Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Another Parliamentary Defeat for Maliki

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 24 September 2011 20:19

Today’s vote in parliament on a law for Iraq’s anti-corruption commission was in some ways another defeat for Iraq’s prime minister Nuri al-Maliki. On a key article of the law, namely the mechanism for appointing the leader of the integrity commission, Maliki and his political allies had sought a different formula than that eventully agreed to by parliament: Whereas Maliki had asked for prime ministerial appointment powers, parliament reserved that prerogative for itself in article 4 of the new law. As usual in Iraq, no details on the votes of individual deputies were published but it has been made clear in press reports that the supporters of the anti-Maliki measure were generally Iraqiyya, the Kurds and possibly some individual members of ISCI.

Still, despite these developments in parliament today, two important caveats pertain to the image of Maliki coming under pressure. Firstly, today’s decision was in the realm of simple-majority decisions rather than anywhere near the absolute-majority territory in which the most crucial decisions – such as sacking the government itself – are made. With 248 deputies present, no more than 125 votes were required to win the vote, meaning we are still far away from the magical 163 needed to withdraw confidence in Maliki.

Second, today’s vote against Maliki was enabled precisely because it focused on a single anti-Maliki clause that attacked him personally. Conversely, when the issues are broader, this sort of cross-party political consensus that could form the basis for a challenge to the government simply does not exist. This can be seen for example in the debate on the oil and gas law. Seemingly there is a parallel challenge to prime ministerial power in the parliamentary oil and gas committee version of the oil and gas bill, which differs from the government version above all when it comes to the role of the PM in the projected, all-powerful federal oil and gas council. But in other areas of the oil and gas legislation – and especially in areas concerning centre-periphery relations – fissures in the anti-Maliki coalition are evident. Firstly, it seems unclear whether the Kurds are wholeheartedly supporting the committee version of the bill at all, since their latest tirade against the “Maliki draft” included criticism of items concerning central government powers that can in fact be found in the committee version of the bill as well. In other words, maybe the Kurds are not terribly serious about the committee bill at the end of the day and instead are just trying to heap pressure on Maliki in order to get a better deal from him bilaterally in KRG-Baghdad negotiations.

Second, even parties often seen as pro-Kurdish are at variance with Arbil when the specifics of oil and gas and other “big issues” (like disputed territories) come up for debate. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), which despite its reputation as a pro-Kurdish party has recently found it necessary to issue criticism of alleged oil smuggling from the Kurdish areas as well as what is seen as Kurdish attempts at grandstanding through reducing the oil output from the KRG area. Issues like these have over the past few weeks been highlighted by pro-ISCI deputies such as Qasim al-Aaraji and Falih al-Sari. Indeed, when it comes to the disputed territories, even Iraqiyya – which has recently gone quite far in accommodating Kurdish sentiment with respect to oil, at least at the level of the party leadership – have strongly protested developments in Diyala province, where the recent visit by the Kurdish president Masud Barzani prompted strong protests locally.

The lack of cohesion among Maliki’s opponents in turn explains how he is able to remain in power despite a decidedly flimsy parliamentary support base. The Kurds took at face value his promises on oil and gas and other issues in late 2010, overlooking the fact that these issues belong to the realm of parliamentary decisions and even referendums rather than to that of the premier. Maliki clearly is not strong enough to produce parliamentary decisions on these matters; however, he is quite capable of  hanging on to power thanks to the inability of the opposition to unite to sack him. In the end this may suit Maliki well, since it means he can escape or postpone painful decisions on issues like oil and Kirkuk that would potentially bring him into conflict with the limited power base that he still retains in parliament.

31 Responses to “Another Parliamentary Defeat for Maliki”

  1. observer said

    allawi in hawler on Sunday for more talks. But i do not think that they will be focused on getting Maliki out as both Iran and the US are still supporting him. It will be about getting the agreement executed and maintaining a united stance against Maliki taking more and more power.

    By the way, you did not say anything about the continued harassment, beating and torturing of activists. Just accumulating more evidence for you about the non benign nature of Da3wa/Maliki

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Sometimes I wonder whether Allawi should spend more time talking to Iraqiyya than to Barzani! What exactly was the outcome of the “high-level” internal meeting in Baghdad last week? Allawi came out saying “there is nothing new in the Nujayfi initiative”, which frankly had the exact opposite effect and made it look as if there actually could be something brewing. Nujayfi announced visits to Arbil, Ankara and Tehran.

  3. I am wondering which dynamic is predominant and will influence the political Iraqi outcome most in the near future? Allawi-Barzani or Internal Iraqiya? Notwithstanding the implicit accord between Iran and the US which will probably lead to symbolic US presence and stronger Iranian role, I think the predominant factor is Maliki’s insecurity, he is turning against the Kurdish and American hands that fed and saved him. Who can predict him?

  4. Santana said

    Faisal- I think Iraqiya is now taking a “breather” and letting all the dust settle from all the Allawi- Barzani…Nejaifi-Barzani…KRG-SOL….talks…that didn’t produce anything. I am glad that the Kurds have finally realized that they helped create the monster (Maliki) and now he is telling everyone that he is King of the hill. He echos the words of Qassem Suleimani to Eissawi in 2010 in Tehran -when he said to him “What do we need you guys for”??

  5. Reidar Visser said

    But Santana, the Allawi-Barzani talks COULD NOT have produced anything, as was clearly demonstrated in summer 2010. When the numbers of potential parliamentary backers don’t add up, why do politicians spend this kind of energy on what is evidently blind alleys?

  6. Santana said

    Good question Reidar- it echoes what I have been telling them till I became blue in the face….but they also can’t just sit and watch the Country go to hell or to Iran while doing nothing- we have half the Iraqi population is watching. As one Iraqiya Parlimantarian shouted at me recently when I criticized the strategy…” Eeee hassa shensowee ??!!!”…OK- so what do we do ??? and in all fairness he was not angry at me….just angry with the whole predicament.

    I love my old aunt’s diatribe to me when I tried to explain why things are the way they are….she interrupted me and said “Look- don’t give me all this technical crap ! We WON the elections and Allawi is NOT PM – something is not right!! DO your job in DC..!! and she hung-up on me….I LOVED her simplicity and sense of reality !! LOTs of folks in Iraq feel the same way.

  7. observer said

    Do we need to go into it again about why it is not a good idea to create a Jebha Watnia with SOL? The people I blame most for this predicament are in USG. They actually believed the crap fed to them by SOL and frankly they are now reaping what they have sawed. Too bad the price is being paid by Iraqis and Iraq.

    The meetings will yield some movement soon. It is now about limiting the influence of Maliki and the latest losses to SOL resulting from alignment of Iraqia/Kurds/ISCI are an indication of the fruitfulness of discussions between Barzani/allawi/hakim.

  8. Reidar Visser said

    Santana and Observer, as long as you keep a.) complaining about the definition of the biggest bloc or b.) reiterate the view that all of the State of Law alliance are inherently anti-democratic, I fear you will not get anywhere in terms of practical politics! The Barzani-Allawi-Hakim triangle is a.) unable to reach the 163 threshold required for sacking Maliki and b.) full of irreconcilable ideological contradictions on basic issues like state structure and federalism.

  9. observer said

    The oil law will be passed (with the parliament being in charge). There is no way on earth that Iran or Maliki can keep the UIA together and one solid block on this issue. Whether it will be the end of UIA is another matter entirely. Today, even Ahmed Chalabi declared (though with very shy words) that he is not in support of the on going arguments between Kurs/Iraqia and UIA.

    Also, there will come a time when you admit that Maliki is a dictator in the making. It is only a matter of time when his true colors will show. Let us hope that it will not be too late in the day when you and others will realize it.

    As for the cohesiveness of a three way alliance of Kurds/ISCI/Iraqia, i think they all accept an arab/kurdish federation, though they have different vision of where the boundaries are. As to the She3a vs Sunni regions, don’t you think that the version preferred by ISCI is diametriclaly opposite to that of SOL? And if the difference in vision is the basis for your prediction that a Kurdish/Iraqia/ISCI alliance can not work, shouldn’t the same logic dictate a divorce between SOL and ISCI? On threshold 94+55+17>163 assuming that it will ever get to that. Be that as it may, I am not predicting a fall of Maliki to be eminent, rather his attempts at getting laws passed to bring in more power under him will be hampered and frustrated.

  10. Observer,
    I wonder if the “crap fed to them” was by SOL or was it by Mam Jelal’s lobbyists?

  11. Santana said

    Reidar- you said to Observer and I – “I fear you will not get anywhere”…..I didn’t say we will get anywhere- I am equally skeptical about Observer’s expectations of a positive outcome from a Barzani-Allawi-Hakim triangle as I am about your “huggy kissy” deal with SOL …..just not sure which one is more far fetched?

    I think we are stuck with this bastard till the next elections- unless something drastic happens like an Arab spring type uprising or a Coup in Iran…..etc..

  12. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, I would be surprised if Allawi were able to carry along all of those 94 deputies you define as Iraqiyya to a vote on a version of the oil and gas law that would give stronger rights to the regions than what is proposed by Maliki. If Allawi tries that, Maliki could try to split Iraqiyya since many members of the party are closer to him than to Allawi on Baghdad-KRG questions. Of course, the oil legislation is a lot more complex than, say, Kirkuk, so it is also possible that the showdown between centralism and federalism in this case will disappear in haze and get postponed for that reason.

    Also, ISCI/Badr deputies, perhaps especially those who are not so close to Hakim, have frequently repeated that they will never go along with a no-confidence vote in the government.

  13. observer said

    Do you really think that Anabar representatives would not want the same “deal” for Akkaz (same goes for Musil reps), as the Kurds have? Don’t you think that local deputies say in Ammara or in Basra or in Nasrriya or even Kut would want their share of the oil income be increased and they would have a better chance at it if they deal with it through the parliament than a single entity in the center. After all the two versions of the law are not that much different except in who makes the decisions, the PM or the Parliament. Was it not Tip O’Niel who said all politics are local. Lets wait and see.

    I am told that there is a good chance that the oil deal will be done but also that Talabani is trying to oust Allawi from iraqia! (at least that is his strategy), but Barzani is totally frustrated by Talabani’s attitude. There are movements between Goran and KDP in the last couple of days that may be an attempt by Barzani to gang up the Kurds against Talabani. It will never turn back to 96, but there are big rumors around that Barham Salih may be ousted soon and replaced by Nechravan Barazani as it is coming to the end of the two years mandate. As to what role Salih would be playing and whether he will be able to save face – maybe a position in Baghdad ala 2003/2009.

    Faisel – on who is feeding bull crap to whom? The impressionable in Baghdad will believe anything that would make their case in DC easier to win and thus get promoted. Besides the impressionable are never around two or three years after they file their reports to receive the consequences of wrong readings. I am not sure what brand of bull crap is being served in DC and by whom. Ask Santana.

  14. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, please note that only federal regions, not governorates, are given special privileges in the oil law (both versions). So Anbar would have to become a federal region to gain the rights you refer to. I have pointed out previously that to treat regions and governorates on a difficult basis in energy questions is unconstitutional – regardless of whether we are talking about no rights or many rights – but again, this defect can be found in both versions of the law.

    Similarly, I think you exaggerate the difference between the two versions when it comes to “who makes the decisions”. In both cases, it is the federal oil and gas commission, with a two-thirds majority, who decides. The difference is that in the parliament version of the bill, parliament elects the head of the commission whereas in the government version this is the PM or his representative. But in both cases, it is the two-thirds majority of the council, not the PM or the parliament (or the regional entity), that make the final decisions.

  15. Samir Abdallah said

    Today, Crisis Group published their new report about Iraq, focusing on Iraq’s Unchecked Government,

  16. observer said

    the interpretation of the Kurds applies to undeveloped reservoirs. I believe an amendment can be made to allow governorates to allow development of known reservoirs. This will put the fire under the oil ministry to move more earnestly and stop dragging its feet and develop oil before it becomes useless as a resource. Frankly I think that would be a good development not only for Iraq but for the price of oil world wide. At the rate the oil ministry is going, oil will be a redundant source of power world wide before Iraq even reaches its peak production. If truly the oil of Iran will only last 25 years as intelligence reports state, then it makes sense to help Iraq develop as much oil as possible and bring down the price of oil to 80 or maybe 60 per barrel and thus reduce the income of Iran while augmenting the income of Iraq.

    Regardless of who is PM, we have to reduce the power of the PM and give more of it to parliament. This is not a tactical issue, rather it is a strategic issue. Centralization of power is/has been bad for Iraq. Think about it. It is healthier for Iraq to disperse power and allow more for partnership in forming laws and direction of policy. That, after all, is the basis for the strategic policy council.

  17. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, here are the kind of grassroots reactions from Iraqiyya sympathisers against the pro-Kurdish position that I was talking about:

    من جانب آخر اعتبر عضو المجموعة العربية في مجلس محافظة كركوك محمد خليل الجبوري أن “بعض مواقف قيادات العراقية خيبت صوت جماهيرها في كركوك وارتمت في أحضان من يريدون تقسيم العراق إلى فيدراليات عرقية مقابل السلطة التي لا قيمة لها”، مطالبا القوى السياسية بـ”قيادة البلاد الى بر الأمان”.

    وهدد الجبوري بأن المجلس والعشائر العربية سيضطرون إلى قطع العلاقات مع بعض قادة العراقية في حال لم يكن لها موقف واضح من القضايا التي تهم كركوك ومصير كركوك للتخلي عن رغبتها في الحصول على بعض المكاسب الزائلة والإعلان الرسمي عن تأييدها للحكومة العراقية في موقفها بقضية كركوك والنفط والغاز”.

    Muhammad Khalil al-Jibburi from Kirkuk effectively demanding that Allawi supports Maliki or else…

    More here, including calls for Iraqiyya and State of Law to join ranks on these issues:

  18. Santana said

    Faisal- As far as any bull crap that the kurds are doing in DC it is substantial and their lobbying expenditure is second only to Aipac . Over 6 firms and several independents involved not to mention PR firms and officials from kurdish dissent in powerful positions within USG-that I cannot name here. Millions spent but not a penny wasted it seems. Congressmen and senators are moved to tears when anyone mentions the plight of the kurds . Then the Talabani side have also instructed their lobbyists to make sure they disseminate that Maliki can walk on water and that he is Gods gift to Iraq and this is part of their strategic alliance KRG-iSOL with Iran’s blessing.

  19. Thanks Santana. The reason I was wondering about Mam Jelal’s lobby in particular is that his policy promotes Iranian objectives, which are detrimental to US objectives, arguably unlike Israeli objectives. I think that the quickly diminishing American influence in Iraq is a result of Talbani’s brokering, it will not be long before this will become clear. I am just wondering if Talbani’s lobby is breaking any US laws? Particularly if payments were made from Iraqi government coffers.
    I think that Maliki is not the US’s biggest blunder in Iraq; he was a relatively unknown entity before taking office, who knew he will be so anti democratic? But Talbani’s sentiments were well known, the US should have known better.
    It does matter who’s pushing the crap and who’s behind it.

  20. observer said

    What do you think Jibouri is complaining about? My guess is that he wants to climb up and have his share of the pie. It has nothing to do with what is stated in the conference. Do you really think that Allawi can give Kirkuk to the Kurds? I stated here before that once the oil law is resolved, the rest can then be tackled. Kirkuk can not possibly be resolved without the oil law being addressed.

    Here is a potential consequence of the scenario you keep on pushing for. Allawi will leave the scene. The Kurds, Sadris, ISCI, Fadheela will be marginalized and left in the dust. The Kurds will circle the wagons and feel that they have stepped back in time to 1976. The threats will escalate. Meanwhile. SOL will take its time integrating the pieces left over by the demise of ISCI, Fadheela, and the rest of the She3a Islamist Parties, and gets deeper and deeper into the government. They will let the Iraqia ministers take money out and lets corruption take care of the greed of the individuals to maintain control over the reigns of power. More and more power is left to the PM.

    Soon enough, SOL/Da3wa is the largest and most organized political party in the center and the south of Iraq. As a counter, the Islamic party in the west will use the growing influence of Da3wa as the on coming threat (a reverse play of Da3wa vs. Baath/sunnis in the period of 1970 to 1979). 6 years down the line, Iraqi is ready for a real three way civil war ala former Yugoslavia.

    Iraq is a mosaic, like it or not, it must be run on a partnership basis. Otherwise, it will divide, or held together via a strong man with brutal repression. Partnership means treating the others (or lesser partners) with respect and transparency and good faith. Leaving the government when you loose an election and handing over the power so that no minority feels threatened by a majority. Protecting the rights of the individuals and the regions over the power of the center. It is messy running a partnership as any person in business will tell you. Decisions have to be made by convincing the other partners and not forcing them to take on positions that they do not agree with. Messy business, but it requires a state of mind that allows one to be uncertain of their own ideas. A party like Da3wa that has a self declared magical power for knowing the right path is no different that the Baath party.

    I know that a lot of my Kurdish contacts hate Micheal Rubin, but i trust his commitment to democracy. At one point he was a champion of Kurdish rights (and I believe he is still so), but he has a commitment to democracy first. Officials in KRG do not like it when he points out their undemocratic behavior and him pointing out to the up coming threats to the gains of the last 20 years.

    Talabani’s forces are pointing at the leaving of the US as a reason for pacifying Iran through support of Maliki, when in reality, Iran and Turkey are the long term threats to their hard one gains.

    Ah -but who is listening? They are busy fighting between them as to who should be PM of KRG.

  21. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, the article quotes four or five politicians from Kirkuk who all say the same thing. They’re just fighting to retain a link between Baghdad and Kirkuk that goes back centuries. I don’t think that is opportunism.

    What worries me is that if you get the oil law you want – i.e. with contracting rights for both regions and governorates – there will not be any “rest” to deal with when it comes to disputed territories. Iraq may well be gone!

    Also, with respect to “mosaic”, as an historian of Iraq I simply beg to differ. Ethno-religious complexity in Iraq and indeed most post-Ottoman areas is different from other parts of the world and consociational, power-sharing formulas do not seem to resonate as well with the population there (despite the fact that elites who lived much of their lives away from Iraq propagate them enthusiastically). The Ottomans ruled Iraq for centuries, mostly peacefully, and never made a big deal of ethno-sectarian labels. Of course, there were the dhimmi categories for Christians and Jews, but no attempt was made to govern the country with reference to sub-divisions between Muslims, be that on sectarian (Shiite/Sunni) or ethnic (Arab/Kurd/Turkmen) basis.

    As for scenarios, the only part I agree with is that Allawi, ISCI, Fadila and the Sadrists may well get marginalised. On the other hand, in the non-federated parts of Iraq you might well have an alliance between Iraqyya and Daawa of the kind that Maliki, Nujayfi, Bolani and Abu Risha were talking about in April 2009. This could produce an effective, smaller government that would be able to offer the Kurds reasonable deals as well. The whole point is that Maliki himself is a variable: He could change if he is offered the incentive of a partnership that could liberate him from Iranian, Sadrists and Kurdish diktats. If Allawi can not offer him this, others in Iraqiyya may well decide to try.

  22. observer said

    I agree that Iraq was not sectarian historically, but the last 50 years have made a marked change and while there are no historical animosities per se, there is now a sense of victimhood on the part of the she3a and a sense of fear (some call it entitlement) on the part of sunna. She3a are still looking for an apology and expressions of regrets from the sunnis, but none is going to be forthcoming, because in reality, the sunnis were also a victim (maybe not to such a great extent) of the rule of Saddam Hussien/Baath. Some may disagree with me and say there were differential treatment during the royal era (sate3 husari policies, etc), but I actually blame the Merg3i for that (i.e. self inflicted differential treatment). Sectarianism began with Abd Al Salam Arif, through 2003. I do not care how much history you have read, i lived these years and I live in Iraq and I know how people feel. Come to the trenches and I will take you to the small cafes in side streets and to Mudhiefs where you can talk freely with people and get a real sense of what Iraqis think as oppsoed to what is written in history books. So if you do not want to call it a mosaic, it is fine by me, but find a word to describe the divide that exists right now.

    One way for the oil ministry to avoid the mess is to actually get into good will discussions with the others including Kurds and open up Iraq for investment in the oil field as opposed to becoming a bottle neck and holder of all power and refusing to cooperate. Why else would there be a need to keep the oil law on hold since 2006/2007. Da3wa is playing delay and they truly believe that they have all the power and are going to force the others to accept their rules by force. Well, sorry, it ain’t going to work.

    Poor Maliki – he is only yielding to Iran because he has to? What can’t Allawi do the same thing? Have you any idea how many times he was invited to go to Iran – for talks?. On the scenario, I note with fascination that you are ignoring the end result of having a hegemony of Da3wa in the she3a street which will result in having the sunnies go towards a counter balance which will yield a return to 06/07?? Do you really think that there will be a place for secular politics inside such an Iraq?

  23. Reidar Visser said

    Many questions here, Observer:

    If sectarianism has developed recently, is it really a good idea to enshrine it in power-sharing mechanisms?

    If the calls for governorate rights to administer the oil sector is as strong as you describe in the mudifs, why don’t we see more in the way of grassroots actions and even pro-federal movements? It seems so far, only some governorate politicians are interested.

    Also, I can’t remember entirely what you’ve said about it before, but is it the case that a good deal of those mudifs were in the KRG areas?

    I think Fanar Haddad describes the situation well with his reference to contested versions of nationalism covering the same territorial framework, i.e. politicians seeking pre-eminence within a nationalist framework instead of carve-up formulas.

  24. observer said

    Now you are putting words into my mouth and taking words out of context. Bot becoming of you, but ok, I will roll with the punches. The paragraph you site was about the talk of sectarian feelings and victimhood that the she3a feel. You know pretty well that my work takes me all over Iraq. I am in the south jsut as much as I am around KRG areas. I am not sure if I ever encountered a Mudhief north of Shatra, save for Ayad Jamal Al Deen’s in Baghdad. But diwanias, – yes plenty of those. And if you are not willing to go there, then read opinion polls. The fact is that She3a still feel a sense of victimhood in the years of the Baath. A sense that the Islamic parties capitalize on every election cycle. It will take a long time for that to disappear.

    By the way, who said that sectarianism should be enshrined in the power sharing mechanisms? I showed you how your “solution” will lead to actual fragmentation and enshrining of religious Islam forever in the south and the west (She3a vs Sunna) ending all potential for secular parties.

    What I am calling for is for the Oil ministry to expedite the development of oil. How is it that 8 years after liberation we are still at 2.7 mm barrels per day? Why is it that only the south oil fields are being modernized and offered for bidding? Why is Kirkuk being ignored or Musil or even Anbar? If it were not for the Kurds working hard on attracting oil companies, not a single well would have been tapped north of Kirkuk.

    Now, who is putting the ground work for fragmentation and division on the ground? Do you think that the people of Anbar or Musil or for that matter KRG residents are idiots and do not see what is going on? Had the development of fields been distributed equitably, nobody would be suspicious of the intent of Da3wa and Maliki. Had Maliki been earnest in negotiating the oil law, it would not have sat dormant for 5 years. It only took him two days to move his version after Janabi pushed the parliament version out? Why? Please explain that to me since you know the motivation of Da3wa and deem them benign.

    I will say it one more time. Da3wa is the Islamic version of Baath. They have plans to dominate and become THE PARTY of government. I hope Iraqis south of Baghdad are smart enough to stop these plans, but I am doubtful.

  25. Reidar Visser said

    Sorry, I was still thinking of oil and disputed territories. The thing is, as I see it, these issues cut across sectarian divisions and create a potential for non-sectarian political constellations. With respect to Shiites and victimhood, again I think Maliki was on track towards pragmatically integrating many former members of the regime – mostly but not exclusively Shiite – and could have led the way towards reconciliation on the de-Baathification issue. Unfortunately, Iran, the Sadrists and your friends in ISCI opted to highlight de-Baathification ahead of the 2010 elections and, also unfortunately, Maliki no longer had the guts to resist. My point is, there are still so many Shiite ex-Baathists that there is nothing inevitable about polarisation along sectarian lines in Iraq.

  26. observer said

    If Maliki’s stance regarding anti-sectarianism was a principled stance, then it matters not what the “others” are doing. A stance is a stance. Don’t you think Allawi could have played the same game and joined ISCI and Sadris. I know they courted him so hard, but they did not want the majority of the sunnis in his list and Allawi refused to be in a sectarian list. Maliki is an opportunist and non-sectarianism was a tactic for him, not a principled position. He would get rid of his enemies once he set up a jabha watania just like saddam did. I keep on highlighting this for you and your readers and I will continue to do so. His “guts” that you describe are just tactics. If you know what Taqia means, then you know the tactic. Bottom line, Da3wa is a sectarian based ideology. It can not be non-sectarian.

  27. The trouble with centralism is that it is not what it used to be; centralism means something different to a politician with a sense of victimhood like Maliki. The Shia and minorities may always feel a sense of victimhood, but when a leader gets the sense of minority it becomes dangerous.
    On the other hand I agree with Reidar, consociational democracy has no basis in Iraq, but Maliki’s politics are a wolf in a sheep’s skin.

  28. Santana said

    Observer- Interesting that you mention Taqia- and got away with it -or so it seems…the last time I mentioned Taqia on here there was a flood of responses – most were not happy and one called me a sectarian and that “my true colors are out” – Mohamed was not happy either and said I was making stuff up…I think the angry responses were cuz they thought I was a Sunni till Reidar corrected them……but you being a shiite are allowed to say it…..hmmmmm….maybe our Iraqi readers are not so secular afterall. LOL…….

  29. observer said

    the hyper-sensitivity is more apparent outside Iraq than inside. That said She3a, in general, view any mention of specific she3a customs as an illusion to Wahabi talk of she3a being apostates. When in fact we should have the courage of our conviction and either condemn what we think is outdated practices or embrace what we think is right.

    I am not sensitive though I come from ethna 3ashari traditions (I have an Ayat alluh in my lineage). In fact, I think that ethna 3ashari at least have a chance of expanding the interpretation of Quraan and even may one day revive the Mu3tazelah school of thought. You can never have that potential in the Selefi tradition 😉

  30. Nolan La Barge said

    Reidar, I recently stumbled upon this site through Matt Shugart’s blog of Fruits and Votes, great stuff here, thanks so much for writing on all of this.

    – I’ve been doing some studying on corruption in Iraq – have you read the ICG’s new report on Failing Oversight? –

    Their main argument, notwithstanding these recent votes on anti-corruption is that Maliki’s government because of corruption is on the brink of losing legitimacy – I’d be interested on your take on that.

  31. Reidar Visser said

    Nolan, thanks. I have seen the ICG report and agree with much of it including that Maliki could be losing legitimacy – the thing is, I don’t think Maliki particularly cares about that, and the incompetency of his opponents means he can probably go on like this for some time.

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