Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Small Victories for Maliki in Parliament

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 5 January 2012 14:22

The Iraqi national assembly was it usual self today, with the predictable assortment of idiosyncrasies that are typical of Iraqi politics. However, for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, there was some good news.

This includes the simple fact that the parliamentary sessions continue to take place despite the boycott by the secular Iraqiyya party. Today, once more, signs of tensions between Maliki’s own Shiite Islamist State of Law bloc and the Kurds at one point threatened the quorum of the session, but an amicable resolution was found and the session could resume, technically as an “extraordinary session” since it had been officially terminated during the preceding tension.

With relative peace vis-à-vis the Kurds, Maliki is probably satisfied with the fact that some Iraqiyya members opted to take part in the session, which altogether counted 192 members, thus comfortably above the quorum threshold at 163 and not that much different from the normal attendance level in 2011. Reportedly, those Iraqiyya members present numbered between six and eight. Over and above that, they included at least three deputies who say they are forming a new bloc within Iraqiyya, opposed to calls for Sunni-area federalism and sympathetic to Shiites that have defected from Iraqiyya in the south. These three deputies all nominally belonged to the Iraqiyyun bloc of parliament speaker  Usama al-Nujayfi in the past, and one of them was formerly a prominent advocate of a majority government between Iraqiyya and State of Law.

Conceptually, then, this new tendency seems similar to the White Iraqiyya breakaway faction of Iraqiyya which is reckoned as openly pro-Maliki. (Equally important is the fact that they remain separate and have not joined White Iraqiyya.) Additional Iraqiyya attendants in parliament today reportedly included members of the Hall (Karbuli) faction. It is noteworthy that the assembly today managed to agree on additional judges to the de-Baathification appellate court, which had proved troublesome in the past.

In the past, White Iraqiyya has sometimes been dismissed as “Shiite Iraqiyya”, which is not entirely plausible since it also includes vocal Sunni members from Nineveh. Today’s developments stress that there are more Sunnis in the north that are prepared to speak the language of anti-federalism and could be potential allies to Maliki in the north. They come at a time when there are conflicting reports about the exact status of Iraqiyya ministers boycotting cabinet meetings, with some reports suggesting that certain individual ministers are prepared to return. Again, the Hall faction is mentioned as a possible dissenter to the general Iraqiyya line.

To Maliki, this is the ideal scenario: Parliament continues to function, not terribly effective, but enough to get some things done and preventing a formal disintegration of democratic politics. Maliki may well be hoping that similar things could happen at the level of the cabinet , since a situation with too many acting ministers unapproved by parliament in the long run would threaten one of the most basic principles in a parliamentary democracy – that of ministerial answerability to the national assembly.  

It is noteworthy that all these developments point in a different direction than the doom and gloom associated with the Iraqiyya boycott and renewed violence today. Importantly, and often overlooked by Western policy-makers, this is a potential avenue of rapprochement that has nothing to do at all with the Arbil agreement.

45 Responses to “Small Victories for Maliki in Parliament”

  1. Anthony Franks said

    Jum’a Al Matyuti – an MP from Iraqiya confirmed the formation of a new bloc called Wataniun (Patriots) which includes three MPs from Iraqiya.

    He said today “the decision to form a new bloc was reached due to the deviations in the national project of the Iraqiya Slate by its leaders and their unilateral decision making policy that contradict the electoral program and the national project, according to which we won the votes.”

    [A classic case of the Patriot Acts?]


  2. Salah said

    I believe the damage and disintegration is done and the crack among Al-Iraqiya blocs is already created, looking Maliki on winning side here

  3. Reidar Visser said

    One of the fascinating things in all of this is that the defectors seem to reject both the mid-level leadership of the major faction leaders in Iraqiyya who have been flirting with federalism (including Nujayfi, Mutlak and Hashemi) as well as the top leadership (Ayyad Allawi) who has come out firmly against federalism in the Sunni-majority areas (and elsewhere south of Kurdistan).

    Critics will say this is about office-seekers, but when the alternative projects of those prepared to sacrifice their offices appear to go absolutely nowhere, who can really blame them?

  4. Salah said

    The below article by Kenneth M. Pollack, Director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy from The Brookings Institution, telling the most things about Maliki, which characterise his behaviour, I don’t know why this “a new” discovery about a man was helped by US and supported brought to Iraqi politic domain by them now on the sudden he is as what they saying and seen him.

    To me it’s either they did not know him well…. Or he is “very smart” politician hiding his personality for so long till end of DEC 2011?….

    However Kenneth M. Pollack while well describing Maliki, there is another article which was before Pollack one published in al-Sharq al-Awsat by Huda al-Hassani about Maliki which also pointing to Maliki’s attitude and behaviour which worth reading.

    Maliki may or may not be deliberately maneuvering to make himself the new dictator of Iraq but his political instincts are very problematic regardless. He is paranoid and prone to conspiracy theories. He is impatient with democratic politics and frequently interprets political opposition as a personal threat. And when faced with opposition, he often lashes out, seeing it as an exaggerated threat that must be immediately obliterated through any means possible, constitutional or otherwise. This has been his modus operandi and that is how he responded to the Sunni clamor for federalism.

    Understanding the Iraq Crisis

    وما أدراكم من هو نوري المالكي
    أما تاريخ البعث؛ عراقيا كان أم سوريا، فلا تزال المنطقة تعيشه حتى هذه الأيام. نوري المالكي «استوعب» دروس البطش من الطرفين، ومع هذه الدروس أساليب المراوغة والخداع.
    بدأت الخدعة الأولى على الأميركيين، ثم تلاها، بإيعاز من إيران، حصر سوريا في «شباك» مشاركة عراقية بمبادرة مزعومة، كي يتسنى لنوري المالكي الانقضاض على السياسيين العراقيين المنافسين، وبالذات على السنة منهم، لكن، ما لا تدركه إيران، أن نشوب معارك داخلية في العراق سيقضي على كل طموحاتها في بسط نفوذها وتطبيق خططها التوسعية.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Critics of Maliki can lament as much as they will – and much of it is justified – but unless they put together a robust plan for taking action their mutterings will remain frustrated.

    With further reported defections from Iraqiyya, a vote of no confidence in Maliki is now even less likely. Meanwhile, Maliki keeps talking about “going back to the constitution”, which is code for ignoring the Arbil agreement.

  6. Anthony Franks said

    Yup – more MPs thrown out of the sinking ship – reportedly: Kamil al-Dulaimi, Mohammed al-Karbouli, Qais Shathir, Joma al-Matuti, Ahmed al-Jobouri and Abdul Rahman al-Luzi, tossed overboard for attending Parliament’s session in violation of Iraqiya’s boycott. There is no actual need to divide and rule when your opponents are doing the division themselves…… unless the ‘opposition’ can rise above petty in-fghting and create a coherent political strategy then they will be doomed to be outside the tent – shouting inwards.

  7. Santana said

    I agree with Reidar that a vote of no confidence in Maliki is becoming more difficult with more defections but actually Iraqiya is still closer to it now than any other time…if the Kurds (all) , half of the Majlis, half the Sadrists and a few that will join later(after they see it is becoming real) then it can happen….I would still worry about Talabani staying the course and the half of the Sadrists that hate Maliki but nevertheless still fear Iran…….so all in all maybe the chances for war between the U.S and Iran is higher than the coming together of the alliance I described above and war is much messier BUT the tensions in the Arabian Gulf are very high as everyone can read in the press…three U.S carriers are gonna head back soon to see if Iran wants to start something??…..and I am 100% sure Iran will lose (God Willing) …..I can just imagine what a humble sweetheart Maliki will be then !!! He will have lower backpain from leaning over every morning to kiss all his political opponent’s rearends in hopes that he can stay in power…or even stay alive for that matter….
    Maybe the whole region can live in peace after a very short and intense bloody conflict that is badly needed by the freeworld- and in my opinion it is not just Iraq but the people of Iran will be the number one beneficiaries of ridding the world from this evil Mullah regime.

    Iraqis will go back to becoming Iraqis again and learn to live with each other instead of being proxies for outsiders.

  8. Iraq is an Iranian chessboard right now, which means all the small moves and initiatives may benefit Iran, and small victories trigger Maliki’s delusions of grandeur but mean little to Iraqiya who is the de facto opposition and doesn’t get much of a chance to be on the offensive. I agree with Anthony, there is no need to burn the bridges of the Iraqiya defectors, Iraqiya may need them again and they are no worse than Nujaifi/Hashemi/Mutlak.

  9. Salah said

    “going back to the constitution”?

    But Malki he already still breaking the constitution, in recent event

    He did allege Hashimi of crime under the Iraqi constitution Hashimi is innocent until found guilty through process or rule of law and court? Isn’t?

    Iraqis will go back to becoming Iraqis again and learn to live with each other instead of being proxies for outsiders.
    الكريمة سانتانا
    العرافيون كلهم يعرفون كيف يعيشون مع بعضهم بسلام وهذا ما اثبته تاريخهم طوله 2500 سنة، المشكلة واعتقد ما راح احد يعترض عليها هم “التبعية” الكلمة الحقيقة التي هي كاملة الوصف والانطباق على الذين يحكمون العراق ومنافيقيهم.بعد الاحتلال بعد 2004

  10. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, the presumption of innocence is guaranteed under article 19-5 of the Iraqi constitution. I suspect that when Maliki talks like a constitutionalist, he is primarily thinking of his favourite article, namely 78, which makes him the commander in chief and the paramount executive with responsibility for the general direction of the country. He is certainly not thinking about the chapter on federalism.

  11. Salah said

    Are you suggesting that his CIC (commander in chief) overriding clauses 19-5?

    What about Other matter within constitution of calling of Anbar & Dyala?
    Is he also overriding the constitution also because he is CIC?

    Is this how a democratic system/ process “only in Iraq “ works?

  12. Reidar Visser said

    No, I was joking. But I think, when Maliki says “let’s go back to the constitution” he really means “let’s emphasise article 78 of the constitution”.

  13. Salah said

    Another Maliki breaking the constitution when he Puts Iraq’s Sunni-Backed Ministers on Leave?

  14. Reidar Visser said

    The constitutional status of acting ministers is unclear since they are not explicitly discussed there. The basic principle is that all ministers should be approved by parliament, but this has already been violated long time ago, time and again, with the security ministries.

  15. Anthony Franks said

    Constitutionalism, is like beauty, clearly in the eye of the beholder. The aspect that I think should cause particular concern is – when convenient – both the apparent cherry-picking and ignoring of the tenets of democracy and ‘freedom’. As a general comment – and please accept this is a general comment – the over-centralising of power on one man in any state is profoundly undemocratic (as it is an exclusive action) and threatens freedoms (as that individual can operate without checks and balances) – and that is a global truth. It is a truism that those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them; the real danger in Iraq is that the lessons of history are not being learned. And, as has has been analysed by Reidar extensively, we are seeing the fissures fracturing the fragile political carapace. One strategic risk (as it threatens a nation) is that the political in-fighting is the catalyst for further sectarian unrest as the disenfranchised seek security by means other than those provided by the state. If MPs truly represent the wishes of the people they should be concentrating on providing – inter alia – electricity, utilities, employment, education and training; the endless political cross-fire means Iraq loses credibility every day, and that is critical when being appraised by foreign direct investors. Specifically, the Belgian export credit agency, ONDD, has warned in its monthly country report that after the withdrawal of US troops, “insecurity, instability and sectarian tensions will continue to prevail in Iraq”. The ONDD also said: “The current instability will further impact economic performance and relations with international energy investors.” Now that it is important. When a rating agency starts muttering dire things like that, the banks and other investment instruments suddenly start sucking their teeth. When you couple the ONDD’s comments with the remarks by Abdul Mahdi al-Ameedi, the director general of the Oil Ministry’s Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate on the delay to the 4th bidding round, then a more worrying picture emerges. “It is not the ministry who wanted to postpone it,” Ameedi said. “It is the request and the will of the international companies, who want more time to study the amended model contract.” Or maybe they actually want time to review the current instability’s impact on economic performance and relations with international energy investors. There are daily reports about deals being signed, agreements made, visits concluded, protocols agreed, but my friends in Iraq tell me that the social situation is not substantively improved – and that is politically dangerous. To coin a sound-bite: we see many headlines, but far more breadlines.

  16. Salah said


    Thank you for your valued comment, with all due respect if you excuse me have few comments:
    the over-centralising of power on one man in any state is profoundly undemocratic (as it is an exclusive action) and threatens freedoms (as that individual can operate without checks and balances)

    Maliki, Jaafari, and others are brought to Iraqi political domain by US (Paul Bremer CPA) then when you said “checks and balances” did US done that before put their hands with these guys?
    So the answer NO? Then we got to what we ended today because the “checks and balances” not done initially how you could ask powerless people to do so?

    Iraqis after 13 years of sanction, millions left the country, the Shock & Awe in 2003 did you think they have more to scarifies for do “checks and balances” for US?

    should be concentrating on providing – inter alia – electricity, utilities, employment, education and training; the endless political cross-fire means Iraq loses credibility every day

    Again I ask where is US directly doing nation Building here with billions spent of reconstruction of Iraq.
    Then handed over to the guys who did “checks and balances”, you demanding more from incompetent guys while you (US) with its all power / laws and skills failed to deliver very basic public service a part from few headlines from time to time, but can I bring your attention for one the oil Meters and Paul Bremer refusal to repair them?

    Finally it’s good to read this from a man telling the history of today the commander in chief what he was before and what he thinking what he doing why all that ignored or not “checks and balances” by US and other western countries when they came for regime change? Is it they don’t know? I doubt it

    Sorry the article in Arabic I hope you read Arabic otherwise please get help from you friend in Iraq.

    صفحات مطوية من أيام المعارضة العراقية السابقة
    جواد المالكي أو أبو إسراء المالكي. في غرفة متواضعة صغيرة في حي السيدة زينب. واستمرت علاقتنا المهنية، وليست الشخصية، إلى ما قبل سقوط النظام بقليل. وأنقل هنا من أحد دفاتري القديمة هذه الانطباعات الأولى عنه:
    أولا: إنه إنسان بسيط غير متعلم تعليما أكاديميا متخصصا، وليس له خبرة سابقة في الإدارة أو السياسة أو الاقتصاد.
    ثانيا: مغرق جدا في تعصبه الطائفي، ومبالغ في ولائه لحزب الدعوة، وكرهه المبطن لباقر الحكيم وللمجلس الأعلى للثورة الإسلامية.
    ثالثا: علاقته وثيقة جدا بالمخابرات السورية، من خلال أحاديث جانبية معه أكد لي فيها استعداده لاستقبال من أزكي له من المعارضين الراغبين في الخروج من العراق، وتزويدهم بجوازات سفر سورية، فورا ودون عقبات. وكنت قد قصصت عليه معاناة بعض الهاربين من بطش النظام.
    ثالثا: لم أحترم إصراره على استخدام الاسم المستعار. فإن كان يظن أنه يخدع مخابرات صدام فهو واهم. فهي تعرف كل شيء عنا واحدا واحدا، خصوصا أؤلئك المعارضين البارزين أمثال المالكي وبيان جبر الذي صار فيما بعد باقر صولاغ الزبيدي.
    ثالثا: أعلن في الحديث الأول لإذاعتنا أنه ضد الحل الأمريكي، وأن حزبه ثابت على مبدأ مواجهة نظام صدام بالقوى الذاتية للشعب العراقي. متهما من يحاول ترويج الحل الأمريكي بالخيانة. هل يستطيع حزب الدعوة تغيير النظام بقدراته الذاتية، وسوريا تتعاون مع صدام، وإيران تساعده على تهريب النفط العراقي عبر مياهها الإقليمية؟
    رابعا: أطال في تبرير رفضه لطائفية صدام حسين، وخاصة اعتمادَه على الولاء فقط في تعيين مساعديه ومستشاريه وافراد حكومته. هل يستطيع المالكي، لو وصل إلى السلطة، أن يتخلى عن الطائفية؟. ملاحظة: ما زلت أحتفظ بنسخة من ذلك الحديث مسجلة على CD للذكرى والتاريخ.

  17. Vargen said

    What’s going on:



    07/01/2012 22:54:00
    Central government’s Interior Ministry demands Kurdistan Interior Ministry handing Hashimi and his 14 companions

  18. Mohammed said


    I agree that Iran’s meddling in Iraqi politics has been harmful to Iraq. Furthermore, I agree that Iran’s mullahs are first and foremost a cause of misery to their own Iranian citizens, and look forward to a day that they will be booted out of office and a democratic, moderate government in Iran takes place.

    However, let’s get back to reality. I very much doubt that Obama is about to start a war with Iran in the middle of an election year. First of all, the price of oil will go to 150-200 dollars a barrel. The economy of the US and the West will come to a halt. If they fight against Iran, there is no way that they can oust the Mullahs without having ground forces march all the way to Tehran. They can sink the Iranian navy, attack its airbases and military infrastructure, and nuclear bases. That is not going to cause Iran’s government to fall. Iran’s mullahs do not enjoy the support of a majority of their people, but they do have about 20-30% of the people who are loyal to the regime, including the revolutionary guards and the Basiij. It will only galvanize the Iranian people (Iranians are very nationalist) and set back the cause of moderates by decades.

    With respect to Iraq, I am not sure that Iran is even that relevant to the issue at hand. Even if you had the most transparent elections you could imagine, I just don’t see how the results are going to change much. The Iraqi people voted along sectarian lines in the last election (yes Reidar—I know that you hate generalizations, but I am talking about 90% of the electorate, not the outliers). The bottom line is Shiites Arabs are a 60-65% majority of the country, and 90% of Shiites will vote for either SOL, ISCI, Sadrists, Fadhila, or one of their offshoots. Iraqiya is now effectively a Sunni Arab party and will enjoy the support of 95-100% of the Sunni Arabs (who may be about 20-25% of the country). What is that going to accomplish? We will be back to where we were 3 years ago.

    The politics and mindset of the Iraqi electorate needs to change in order to change their voting patterns. One brief glimpse of Facebook or Twitter, and I can tell you we are not there yet. My wife’s cousin (22 year old well-educated Sunni woman working as an engineer in Baghdad) recently posted about Saddam on the anniversary of his execution, “You were a hero and died a hero!” My wife’s brother who is also Sunni posted on Facebook something similar to that effect (and he is making a salary now that is 8 times what he made when Saddam was in power). A Shiite guy posted a rant about how Tareq al-Hashemi must be guilty for sure because of those “confessions.” Is this a scientific sample? Of course not, but I am sure if anybody looks at Facebook in a more scientific way, they will see similar trends.

    I imagine your next point is going to be, anybody but al-Maliki. However, as Observer responded to one of my recent posts and he stated (and I am paraphrasing)—“it’s not just al-Maliki, but all of al-Dawah that is a problem.” I doubt that the Sadrists or ISCI are any less sectarian than al-Dawah.

    I am a believer in democracy, and I hope that in 10-20 years time, Iraqi shiites and sunnis will learn that there are more important things that they should focus on regarding politics than the sectarianism that is prevailing today.


  19. M.
    There will always be some sectarian voting pattern in Iraq, I don’t think any one is denying that, but the argument is about the extent and the cause of it and what to do about it.
    Personally I don’t think it will take 10-20 years to fix if the right steps were taken but what seems to be happening is that those parties benefiting from sectarian voting are thriving in an atmosphere of terror and maybe helping in creating it while the popular vote base is responding in an emotional manner.

  20. Santana said

    Thanks Mohamed-

    I think if a war breaks out between the U.S Navy and the Iranian Navy it will be something imposed on the U.S by a very panicky and desperate Iranian government, that sees a cutoff in their bloodine as having similar consequences to their survivability….the U.S has to respond if attacked in International waters….regardless whether it is an election year or how high the oil price can jump up to as a result….all secondary to allowing Iran control the Arabian Gulf and dictate who can come and go !

    As far as your assumption that I would say “give us anyone but Maliki” is not true….I think the PM replacement should be an Non-sectarian Nationalistic Iraqi and preferably from Arab roots and not “Tabaaiyah” Irania….Adel Abdul Mahdi is my 2nd best choice after Allawi.
    You don’t know me and you assume I am pro-Sunni….I have said this many times before…and I will say it again…give me a 100% shiite governmet is FINE !! just as long as they ARE TRUE IRAQIS THAT CARE FOR IRAQ AND WILL NOT ALLOW THE COUNTRY TO BE OVERTAKEN AND CONTROLLED BY A FOREIGN POWER!!!!
    The Allawis and Observer-types of this world !!!!!!

  21. Reidar Visser said

    Santana, is it not the case that to the extent the Iranians may have second thoughts about Maliki, Jaafari is their option of choice at the moment, at least as a threat and a lever on Maliki, if nothing else?

  22. Mohammed said

    I agree that if a war did break out between America and Iran, it will be because of an iranian instigation because of the upcoming threat of a combined European and an American oil embargo as well as penalties against Iran’s central bank. The embargo is going to seriously destroy Iran’s economy (and it is already in shambles). However, all the Americans can do is bomb Iran. I very much doubt anything short of occupying Terhan will lead to regime change. I have never seen any serious military or policy specialist (except some fringe neocon-types) ever claim any attack on Iran will bring about regime change. You are not going to see a repeat of a Libya-type operation (the mullah’s have a stronger base of support than he or Saddam ever did).

    With respect to, Iraq, I did not claim in my previous post that you only wanted Sunnis (please show me where I stated that? and I would gladly apologize). In fact, since you seem to lobby on behalf of Allawi (a secular shiite), then it would be very silly to accuse you of wanting sunnis to run the country. I am quite convinced that you want secular, nationalist Iraqis running the country.
    However, the point of my prior post is not about what you or I wanted, rather it was about what the Iraqi people would likely vote for. The bottom line is that secular parties are weak in Iraq, and cannot compete effectively in a true free election. Allawi as a secular shiite may have some appeal to certain sectors of society, but he was unable to draw enough Shiite support. The Islamist Shiite lists put together can get 50% of the population to support them.

    However, you , Observer, and Faisal need to make up your mind as to what represents a greater long-term threat to the kind of Iraq you want to see thriving (Iran or a dominant independent shiite Islamist party).

    ust look at how al-Maliki behaves. Do you seriously think that he wishes to be under the thumbs of Iran forever? If anything, he is trying to consolidate more power for al-Dawah and those loyal to him. I really think this superstition you have about Shiites is clouding your judgment. The goal is not to serve Iran. I am sure al-Maliki’s goals are to consolidate the shiite base under state of law (essentially render ISCI, Fadhila, and those type to be inconsequential), and then slowly weaken Sadrists. That is why he broke with the National Alliance prior to the last election (because they wouldn’t give him the majority of the seats). I suspect a loyal Iranian stooge would have just gone along with Iran’s demands in the first place). In the end, he came back to the national alliance because Iraqiya just barely received more votes than SOL, and he needed the rest of the shiite votes to secure the PM position. As long as the shiite Islamist list is fractured, Iran will play them off one another and maintain control over the Iraqi government as they do today.

    I have always stated that I wanted to see a majority government between SOL and Iraqiya after the elections with somebody from SOL as the PM. It would have done two things: a) give Iraqiya (and the sunnis they represent) more influence to moderate the government in domestic policies where there was much general agreement on with SOL, and b) the other shiite Islamist parties would have ceased to be relevant (hence Iran’s control would have dissolved). I know..I are going to say that there is no trust between SOL and Iraqiya…but you really need to get beyond that does not have to be absolute….you can establish trust in certain areas of domestic policy where there is mutual interest…that is how coalitions are made.

    You have to pick your poison (an empowered al-Dawah independent of Iran), or you deal with Iranian controlled government. Unfortunately, that is the choice before Iraqiya. Adel Abdul Mahdi maybe a more jolly and well educated fellow than al-Maliki, but ISCI and al-Hakim are 100% Iranian-influenced. Most ISCI followers I know completely believe in willayat al faqih, and are beholden to Ali Khamenei. Now, since you seem to know Adel Abdul Mahdi (I certainly don’t), I can assure you that Iran would never let him run the National Alliance unless they were sure that he would be friendly to them.

    Again, I go back to my question..where does that lead us? My view is that Iranian influence is the greater long-term threat to Iraq. Having a strong, independent, shiite islamist government is the lesser of two evils, and with time the Iraqi people will realize that Islamists are unfit to run the country, and 10-20 years from now you will have your secular, nationalist government.
    However, Iraqiya seems to be operating with the goal of making sure that the other Shiite Islamist parties are still in place to act like checks on al-Dawah (and by doing so, allowing Iranian influence to thrive). What does that accomplish? All you are doing is repeating a cycle over and over again.


  23. Reidar Visser said

    Just to weighin with a minor point here, I find it remarkable to see the lengths to which Iraqiyya sometimes are prepared to go in order to avoid dialogue with Maliki. Take the latest round of meetings between Nujayfi and the Iranian ambassador, or the recent visit to Iran by Muhammad Allawi, all of course, ostensibly, for the sake of “discussing bilateral relations” – that most overused white lie in Iraqi politics.

    I keep asking myself, do they really believe that Iran will deliver them anything other than Jaafari instead of Maliki, if they favour change at all?

  24. bb said

    Reading this stuff of Pollack’s (and just about all the learned US foreign policy experts/pundits* on Iraq) one is reminded of the panic, alarmism and, alas, sheer gloating during period 2006-2008 when newly elected accidental prime minister, the unknown and derided Mr Maliki, kept his government functioning through two years of depraved sectarian violence and insurgent suicide bombings after Sadrists, Accord (Hashimi) and List (Allawi) had all walked out and joined forces with al Mutlak to bring that government down – and routed the whole lot of them.

    The old saying. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

    These US pundits desperately need the equivalent of smelling salts, Reidar. Pehaps you could ensure they all receive your (excellent) daily tweets on the doings of the Iraqi parliament as it laboriously passes its budget, just like congress does?

    * have to absolve Marc Lynch. Don’t think he’s even given The Iraq Falling Apart Crisis a thought; too busy trying to bkeep up with the Egyptian spring.

  25. “However, you , Observer, and Faisal need to make up your mind as to what represents a greater long-term threat to the kind of Iraq you want to see thriving (Iran or a dominant independent shiite Islamist party).”

    There is a lot I could say but regarding the above statement, I believe that Iran’s direct control or annexation of southern Iraq is not on the table. If you think Iran wants that then you really don’t know Iran at all. You are using this totally fictitious scenario only to support your argument but it is baseless. Ruling by proxy, like the Arab King of Hira, is the realistic aim for Iran, and we are close to seeing this if Al Adeeb becomes prime minister.

  26. Santana said


    Thanks for believing me when I say that I have total disregard for whatever sect or religion Iraq’s leadership ends up with AS LONG as these leaders care for Iraq and will respect and treat all the others fairly and per the constitution.

    I assumed you considered me pro-Sunni because you have mentioned before that you thought I talked and thought like your Sunni in-laws. I must agree with Reidar’s concerns about Jaafari and that there will be no improvement whatsoever in the need to eliminate sectarianism from the government. I am amazed that you actually believe Daawa to be a shiite group that if empowered will be independent of Iran !! I think the opposite- I think Daawah gets closer to Iran day by day as they grow in strength.This Daawa party is nothing but a bunch of corrupted thugs that care nothing about Iraq…..I would love to see one stinking SOL member be put on TV for corruption charges.
    A secular government is the only hope for a peaceful and stable Iraq in my opinion. The sooner the Iraqis figure that out the better but as long as Iran has the capability of keeping the Sunni-Shiite rift alive, the harder it is to reach that goal. I have no doubt that Iranian agents blew up the Askari mosque in Sammarra that caused the civil war in 2006-2007 and Iran is willing to hit even more serious targets in Najaf or Karbala if they see any improvements in Sunni-Shiite relations in the future.

  27. Salah said

    the Iranians may have second thoughts about Maliki, Jaafari is their option of choice at the moment,?

    New Development may all things change

    وذكرت مصادر موثوق بها من داخل الحزب لـ”ساحات التحرير” أن المالكي يحاول بشتى الوسائل تهميش أي دور للقيادات النافذة في الحزب لأسباب عديدة أهمها الحفاظ على كرسي رئاسة الوزراء من الطامحين بالوصول إليه، وخاصة من قبل قيادات الخط الأول في الحزب.
    يأتي ذلك في وقت كشف فيه مصدر مقرب من حزب الدعوة عن رغبة القيادي في الحزب علي الأديب بتولي رئاسة الوزراء في الدورة القادمة بعد أن فشلت مساعيه تلك في الدورة السابقة.
    وتقول مصادر “ساحات التحرير” ان قصة تأجيل انعقاد مؤتمر حزب الدعوة لانتخاب أمين عام جديد، تلك التي تأجلت من شهر أيلول الماضي وإلى إشعار آخر، تبين رغبة المالكي في عدم صعود أسم آخر للقيادة.
    وبحسب المصادر ذاتها، فإن سبب تأجيل المؤتمر يعود الى ان الاحتمالين اللذين يمكن ان ينتج عنهما المؤتمر بشان منصب الامين العام للحزب، ففي حال اعيد انتخاب المالكي لاربع سنوات اخرى بمنصب الامين العام فهذا لا يرضي القيادات الاخرى بكل تاكيد، وفي حال ابعد المالكي عن المنصب فهذا يضر به كرئيس وزراء، وبالتالي سوف يتضرر الحزب نفسه لانه يعد اضعافاً للمالكي شخصياً.

  28. observer said

    “You have to pick your poison (an empowered al-Dawah independent of Iran), or you deal with Iranian controlled government.”

    M – i invite you to re-read the history of Iraq 1968-to 1975…. You will learn much from understanding the steps the Baath took by dividing and conquering their opponents one at a time until there were no opponents left above ground….

    You do not want to believe it, but Da3wa is the other face of Baath in ideology. The difference is one believes in God, the other —well nugh said on that.


    PS, Iran is using southern Iraq to bypass the embargo. The US knows it but is averting its eyes the way it did when Saddam was using Iran to bypass the embargo on oil exports 1991 to 1996.

  29. Salah said

    Whichever in control in toddy Iraq, the below reports the view of an American who worked inside Iraq (<A HREF="Ned Parker“>Ned Parker has reported for The Times in Baghdad since March 2007.) he have it all for you:

    Politics in Iraq is a nasty game; sometimes it seems the leaders are like [out of the] “Godfather,” a collection of crime families getting together. The Sadrists have never loved Maliki; Maliki has never loved them but they saw that they could have a marriage of mutual convenience, and that’s really what their relationship is.

    So when call them gangster, thieves and criminal that was full truth about those parties ruling Iraq from 2004- till today.

    The story not federalisation, Sectarians, or seculars, we have bunch of gangs in control, all should go to the hell.

    As for the history of Iraq 1968-to 1975, the commentator himself need to re-read that history well before making his advise. You can’t compare apples and oranges.

    وإنما الناس بالملوك وما …………… تفلح عرب ملوكها عجم
    المتنبي خلاصة الثقافة العربية الإسلامية في النصف الأول من القرن الرابع للهجرة.

  30. Riyad said

    Observer – can you elaborate on your last point on how Iran is using S Iraq to bypass a potential embargo?


  31. Salah said

    The problem of sectarian it’s not Iraqis as citizens it’s the politicians they trying to cover their incompetency with this matter.

    The recent incident in Nassiriya is not only one there are many happened from 2003 till now. The sectarian parties using this for self-necessities to play their proxy game.

  32. Mohammed said

    Faisal: Perhaps you misunderstood what I was implying. I agree that Iran will not annex southern Iraq. What I meant to convey is that Iran is controlling the Shiite Islamist blocks by keeping them divided and fighting one another. Obviously, state of law is the dominant block among the islamic blocks. My hypothesis is that if the other blocks like ISCI, Sadrists are weakened, then SOL will not be as susceptible to Iranian influence as they are now. The lesser evil is to have an empowered Islamism Shiite political block in Iraq that was independent of Iran (they will then be answerable to the Iraqi people and not Ali Khamenei) and could cooperate with Iraqiya on areas of mutual interest (oil policy, agriculture, education, electricity, etc).

    Santana: Let me first start by agreeing again with you (man this is getting to be a habit). I agree… it is entirely plausible that Iran or one of their agents blew up the Samarra shrine. However, I must say, I am astonished that you reached this conclusion! Put yourself in the shoes of a Shiite tasked with blowing up a shrine of one of the revered imams (or giving the order to do it)…would not that poor soul be laying in bed with sheer terror as he awaits Abbas to zap him with a bolt of lightning in his sleep? Come on man, you can’t have it both ways. Either religious Shiites are superstitious Neanderthals who are bound to Ali Khamenei for fear of the curse of Abbas, or they are self-serving gangsters loyal to no deity but the mighty dollar (dinar). If you believe Shiites can blow up a shrine of their imam then you must be open to the possibility that they need not to always be loyal to Iran for fear of some curse….

    I go back to my previous question: what does Iraqiya propose to do to help the people of Iraq? Iraqiya sends emissaries to Iran and only validates Iran’s influence over Iraq. As Reidar stated, do you seriously think Iran will give you guys anything of substance?
    I propose that the only practical solution is to work with SOL, and develop nationalist policies where there is substantial mutual agreement that serve the Iraqi people. It is better to work with a single powerful Iraqi Shiite Islamist block that can act independent of Iran than the scenario today (Islamists that are influenced by Iran)…even if that block is as corrupt as Dawah… Instead, Iraqiya is appealing to Iran, Turkey, Saudia Arabia, and the New York Times to save Iraq. This is not statesmanship.
    Observer: I will reply to your post in a separate post.

  33. M,
    I’m glad you stated your hypothesis so clearly, to me it sounds fantastic. This is how I understand you: Let Maliki be reassured and unchallenged by small pro-Iranian factions so that he will not need Iran to support him. There is one major objection: Maliki’s insecurity is not external, its inside his head. Democracy has no assurances and Maliki, like any dictator, is not accepting his temporariness.
    Regarding Al Askary mosque bombing being an Iranian plot, I heard first hand witness accounts from Samarrai friends that were present at the time that support Santana’s. It is about time people ask questions about this heinous act.
    Regarding Iraqiya, the initiative and power is not in its hand, I can tell you that every offer of cooperation with SOL was rejected by Maliki. It is much worse than you imagine.

  34. Reidar Visser said

    Faisal (and others), what do you make of several disgruntled Iraqiyya politicians who say the Iraqiyya leadership has become too pro-federal and also is winning nothing by boycotting parliament and cabinet?

  35. Santana said

    Mohamed- The Iranian government is behind the bombing of Askari – financing, logistics and finding the right mercenaries to do it -Alqaeda most likely – yes-there is ample evidence that the two worked closely together 2004-2007 …….as far as your suggestion that Iraqiya work with Maliki and SOL…we have been thru this a zillion times…..and with Reidar too…I agree that at at one time the 180 seats solution was the way to go but the Nowrooz summit ended that idea in a heartbeat.
    Maliki and Daawa are not interested in sharing anything- and especially NOT with a Sunni-heavy group. Maliki has everything right now so any agreement with any other group only takes away from him – he cannot acheive that pure dictatorship that he is forming post U.S withdrawl. I seriously doubt that there is anything Iraqiya can say or do that would bring the two closer.Iran has a redline on Allawi and Iraqiya.

  36. observer said

    The Iranians are forming companies in Iraq and trade is open through the Iranian borders. You can import stuff (at least currently) into Iraq that you can not do so legally to Iran. Letters of credit from iraqi banks are accepted while Iranian LCs are not. “free trade” zones are proposed in KRG and in Southern Iraq, etc., etc. You can figure out the rest of the process….

    They (the Iranians) did the same in UAE back in the 80’s. and there will be a time soon enough when Iran sells its oil as Iraqi oil sort of like how Uday used to sell Iraqi oil to Refsanjani’s son in 91 to 96…. Now ask your self what the reaction of the US and others to Iraq when it becomes clear that Iraq is helping Iran bypass the sanctions….

  37. Mohammed said


    Santana and Faisal: I am serious when I say that I agree with you that it is entirely possible that Iran was behind the Samarra/Askari bombing (I am NOT being sarcastic in the least sense). I have never maintained that the Mullahs are noble people. In fact, I believe that value of one innocent human life is more valuable than all of the mosques in Mecca, Medina, Karbala, and Najaf combined. Thus, I believe that since the Mullahs have clearly murdered their own people, then they would not hesitate to blow up an Imam’s shrine should they find benefit in that.

    So yes, I will say it a million times. The Mullahs of Iran are evil…Now what? I propose that the most prudent course of action is to recognize reality. Namely, that the Islamist block (SOL + ISCI + SADR + others) represents at least 50% of the Iraqi population (for better or worse)…and has Iraqiya outnumbered almost 2 to 1. The lesser evil is develop a strategy that at least ensures that Iraqi Shiite islamists are not under the thumbs of Iran.

    Your next point about SOL not willing to share power is what I find most interesting. How do you define “sharing” power? Iraqiya was given several ministries and could have had more had they formed a majority government with SOL post-election. However, Iraqiya keeps insisting on having influence over the security ministries and getting Allawi to have the unconstitutional national security council chairmanship with powers that should be reserved for the Prime Minister and the Parliament.

    SOL and al-Maliki will never agree to giving up control over security. What is practical, however, is for Iraqiya to focus on the non-security ministries for now. I admit that there is paranoia and sectarianism today, and by at least working together in non-security areas, you can start to build trust so that over time the security ministries become less sectarian. You cannot achieve the change you want overnight.

    With respect to the Baath and al-Dawah, I am under no illusion that al-Dawah are a bunch of nice boy scouts. However, let us at least acknowledge that the Baath party was not elected into power, they seized it through murder. The Iraqi people in the last election voted for the Islamist blocks by close to a 2:1 margin over Iraqiya. Yes, many of the so-called God-fearing Islamists are corrupt thugs, and seek to dominate. As the saying goes, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    My question to you is what do you (and Iraqiya) propose to do in the meantime? Iraqiya alone is not representative of the Iraqi people (and neither is the national alliance)…But this is what the election has given us.

    I see no choice but to have Iraqiya and SOL cooperate in non-security areas of government, and hope Iraq stays stable for the next 10-20 years, and then the next generation of leaders can emerge to steer the ship. In the mean time, I think it is best for Iraq that whatever government is running Iraq be as independent of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, USA, etc as possible. As Ghandi said: “There is no people on earth who would not prefer their own bad government to the “good” government of an alien power.”

    With respect to Iran using southern Iraq to break through the embargo, I guess I don’t understand your point. Iran is not under any blockade, and can sell oil to any country that is willing to buy it (but will incur the wrath of the USA sanctions system). Otherwise, are you implying that Iran is telling Iraq to sell southern Iraqi oil and then Iran will get the proceeds? What Iran really needs is another country willing to be a third party bank that accepts to move money between Iran and its oil customers. Given that Iraq is still under Chapter VII, can the Iraqi central bank technically still do this? As far as I know, most recently a Turkish Bank was working as an intermediary between Iran and India.


  38. Salah said

    what do you make of several disgruntled Iraqiyya politicians who say the Iraqiyya leadership has become too pro-federal and also is winning nothing

    اليوم لا يتقاتل السنة و الشيعة في العراق، بل ان الجهاديين هم الذين يقتلون كلتا الطائفتين، فقد ذكرت التقارير الامنية بأن اثنين من الجنود السنة تصارعا مع انتحاري و ابعداه عن الزوار الشيعة في الناصرية .الازمة السياسية ليست طائفية بكاملها. فلقد استخدم المالكي، في مناسبتين منذ صدور مذكرة القبض على الهاشمي، سياسة السلطة الداخلية الطائفية لاستعراض عضلاته. ففي البداية هدد بشكل غير مباشر حلفاءه الصدريين من خلال مذكرة الاعتقال القديمة، ثم جاء بعصائب اهل الحق الى الواجهة السياسية لتكون ثقلا مواجها للصدريين. سرعان ما تم دفن اصدار مذكرة الاعتقال ضد السيد مقتدى الصدر، الا ان الحكومة مازالت تشدد على جلب عدو الصدريين الى الطاولة .من جانب آخر، فان كتلة العراقية منشقة بالأساس، و العراقية البيضاء المعارضة في البرلمان ، تشهد انشقاقات في الأشهر الأخيرة حول مسألة الحكم الذاتي للكرد . و بخصوص قضايا مثل الفيدرالية لم يكن هناك انقسام طائفي منذ ان انقسمت الاحزاب السنية و الشيعية على نفسها . بالاضافة الى ذلك، فإن رئيس البرلمان اسامة النجيفي رفض التخلي عن منصبه عندما دعا رئيس الكتلة العراقية اياد علاوي الى مقاطعة البرلمان، و يوم الخميس الماضي خالف سبعة اعضاء من العراقية تعليمات رئيس كتلتهم و عادوا الى البرلمان برسالة قوية هي ان ” الحوار هو الحل الوحيد “. الخلافات الداخلية في الاحزاب السنية هي دليل آخر على عدم صحة كون الصراع طائفيا ، فالنجيفي كان مؤخرا على اتصال وثيق بالمالكي للتهيئة للمؤتمر الوطني الذي يهدف الى تسوية العقدة السياسية . ربما تناسى البعض بان المالكي و علاوي ينتميان الى طائفة واحدة الا ان احدهما علماني و الآخر اسلامي، و ان التصادم بينهما لا علاقة له بالطائفية اطلاقا .

    Read more:

  39. Reidar,
    I guess they want more money!
    Those who call for participation in a crippled government don’t care about its policies.

  40. Santana said


    Everything that Iraqiya is asking for is not new and was agreed to and signed off on by SOL during government formation talks….but the backstabbing dictator Maliki renegged on everything afterwards – Maliki wanted to grab power and stall everything till the U.S is out and now that they are gone and Washington has very little leverage in Iraq his true colors and intentions are showing…..Whatever Iraqiya got was because Maliki had to at the time and would never agree to it now….Maliki is not happy with any Sunni involvement in the government…if things keep going his way he will find some devious way to get rid of all the others (Nujaifi, Eissawi, Mutlak….etc…and the constitution means nothing to him- Maliki reports to the Iranian Ambassador and these are the instructions he is getting from Tehran…. the Iranians are gonna make sure that they not only control all Iraq but embarass the Obama administration and break the sanctions thru Iraq. The message Iran is sending to the U.S is ” You lost 4,500 soldiers, 30,000 injured/maimed and a trillion dollars spent, your economy suffered as a result and now we take the country !! hahahahaha ….Screw you Uncle Sam you idiot!!”

  41. Mohammed said


    Again you are missing my point. You say that al-Maliki is reporting to the iranian ambassidor. My question to you is do you really think that al-Maliki WANTS to be in a position that he has to report to the Iranian ambassidor? That is so humiliating.

    What does Iran have on al-Maliki that he needs them so badly? My view is that people carry out politics based on mutual interest. Iraqiya needs to figure out how to change the dynamics in Iraqi politics such that the Islamist shiite block finds more value in working with Iraqiya than Iran.

    You guys are smart people. I refuse to believe that there is no such scenario. The shiites have to be weaned off Iran slowly…


  42. Santana said

    Thanks Mohamed-

    You said “we need to figure out how to change the dynamics” …..fine…I totally agree…but working towards a shared government with SOL is definitly not working (he has closed every possible door)….so if you have ANY other suggestions then PLEASE pass them on …and I am very serious.

  43. M,
    I think I understand where we differ. It seems you believe that the results of the March 2010 elections were highly representative. While I believe the elections were reasonably fair, they were not representative. Iran has the influence, political will and most importantly the organization to influence the elections. Organizing the Sadrist over-representation and you may remember WikiLeaks information about $200 Million Dollars spent by Iran on the elections. I suggest that Maliki knows all that and sees Iran as the only party capable of bringing down favorable election results. That’s what Maliki wants and needs from Iran.
    I believe most Iraqi Shiites refuse Iran already and don’t need to be weaned off quickly or slowly but what can they do against Iranian run elections?

  44. observer said

    we are going around in a circular debate. You keep on insisting that there is no other way out for Iraq but for SOL and Iraqia to work together and I am telling you that it is not possible nor is it the solution nor is SOL genuine in its intensions (let alone some members of Iraqia) regarding competitors. No solution that would work based on exclusion of Kurds. If SOL was genuine in its intensions, they would not have used the “law” to screw around with the constitution to be defined as the winner. Nor would they have reneged on their promises.

    Anyway, I truly have little time to try to make you understand the dynamics and I will leave it at the current stage to the fast developments taking place as we speak. I am not at liberty to say much at this point…. Keep tuned to the news and try to be discriminate in figuring out which are true news and which are trial balloons. Have fun with that :).

  45. observer said

    On by passing embargo. I am sorry that I even mentioned the issue here. But suffice it to say, those who know…. know. You have to set stuff up well in advance to make things work smoothly…..;)

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