Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Paralysis Hits the Iraqi Parliament

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 8 October 2011 19:21

Today’s developments in the Iraqi parliament served as yet another indication of the growing disconnect between parliamentary politics and government in the country.

There is no official report from the session because the legal quorum (163 deputies) was never reached. Of course, the Iraqi parliament is rarely filled above the two-thirds level, but today attendance was particularly poor thanks to additional politically-motivated abstentions. Some reports say Iraqiyya were absent in protest against the failure to include the second reading of the strategic policy council bill on the agenda. For their part, State of Law was reportedly unhappy about the inclusion of an item about lifting the legal immunity for Sabah al-Saadi – an independent Shiite Islamist who has been deeply critical against Nuri al-Maliki to the point where the latter has launched a legal case against him. Reportedly State of Law they feared they did not have the numbers to strip Saadi of his immunity. Saadi says he personally asked parliamentary speaker Usama al-Nujayfi to include the vote as an act of protest.

For good measure, two other unrealistic items had been added to the agenda as well when it was finally published this morning, just hours before the meeting was supposed to take place: A vote on the controversial laws for the federal supreme court and the higher judicial council. Little wonder, then, that parliament was postponed until Monday. If past practice is anything to go by, all these controversial decisions will simply disappear from the agenda again. For example, there has still been no decision on the validity of the parliamentary membership of several deputies whose credentials are in doubt. And once more the parliamentary bylaws have also been dropped from the agenda.

Meanwhile, Iraqi politics remains in its usual messy state. Everyone shouts they will agree to anything that is in accordance with the constitution. (Few of them know what is actually in it.) Ammar al-Hakim garners widespread praise for a supposed initiative of five principles for dialogue that have nothing substantial to them. (This is precisely why everyone thinks they are wonderful.) The Kurds declare that Maliki has agreed to implementing the Arbil agreement. (Again.)

There is a real danger that the Iraqi parliament is becoming unable to reach decisions except on matters that are so petty and insignificant that few will notice anyway. Arab Spring enthusiasts in search of a model democracy please look elsewhere.

14 Responses to “Paralysis Hits the Iraqi Parliament”

  1. Take a look at all the articles in al-Sabah on Iraq today. The website shows nothing at all on today’s parliamentary embarrassment. Like it didn’t happen.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Interestingly, today’s meeting was also supposed to be the first with electronic voting instead of a show of hands. Some deputies claim that will make it more difficult for party whips to enforce their will.

  3. I thought of the fact that al-Sabah is a newspaper, so maybe they’ll report on this tomorrow. But the state media agency’s news website, Iraqi Media Net, of course they would report it since the independent media is. Well, as of this hour, nope. Maybe they can’t figure out what to write about it.

  4. Observer said

    Reidar, did you note the press conference held by Iraqia after the proceedings? I note the presence of some white Iraqia members. I do not know what the deal is yet. But maybe those who “left” Iraqia did not get any of the promises made to them by SOL. Interesting dynamics. Maliki keeps on promising, but he rarely delivers.

    On the constitution – it is becoming clear that there is a need for a major re-write. Something that we all predicted. But it is going to be one messy process. That is the tragedy of allowing events to take place in Iraq according to the elections calendar of the US. I wish that they would have allowed the constitution to die at the polls (in Mousil the refusal was 57% – and I am sure that there was some manipulation of the boxes). Anyway, that is history now.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    But then again others in White Iraqiyya call the strategic council “unconstitutional” and an American invention.

    وصف النائب عن الكتلة العراقية البيضاء عزيز شريف المياحي مجلس السياسات الستراتيجية بأنه :” أكذوبة اصطنعها الامريكان وصدقها الآخرون “. وقال النائب المياحي في تصريح لشبكة عراق القانون :” ان مجلس السياسات الستراتيجية هو اكذوبة من بين الاكاذيب التي اصطنعها الامريكان ثم صدقها الآخرون ، اذ لايمكن اقرار هذا المجلس لكون العديد من بنوده مخالفة للدستور “.

    Both of which are actually correct.

    Same kind of pro-Maliki message from Zuhayr al-Aaraji, and he is an Iraqiyya defector from Mosul:

    أكد النائب عن كتلة العراقية البيضاء زهير الاعرجي، الأحد، أن القائمة العراقية غير جادة في تهديداتها بالانسحاب من الحكومة في حال التنصل عن اتفاقات أربيل، مقلل من أهمية اجتماعات الكتل السياسية في حل الأزمة التي تشهدها العملية السياسية.

    وقال زهير الاعرجي في حديث لـ”السومرية نيوز”، إن “العراقية غير جادة في تهديداتها بالانسحاب من الحكومة في حال التنصل عن اتفاقات أربيل”، مبينا أنها “تعد جزءا من الحكومة وباعتراف قادة العراقية أنفسهم ويعبرون بذلك في لقاءاتهم مع رئيس الوزراء بأنهم مشاركون في الحكومة ويجب العمل على نجاحها”.

    I think that unless Iraqiyya manages to create real defections from State of Law the parliamentary numbers are likely to remain pretty much the same.

  6. Observer said

    As I stated earlier, I do not know what are the dynamics, but I suspect that the white Iraqia where attracted to SOL by promises which proved to be empty. At any rate, the state of affairs is dismal at best. Let us hope that the US has real alternatives to the bases in Iraq. i suspect that they will just wing it from Turkey and Kuwait.

    Guess what? even radar coverage is going to be a mess. i wonder how civil aviation is going to work without radar coverage. Night flights are out I suppose which means that services to Irbil and Suli will have to be changed to daylight flight rules making travel with connections a mess let alone foul weather approaches and take offs. Christ, everything is by the seat of the pants in this country. I mean you would think that Mr. Hadi Al amari and the erstwhile advisers around him would have thought of this when they state publicly that they are ready to take over – but maybe they are planning to patch into the Iranian radars ;).

    ps there are no night flights in Basra and Baghdad

  7. If we look at the “Paralysis (that) Hits the Iraqi Parliament” in the context of US stay extension we would see that it helps Maliki’s government side in driving its point to the Americans: Democracy will not lead to extension, supporting the continuation of the government will.
    The Obama administration may well enter into a Faustian pact just like its predecessor did.

  8. Salah said

    Arab Spring enthusiasts in search of a model democracy please look elsewhere.

    Yes Arab spring ……. looks Ahmad Galabi took Bahrain as his new agenda, here he is standing in Beirut with Hezbollah given his speech interesting what new politicians in Iraq leaving “Iraqi politics remains in its usual messy state”

  9. Santana said


    SOL and Maliki are pretty much free to do as they please unopposed by anyone- after covering the circles in Washington recently it is very clear to me that Iraq has fallen off the radar screen- Obama wants to divorce Iraq and Afghanistan but not for nothing- Obama wants to milk it politically and make it appear that not only did he keep his withdrawl promise to the U.S public but that he also cleaned up Iraq, brought democracy and prosperity to the country and that it is now a shining example of how a Jeffersonian democracy can be implemented in the Middle East cuz the right US Administration did it- and the sad part is that 90% of American voters will actually fall for it….so right now the focus/strategy of Biden/Obama/NSC is to keep putting “lipstick on a pig” for another two months and it doesn’t really matter if all hell breaks loose after the pullout cuz the NSC team has concluded that it can easily be blamed on just about anything EXCEPT the pullout! and there is no way that American voters have the kind of insight to tell the difference, nor would they care cuz they are so busy with the NFL , or things like whether the Casey gal actually killed her daughter? or if Kim Kardashian will is gonna endorse Jimmy Choo shoes ??…..important stuff like that…

    Maliki will not agree to the Council, to MOD, to Kurdish demands, to any sharaka..he doesn”t have to… it is all a waste of time- Iraqiya needs to just go into opposition, do a complete overhaul of it’s strategy, launch a major PR campaign across all of Iraq , win more shiites and kurds and gear up for 2013…..but my real worry is that Iran will make sure 2012 is “clean up time” especially with the US gone and where Ahmedenejad and Qassem Sulaimani have a full year window of opportunity to conduct assasinations, wreak havoc on Iraqiya and solidify their presence to make sure Iraq becomes their new Lebanon.

    Salah- thanks for posting the Chalabi thing. I would say more but Riedar won”t allow it on here.

  10. Reidar Visser said

    It’s just so ironic, I mean, that the USG does not realise what it is doing in Iraq is so totally the opposite of the Arab spring… Backing elite figures with faltering popular backing instead of listening to the voices from below. And then try to spin-doctor the whole thing. But then again, that has been the story pretty much since 2003.

  11. Salah said

    Looks Maliki’s Da’awa start beading more youngster ” Da’awa’s” but in deferent name …

    علي الأديب يسعى لتأسيس حزب سياسي جديد تمهيدا للإنشقاق من حزب الدعوة

    So we will got more and wide differences while ” Everyone shouts they will agree to anything”

  12. Reidar Visser said

    I think this may be part of the tit for tat fight between State of Law and Iraqiyya postulating imminent secessions from or breakdowns of their respective opponents’ alliances, invariably based on “extremely well-informed”, but alas unnamed sources. Didn’t we hear that Ali al-Dabbagh was about to join Iraqiyya a few weeks ago?

  13. observer said

    The position of the US is pretty much as expected (see previous threads). Once again, the elections of the president has resulted in a position that will cost Iraq in the long term, but that is par for the course. I do hope that Iraqia could come up with a better over all strategy for the future and organize better in the south. The Kurds are heading to a wall at 100 miles an hour. If they do not get to export their oil, they will get in trouble with the oil companies currently producing and with more and more oil coming on line, they will have to start reducing their prices to make deals or get into an agreement with Shehristani, as it seems that it will not be possible to pass the parliament version without causing a no confidence motion. The US does not want to hear anything about that till after November 2012. But by my reckoning it can not be postponed till November 2012. A crisis is coming and somebody will have to blink!.

  14. Salah said

    Joost Hiltermann from International Crisis Group well written article about Arab Spring and Iraq he well talking about Iraqi politics and specially Iraqi parliament when he said:
    قد يكزن مجاس النواب وهو المؤسسة الاهم في اطار عمل الرقابة الجديد نظرا لاضظلاعه باصلاح مجالات الحكم اقل هذه المؤسسات فعالية على الاطلاق اذ تتميز اساليب عمله بطائفية مفرطة اما نظامه الداخلي فهو معقد وناقص بحيث لم يتمكن المجلس من سن تشريعات كان يفترض ان تصدر منذ امد طويل………….

    His analysis well informed and right to the point.

    Other article written by him about Iraq can be seen here:

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