Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Iraqiyya Decides to Boycott Parliament

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 17 December 2011 12:05

In normal democracies, if political parties are unhappy with the general situation, they may try to sack the government – or in case they themselves are part of that government, resign from it.

Iraq is not a normal democracy. If you still need proof of that, take the latest decision by the secular Iraqiyya party to boycott parliament in protest against highhandedness on the part of the Shiite Islamist prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki. Supposedly, the move is intended as a warning to Maliki that ministers may be withdrawn, too. The goal is also to win over other critics of Maliki that are currently part of his government, such as the Kurds and ISCI, which are both unhappy with aspects of Maliki’s policies.

The nature of the move also serves as an indicator of some of the problems in Iraqiyya’s strategy. They are reluctant to give up control of ministries proper and are using a parliamentary withdrawal as a substitute. Iraq remains a patronage-based society and with ministries come power, as simple as that.

Second, today saw the first session of parliament without Iraqiyya participation. 184 deputies were present (some sources say 182), meaning that the quorum (163) was easily reached – although half an hour extra was apparently needed in order to rouse some deputies from their sleep and bring them to the assembly. During the past year, parliamentary sessions have typically gathered around 220 deputies, to some extent reflecting the fact that Iraqiyya already stood out as one of the blocs with a particularly poor attendance record. What these numbers show is that Maliki may well be able to continue to get things done in parliament regardless of whether Iraqiyya participates or not. (Indeed, he may well continue to get things done without reference to parliament at all.)

As regards the internal balance in Iraqiyya, it should be noted that the decision to boycott was taken by a meeting yesterday night chaired by its leader Ayad Allawi, in the house of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. It is being suggested that most sub-components of the alliance were present. Usama al-Nujayfi,  the parliamentary speaker and leader of a significant faction within Iraqiyya, will go on chairing parliament even as Iraqiyya deputies are absent.

The problem for Iraqiyya is that the Kurds may well see this whole situation as an opportunity to gain further concessions from Maliki instead of joining ranks with Iraqiyya in a move to sack the government. If Iraqiyya jump and no one else follows, they could be left out in the cold.

From the point of view of Maliki, a tactical alliance with the Kurds combined with an increasingly authoritarian approach to the Sunni-majority areas (tribal support councils etc.) may well be considered an option. More realistically speaking, though, as long as he does not want to be seen as the man who sold Kirkuk to the Kurds, Maliki will figure out he does need some substantial partners from Iraqiyya. Whether he sees the current situation as a potential juncture for achieving that remains to be seen. Over the past few years, parliament speaker Nujayfi has been particularly chameleon-like in his dealings with Maliki, sometimes signalling a greater inclination towards compromise but more lately also indicating sympathy with the rising pro-federal trend among Sunnis that Maliki so vociferously rejects. It is noteworthy, though, that so far there is no major pro-federal movement in Nujayfi’s home constituency of Nineveh.  

Chances are that Maliki may well try to soldier on as a strongman for all of Iraq despite his limited parliamentary backing. With the United States gone, it could increasingly be Iran, Syria and Turkey that will define the external environment of Iraq’s factional politics.

13 Responses to “Iraqiyya Decides to Boycott Parliament”

  1. Ali M said

    remember iraqiya are the same group that threatened to resort to VIOLENCE if they were simply not included in the government during its period of formation, and have countless times threaten to withdraw from the political process (many of its members before joining politics were participating in terrorism) so such childish behaviour is expected.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    I think from the point of view of democratic theory it would have been better and more honest if Iraqiyya resigned from the government instead and focused on a purely oppositional role. That could even have won them some unexpected friends, I think.

    Also, why does not someone challenge Maliki’s failure to implement the federalism referendums for Salahaddin and Diyala to the federal supreme court? The law is crystal clear, the government’s violation of it ditto, so is there really anything to lose?

    All in all, the bloc that calls itself “State of Law” will keep stultifying itself again and again if it keeps rejecting the federalism referendums. Today, Ibrahim al-Jaafari presented his own incarnation of this approach, inventing a law about the timeliness and required “culture” (sic) of a federalism bid:

    وأكد الجعفري خلال الجلسة، التي قاطعتها القائمة العراقية، على ضرورة أن “تكون هناك ثقافة في الدعوة لإقامة الأقاليم”، منتقدا “الدعوة إلى إقامة الإقليم بين ليلة وضحاها من دون إجراء الندوات والاستفتاءات والحوارات لأبناء المحافظة”.

    ووصف رئيس التحالف الوطني مطالب إقامة الأقاليم بأنها “ممارسة لعمل صحيح في وقت سيء وبظرف أسوأ”، معتبرا الأمر “مفارقة تدحر أداء العراقيين الرائع وإنجازاتهم التي قاربت بأن تكون معجزات”.

  3. Thaqalain said

    Reidar please elaboarate further: ” inventing a law about the timeliness and required “culture” (sic) of a federalism bid:”

  4. Zaid said

    My understanding is that the government has actually asked the supreme court for an advisory opinion on the matter. i’ve heard that a few times now.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Thaqalain, in the quote above Jaafari says the call for federalism is the right call at the wrong time. The problem is, the law on implementing federalism does not give Mr. Jaafari or anyone else except the inhabitants of the relevant governorate the privilege of deciding when the time is right. The only stipulations regarding timing in that law are 1.) No federal regions could be created before April 2008 (this is why the law was issued long after it had been adopted in October 2006); 2.) Subsequent to a demand for a referendum the govt has a few weeks to activate IHEC (this is what Maliki has failed to adhere to); 3.) After a failed referendum any new initiative must wait one year.

    Zaid, there is brief mention of how State of Law apparently intend to frame a legal challenge here:

    My prediction is that the federal supreme court will hand over any such query to the consultative state assembly since it normally refuses to interpret laws in force other than the constitution. For example, there are a large number of requests for interpretations of the provincial powers law that have been handed over to the consultative state assembly in this manner.

    On the other hand, I see no reason why the councillors of Salahaddin and Diyala should not try to challenge the behaviour of the central government directly to the federal supreme court since this involves a conflict between the central government and a governorate and thus would fall within the jurisdiction of the supreme court. The law is so clear that the court would make a laughing stock of itself it it somehow managed to produce a pro-Maliki ruling!

  6. Salah said

    Today, Ibrahim al-Jaafari presented his own incarnation

    Looks Ibrahim al-Jaafri (ابراهيــم لغــوه) did not have yet get experiences in politics, so he asked Iraqi politicians to up skill themselves in politics to understand the federalism. Also he made similarities between call for the federalism and electric power switch……….and more of laughable comments he made just can say rubbish…

    و قال الدكتور الجعفري : ” ان العراق الجديد جديد ببرلمانه و دستوره و حكومته من خلال ما افرزه الشعب من كثير من الامور .و بعد مرور ثمان سنوات نتقدم بخطوات رائعة نحو الامام و تحقيق انجازات ممتازة .فلماذا نفسد هذه الانجازات ؟”
    كما و طلب من النواب تغليب الصوت الوطني : ” لا اقول لكم تخلوا عن انتماءاتكم . لكن اجعلوا صوت العراق فوق كل صوت ”

    و علق عن اعلان الاقاليم : ” اعلان تشكيل الاقليم ليس زر كهرباء اضغط عليه في اي وقت , لابد لنا ان نتثقف اولا ”

    In case of Iraq been not a normal democracy, What alternative response or action that Iraqiyya party can go or use to put pressure on the government or let say enforce their will or view on the politics inside Iraq to move in right direction from their point view.

  7. Salah said

    اقالة المطلك وفرض الاقامة الجبرية على الهاشمي؟
    الى ذلك كشف مصدر في “التحالف الوطني” الحاكم والذي يضم القوى الشيعية الى ان رئيس الوزراء نوري المالكي بدا متشددا حيال “العراقية” في طرحه اثناء مناقشة الوضع السياسي في البلاد ضمن اجتماع عقده التحالف امس برئاسة زعيم “تيار الاصلاح” ابراهيم الجعفري، لافتا الى ان “المالكي طرح امكانية اقالة نائبه لشؤون الخدمات صالح المطلك وفرض الاقامة الجبرية على نائب رئيس الجمهورية طارق الهاشمي”.
    يذكر ان المطلك والهاشمي قياديان في “العراقية”، وعرفا بتوجيههما انتقادات لرئيس الوزراء على الرغم من مشاركتهما في حكومته، كان اخرها وصف المطلك للمالكي بانه “ديكتاتور” فيما تم القاء القبض على اثنين من عناصر حماية الهاشمي لاتهامهما بالضلوع في عمليات ارهابية.

    عاجل … رئيس الوزراء يطلب من البرلمان العراقي سحب الثقة عن صالح المطلك

  8. Reidar Visser said

    That report about Maliki demanding a vote of no confidence in Mutlak plus reports tonight about an arrest warrant for Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi for alleged involvement in the parliament bombing bode ill for the future of Iraqi politics.

    It is amazing but perhaps not too surprising that Maliki has the audacity to do these things less than 48 hours after his return from Washington.

  9. Santana said

    Reidar- you said
    “It is amazing but perhaps not too surprising that Maliki has the audacity to do these things less than 48 hours after his return from Washington”

    Maliki came back to Baghdad with an unbelievable Chip on his shoulder- he thinks he is God now…..not only does he have President Obama mesmerized and completely fooled but even Iran is looking at him now with extreme admiration for being able to pass himself on to the U.S Admin as a decent human being.

    Next on the agenda is Camp Ashraf , it will be decimated soon….Jaish Al-Mahdi will be delegated the task of wiping out 3,400 people including women and children and Maliki will just shrug and say ” I know nothing about it”…..

    Mutlaq is correct – Maliki is worse than Saddam….Saddam was a cruel dictator that loved Iraq, Maliki is a cruel dictator that loves Iran.
    I will take Saddam’s dictatorship over Maliki’s democracy ANY DAY !
    Bring it on guys….I am sure I will hear an earful….

  10. Indeed, not terribly surprising; the US has very little leverage left in Iraq, no? It was almost comical (if it wasn’t so dangerous) to read in the Washington Post that Obama was trying to insist to Maliki, during his visit, that he had to bring Sunni politicians more effectively into his government. Really? Or else . . . what? Doesn’t it seem likely now that Maliki will use his control of Iraq’s security forces to enforce an even greater marginalization of Sunni political interests? That even more in the Sunni community will feel compelled to take up arms against the Maliki government (and accept the money that the Saudis will be throwing at them to that end)? Again, the famous Petraeus question comes to mind: tell me how this ends.

  11. Salah said

    “It is amazing but perhaps not too surprising”

    I don’t what “amazing but perhaps not too surprising”
    With Maliki actions, he is doing this under US noses and eyes for long time whey should be now “amazing but perhaps not too surprising”?
    Maliki I was pumped up during his visit to Whitehouse with his team the “amazing but perhaps not too surprising” thing an Iranian Terrorist Visiting White House with him..furthermoer Maliki words when he said:
    “I am a friend to all countries. A friend of America; a friend of Russia; a friend of Iran; a friend of Turkey; and a friend of the Arabs…”
    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
    Looks he is not friend with Iraqis people…is he?

    The American ambassador, James F. Jeffrey, has raced to ease the political crisis. On Thursday and Friday, American officials contacted senior Iraqi political figures to try to establish the facts concerning the detentions, urge restraint and exhort the parties to support the vision of a pluralistic and democratic Iraq.

    In Washington, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. called Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan regional government, and Osama al-Nujaifi, the speaker of Iraq’s Parliament, a Sunni Muslim.

    In the end Malik he gains this from his visit:

    1-Get back The detainee, Ali Musa Daqduq, a Lebanese suspected of being a Hezbollah operative from US , this may be a deal with Obama asking Iran in his & PM Maliki Press Conference

    2- He get back Looted Dishes Used in Art Project Returned to Iraq, They are going back to Iraq today with the prime minister on his private plane

    Maliki is a figure of all these immutable forces, a man of the shadows more than the sunlight. He seems to trust only those closest to him, and his efforts to form broad coalitions have failed. The trust deficit is nowhere more evident than in the energy sector, which should make Iraq fantastically rich but is still hobbled by a lack of basic legislation that would foster investment…..I have a copy of a 1985 photograph, culled from the archives of a Beirut newspaper, that shows a circle of Iranian-backed conspirators gathered behind the pilots of the hijacked TWA Flight 847. Some former U.S. officials say the balding man in the front row is Maliki; but even if that’s wrong, his own Dawa Party bombed the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait in 1983. A conspiratorial underground was his political education……..Iraq is free to be itself again. That’s the upside of Maliki. If he performs poorly, leans too much toward Iran or squanders Iraq’s wealth through corruption, then the people will vote him out. That’s the hope.

    In Iraq, Maliki is a man of the shadows
    By David Ignatius, Published: December 15

  12. Thaqalain said

    Another important aspect I totally agree with Mr. Ibrahim Al Jaafari :

    وبيّن الجعفري أن “البرلمان يشرع ويتحدث بالهواء الطلق والحكومة تتناول على طاولة مجلس الوزراء كل الأمور بشكل صريح ومواد الدستور ضمنت للجميع الحقوق والفيدراليات والأقاليم بشروطها المعروفة”، مؤكدا أن “الدستور يتضمن أخطاء لكنها تحل في الحوار، ومن الممكن تعديله فهو ليس مقدسا كقرآن أو إنجيل أو توراة”.

    And al-Jaafari that “Parliament is prescribed and talking outdoors and the government deal on the table of the Council of Ministers of all things explicitly and the Constitution guaranteed to all the rights and federations and regions on its own terms known,” asserting that “the Constitution contains errors, but resolved in the dialogue, it is possible to modify as is not sacred, Quran or Gospel or the Torah. ”

    As overnight demands about Federalism is according to the constitution of 2006, which was drafted in an occupation regime, I think Al-Maliki and Arabs MPs can change any clause in future which will suit greater national agenda instead of US geared Federalism/ division designs, conspiracies.

  13. Salah said

    Iraq: End of an Era

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