Iraq and Gulf Analysis

The Last Straw? Maliki Appoints Dulaymi as Acting Minister of Defence

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 17 August 2011 20:26

The newswires began reporting this item yesterday and today it has been generally confirmed: Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has appointed the culture minister, Sadun al-Dulaymi, as acting minister of defence. Dulaymi held the same portfolio in the Ibrahim al-Jaafari government in 2005-2006.

The significance of the appointment relates to two levels. Firstly, in terms of the architecture of the second Maliki government, it means Maliki could be seen as moving towards consolidating a situation in which no regular parliament appointments may take place for some time with respect to the security ministries: In early June he appointed Falih al-Fayyad of the Jaafari wing of the Daawa movement as acting minister of state for national security, whereas Maliki himself continues as acting interior minister. This is a different scenario from what happened in 2006, at which time it was precisely the security ministries that held up the completion of the government after the first posts had been allocated in May, but a solution was subsequently found and the full cabinet was approved by parliament in June.

Secondly, at the political level, the latest move is a clear rebuke to the secular Iraqiyya, which has lately signalled unhappiness about the direction in which  the second Maliki government is evolving. Whereas Dulaymi may technically belong to the Unity of Iraq faction (which has technically been enrolled in Iraqiyya recently), it is very clear that Dulaymi is not the candidate of the leadership of Iraqiyya. In other words, he is what Maliki sometimes describes as a “Sunni candidate” rather than an Iraqiyya candidate. The more this kind of sectarian logic gets reified in the Iraqi government, the more we get back to the political atmosphere of 2006 when sectarian violence was at its height.

The problem with what Maliki is doing is that he continues to act as a strongman with a parliamentary majority in a context where it has been proved time and again that he doesn’t. Firstly, he seems to think White Iraqiyya (a small breakaway faction of Iraqiyya) can provide him with a “secular” cover and Dulaymi can do the same thing in terms of “integrating Sunnis”, but the numbers just don’t add up. Secondly, he keeps forgetting that the all-Shiite National Alliance rarely exists as a true united force in parliament, with the Sadrists, ISCI and other elements frequently disagreeing with Maliki. Indeed, many of Maliki’s own moves to maintain focus on his own, smaller State of Law bloc undermine the idea of a unified Shiite alliance. It indicates a complete lack of realism when Daawa members call the Dulaymi nomination a “move to stop regional influences in the defence ministry question”, which effectively means they dismiss all the 9 named Iraqiyya candidates for defence as stooges of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

By circumventing a parliamentary vote, Maliki is trying to consolidate his own power despite his narrow parliamentary support base. The question is how long the other parties will tolerate this. Iraqiyya has already been talking about new elections for a while, though mainly with reference to the stalling process to establish a national council for high policies. Arguably, the defence ministry is a far better issue on which to bring matters to a head: A defence minister from Iraqiyya would deepen its integration into the government, whereas the strategic council is likely to remain a paper tiger. As usual, the swing vote will rest with the Kurds, who have been unhappy about lack of progress on their many demands to Maliki for joining the government, but who at the same time support the conceptual framework of ethno-sectarian quota arrangements that lies behind the Dulaymi appointment.

One potentially positive outcome of the appointment of Dulaymi would be the incentive to get rid of the useless culture ministry altogether and maybe merge the three education-related ministries into one: That at least would be in line with the latest signals from the Iraqi public who want an effective government fast.

38 Responses to “The Last Straw? Maliki Appoints Dulaymi as Acting Minister of Defence”

  1. Salah said

    Is this to take off the responsibility of Iraqis horrors they had under Malki holding the position till now and come out promising he will investigating who are behind then nothing come out?

    My worry this move may preparing for the worse coming in Iraq will have in near future as part of only game these politicians are good at it.

  2. Santana said

    No Reidar-it’s not the last straw- Maliki will keep crapping on everyone and no one can stop him. What can Iraqiya do ? protest? he doesn’t care, make him accept MOD candidates from Iraqia? Nope ! form NCHP ? Nope! Shared government? Nope ! Make a decision on SOFA ? Nope ! Worry about ISCI and Ahrar baling out of NA? Nope! (he knows Iran won’t let this happen)….so essentially we are talking about a situation akin to dealing with a deranged 8 year old that is packing a Glock and waving it at everybody….the Glock is U.S and Iranian support.

    He is really pushing his luck.

  3. Reidar Visser said

    Santana, you forgot one thing on your list of options for Iraqiyya: Sitting down with Masud Barzani and talk seriously about what the Kurds really want, i.e. a pro-Iranian Iraq where everything fragments or a bi-national federation where the Kurds focus on their own interests instead of trying to promote federal entities in Anbar and Basra. It would most likely mean parting ways with ISCI and Hakim, but the chances for a good long-term solution I think would be better. If the Kurds want – i.e. to some extent if Barzani can trump Talabani – then the government can be toppled and new elections held.

  4. observer said

    But would the US let it happen. Replay 2007 in your mind 🙂

  5. amagi said


    I don’t know. Wouldn’t a strong bi-national federation jeopardize the fiefdoms of both the PUK and KDP? If the rest of Iraq fragments, what do they stand to lose, besides the potential oil revenue (something I suspect many may believe they will never see regardless)?

    Also, thank you for the frequent updates; they are very helpful.

  6. Santana said

    We have talked to Barzani till we got blue in the face-I can’t count how many trips Allawi made to Irbil if Barzani was gonna do it he would have by now…KRG is both Barzani and Talabani- so even if Barzani agrees does not mean Talabani will cuz we know Mam Jalal would never give Maliki up due to his hysterical fear of Iran’s wrath- and Barzani doesn’t wanna split the Kurds at this point cuz it may weaken their long-term goal of Autonomy and the current chaotic situation serves them better and gives them more juice to be able to say to the world”hey-we want out of this mess”!… we still need a larger shiite component to make it all happen -which we will never ever get, not while the Mullahs rule Iran.

    I believe the only way we will see the ending of all of Iraq’s woes is with the demise of the Iranian government.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Santana, you may still have to wait a long time for that… But to topple the current govt you need primarily the Kurds and some dissatisfied Shiites to make the first move and then you could work on broader alliances afterwards. It just seems to me that to go on with the strategic policy council debate, which is going to be a very frustrated one, is a blind alley…

  8. Santana said

    Reidar- you said “we need primarily the Kurds and some dissatisfied Shiites to make the first move” ….easier said than done- the Kurds cannot be relied upon as I mentioned in my previous message and as far as adding “some dissatisfied Shiites” well….we need about 35-40 seats of “dissatisfied Shiites” minimum….how in the hell are we gonna get those ? ISCI is not enough (and even if they did Badr won’t- which brings it down to ten seats or less?)and the Sadrists wouldn”t jump ship cuz Iran won’t let them period…let’s see where else can we get shiites….oh- Daawa? well-Daawa is rolling in corruption and enjoying unlimited power and positions at the moment so they are not gonna give up the good life for Allawi nor for Iraq’s welfare…….so where are we gonna get this Shiite support that you think is attainable?? ….and I am very is a question and not a statement…I am VERY curious ..please enlighten me…

  9. Reidar Visser said

    Santana, I think Iraqiyya needs to have a long-term strategy of reaching out to Shiites with a past in the Iraqi bureaucracy – people of the kind that State of Law and the Shahristani bloc have been more successful in co-opting lately. I understand that there are problems at the personal level between Shahristani and the Kurds that are comparable to the Allawi-Maliki tensions, but there are plenty of cracks in State of Law and I think Iraqiyya should make a better effort in communicating with the dissenting voices there instad of dreaming of the Sadrists and ISCI changing their minds.

    Observer, a main difference with 2007 was the parliamentary situation in which Iraqiyya had much less weight and where many Tawafuq members took a softer line on Maliki. Plus US leverage was far greater back then.

  10. Santana said

    Sorry Reidar- I feel bad for the number of posts I have on here but I just wanna say that waiting on “cracks” within State of the Law as our salvation is about as far fetched as waiting for the demise of the Iranian government (that I mentioned earlier)….maybe even further…SOL is rolling in the dough right now bud and unfortunately that’s all that matters to them. Allawi can go to hell as far as they are concerned……. I am being a realist.

  11. Reidar Visser said

    Santana, please have no worries about making frequent comments, it’s what the blog is for and I am happy to publish everything that is on topic. Just to give an example of what I was thinking of, in Wasit, the Shahristani bloc of State of Law (“independents”) at one point broke with the Daawa and began working with Bulani’s people (Iraqi Constitutional Party) instead. There could be more cases like that if Iraqiyya chased those opportunities more actively and systematically. If I remember correctly, in Basra Iraqiyya is now part of a wider anti-Maliki alliance that also includes some former Daawa elements.

  12. Many people share Santana’s view, I think it is bad to wait for change in Iran in order to implement democracy in Iraq, Iraq should be independent. My hypothesis is: If the political process is made truly credible (UN run) to our politicians and to the people then more voters will participate and bring in positive redistribution of the votes. Corrupt beneficiaries will not feel secure. However, in order to move in this direction the US got to make the first step of going to the Security Council and I’m afraid this is even more unlikely than an attack on the mullahs.

  13. Jason said

    Reidar, while I appreciate your analysis of how Maliki is doing end-runs around Iraqiya, I am at least as interested, if not moreso, in an analysis of Dulaymi. You are making him sound like a Maliki puppet, no? Is he competent? Honest? Is he a nationalist who is loyal to Iraq over outside influences? Is he overly sectarian?

    Frankly, I am more interested in the character of the appointee than the winners or losers in inter-party personnel struggles. That is more significant to the long-term stability of Iraq.

    The answers to the above questions about Dulaymi will also go a long way to determining how much credence I would give to claims that Maliki has plans to turn into another dictator.

  14. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, it is precisely my point to conjure up the image of a Maliki stooge. A former exile and Tawafuq member, Dulaymi has close to zero support base. To my mind, he is in every respect a reminder about Iraq in 2006-2007.

    Faisal, I was so pleased to read your final sentence because it is what I think everytime you bring up the UN. Maybe we should order these scenarios in terms of their probability, with the least probable first:

    1. The UN takes decisive action on Iraq
    2. The Obama administration stages a coup in Iraq to reinstall Allawi
    3. Regime change in Iran
    4. The national council for high policies gets real power
    5. The Kurds and some Shiites join Iraqiyya to oust Maliki
    6. Iraqiyya talks directly to Maliki to try to bring him to senses on the defence ministry question.

    I think numer 6 is the most realistic aim.

  15. Jason said

    You guys are truly making me laugh out loud imagining that the UN would or could ride in and save the day. It is truly weak, ineffective, and in many instances too corrupt to heal itself.

    How about Number 7, Maliki continues muddling through the rest of his term until there are new elections and a chance for a fresh start.

  16. Jason said

    I think it was Nathaniel that asked what Allawi should be doing. He should develop an intelligible opposition strategy and do the same things that any western politician does to get elected:

    1) Very publicly campaign about the sorry state of the economy, jobs, and the provision of public services, electricity, water, security, etc, under Maliki’s Premiership. Create an image as an expert manager willing and able to retain technocrats to create jobs and provide services. Get credible people around him with plans ready to execute.

    2) Create a public persona as a corruption and crime fighter. Stand up in parliament and on television at every opportunity and rail about corruption. Introduce new ethics and financial disclosure laws to stamp out corruption and conflicts of interest among politicians, and stronger criminal laws and punishments for criminals.

    3) Establish himself as a true patriot and nationalist, and accuse others of being in the “hip pocket” of Iran. Introduce disclosure laws so that all politicians have to make public from where they are receiving money. Demand that they do so voluntarily, and very publicly call them foreign agents and puppets if they refuse.

    It the security panel gives him a greater bully pulpit to do these things, then it might be useful to him. But I thought that was to deal with foreign affairs and security only. I promise you bread and butter issues are more important to average Iraqis than these ugly internecine power struggles over security posts.

    Behind the scenes, Allawi needs to be networking furiously to build networks to beat Maliki at the “ground game.” Local political organizations that will carry his banner and talk about the bread and butter issues and get votes out for him when the time comes. Scratch the backs of local leaders and build relationships with them. That’s how the game is played. Not by sulking around for not getting your way, especially spending lots of time out of the country.

    Let’s imagine if you will, that parliamentary elections were staggered every two years so that half of them were facing immediate reelection contests. The midterms are a referendum on the premier and parties in power, a chance for voters to rebuke excesses and overreaching and bring their attention back to the needs of the people.

    For an example of an excellent ground game, Allawi should study what the Sadrists did in the last election. For an example of an expertly played “wedge issue,” he should study how the deBaathification card was played against him to peel voters away and deny him a majority. He should look for similar wedges to peel voters away from the NA.

    Allawi should also begin to develop “wedge issues” (think Dick Morris and Karl Rove) that will split his opposition, and peel blocks and voters away to him. I don’t know what those might be, but they surely exist.

    This reminds me how I dislike the 4 year election cycle with no “midterm” elections. The actual voters that the politicians are sworn to serve seem to have become less than an afterthought.

  17. Salah said

    the Kurds focus on their own interests

    Yes, I do agree, let read:

    During five hours of waiting, Kurds introduced themselves and offered us their homes. “We’re proud of Kurdistan,” we were told. “We fought for these mountains and fight for our futures.” Despite their long history, Kurds have never had their own nation. We also met a young Iranian couple. “Kurdistan is multi-ethnic, multi-faith and secular,” Saeedeh confided. “We feel free here.”

    yellow sun may soon rise over an autonomous homeland

  18. Reidar and Jason,
    I never suggested that the UN acts on its own but through the will of the US and willing partners. The idea of UN supervision over Iraqi elections is not mine; Russia and France supported this idea in 2003 before the US somehow persuaded them that this was not a good idea, I simply added supervision over census and made it a petition in 2006. If the idea made sense then, then I think it makes more sense now.
    Reidar, I think you did not add a probable scenario: Iran overplays its hand and the US makes a massive attack on Iran and wipes out its air defense and air force, then invades Tonb islands and symbolically hands them over to the UAE then creates bases on them to watch over Iran. This is what I call the bang-bang control, it does not involve regime change in Iran, at least directly. This would weaken Iran’s hand in Iraq and Arab countries but runs the risk of pushing the Sunnis in sympathy with Iran and would create new Al Qaeda recruits. UN supervision over census and the elections is an intermediate step with attractive economical side: It allows the Iraqi people to control the Iranian influence, no US cost or risk.
    Jason, You may think that an election will bring change but Maliki doesn’t think so judging by his dictatorial policies. The new elections will only show how far Maliki is willing to go in order to destroy democracy, what will the US do then? A coup? I would laugh.

  19. Santana said

    Faisal, I agree with what you mentioned as the “Bang-Bang” option with Iran and it should definitly be included in the list of possibilities that Reidar stated – I think it would be worthwhile for you and maybe others on this blog to hear the audio version of the Roundtable discussion titled “Iran’s Maritime Evolution” at CSIS on July 7th 2011 here is the link-

    where the bang-bang option is mentioned by one of the U.S Navy’s top Naval Intel expert. A punch up with Iran along the lines of what you stated would most likely start out as a skirmish with an Iranian PT or high speed boat thru an independent action of a low-grade Iranian officer and quickly escalate from there….the incident with the Brits that were captured by Iran earlier this year happened that way and the Iranian Naval officer did it on his own with no coordination with Tehran and he became a hero and was actually promoted- this sets a precedent and an incentive for other Iranian officers to do the same. I do disagree with your comment that there will be Sunni sympathizers against any U.S military action against Iran- I think the only sympathizers would be from a group like Alqaeda and I reject any notion that a terror group like Alqaeda represent real Sunnis or any Muslims for that matter since their actions of killing innocent people worldwide is unacceptable by Muslim standards (or so I hear- I am not very religous so please excuse my limited knowledge in these matters) . Now going back to good Ol Dulaimi- I have received credible reports that Dulaimi’s wife is tabaaieh Irania (from Iranian Origin) and that her two brothers are hardcore Daawa members- one report indicates that one of the brothers was executed by Saddam in the 90s while Dulaimi was on a conference in London and as a result of this he never went back to Iraq and joined the Iraqi opposition and went to Saudi and stayed there till 2003.

  20. Salah said

    Iran overplays its hand and the US makes a massive attack on Iran and wipes out its air defense and air force, then invades Tonb islands and symbolically hands them over to the UAE then creates bases on them to watch over Iran.

    where the bang-bang option

    For both of you this is a dream will Not come true.
    Picking bits of news from different sources Iranians ships pass Suisse Canal to build permanent naval base in Syria in support for Syrian regime, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei announce $ 5Billion aid to Syrian regime, what about the hidden relations between Iran and Israelis in the region.

    As for US and Iran Iraq a good example how the relations befits each side although publically we got a lot of smoke to cover, one clear example is the Ashraf Camp how Iranians had free hand dealing with them. Is US not able to control this small group of apposition while she had a military power on the ground but US able to through and support oppositions in Libya, Egypt and Syria without military bases on those countries.
    Just to refresh your mind remember the sanction on Iraq how worked.

    Iran had two faces one against US backed with slogans & burning flags, the other face very quiet with US in Iraq.

    The bang-bang option will be by making small changes by getting rid of old face “Mullah” bringing friendly Mullah similar what US setup in Iraq

  21. Mohammed said

    Dear All:

    Based on the assessment from you gentlemen and the latest turn of events in Iraq, I cannot help but feel depressed.

    You bring up many points that need further discussion:

    1)Dulaymi and the defense ministry: First of all Santana, I just don’t agree with your style of defaming the guy because his wife may have ajami roots. Iraq is a mixture of different ethnic groups and religions. You are choosing to classify somebody’s allegiance to the country based on his wife’s ethnic background?!?! Come on man, you are way smarter than that. I agree that the manner in which Maliki designated Dulaymi was very unwise. However, I can hardly blame the guy for rejecting somebody like Bolani. The bottom line is al-Maliki is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces by virtue of him being the PM. In my view the defense minister must be somebody who can have a good working relationship with al-Maliki. If Bolani is calling al-Maliki a snake and Iranian agent, he clearly cannot be the defense minister. Look at western countries… Could you imagine Obama choosing a secretary of defense that would call Obama a socialist? There has to be some level of interpersonal trust between the PM and defense chief. Now, I don’t know enough about all the candidates that Iraqiya wanted to designate (but if you are picking them based upon how much they hate the PM, then that will certainly not get us anywhere). The reason the Defense chief position has to be carefully chosen is because al-Maliki fears that somebody would foment a coup. Some would say that this is preposterous, but Santana you (as an Allawi lobbyist working the DC circles) have already advocated a coup multiple times on this forum. How then can you blame al-Maliki for being cautious about this when there are surely other people with your mindset in Iraqiya?

    2)Criticisms of al-Maliki: Look, the guy is not a boy scout by any means of the imagination. Frankly, you guys harp on the wrong things like superstitious Shiite voodoo beliefs (that he never said) instead of focusing on what the guy actually says. Take for example in the NY times today, there is an article that has Maliki cautioning that Israel is the biggest beneficiary of the arab spring and urging arabs to avoid protesting and wait for changes to come with elections. What a stupid thing for him to say on so many dimensions!!! Clearly this is an example of following the Iranian line, and even somebody as blind as me can see it for what it is. Here al-Maliki has ticked off the Americans with such rubbish, flagrantly betrayed the cause for Arab democracy (especially for Shiites in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia), and just looked overall foolish on the world scene. Why he said that, and who advised him is beyond me. Just dumb!!! Iran doesn’t even benefit from such a statement. That is the kind of stuff you can legitimately complain about and call him out on. I urge you to complain as vociferously as you can. Nobody can defend such a statement.

    3)Iran: While Obama is president, there is no way in the world the USA will ever fire one bullet on Iran unless Iran fires the first shots. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Iranians tried to engage the Americans in a skirmish. It would be a huge folly on America’s part to attack Iran. You have to remember is what is Ali Khamenei’s goal? Simply, it is for him and his right winger mullahs to stay in power. All their shenanigans have been for this single purpose. These guys are all crooks (their love of God and shiite imams is a big ruse because nobody who loved Imam Ali would behave the way the mullahs do)… The Assad regime in Syria is on the verge of collapse, and it will inevitably happen in the next few months as far as I can see. My guess is that Iran’s regime will fall after that. The only thing that could save the Mullah’s is for America to attack Iran. The green movement will be set back a decade. Iranians are fiercely nationalistic, and if the Americans took over a couple of islands and handed them over to the UAE, people will rally around the government as they did in the Iran Iraq war. The Iranian people hate their tyrannical government, and Iran is one spark away from full blown revolution. What is keeping the Mullahs in power is the revolutionary guard, basiij, and some really rich merchants and foundations that have huge financial deals with the mullahs. But as Iran’s economy is in shambles, and its allies are falling like flies (Syria, Hezbollah), they will be in trouble, and their game will be up. Once that happens, the mullah’s interfence in Iraq will come to a halt.

    In the meantime, Iraqiya/Kurds/minorities should do whatever it can to protect the institutions of democracy (like ensuring fair elections), and advocate building iraq’s infrastructure. Their single minded focus on defense/security has gotten them nowhere. Da3wa cannot rule all of Iraq (especially Anbar and Mosul)—they are a religious shia movement and cannot appeal to iraqis beyond a certain geography. Your goal should be to forge a coalition between principled religious shia/sunnis, secular sunnis/shia, who have had enough of the incompetence and corruption of the government. Where Iraqiya failed in the past is that it scares away the religious shia vote (and even some secular shia voters) because Allawi and Iraqiya has made some poor choices. When Allawi hangs out with the Saudis and is seen as getting financial backing from them, or visiting them a week before the elections, he delegitimizes himself as a true democrat (after all, since when did the Saudis believe in democracy?). For shia, saudi arabia and wahabism is the same poison that Santana fears from Iran. Frankly, I am losing any hope in this older generation of opposition figures, and just hope that Iraq stays stable enough for the next 10 years for a new home-grown generation of leaders to emerge.

  22. Santana said

    Thanks Mohamed- now I feel bad after seeing all the effort you put in your reply- I appreciate your comments- first of all- I will say this again and again- I am a realist ! so by highlighting Dulaimi’s wife’s Ajmi roots and Daawa brothers is not to defame him….he may well be very proud that she is from Ajmi roots and Iranian women are known for their beauty…I am trying to show why Maliki chose this guy (her brothers are his friends and can be trusted to watch this guy as MOD) and then my comments are to indicate that there is a possible security compromise here….with Iran able to infiltrate the Ministry . Again- this is just a possibility cuz Iran can get any secrets they want directly from Maliki but incase Dulaimi wakes up one day with Nationalistic fervor and “Solo” ambitions and decides to clean out “Iranian elements” from the polluted Iraqi Army and Maliki is unaware of this, then Iran is comfortable knowing there is another means to find out. Again- it is all speculation but still too much at risk.

    The main objection to Dulaimi remains the fact that that Maliki backstabbed Iraqiya on the Erbil agreement- and I blame Iraqiya somewhat for trusting the guy. I’d like to see how much say-so Iraqiya will have on the MOI selection? ZILCH!! that’s how much !! …..and last but not least- ……….I do not work for Allawi- I support him yes- work for him – No.


  23. With all our scenarios it seems that reality is still totally different; Leon Paneta says Iraq agreed to an extension and Maliki says nope it ain’t true!

  24. Reidar Visser said

    Panetta has been saying so many strange things on Iraq lately that it is hard to take him seriously anymore, especially after he claimed an Iraq/AQ connection behind September 11. In the report I saw, it seemed Pentagon officials were working hard to effectively minimise the significance of the comments.

  25. Salah said

    Panetta has been saying so many strange things on Iraq lately that it is hard to take him seriously anymore

    It is obvious this playing game of conflicting singe to cover up the truthful of what has really agreed or done deals under the table.

  26. Jason said

    It’s very discouraging to see such a lack of faith in the democratic process here and lack of regard for my suggestions about how to work inside the process. It’s a level of pessimism that can only be justified by the assumption that Iraq will never have another fair election. I’m just not convinced the future is that dark. Witness the sharp reversals of fortune that occur democratically in the U.S.

    But I repeat my strongly held belief that four years is entirely to long to go without an election. At a minimum, the provincial and local elections should be scheduled in the middle of parliamentary elections. That would at least give the people some opportunity to send a message and remind the politicians why they were sent to Baghdad.

    My preference would be to stagger both parliamentary and provincial elections so that half stand for reelection every two years.

  27. Salah said

    the democratic process

    Its not really as that, its very ill “the democratic process” specially ruling by gangs and thieves , with the most corrupting folks in the world. the democratic process built on transparency of truthful means for all the people to the people.

  28. Santana said


    Your suggestions are very valid and you make some good points and yes- you are correct there is an extreme lack of faith in the Democratic process simply because THERE ISN’T ONE- this is what this whole post is about- the democratic process has been decimated by Maliki and Daawa…all the different scenarios and options that Faisal or Reidar mentioned above are all part of collective brainstorming and trying to find ways that can bring some sanity and shared governance….once we have that, then the democratic process can then start tackling elections and all the other issues Iraq needs.

  29. Jason said

    The U.S. has a winner-take-all system for the entire executive branch, including all cabinet members. I suppose that’s why I don’t share the same level of urgency that Malki would want a Defense Minister that he can work with. I’m much more concerned about the lack of an independent supreme court and election commission, and these idiotic rules to handicap the parliament by limiting who is allowed to introduce legislation. Those are the real breakdowns in the needed system of “checks and balances.”

    Someone refresh my memory – what ministries does Iraqiya have? And how are they performing as far as competence and results for the Iraqi people? What successes can they brag about?

  30. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, the thing is, Iraqiyya has a lot of service ministries and not much to brag about, hence the interest in the strategic council instead….

    Iraqiyya ministries that come to mind are finance, agriculture, education, science & tech, communications and electricity.

  31. Nathaniel said


    I think your ideas are good, and I’ll add one more element to his political strategy. I think toppling the government is a long shot, so he needs to take advantage of the strengths of being in the opposition and plan for the next elections. Specifically, he needs to redirect his energies from the Policy Council to brokering a deal that will allow him to effectively obstruct any major structural changes to the Iraqi government. The most striking analogy (though it’s far from a perfect comparison) is Hizbullah’s political strategy over the last couple years. While they seem to accept (for the moment) that they’re not going to gain sufficient power to drive policy, they have won effective veto power (politically, as opposed to the de facto military veto they’ve possessed for years) for any policies they find disagreeable. Unfortunately, Allawi seems to be doing the opposite by supporting the “independent commission” in the oil draft bill. He needs to realize that, if he gains electoral ground in the next election, the Oil Ministry and the other portfolios will be his to bargain away, rather than al-Maliki’s. Instead, he’s supporting the kind of structural changes that he should in fact be opposing.

    Also, I’d like to make one small correction. If you read the actual draft of the Policy Council bill, its jurisdiction is almost limitless. It’s kind of ironic–while it will likely have virtually no real power, it has the authority to address almost anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if a cunning lawyer would even be able to justify intervening, say, in Iraqi soccer or some such silliness.

    One other comment along the lines of what you said about the MoD. Cabinet positions in Parliamentary systems are much different than that of the American system. Often powerful ministries are used as bargaining chips when the winning party has only a slim plurality, sometimes those positions even go to rival parties. Just look at Israel. Labour holds the MoD despite its historical opposition to Likud.


    It’s more likely that Iran will hold genuinely free and fair elections, dismantle its nuclear program, cease funding Hizbullah and Hamas and sign a peace treaty with Israel than that the United States will attack Iran.

  32. Reidar Visser said

    Nathaniel, those points you raise are significant for both the oil and gas commission and the strategic policy council. Indeed, imagine how difficult it will be to agree on any new government for Iraq if there is to be agreement on a president, a premier, and a chairman for the strategic council before any votes get going in parliament!

  33. Nathaniel,
    I do not wish the US attack Iran and believe that it is unlikely before the US presidential elections. Do you find it necessary to color your argument in order to make a point that’s only valid for one year?

  34. Jason said

    This starts off being about Iran, but does turn to Iraq toward the end, so I think it’s relevant here. In short, the writer claims that Iran is suffering from serious inflation interfering with its imperial aspirations, and concludes that the Iraqi govt has chosen to side with Iran and Assad on the Syrian protests.

  35. Nathaniel said


    That’s exactly my point. I’ve noticed that in a lot of fledgling democracies, minority parties fail to appreciate the strategic advantages of being in the opposition. They invest a tremendous amount of effort in winning this election cycle, and fail to appreciate that they can effectively shape election cycles to come (look at the ascent of the conservatives in UK… it took a while, but they have a strong, stable coalition at the moment). Allawi and Iraqiyya, by pursuing such structural changes, will make governing so much harder if/when they do assume power.


    I don’t know exactly what you mean by “coloring” my arguments. Granted, I used a bit of hyperbole as a sort of rhetorical flourish, but only to drive home that it is highly unlikely. Also, I don’t think this is something that will last only a year. Even if Obama loses next year, I can’t conceive of a scenario where the US would attack Iran. Even under George W. Bush, which gathered together some of the most hawkish neocons in recent history, it was accepted that an attack on Iran is untenable. Also, I never meant to imply that, by suggesting the scenario, you wanted it to happen.

  36. Nathaniel,
    Do you think the US will not respond if provoked by Iran? If you read my comment you will see that I stated a condition of provocation.

    Regarding Iraqiya’s status, I wish they would become the official opposition but I think reality forces them to take the position of partner in order to protect their membership and to keep their unity.
    BTW I hate it when I see Iraqiya seeking the goodwill of Talbani in order to mediate with Maliki, I find it degrading.

  37. Nathaniel said


    I don’t think there’s any provocation (in terms of what Iran is likely willing to do) that will lead to a US attack. I believe someone mentioned it earlier in this thread, but I think American policy makers understand that one of the only ways for the Iranian regime to restore its legitimacy with the people is for America to attack it.

  38. Nathaniel,
    If you were Official then your comment #37 could be interpreted as the green light for Iran to support Assad/Hizbulla with troops.

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