Iraq and Gulf Analysis

On His Uneasy One-Year Anniversary as Premier, Maliki Escalates Iraq’s Political Conflict

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 21 December 2011 13:23

Exactly one year ago, the second government of Nuri al-Maliki was approved by parliament in Baghdad. At the time, the event was celebrated by commentators in the international community as a sign of Iraq’s prospering democracy. The Obama administration was jubilant that a pluralistic form of democracy embracing all of Iraq’s ethno-sectarian groups had prevailed.

What was forgotten by commentators back then was that the formation of the government was only partial. A projected strategic policy council, intended to accommodate the leader of the secular Iraqiyya party which won the most votes in the March 2010 parliamentary elections, remained at the drawing board. No agreement was reached regarding key security ministries. The vice presidencies had yet to be officially appointed since there was no law determining the procedure of their appointment.

One year on, most of this work has yet to be accomplished. Even optimists realise the strategic policy council is not even close to being implemented. The security ministries remain in the hands of acting ministers that are close to Maliki but that have never received parliamentary approval. Three vice presidents were eventually appointed, but one has resigned and another is now being targeted by Maliki in a judicial process that so far smacks of political vendetta.

At a press conference today, Maliki himself seemed unworried about these shortcomings. Indeed, he appeared to be taunting his opponents, saying he expected to appoint acting ministers for Iraqiyya ministers that are boycotting the sessions of parliament, as well as installing a new vice premier and a new vice president to replace Salih al-Mutlak and Tareq al-Hashemi respectively (he is also seeking to extradite the latter from the Kurdistan government). Implausibly, he seems to indicate that he has the power to do these things without parliamentary consent, which is a clear violation of article 78 of the constitution (it requires at least a plurality vote in parliament before any minister can be dismissed by the premier).

Also today, Maliki reverted to his old threat of establishing a political-majority government without Iraqiyya. It seems unlikely that he will go as far as resigning, which would once more give the Kurdish president a kingmaker role. The Kurds are unhappy that their many demands for forming the second Maliki government have not been met, and in particular that the (rather unrealistic) aim of having an oil and gas law passed in 2011 remains unfulfilled. For their part, Iraqiyya are now calling openly for Maliki to be sacked.

A more likely scenario is a move towards a de facto majority government, with a marginalised parliament and ever more acting ministers that have yet to receive parliamentary approval. The Kurds may still be a potential partner, but if parliament remains half full, Maliki can also dominate it by pandering to fellow Shiite Sadrists instead of making compromises with other groups. The Sadrists were the ones who ultimately delivered the premiership to Maliki last year and will likely continue to receive his attention in times of trouble.

52 Responses to “On His Uneasy One-Year Anniversary as Premier, Maliki Escalates Iraq’s Political Conflict”

  1. Thaqalain said

    Power Sharing Agreement is not part of any good principles of democracy. Why are you declaring Hashemi innocent without any trial? Why not Al-Maliki start air strikes on erbil (as he carried out in Basra-Samawah etc: Operation Fardh Al Qanoon)to arrest live or dead Hashemi?

    If Kurds/ Sunnis don’t want to sit in our parliament, why are you suggesting Al-Maliki to be sacked? Let them wait for next turn.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Thaqalain, my comments relate to the timing and the theatrics of the issuing of the arrest warrant, which strongly suggest there is more than judicially sound arguments to this case. As for the idea of a political-majority government, I think it is a good one, in theory – i.e. if it truly means politicians coming together on the basis of a common stance on political issues. In its current incarnation in Iraq, however, it just means primitive sectarian loyalties being propelled to the forefront.

  3. amagi said

    Have the people just resigned themselves to this as representative of the future of their country? I remember seeing photographs of jubilant Iraqiyya supporters in March of 2010 — where are they now?

  4. Thaqalain said

    Politics in Iraq revolve around oil based economy,despite centuries old sectarian differences, its only in Iraq where Shias Sunnis jointly pray and married together. There are thousands of businesses , projectson which Shias Sunnis working together, if we will continue associating lil issues and labelling them with Tehran, Sectarians, then we are serving purpose of US, Saudia, GCC whose regimes are real enemies of IRAQ.
    If Hashemi is innocent why did he run away, if Iraqiya ministers are so much polpular why they can’t face parliament>>>

  5. Thaqalain,
    The issue is not judicial, i.e. the guilt or innocence of Hashemi, the issue is the political timing and the selective application of justice. The predominance of Dawa party in government is obvious, so is corruption and government persecution, how come there is not a single Dawa party sympathizer punished for corruption or persecution? What I am saying is: Justice will not benefit from Hashemi’s trial because it is politicized and Maliki’s followers get away with worse.

  6. Sadoon said

    Reidar, you are hardly in a position to know what evidentiary basis exists to support the arrest warrant. No one except those involved know. As for timing, there are any number of legitimate reasons why Maliki would wait until the US completed the withdrawal. Wikileaks cables show the US was, in fact, aware of similar accusations about Hashemi in 2007. Maliki needed US permission to go after him then, which the US denied because it made for bad political optics. With the US out of the military picture, Maliki is free to act, and insofar as the accusations are well-founded, then why on earth should he wait? If Hashemi is a terrorist, should Maliki hold back simply because the timing looks suspicious? I doubt Maliki has that luxury. He is attempting- rightfully- to establish the state’s monopoly on the just use of force, something of paramount importance in a country plagued by homegrown and foreign-backed terrorism. If you were disinterested, you would suspend judgment until you had more than a few days of media-distorted evidence.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Sadoon, to be fair, my criticism so far has related to procedure and not to the substantive contents of the case. The timing as well as the fact that Maliki in his own words asked the judciary for permission to release the videos both signify a reality in which the “separation of powers” so often lauded by Maliki may be something quite different.

  8. Kermanshahi said

    If you ask me, al-Maliki was planning to go after al-Hashemi for years. The US withdrawal is what finally enabled him to go after al-Hashemi and the timing just shows in what kind of a hurry he was to arrest al-Hashemi. This literally happened like a day or so after the final troops left on December 15, so if there’s one thing we know it’s that al-Maliki just couldn’t wait to get Hashemi, no matter what.

  9. Salah M. Yahya said

    Reidar, you have giving the second government of Nuri al-Maliki approval a lot of discussion we all knew this second term government born on single leg.

    Maliki win his second term not his merits or achievement that he showed in his first term, the fact is more that domination by fragment of parties who they divided them self just been looks one big block holding same mantra of minds they have no much differences in their goals.

    Today in Iraq more fragmentations of parties, looks they give birth more and more, Al-Hakem introduce Al-Watani group Jaafre introduce Hurrah or whatever in the end we got more political parties in reality they are all follow Dawaa the big brother.

    This dilemma that Iraq under there are opposition parties that speaks for mainstream Iraqis Iraq have parties that using the faith and sect. to marketing them self with huge founded from sources of Iraq state and from Religious income controlled by few individuals

  10. Danny said

    Sadoon – security forces were surrounding Hashemi and Eissawi’s house two days before the US forces left. The US was apparently surprised by this but kept quiet in order to carry out a smooth withdrawal. However, if Maliki had proof in 2007 or in 2010 that Hashemi was involved in something like this, I think he would have had enough reason to convince the Americans that Hashemi shouldn’t be part of the political process. Instead, he agreed to have him return to the sham presidency council that has no powers anyways.
    In my opinion, it was a political act that set out to scare Iraqiya, purge high-profile opponents, and allow him to form a majority government. It’s no wonder we’re starting to hear calls from at least one State of Law member to remove Usama Nujeifi. While there’s always the chance that this is for real and Hashemi was involved in such a group, nothing points to that being the case besides the videos. Whatever Hashemi is, he’s probably not stupid enough to make bombs in his office.

  11. amagi said

    CNN confirms Petraeus dropped by the neighborhood yesterday, this time, of course, as head of the CIA. I wish I knew what he knows.

    All of this looks just terrible.

  12. Thaqalain said

    In almost all articles I noticed you term Al-Maliki government is pro-Tehran and having Iranian sectarian agenda: But you never report Saudi, Jordanian influence, involvement and role in Iraq, read excerpts from today’s Reuters Article: That’s enough to show how much they are scared of Iraq-Iran and that’s why they are arming and funding insurgency in Syria to weaken Tehran. Your page title is GULF Analysis, but all your analysis is based on anti-Iran rhetoric. You are one of very best analyst, historian but history will not forgive you if you have hidden agenda to fulfill others interests.

    Have you written any article about Saudi funded insurgency and terror attacks? Who are Sahwa, Al-Qaeda, Talibans, double and triple agents in Baghdad-Kabul? or you can’t write as Taliban is now friend of Biden after 11 years of continued war. Is that not enough to show real axis of evil and nexus of WMD nations allying against Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus?

    RIYADH/TEHRAN, Dec 21 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah told U.S. diplomats that by toppling the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the United States had presented Iraq to Iran “on a golden platter”.

    That assessment, recorded in a 2005 embassy cable released by WikiLeaks, was affirmed in the eyes of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Muslim rulers by the outbreak of sectarian squabbling that followed this week’s departure of the last American troops from Iraq after almost nine years of occupation.

    These tensions go some way towards explaining why King Abdullah, whose mother’s Shammar tribe includes thousands of Sunni Iraqis, has kept the Shi’ite Maliki at arm’s length.

    In 2008, Saudi intelligence chief Prince Muqrin told American diplomats that Abdullah viewed the Iraqi prime minister as untrustworthy and “Iranian 100 percent”, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.

    In recent weeks, some Iraqi officials have seen a foreign hand behind the push for more autonomy by mainly Sunni provinces bordering Saudi Arabia, Syria and Jordan.

    Yet for all that, the influence of Saudi Arabia, which has still not reopened the Baghdad embassy that it closed when Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1991, remains limited.

    “What can be worse than what has already happened? The Americans leaving will affect Iran more than Saudi Arabia because Saudi Arabia does not have a heavy presence in Iraq,” said Jamal Khashoggi, a former Saudi newspaper editor with ties to the royal family.

    “It had its friends there, but it kept its distance.”

  13. Salah said

    Looks what reported before in an article reflecting what Maliki is doing for some times now, after the second government of Maliki was approved.

    Maliki doing what he and his allies believe which clear in the article about what he said and what he thinks about sharing or coalition government arrangement he was talking about early days after his government approval.

    في آخر اجتماع للكتل السياسية في منزل جلال طالباني عقد في نهاية اكتوبر الماضي أعلن رئيس الحكومة نوري المالكي انه يرفض تنفيذ (بند التوازن الوطني) ضمن اتفاقية اربيل التي وقعها في نهاية العام المنصرم مع القائمة العراقية والتحالف الكردي وهي الاتفاقية التي مهدت لعودته من جديد لرئاسة الحكومة الحالية وأتاحت له بسط هيمنته الطائفية مجددا بعد ان كان مأزوما ومضطربا وفي غاية القلق في اعقاب اخفاقه المدوي في انتخابات آذار 2010 التي جاء ائتلافه (دولة القانون) في المرتبة الثانية رغم انه أشرف على تلك الانتخابات وهو رئيس وزراء وقائد عام للقوات المسلحة ومشرف على أجهزة المخابرات والامن ومكافحة الارهاب والمعلومات أثبتت انه أنفق فيها أكثر من ملياري دولار من المال العام، تكاليف دعاية وشراء ذمم وأصوات وتزوير وأشياء أخر.
    ومما قاله المالكي في ذلك الاجتماع وهو يرد على أحد المتحدثين من القائمة العراقية الذي طالبه باحترام توقيعه على تلك الاتفاقية عل الاقل وينفذ ما جاء فيها وخصوصا بند التوازن الوطني، ان المسألة ليست التزاما بالتوقيع وانما هي أخطر، نعم انا وقعت على الاتفاقية ـ قالها المالكي بصوت عال ـ ولكني اكتشفت لاحقا ان بند التوازن الوطني فيها يعني عودة السنة العرب الى السلطة والحكم من جديد، ومما قاله ايضا وهو في حالة تشف وانتشاء لقد راحت عليكم ايها السنة العرب فقد وقعتم في خطأ معارضة الاحتلال الامريكي وقدتم المقاومة ضد العملية السياسية منذ البداية وخرجتم من الباب والآن تريدون العودة من الشباك.!

  14. Observer said

    I am no supporter of Hashimi but even the US indicates that there are no basis for the case against him personally (his gaurds may be guilty – as were Adel Mahdi’s gaurds). Be that as it may, what I am told is that Maliki tried to presuace Muteg and Hashimi to seperate from Iraqia for the last year. So just out of curiosity – how come he was trying to do that when supposedly he had information about the guilt of Hashimi?

    Let me just state that if the Kurds do not help in changing Maliki NOW, then they will be the next vistims of his dictatorial attitude.

  15. Salah said

    The End, for Now
    How sick this man……

    The best-case scenario for Iraq is that it will be another Russia — an imperfect, corrupt, oil democracy that still holds together long enough so that the real agent of change — a new generation, which takes nine months and 21 years to develop — comes of age in a much more open, pluralistic society. The current Iraqi leaders are holdovers from the old era, just like Vladimir Putin in Russia. They will always be weighed down by the past. But as Putin is discovering — some 21 years after Russia’s democratic awakening began — that new generation thinks differently. I don’t know if Iraq will make it. The odds are really long, but creating this opportunity was an important endeavor, and I have nothing but respect for the Americans, Brits and Iraqis who paid the price to make it possible.

    دكتاتور جديد في العراق

    نشهد ميلاد دكتاتور جديد في المنطقة، نسخة أميركية من نسخ جمهوريات الموز بثياب مدنية، نوري المالكي الذي جاء للسلطة في العراق على دبابة أميركية بوقود إيراني، بدأ العمل على ترتيب أموره قبل خروج المحتل، فأصدر مذكرة اعتقال «قضائية»!، بحق نائب الرئيس طارق الهاشمي وطلب سحب الثقة من الآخر صالح المطلك، تم ذلك مع خروج آخر مصفحة أميركية، أما قبل وفي عمليات استباقية، قامت قواته بسلسلة اعتقالات طاولت المئات من العراقيين قيل انها لخلايا إرهابية. كان الكاتب العراقي مهدي قاسم قد سخر في مقال له من كثرة الأخبار والتصريحات عن اعتقالات أعضاء من «تنظيم القاعدة» في العراق، وقال لابد ان عددهم يتجاوز عدد الجيش الصيني من كثرة عمليات الدهم والاعتقال، وهو صادق فلو تم رصد بيانات الاعتقالات لربما اكتشفنا رقماً مهولاً.

    The Kurds are unhappy that their many demands for forming the second Maliki government

    arrest warrant for Al-Hashimi a golden chance for the Kurds, Kurdish leader Barzani always intervene at the right time called for an urgent national conference, has its significance to Maliki and the National Alliance.

  16. To follow on Observer’s point regarding the Kurds being the next Maliki’s victims, here is a report with enough details to make it more credible, it says the Kurds are widely discriminated against and effectively out of the ministry of defense.

  17. Salah said

    As usual Maliki make himself busy about one man but he don’t care about Iraqis killed on daily bases even his does not bother to find the killer/killers and those terrorists who done it unless of course those are Militias…

    Read this today Ministry of Health said 233 killed in due to bombs also family members in form Baghdad they informed me that the sound of guns and bombs heard along the day and the return of dead bodies appeared on the streets..
    Well done Maliki and other US gangster who brought these well devoted gangsters to build Iraq

    الصحة: 233 قتيل وجريح حصيلة تفجيرات اليوم

  18. Reidar Visser said

    There is news this morning about the collapse of an attempt by Usama al-Nujayfi to gather political leaders across the board for a meeting at parliament. The Kurds said they couldn’t attend on such a short notice.

    This is the first major attempt at repairing the damage caused over the last week. It seems to have failed.

  19. amagi said

    Thank you, Reidar. Please keep us updated.

  20. Santana said

    I believe the tide is finally turning against Maliki- he has grabbed a tiger by it’s tail and now the tiger is mauling the hell out of him. ISCI is not happy, the Kurds are not happy, Iraqiya goes without saying and even the Iranian Official Mr. Qomi the guy handling foreign affairs for Khamenie made a surprise visit to Sulaimaniya yesterday to meet with Jalal Talabani and informed him that what Maliki is doing caught them by surprise- or at least the timing of it- he maintains (which I am skeptical about)that what Maliki is doing has no benefits to anyone except Daawa and only if they can come out of this unscathed which seems highly unlikely. The U.S Administration is working feverishly to contain it and save the recent 2 point jump in Obama’s approval ratings. The U.S is pressuring Maliki “to give it up” and the “it” means whatever it is he has in mind. There is a covert call now by all -except the Sadrists- asking for removal of Malki and to be replaced with Adel or Jaafari- I personally believe Adel is the best choice for PM and everyone loves him- except Iran and the Sadrists.
    The U.S Administration is asking both Saleh and Hashimi not to give up their positions just cuz Maliki wants them to – cuz this is playing into his hands. Daawa on the other hand is the most corrupt bunch on earth and now that they have tasted billions they will NOT give it up easily. I can’t see Jaafari being a successful PM either (as Iraqiya has suggested) nor Ahmed Chalabi who is the lowest form of humanity ever and I can’t decide who is worse- him or Maliki? We shall see how this whole shake up plays out but I think this may be the opportunity that Iraqiya has in order to form a coalition that can make a difference in the government- the Kurds have impressed me this time- they finally learned that Maliki cannot be trusted at all and they are clearly throwing some weight behind Iraqiya (and it also helps that they are being told by the U.S to do so).
    If Iraqis have any hope to get a shared government in place then Maliki must go and it won’t be easy !!
    The fact remains- Iraq does not need a new Saddam or someone even worse like Nouri Al-Maliki.

  21. observer said

    I will agree that we are at a fork in the road, but I doubt very much that there will be a change in PMship, The situation is very critical and I and a few other rank and file (i.e 2nd and third tear) can’t make up our minds if Maliki is stupid or very smart and has some other moves up his sleeve. He deliberately forced the situation right after he came back from DC, but he had the pieces in play before he went (recall that right after he left it was taking three hours to get into the green zone). Anyway, had he been intent on bringing Hashimi to justice, he would not have yielded to him leaving Baghdad after grounding the planes and their passengers for three hours. So the puzzle is why did he let him go and allow him to talk from Suli? that was a stupid move on his part if he is trying to marginalize Iraqia. Was he expecting Iraqia to resign in mass opening the door for his Majority government? He could not be that stupid – but then again look at his advisers. Not the sharpest tools in the shed except when it comes to devising ways to embezzle monies from contractors.

    Be that as it may, what are his options now? He can not loose the PM ship because it means the end of him, his cronies and Da3wa’s hold on power. So even if somehow, we were able to bring a no confidence motion into Play, he can go the route of declaring emergency power and suspending the constitution and declare a new era of Bian Raqam Wahid (by the way, all ammunition is being pulled out of north of Baghdad and repositioned to the south !!!). I know that there is enough arms in all over Iraq to nueterlize the so called Iraqi army, but if Maliki (with Iranian influence) can get the sadris back, then he would only need to watch the north and the west.

    My take – believe it or not, it is now the time for Najaf to act or shut up forever and let Qum dictate the SHe3a school of thought. The Marje3ia should come out in force against politicizing the legal process, and the corruption and make it plain and simple for all that they (Najaf) are not supporting the moves of the likes of Maliki. It has already started by Sistani rejecting to meet sheristani, but there needs to be a larger statement to first clam the nerves of the Sh3a who actually believe the charges of Maliki and then to pull the rug from under Maliki *just as they helped prop him up in 06). This will also give the Kurds the backbone the need to act with their convictions.

    However you slice it, this is a very dangerous moment in Iraq and even the region. Believe when I tell you the Kurds are even more scared than Iraqia about what is happening. They know they are next if they do not stop Maliki and help in clipping his wings. I am not sure why Maliki is acting like he has the upper hand unless his erstwhile advisers are telling that the Iraqi army is capable of holding the streets and backing him up if it ever comes to Bayan Ra1am wahid. Alas for Maliki, the government no longer has a monopoly on the instruments of violence. Worse still for the Iraqis, if Maliki pays the coup card, it is going to start a civil war that makes 06/07 a picnic.

  22. observer said

    on no confidence, even if you put the Kurds (all of them including the opposition) Majli (minus Bader) and Iraqia together – less than 163. Need some from SOL !!!

  23. Reidar Visser said

    I do think there could be two competing strands in Iranian policy on Iraq, one favouring a loyal, strong Shiite premier and the other fearing that such a premier can become too strong and therefore seeing general, semi-controlled disintegration as the lesser evil. The first example is obviously Maliki; the second could be Jaafari or maybe even Abd al-Mahdi in a more friendly relationship with Iraqiyya.

    It was certainly interesting to see some Sadrists expressing sympathy for the Diayla federalists recently… Still, with the situation in Syria, I cannot help thinking that from the Iranian point of view, a buffer of autonomous Sunni regions is now more problematic and outright threatening than it was just a year ago.

  24. Salah said


    Please read this article as it speak quietly what sectarian or ethnic problem Iraq facing, is it some think on the street or some things else as some trying to looks like.

    aSo, who is killing the innocent in Baghdad today, and why?
    In the rush to provide an explanation for the nihilistic violence, the same old simplistic mantra is trotted out. Thursday’s co-ordinated, simultaneous attacks are invariably described by the media as sectarian. Few pause to ask why a “sectarian” attack would be aimed at all sects and ethnicities equally. Only a handful raise the possibility that these attacks are not sectarian in motive, or a reflection of sectarian hatred on the streets, but are instead designed to create sectarian entrenchment and animosity, and ignite street conflict.

    Iraq’s conflict of the powerful

  25. Observer said

    I am not an expert in Iranian politics, let alone their “foreign policy”, but I do believe that whatever faction, the Iranian establishment is about “persian pride” (an extension of the policy of the Pehlavi’s) and exporting Wiliat Faqeeh (Khumaini’s legacy). Both aims are not seved well by a strong Iraq, and an independent Najaf.

    But I happen to think that Najaf’s independence is more of a concern for Iran than who governs Iraq (presumign that whoever the PM is, he is going to be from the Islamic She3a establishment). That is one of the reasons that I think it is time for Sheristani, and the top three to come out and assert the traditional position of Najaf vis-a-vis political entanglements.

  26. Reidar Visser said

    At the very immediate and tangible level, there are reports tonight that an attempt by Ibrahim al-Jaafari to mediate between State of Law and Iraqiyya failed:

    فشل الاجتماع الذي عقد بين رئيس التحالف الوطني ابراهيم الجعفري والقائمة العراقية لانهاء الازمة في البلد.

    وقال عضو ائتلاف دولة القانون عدنان السراج لوكالة{الفرات نيوز}:”ان الشروط التي وضعتها القائمة العراقية للعدول عن قرارها بتعليق حضورها لجلسات البرلمان ادى الى انتهاء الاجتماع دون التوصل الى نتائج”.

    واضاف:”ان القائمة العراقية وضعت شروطا منها ان يتم سحب الطلب الذي تقدم به رئيس الوزراء نوري المالكي حول سحب الثقة عن نائبه صالح المطلك وايقاف مذكرة الاعتقال بحق نائب رئيس الجمهورية طارق الهاشمي”.

    Jaafari says Iraqiyya demanded that the sacking of Mutlak be reversed and the arrest order for Hashemi withdrawn, both of which were unacceptable to his bloc.

  27. observer said

    Maliki (i think on purpose) painted hismelf in a corner. Backing off now on Hashimi will mean that the judiciary is anything but indpendent (even though we know it is not independent, appearences mean something). I think Iraqia is putting conditions that would cost Maliki a lot of his reputation (fair is fair) but this is a game of chicken that has dire consequences. Maliki has to go and if it does not happen now, then he is in for good.

  28. Reidar Visser said

    This morning there are actually reports that the higher judicial council has ordered a re-investigation of the Hashemi case, with a team of judges. Maybe they are not so sure about their case anymore…

    Also, Maliki continues his flirting with tribal delegations from areas like Salahaddin, promisisng them an end to de-Baathification etc., presumably in return for suppressing any federalist instincts they may have developed over the past year. The thing is, Saddam, too, had ties to the tribes of the opposite sect, but Iraq is technically speaking a democracy now and however authoritarian it is in practice, Maliki will have difficulty in finding a sufficient Sunni support base if he is pandering to the tribes only.

  29. Tore said
    Independent Kurdistan? Or just a threat? Exiting times.

  30. Reidar Visser said

    If such a state were declared tomorrow, how would it survive economically? The math is very simple: The KRG currently contributes around 5% of the Iraqi oil exports and gets back 17% of the Baghdad expenditure budget. It would be bankrupt from day one. I wouldn’t take this terribly seriously.

    The main question for the Kurds is whether they should join Iraqiyya in trying to enlist Shiites to withdraw confidence from Maliki, or whether they should instead try to (re)negotiate bilaterally with Maliki for a better (or more realistic) deal, as they have done in the past.

  31. Tore said

    I agree that it is not very realistic at the present time. An independent Kurdistan would have to have agreements with Turkey and BOTAS that would give them access to the Kirkuk – Ceyhan pipeline.They could probably increase their exports to around 200.000 bopd pretty quickly. But if they were to gain control over the Kirkuk field and exports from there, the math would be easy, although that would have to be done with the help of the US and Turkey, and the timing is probably not right for a move of that magnitude.

  32. observer said

    Reidar and Tore,
    I have been hearing similar rumors and that the timing is Nawrooz. This is the faction that I was speaking of that wants Maliki to keep on becoming even more authoritarian to give the context for independence (it would even be better of Maliki did a Baian Raqam Wahid).

    On finance, the Kurds will soon get to 300k bpd and eventually 1MM bpd even without kirkuk. There are plans for an independent pipeline to Turkey. The Turks are the KEY.

  33. I think a coup by Maliki dictated by his demons could force the Kurds to declare independence unilaterally. The timing is wrong but lets face it, Maliki is pushing for civil war; he wants to carve out Samarra, proselytize Diyala and cleanse Baghdad from the Sunnis. Furthermore, I sense that his strategy is all-or-nothing which contrasts sharply with Iran’s more careful distributed risk as highlighted by Reidar some time ago. The process is driven by Maliki’s fear, such a factor cannot be predicted.

  34. Mohammed said

    Hi Reidar:

    Of course I do not excuse the poor way al-Maliki has conducted himself in the past couple of weeks, but his most recent speeches I think are quite informative as to what his train of thought is.

    Based upon the speeches al-Maliki has made, it seems most likely that the recent escalation in political combat is really tied to the federalism push. Let me speculate here for a second.

    The constitution of Iraq states the following:
    “The Regional Government shall be responsible for all the administrative requirements of the region, particularly the establishment and organization of the internal security forces for the region such as police, security forces and guards of the region.”

    So if Anbar/Sallahudin/(or any other “Sunni-stan”) decided to become a federal region, could they theoretically accept billion of dollars from Saudi Arabia including tanks and helicopters to equip their own “internal” security force? Obviously with such a force that would be independent from the Prime Minister’s office in Baghdad, it would represent a military threat to an elected government (Maliki’s much feared coup threat). Al-Maliki hinted as much in his speech yesterday. Of course such a plan would take years to organize, but he wouldnt want to allow such a process to start forming.

    Since you are far more knowledgeable about the legal aspects of such matters; on a purely constitutional basis, can a federal region build up its own security forces independent of Baghdad? I suppose that the framers of the constitution envisioned “internal security” to mean police forces (i.e. pistols and police cars (not tanks and attack helicopters). Also, what is the constitutional basis that prevents the Iraqi army from stepping foot on “Kurdish” soil? Would the same apply to a theoretical federal Anbar region?

    Otherwise, I really don’t see why al-Maliki would oppose federalism. When the other parties are complaining about the lack of power sharing, their main legitimate grief is that Maliki has kept the security portfolio to himself and Dawa. Otherwise, Iraqiya was given plenty of juicy non-security ministries.

    If I was al-Maliki, I wouldn’t give a hoot about how people of Anbar wanted to run their own healthcare system or education or government welfare. But if they could form their own armored divisions, that might give me cause for concern.

    Again, this is not meant to justify al-Maliki’s actions. I am simply searching for what is motivating his thought process.

    Observor, thoughts??


  35. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, constitutionally speaking, Baghdad has only responsibility for external defence. Everything not listed as exclusive or shared competencies are the powers of the federal regions AND THE GOVERNORATES according to the constitution. This is why the special mention of security forces for regions in the constitution is really superfluous and illogical.

    Anyway, in practice the central government retains control of the police – unconstitutionally but wisely. Any Sunni region would likely claim to have the equivalent of the Kurdish peshmerga force. Others will know more about this than I do, but secondary sources on the internet suggest that as of today the peshmerga retains armoured vehicles/tanks and even helicopters.

  36. Tore said

    The right to form new regions, similar to the Kurdistan region is laid out in the Constitution under article 119:

    “Article 119:
    One or more governorates shall have the right to organize into a region based on a request to be voted on in a referendum submitted in one of the following two methods:
    First: A request by one-third of the council members of each governorate intending to form a region.
    Second: A request by one-tenth of the voters in each of the governorates intending to form a region.”

    After they are formed article 121 outlines the police/army of the regions:

    “Fifth: The regional government shall be responsible for all the administrative requirements of the region, particularly the establishment and organization of the internal security forces for the region such as police, security forces, and guards of the region.”

    Taken from the English translation of the document.

  37. Salah said

    Looks there is some sort of change, supreme court agreed to review the allegation against al-Hashmi, as Iraqis welcomed the Supreme Court dissension for review her investigations.

    Although the allegations done according to TV confessions by some what they called them member of al-Hashimi guards, today the supreme court stated that the investigations about the case was made & handled by ONE of the five judge (why?) instead of five members of the supreme court.

    العراقية تُثني على موقف مجلس القضاء الاعلى باعادة التحقيق في قضية الهاشمي

    وكان مجلس القضاء الاعلى اعلن اليوم اعادة التحقيق بقضية نائب رئيس الجمهورية طارق الهاشمي والذي قال انه اجري من قبل قاض منفرد. وذكر بيان صحفي للمجلس: “إن الهيئة القضائية الخماسية المكلفة بالتحقيق في التهم الموجهة لنائب رئيس الجمهورية طارق الهاشمي قررت إعادة التحقيق الذي اجري من قبل قاض منفرد”. ولم يشر البيان الى السبب الذي دعا الهيئة
    القضائية الخماسية الى اعادة التحقيق.

  38. Reidar Visser said

    Tore, not quite sure what you are getting at here. I am referring to article 115 and how it makes 121-5 superfluous. The regions AND the governorates already possess these powers, in theory that is.

    Salah, that is the development referred to @28 above.

  39. Salah said

    While Iraqis lost their life as reflection of Maliki ambitions to build his “republic of Maliki’s Dawaa” Style one of those explosions hits Baghdad two days ago was the Commission of Integrity, some witness reporting many files /folders of high value was looted from the commission office after the exploration were unknown armed group entered the building and took high value documents in regards to case as:
    1- Documents related to Case against Former Trading Minister Falah Sudani
    2- Documents related to Case of school building against Former Education Minister Khuthier al-Khzaa’ie
    3- Documents related to contracts done by former Electricity Minister Kareem Waheed
    4- Documents related to Minister of Youth and sport
    5- Documents related of case of purchasing Airplane from Ukraine and other east countries which was over charges comparing to international Markets.

    From Above who will benefits from looting those documents? Maliki, isn’t, as he warren that other parties and members of parties he hold ever serious cases and documents accusing them he will release them in right time (this is reported two days ago)

    بينها ملف عن الخزاعي: سرقة سبعة ملفّات من مبنى هيئة النزاهة بعد تفجيرها
    25/12/2011 20:19

    بغداد/اور نيوز
    قالت مصادر في هيئة النزاهة ان مسلحين مجهولين دخلوا الى مبنى هيئة النزاهة في منطقة الكرادة بعد تفجيره واخذوا عددا من الملفات من غير ان يستوقفهم احد. وقالت المصادر ان الملفات التي تمت سرقتها تتعلق بقضايا فساد ابطالها عدد من كبار المسؤولين في الدولة ومن بينها ملف يتعلق بمشروع الهياكل المدرسية في زمن الوزير خضير الخزاعي وملف يتعلق بعقود الكهرباء في زمن الوزير كريم وحيد وملف له صلة بعقود وزارة التجارة في زمن الوزير عبد الفلاح السوداني وملف له صلة بمشروعات وزارة الرياضة والشباب وملفان يتضمنان تفاصيل صفقتي الطائرات الكندية والاوكرانية اللتين اثير حولهما لغط كبير كونهما قد تمتا بنحو مخالف للضوابط والمواصفات الفنية فضلا على ان اسعار الطائرات فاقت كثيرا الاسعار المعروفة في الاسواق العالمية.

  40. observer said

    you are trying too hard. You, am sure, have been following the discussions here for a while. Thus, you recall that I (and other Iraqia supporters) have claimed that Da3wa is slowly perpetuating what the Baath did in 68 to 75. Reidar at one point dismiss the notion and called it a nice “narrative”. Well, it is not a narrative any longer, I would dare say, but Reidar will have to speak for himself.

    Look M. If Da3wa and Maliki truly believed in power sharing, then they would have devolved all power in accordance with the constitution to the local authorities and hence made all the “calls for federalism” moot in the process. Da3wa (and other Islamic parties be they she3a or sunna in color) is a political project that was devised in the era of the “supreme party and the supreme leader” and one party hegemony. They know next to nothing about democracy, but know how to lie through their teeth just to get to power.

    I know that you will not believe what I have to say, but take the time and try to digest what I just stated and move from the point of view that you believe you have a monopoly on the “right way”….. You will get to where Maliki got in time flat.
    Merry Christmas and happy holidays
    peace to you and your loved ones

  41. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, just to be clear, for the long term I don’t believe in power-sharing as a model of democracy for Iraq. To be equally clear, I don’t believe in sectarian tyranny either. I believe in federalism for the Kurds and majoritarian democracy for the rest of Iraq.

    Circa March 2009, Maliki showed signs of emerging as an Iraqi leader with appeal beyond his sectarian support base. After the elections, he has turned sectarian. I am not criticising his declared post-sectarian vision but his complete failure to pursue practical politics and alliances that could back up such a project.

    Allawi of course also had a broad appeal beyond sectarian constituencies, but since 2009 he has compromised it through his alliance partners (ISCI, Kurds) and has become a power-sharing advocate instead.

  42. Tore said

    Reidar, what will be NUPI’s stand if Kurdistan declares independence? To support Bagdad?

  43. Reidar Visser said

    Tore, please remember NUPI has no official position on anything. We are just the aggregate of individual researchers, each of whom is free to form his or her own opinions. We are funded by the education ministry rather than the foreign ministry precisely in order that we should be able to criticise Norwegian policies if needed.

  44. bb said

    Could I just ask for an update on what has happened to the shia protestors trying to storm the headquarters of the Diyala local govt building? Did they get inside and lynch up the occupants, or did the Iraqi police finally disperse them?

  45. observer said

    No one is claiming that power sharing is the model for the long term for Iraq. It had to be that way for the short term because the US allowed Maliki to manipulate the judiciary and negate the results of the elections as well as the original intent of the constitution as to who get to form the government. The constitution was supposed to be amended in 06 – right ? but nothing has been done to actually build a country of institutions….. anyway, allawi has no other alternative given the circumstances..
    The point I want you to admit is that the behavior of Maliki and Da3wa is authoritarian and it is not a narrative of Iraqia rather it is a description of actual conditions on the ground.

  46. Mohammed said


    I am a firm believer in a secular government where all Iraqis enjoy freedom of religion. For me, that would be the goal. Your post a few weeks ago with the interview that Ali Allawi gave very much resonated with me. But, I am also a realist, and today, I believe that the sectarian parties are dominating Iraqi politics (be they shiite or sunnis).

    With regards to your theory that the Dawah is trying to do what the Baath did in Iraq, I will not dismiss it outright. I have seen and read enough to understand that Dawah is stacking the government and universities that they control with their party loyalists much like the Baath did. However, to say that Dawah has a monopoly on this strategy ignores the facts on the ground and Iraqi social dynamics. The bottom line is Dawah is a shiite islamist party, and cannot have the same type of influence the Baath had in Iraq. After all, there were shiite baathists in Basra, Najaf, and all points in between (since Baathism is in theory a secular movement and can recruit party members of any sect or even non-muslims like Tariq Aziz). However, where I am sceptical about your theory is how you believe that Dawah can control ALL of Iraq with Baath-style politics. Just how are you going to get Dawah running places like Musul or Ramadi. There is no such thing as a sunni dawah party member. So, how would Maliki want to run a sunni province with Dawah people? If you can explain that strategy, then I am sold.

    Like I said before, I very much respect your views and my biggest sorrow is that Iraq’s government today does not have people of your intellect in decision-making roles. I have interacted with enough Dawah types to realize that they are mostly a bunch of uneducated dropouts who find themselves in a position of power that they could not have dreamed of having based on their mere limited intellectual capacties.

    However, I can also tell you that I have interacted with enough of them (even the “educated” minority of them) where I have never come across the view you expressed that they believe that they should have a monopoly on power over all of Iraq. They certainly want power in the center and south, and have become corrupt with power there, but their biggest paranoa or fear is that sunnis will once again rule them. So, with respect to places like Musul, their biggest concern is that Musul (or any sunni city) does not become a center of resistance to a shiite-controlled central government (rather than being consumed with finding Dawah party members to run a place like Musul like Saddam did with shiite baathists in the south). Dawah history and experience is shaped by Saddam’s ruthless persecution, and rightly or wrongly, they associate Saddam with sunnis. So, I don’t expect Maliki to ever surrender the securtiy portfolio to Iraqiya. And even if you are successful in replacing al-Maliki, the other shia groups are even more beholden to Iran, and Iran would never allow any group to give Iraqiya that kind of control over the security ministries.

    None of the other shia parties have any less of a sectarian attitude than Dawah, they only covet Dawah positions so that they could plunder Iraq’s wealth like some corrupt Dawah people are doing now. ISCI people like Bayan Jabr were far more ruthless when it came to sunni resistance than al-Maliki. And I have heard enough from people like Saleh Mutlaq (who has stated that the Baath party is the greatest party ever to rule Iraq) to know I would never what a man like him holding the levers of power either.

    sorry for the long response, and I know you are busier with far more serious matters than to discuss this with a nobody like me, but your post was thought provoking, and I appreciate your time and insights.


  47. Reidar Visser said

    Bb, just for the record, the pressure from the demonstrators in Baquba and the failure of the police to confront them effectively was such that the council evacuated to Khaniqin, as described in an earlier post.

  48. observer said

    as you stated, i am really too busy to enter into a prolonged debate. But I am on vacation so what the heck – I will give it a shot.

    You state that Da3wa can not possibly control the north and west of Arab Iraq. Let me remind you of the wolf in sheep clothing of the principals of SOL in 09 (which reidar keeps on using as an example of the potential of Maliki, and which I use as an example that Islamic parties will do anything including lie, cheet and steal, to get to power). Just like Saddam found ways of having She3a allies to control the south, Maliki and Da3wa are looking for allies to control the north and west Sunni Iraq. What do you call Sa3doon al Dulaimi?

    Anyway, the constitution an the principals of the Iraqi constitution make it difficult for anybody to repeat Saddam/Baath deeds (except through declaring a coup of course). If Da3wa truly understand the principals of the constitution they would have devolved power to the provinces a long time ago (including electricity, education, health, etc.) Instead, Baghdad keeps its power frustrating not only the Sunni Arab provinces, but recall that the first province that called for “federation” was the Basra/south provinces.

    Anyway – back to Da3wa. It is the only Islamic she3a party with a real ideology that belongs to the last century of groups believing they have a monopoly on “how to run a state” (based on Islamic tenants as opposed to socialist or communist or for that matter free market). ISCI is now nothign but a loose social alliance of Al Al Bait. Fadheela – oh please don’t let us start on that.

    You state correctly that the rank and file of Da3wa are college drop outs but the elite are well educated and are realistic about the goals that can be achieved. Let me ask you my friend how many of these elites bothered to come back to Iraq to “run the country”? Do you recall what happened to 3aqeel Al Safar (Bless his soul)? For that matter, how many successful Iraqis on the outside bothered to quit their careers and come back to help reclaim this cradle of civilization (be they islamic, socilaist, or secular)? Young ones are coming now simply becuase there are few oppetunities in the west with economic down turn…but how many successful Iraqis came back. I am betting no more than a 100..

    Here is my problem. The people who came back are exactly the drop outs who learned nothing in the west except how to cheat the system. They are the ones that came back and allied themselves with the Baathist middle rank and file and learned even better ways of how to cheat the system. It is not the elite that you speak so eloquently about that fill the ranks – alas it is the rabble. The elite you speak about stayed outside but continue to give us lectures about how great it would be only if we are smart enough to apply the principals they speak of. Ali Allawi is exactly one, and he is countered on the other side by the likes of Kanan Makia. Why don’t these big guys come back and engage in a real debate or work on the ground. The answer is simple – the rabble want let them now that the likes of Maliki, Askari (who once psoted here talking aobut Iraq as if it is HIS country) have tasted power.

    Speaking for my self, I am about to give up on the possibility of success in Iraq under the current generation and I put my faith in the future generations – assuming there will be an Iraq to worry about then.

    Even if Iraq fragments, there will be enough trade in between that will in the long term promote mutual benefits between the communities. Hell it need not be only Iraq. We can have a trading zone between Kuwait, She3istan, Sunnistan, Kurdistan, Shamistan(former syria), Jordan, Palestine, Isreal, Lebanon, Iran and Turkey. Sort of like the EU with Turkey and Iran playing the roles of Germany and France, respectively. (do not take this last paragraph too seriously – but it is a version of Barham Salih’s vision that I once heard and found to be inspiring vision of the future)

    Peace, out.

    Maliki and Da3wa do nto want to convert the west and north to She3a. They will be happy enough if they can find enough allies to bring them on as part of the SOL to run those provences with She3a leadership in Baghdad (sort of like the Baath did in the south). They tried that in 09 and were largely successful in the provential elections. But the strategy almost blew up in their face when Chalaibi and Ali Lami started teh ebaathification storm jsut before the 10 elections and force the hands of SOL to adopt their “sore” sectarian principals.

  49. Hala said

    What does everyone think of Haidar Al-Mulla? I thought he was very good on BBC Arabic two days ago, despite the interviewer’s holier than thou attitude. Is he a person to watch? Does he have much clout in Iraqiyya?

  50. Reidar Visser said

    Hala, he is seen as close to Mutlak. Sometimes he is spot on but he is terribly inconsistent and is responsible for some of the wildest constitutional interpretations by any Iraqiyya member…

  51. Jwing said

    1) the Kurds have never reached any of their oil projection goals. Talk about them reaching 1 mil/bar/day is a political statement rather than one based upon sound estimates just like the oil ministry stating that it will reach 12 mil/bar/day in capacity in 7 years. Do not believe the hype.

    2) the sit in protests outside the riyals provincial council building has ended, but many Sunni members have fled Baquba. The drive for making the province a region appears to be dead as the Kurds have withdrawn their support.

    3) Iraq will not show any real political progress until this generation of leaders is dead and gone. They simply have too much baggage from the Saddam era to trust each other or get over their own paranoia.

  52. observer said

    I happen to believe that he Kurds, as a peoples – not as leadership, are willing to go through three or four years of political and economical trouble if it menas that in the end they will get their own nation and flag and be nation 195 in the UN, as irrational as that choice maybe. Be that as it may, the political leadership of the Kurds is wise enough and has learned much of the mistakes made in the past century and are making the best out of a very limited hand that they have.

    I will agree that we need an entirely new set of leadership if we are to move forward, but that is as impractical as any other “wish”. What we have is what we have and we have to play the hand that is dealt to us.

    You can also use the “constitutional issues” category on this blog and you will get the impression of a

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: