Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Replacement Chaos in the Iraqi Parliament (II)

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 15 August 2011 20:58

The recent downsizing of the Iraqi government – in itself in some ways a good move – has prompted another bout of legal chaos concerning the rules governing replacement of deputies in the country’s legislative assembly. The latest developments in the matter make up yet another threat to Iraq’s fragile constitutional order and form a depressive backdrop to today’s grim news regarding the security situation.  

The facts of the matter are as follows. Ever since the downsizing of the second Maliki government came on the agenda and was carried out in late July, some voices have been calling for the restitution of the dismissed ministers as deputies in parliament (i.e. in those cases where a deputy had originally won a seat in the 2010 parliamentary elections and subsequently gave it up upon becoming promoted as minister). It should be stressed that there appears to be no legal basis for restoring the seats in this way. The relevant piece of legislation, the replacement law on deputies from 2006, merely stipulates procedures for how to replace deputies that vacate their seats and does not go into the hypothetical question of dismissed ministers returning as deputies, meaning that as far as the replacement law is concerned, once a seat has been given up it should be seen as irretrievably lost for the deputy that vacated it.

Despite these legal aspects, the calls for the ex-ministers to be allowed to return to their seats have persisted. To some extent, the intention may have been to compensate those ministers since their process of dismissal was also one hundred per cent unconstitutional. And yesterday, the so-called “consultative assembly of the state” (majlis shura al-dawla) reportedly reaffirmed the return of the dismissed ministers as parliamentary deputies, thereby providing a cover of legality to the restitution process. Some reports say that ex-ministers that had previously been deputies will be be able to choose between returning to parliament or retiring with a salary.

As an institution, the consultative assembly of the state dates back to the days of the former Baathist regime.  It is a shadowy court administered by the ministry of justice and only limited information can be found about it in the public domain.  In the post-2003 era it has continued to function as an administrative court in those cases where the federal supreme court has been reluctant to issue rulings, including a number of cases relating to provincial administration at the sub-governorate level. Most significantly, the supreme court has sometimes opted to transfer politically contentious cases to the consultative assembly – even in instances when the judicial arguments for doing so have been far from crystal clear.

So far the details of the rulings in this latest case have not been published. They should be, not least since the case relates to rather blunt infractions of both the constitution and the law of the land in Iraq. One potential avenue for a more public debate about these issues relates to the fact that some of the ministers involved have already been replaced by new deputies and at least some of these deputies are likely to put up a fight for their newly won seats. For example, it will be interesting to see how Abdallah al-Rashid of Iraqiyya will react if he loses his seat again after having earned it when Salah Muzahim became minister of state: Rashid had been targeted by Maliki during the post-election debate about deputy eligibility, and one cannot help wonder whether his predecessor who eventually became minister of state represented a face of Iraqiyya that was seen as more tolerable by Maliki. Also there are legal cases underway relating to the way in which the ex-Iraqiyya deputy Jamil al-Batikh was replaced by someone from Iraqiyya rather than by a candidate from his new list, White Iraqiyya, which again has emerged as more pro-Maliki than Iraqiyya itself after the two split. A State of Law candidate called Ali Abd al-Nabi al-Rubaye from Basra has also replaced the minister of state for national reconciliation, Amir al-Khuzaie; if indeed Maliki or anyone else in the State of Law coalition has played a role in providing “advice” for the consultative assembly in this case then chances are of course greater that Rubaye will go quietly.

All in all, the reluctance of the supreme court to touch this case so far is not terribly promising. It pretty much echoes the situation after the elections in 2010 when it proved similarly unable to rise above political pressures and act in a truly independent fashion.

12 Responses to “Replacement Chaos in the Iraqi Parliament (II)”

  1. observer said

    I see that you are getting closer to calling a spade a spade. The evidence, you must agree, is increasingly indicating a lack of respect for the law and using the judiciary to support positions of Da3wa/Maliki. Without a judiciary with a backbone, we have a snow balls chance in hell to grow democratic institutes in Iraq.

    What, pray tell, prevents the next administration from changing the entire slate of judges to friendly ones that interpret or re-interpret the laws of the land? The lack of adherence not only to the spirit of the law but the letter of the law makes it possible for Maliki and company to keep the reigns of power till kingdom come.

    Why, for the life of me, the US does not care about this, is beyond me. This is an issue of national security interest after all, or am I naive as I am accused by Allawi and I am sadly mistaken about the fortitude and voracity of US politicians/government? I must say that I do not defend as vehemently as I used to when Allawi tells me that there is a defacto agreement between the US and Iran.

    I recall that i recently asked Allawi about the puzzle of the Kuridsh position – he essentially repeated to me what Santana is asserting, in a previous thread, but with added global implications of UK vs. China vs. India power balance that I need not go into. But one of the things that he told me sticks in my mind and I relayed it to my Kurdish friends. Essentially he indicated that the US has lost this round and is exhausted financially and that they will cut and run and that if the Kurds think that the US is going to protect them in the long term, then they are sadly mistaken. Indicating to me that the Kurds are playing with fire and are trying to get more out of their position than they realistically should expect forgetting that the US (or really any nation) has no long term friends, just interests (after all, Barazani’s dad was betrayed by the Shah, the US and Israel in 1975).

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, I should stress that even though I sometimes try to take a more positive view of Maliki, I have not refrained from criticizing him in the past. When it comes to de-Baathification, I think the Sadrists and ISCI should have the blame, and that both Iraqiyya and the USG forgot about the whole issue too easily. But on post-election disqualification and the attempts to influence the supreme court in May 2010, Maliki certainly exposed some very dangerous tendencies, and when he and his supporters began emphasising his Shiism as a criterion for winning the premiership in summer 2010, I thought they lost much of whatever nationalist credentials they may have gathered in the 2008-2009 period.

    Unlike others, I am not going to shed any tears for the strategic policy council, but if Maliki does not come up with a solution on the defence ministry that satisfies Iraqiyya then I think Allawi’s calls for early elections will be perfectly legitimate. I doubt that the USG will be particularly enthusiastic though.

  3. observer said

    The dangerous tendencies in Maliki were obvious to the US. Talking about elections – your statement made me recall that commanders of US forces in Baghdad had to scramble back to Baghdad during the counting process when it became obvious to Maliki that he was going to loose and threatened to take over the election commission headquarters!!! The count was stopped for three days and what happened during those 3 days – only god and the CIA know.

    So the DOS, USG, White House and others know this “tendency” of Maliki first hand and just CHOOSE to ignore it. It just burns – as somebody who believes in democracy – to see this and just watch it happen.

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Part of it was also the insistence by Amb Hill that the PM “had to be a Shiite”. That’s another constitutional infraction that Maliki and his allies were happy to proceed with, but it was totally unneccessary for the USG to support and promote it. But I guess this is my bigger point: Is it really wise of the United States to so systematically encourage the players in a young, supposedly “model democracy”, to violate the constitution they adopted with American support in 2005?

  5. observer said

    What a disaster Hill was!.

    At any rate, we have been recounting evidence and events that accumulate in my mind to puzzle out what is it that the US is trying to do. I mean after 8 years, one would presume that the smart people from the think tanks and the 7th floor of DOS and even in the Pentagon and Central Command have now become very familiar with the player and I for one can not give the m the benefit of the doubt that they are just ignorant of the players and are learning. But after 8 years, I can not give them the benefit of the doubt and there only two possibilities to explain the “seemingly repeated mistakes”. Either there is a deeper plan that I am (and you all are) not clued in on we are lead by incompetent people who have no vision for what we are doing in the middle east.

    Increasingly I am leaning to the latter because I know that nothing stays secrete in DC and if there is a some devious plan it would have come to light by now (Pentagon Papers like)!

  6. bks said

    Observer, I’m a long way from the think tanks of Washington, but the Occupation of Iraq is widely seen in the USA as a terrible mistake, not only by those who opposed it in 2003 but also by clear-thinking conservatives and by officers of the U.S. Military. Like the mythical “crazy aunt in the attic” no one wants to even talk about it, let alone propose some sort of policy initiative. Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are dying daily, has trouble reaching the front page these days. The White House, no matter who occupies it, has the power to force issues to the front of the news queue, so I think it would be safe to say that the U.S. government is guilty of neglect in Iraq, not conspiracy.


  7. Bks,
    Iraq may be an unpopular subject for the ordinary American right now but the plans for its invasion were old. I remember in the late 70’s I was talking to an Iraqi officer and I had just read that the US Army was training in a village in the Arizona desert that looked like an Iraqi village in preparation for an invasion, I asked my friend what will happen if the US invaded Iraq? He was so upset by the question that he stopped returning my calls. And in 2000 I spoke with someone who attended an annual CIA-sponsored international policy meeting at a well known hotel near San Francisco, he told me that the plans were already made and the strategy was to encourage sectarian division and the ME will be destroyed forever!
    I don’t think the USG is guilty of neglect, maybe the people are but not the government. What I think went terribly wrong is when the US policy planners adopted the sense of reality of its allies and started to see threats to its allies as threats to its own. I believe this is spelled out clearly as part of Bush’s preemptive deterrence policy. I know there is an exception to the rule when the US does not share Israel’s sense of reality with regard to Iran’s nuclear threat but this is only an exception. If Pres. Obama wants to start untangling the basic wrongs of the Bush preemption doctrine then he should reverse the notion of sharing threats with US allies and declare that all confrontations and foreign policies will exclusively be in response to US interests and its sense of reality.

  8. Reidar Visser said

    Going back to the original subject, there is some interesting reaction to the ruling of the “council of state” and commentary on its obscure nature by Uthman al-Juhayshi from Iraqiyya here:

    Sadly, he thinks the creation of the strategic policy council will solve the problem.

  9. Salah said

    the creation of the strategic policy council will solve the problem.

    I do not know how SPC will solve the problems far from what they had for eight past years. The strategic policy council will crated upon sectarian and ethnic biases so what the difference here from what we seen so far.

    This just hot air wasting time and part of the game Malik and his cooperates and others uses this game to hid behind it of solving the real issues like the corruptions with all levels far what Iraq and Iraqi should have or what should they given Iraqis the best life and benefits as they elected them.

    The strategic policy council will be dead before the creation, not more than a name of politic institution added to what Iraq politics have for more corruptions to benefits more folks from those sec & ethnic politicians.

  10. Salah said

    What I think went terribly wrong is when the US policy

    Faisal Kadri
    The worse thing what “went terribly wrong” in Iraq and helped US in doing so, is the mangling inside Iraq from surrounding neighbouring countries that gave fee hands for US to execute their plans.
    Faisal Kadri, after oil nationalisation negotiations, the last company Iraq having problem with I think was BP, I remember seen on Iraqi TV on the news the Britt’s representative went out of negotiating table, the TV cameras was focusing on the face of the head of the Britt’s delegates, he looks very angry with red face.
    Years pasts met some friend who told me that the last sentence that Brits head of delegates spoken in that meeting was: “You took your petrol but we knew how to get it back from you”!

  11. Salah,
    You can’t blame the US nor our neighbors nor the UK to do what’s in their national interest, I am blaming the US for carrying out their allies’ agenda, not their own. I am saying that this is written in Bush’s doctrine and Obama needs to change it.

  12. Salah said

    Faisalkadri ,

    Nevertheless, that conflict of interest brought Iraq to statues of chose and uncertainty future. So what you think is its blame should be on Iraqis themselves what went wrong?
    I do not think you agree with that.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: