy since the end of WWII you’ll see that the U.S. has only really been successful at promoting two things in most developing countries. The first is building up militaries as institutions, and promoting elections. Many times those two ended up being contradictory as the militaries often became politicized and overthrew governments it didn’t like, but as long as they were friendly to America and anti-communist the U.S. didn’t seem to mind because of its realist foreign policy. Look what the U.S. did in Central America during the 1980s. In Guatemala and El Salvador you had raging civil wars, deaths squads, disappearances, etc., the U.S. came in and pushed for elections and built up the militaries that had coup after coup after coup. The U.S. just doesn’t have the capacity to build up other institutions like police or courts, etc. That doesn’t meant it doesn’t try, but it just doesn’t do a good job because it doesn’t have the personnel to effectively do it. The U.S. has followed the same path in Iraq. Politically the biggest goals were elections and new constitution, and institutionally it has rebuild the Iraqi army.

  25. Reidar Visser said

    This today from Mulla Haydar of Iraqiyya must be the most stupid contribution on the strategic council so far, and the threshold for winning that distinction is already pretty high:

    وأوضح المتحدث باسم العراقية أن “المادة 110 من الدستور العراقي نصت على مجلس السياسات”، مبينا أن “ديباجة هذه المادة تنص بأن تختص السلطات الاتحادية بمجموعة من الاختصاصات الحصرية وتذكر تسعة منها تتحدث عن رسم السياسات ووضع السياسات، وهو نص صريح يلزم العملية السياسية ويلزم مجلس النواب بضرورة تشريع مجلس السياسات”.

    وأشار الملا إلى أن “عدم تشريع هذا المجلس، سيشكل خرقا واضحا للدستور العراقي في المادة 110 منه، وليس تشكيله كما يعتقد البعض” مشيرا إلى أن “تصريحات ائتلاف دولة القانون المتشنجة، لا تعبر عن فهم للشراكة الوطنية أو احترام للتوافقات السياسية، كما لا تعبر عن رغبة حقيقة لإخراج العراق من الأزمة”.

    He says article 110 of the constitution stipulates the creation of the council!!!!
    It’s just incredible that someone so high up in Iraqiyya can say something like that.

  26. observor said

    This blog is not for political debates, so I will respond in short. The cold war needed certain policies in response to the communist expansion. The cold war ended and the ideology of the free market has proven itself more adaptable and I believe will always do so even in the face of the rising Chinese model of state mandated efficient quasi-free market model.

    Many of the Latin American countries that you cite as an example of malfeasance of US policy during the cold war are now successful democracies building up (albeit slowly) and joining the globalized world. Further, the response of the US in Europe following WWII is the model that I would like to see emulated in spreading free market ideology based on democratic principals. Is it the best system in the world? Well I give you Churchill’s answer: “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”

    Reidar – do not get me started on Hayder Al Mullah!!!!! You are being kind by the way. I can use more colorful language 🙂

  27. Jason said

    Faisalkadri, I am in no way suggesting that Sadr was a viable PM. But neither was Allawi given his shortage of parliamentary support. I say we stop pretending that he was and move on.

  28. Jason,
    Not so fast my friend, I don’t think you’re getting the points.
    Point #1 is you are guessing that Allawi would not be able to form a government had he been charged with it within 30 days. Following procedure would have been the constitutional way and the shortest way, instead we had 7 months of wrangling before we had a sectarian coalition formed for the purpose of defeating Allawi at that moment in time.
    Point #2 The precedence of charging a formal coalition instead of a minority government is a blow to democracy and to secularism in Iraq. It simply guarantees the basis of new governments must be sectarian in times of insecurity because vote division will follow sectarian lines as a result of terrorism. What I am saying is: The US did service to extend Iranian objective and guaranteed its extension by smart guessing democracy. You can’t pretend that this is small or inconsequential.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: