Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for October 29th, 2011

Welcome to Malikistan

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 29 October 2011 17:39

During a television interview today, amid accusations of exaggerated de-Baathification and Sunni federalist initiatives, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has added some interesting perspective on his own vision of Iraq.

With respect to the recent wave of arrests, Maliki tried to make the point that the majority of the arrests took place south of Baghdad rather than in the north, implying in other words that most of those arrested were Shiites and not Sunnis. That should be fine as long as those arrested are actually charged with specific crimes rather than punished for their links to the Baath in the past.

Regarding de-Baathification of teachers in Salahaddin, Maliki suggested that those dismissed were former intelligence officials (in which case the sackings would be legal). He nonetheless announced the formation of an investigatory committee, which is a strange ad hoc move. There already is a special appeals institution for de-Baathification, although it has been inoperative for a long time due to the failure of parliament to agree on some of the replacement judges.

The money paragraph in the interview is the following one, on federalism for Salahaddin:

وأشار المالكي إلى أن “ما حصل في صلاح الدين طلب وليس إعلان عن إقليم”، لافتا إلى أن “هذا الطلب سيقدم الى مجلس الوزراء الذي سيرفضه كونه قائم على خلفية طائفية وحماية البعثيين وخلفيات أخرى غير واضحة”.

First, Maliki clarifies that what has transpired in Salahaddin is not really a declaration of a federal region, since this is not legally possible. This is correct, and thankfully the electoral commission has also contributed on a clarification on the subject, underlining that the governorate can only make the first step towards the creation of a federal region and not simply declare it. But what follows is complete nonsense. Maliki says the government will reject the request for a referendum because it “is based on a sectarian grounds, intended to offer protection of Baathists, and on other unclear grounds”!

This comment by Maliki is tantamount to pissing on the constitution. As long as they stay faithful to the procedures laid down in the law for forming regions, Iraqis can create federal regions for whatever reasons they want. No one has the right to enquire about the motives as long as the modalities are done correctly. If Maliki wants to change that – and there are good reasons for restricting federalism options so as to avoid a constant string of useless federalism attempts – he must work to change the constitution.

It is a sorry sign of the state of play in Iraq that both opponents and proponents of the Salahaddin federal region are now making up their own laws.

Posted in Iraq - regionalism - general, Iraqi constitutional issues | 15 Comments »