Iraq and Gulf Analysis

IHEC Gets Extended Tenure; Maliki Gets One More Problem

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 19 April 2012 18:46

Amid bombs and dust storms in Baghdad, the Iraqi parliament today exhibited some of the key features that help explain the political paralysis of the country.

On the one hand, there were signs that critics of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki are in the ascendancy within the assembly. It was ISCI, Iraqiyya and “some Kurds” who reportedly left the chamber in protest against a proposal to have a no-confidence vote on the Baghdad mayor (an ISCI member) by electronic voting (instead of a show of hands). That radical change of procedure had apparently been supported by the Sadrists and possibly by Maliki’s State of Law who had played a key role in the campaign against the mayor – the intention behind the “invisible vote” presumably to allow Shiite deputies to break sectarian unity to settle some internal differences. The vote was however postponed. Also, an important measure supported by Iraqiyya, ISCI and the Kurds was adopted: The tenure of the current board of the Iraqi electoral commission (IHEC) was extended with three months or until the formation of a new one, “whichever happens first”.

It is no big secret that Maliki has opposed the IHEC extension and is pressing for a new board to be confirmed by parliament before any new elections take place. IHEC is very much a relic from the period in Iraqi politics that antedated his own rise to real power – i.e. 2005–2007 when Shiite parties like SCIRI/ISCI, Fadila and the Sadrists dominated Iraqi politics along with the Kurds and the Sunni Islamist Iraqi Islamic Party. Those parties still remain influential in the current IHEC, and the recent allegations of politicized arrests of IHEC members are but the latest in a string of apparent attempts by Maliki to get rid of or undermine the credibility of the commission.

Last summer, Maliki even made an attempt at sacking IHEC via parliament, which failed. Back then, he managed only to obtain the support of a handful of deputies outside his own State of Law alliance. Today made for a similar situation, with the Kurds, Iraqiyya and ISCI prevailing.

Muqtada al-Sadr recently presented a rather fierce criticism of Maliki with respect to his alleged “dictatorial” handling of the IHEC member arrests. For his part, Iraqiyya leader Ayyad Allawi is continuing to push alternatives to Maliki – although most of them remain unconstitutional, including the idea that the Shiites can just agree on a replacement PM without sacking the entire cabinet.  But here is the perhaps most important snag: Whereas Kurds, Iraqiyya and ISCI are talking tough about unseating Maliki these days, it really doesn’t matter that much whether they win battles in an Iraqi parliament that is less than two-thirds full (as it was today with 197 deputies according to the official report). Withdrawing confidence in the prime minister requires an absolute majority of 163 deputies and the anti-Maliki forces have some considerable way to go before they reach that level.

Maliki is travelling to Iran to Sunday for consultations, ostensibly to do with Syria and “border issues”. He may be under pressure at home, but has just been handed yet another major event that will likely keep distracting his enemies: The meeting of the P5+1 with Iran in Baghdad now scheduled for 23 May.

19 Responses to “IHEC Gets Extended Tenure; Maliki Gets One More Problem”

  1. Salah said


    Despite all the problems with different group in Iraq we her that the Iraqi parliament pass so laws and approve this and that.

    This will raises many question where are those differences between those groups and how their representative approve those laws and regulation if they in deep differences with Maliki as they every day hear from the Iraqi media by their members and representatives in Iraqi parliament?

    As for the extension in news saying was approved during parliamentary sessions with 179 members from over 300 in total so what the number need to pass like these matters?

    The news did not say how many members from 179 approved, and number object this bill?

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, that is not quite what the report says, it says with 197 members (not 179) present, exactly as I described above. Only 197 deputies (out of 325) were present and the majority voted in favour of extending the mandate. Rarely do parliament reports break down the vote in Yes and Nos.

  3. Salah said

    RV sorry for miss typing the number, but still the question even though what we read and hear from different groups of breakdown in their support and differences how those votes stackup when they voting for different bills.
    Iraqia, Kurds, Sadries all making noise that you think they really making troubles to Maliki to get things pass as law!

  4. Reidar, where are the remaining 128 deputies?!
    Moreover if their parties needed them to pass an important bill, you imply the party leaders don’t have the ability to bring them in for that day, correct? How is that possible?

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Seerwan, here is an earlier post on that subject:

    Basically, there is a lot of absenteeism going on. And don’t ask about the leaders, they are in some cases among the worst offenders! By way of example, Iraqiyya leader Allawi is in Jordan again today. The head of the Turkmen bloc within Iraqiyya is also rarely in parliament.

  6. Santana said


    Yes- you are right the Iraqiya leader is in Jordan again…but maybe the assassination plans and attempts by Maliki and Qassem Sulaimani’s thugs are a factor in this?? otherwise he may be more motivated to stay in Iraq. maliki removed any protection from around the homes of many Iraqiya parliament members and leaders…easier to kill em that way.

    Baghdad had lots of bombings today….amazing what Hashemi’s guards are able to do AND while in prison !!…wow… imagine what they can do if they were on the streets !! LOL…

  7. JWing said

    I think you’re overestimating the power and heft of the anti-Maliki forces. The Supreme Council just lost half their seats when the Badr Brigade officially left and is pro-Maliki. The Sadrists have been criticizing Maliki but it’s mostly all talk. They can vote for the Election Commission, becuase everyone doesn’t want Maliki controlling it, because he might use it in his favor in the next election. Other than that though the Sadrists have been one of Maliki’s strongest supporters and continuously backs down in the face of taking any serious actions against him. Half of Iraqiya were willing to work with Maliki during the boycott of the cabinet, and I haven’t seen anything to note that they are anymore united today than now. The Kurds also are upping their rhetorical attacks, but again, they are pushing for Kurdish issues like oil exports, not unseating Maliki. That’s still a disunited and weak opposition despite the vote on the Election Commission.

  8. Reidar Visser said

    JWing, the point in the article is exactly that the opposition of Maliki is strong enough to win simple majority votes but not strong enough to win absolute majority votes (needed to replace Maliki). Dependency on the Sadrists and the problem of Iraqiyya defections are also the points that I keep reverting to in discussing a no-confidence vote. Note however that Ammar is trying to exercise authority over the Badr half of the Shahid al-Mihrab current with some success so it is not necessarily a 50/50 split in number of deputies.

  9. Salah said

    the leaders, they are in some cases among the worst offenders?

    Reidar you raised irrelevant point here, In today communication world do the leaders need to be in parliamentary sessions when there are bills need to pass or read inside the parliament?

    What about the members of the party? do they have no rules or directions for their leaders?

    I don’t agree with your point here, party leaders shouldn’t be in all the time, however, I do agree they most the times they are out of Iraq or here or there not because they are wasting their time visiting overseas the fact is they are a citizens of other hosted countries, their families there which very common as this a matter of fact those chosen to lead Iraq most if not all are well settled outside Iraq for so long some left Iraq at age 8yers like Chalabi. Do you think he will enjoy living in toady Baghdad for more than many days?

    Today we have one of Iraqi parliament member appointed to US while he is holding his membership in Iraq? So he is not party leader, but his party leader make that happen, isn’t?
    Let read:
    النجيفي: كيف صدر مرسوم جمهوري بتعيين جابر حبيب جابر سفيرا للعراق في واشنطن وهو عضو في البرلمان؟

  10. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, Jaber was appointed as Iraqi ambassador in Washington a long time ago. State of Law have just been slow in appointing a replacement for him in parliament.

  11. Salah said

    When I said today is when the story comes under the light & breaks, but yes the appointment was old and Jaber hold two position in same time. whatever been the cause of not replace should anyone in parliament hold his position while he given another post. I am right here?

    So what about his vote right during his period holding his parliamentary right to vote for bills, Is his vote counted or no? obviously it should be counted!

  12. Reidar Visser said

    Jaber has not voted in absentia if that is what you mean. They were late in replacing him, that’s all that is clear so far. If he has received payment for two jobs at once then there is a problem since the constitution is quite firm when it comes to the requirement that MPs hold no other job.

    More interesting is the question about who will replace him.

  13. Salah said

    According to the law Jaber should submitted his resignation before he took on his new post, whatever his party to prepare for his replacement or not that different matter.
    As a member, he is responsible to take the action personally.

    I cannot confirm he is paid for both jobs (although highly he done) but during the time holding two post in same time, did he anticipated in voting that my point and concerns about voting system inside the parliament and number of voters that count to pass bills.

  14. faisalkadri said

    I wonder if the inaugural meeting of the US-Iraq Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) on Energy this Monday has anything to do with Iran? Considering Maliki’s “consultations” in Tehran comes at the same time and the increasing talk about US-Iran encounter in Baghdad.

  15. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, Jabir has not voted in absentia and his vote has not been counted, period.

  16. Santana said


    The inaugural meeting of the U.S -Iraq Joint coordinating committee on Energy is a fancy long name this year that should be titled “How can the U.S Government convince the Iraqi government to hug and kiss Exxon and award them new contracts” that’s it….all the other issues at this meeting pale in comparison….the USG always tell me that they “don’t get involved in Iraq’s internal affairs” but when it comes to Oil contracts and re-positioning a major U.S Oil firm then they WILL get involved…..well- my opinion is ‘Fine ! Let Exxon have whatever they want since the U.S did sacrifice quite a bit in money and lives over the past 9 years but why stop at that ?? the USG should NOT pick and choose what they wanna get involved with and what they don’t wanna get involved with !
    I don’t see ANY conferences being set-up in DC to resolve Iraq’s political crises nor a conference to address Maliki’s formation of a pure dictatorship.

  17. faisalkadri said

    Thanks for the information.
    I was only speculating that the US may use the oil channel to sense the position of GOI regarding Iranian oil production and sanctions considering the involvement of the State Department in the JCC. I wonder if the tactical Esso business support outweighs the strategic Iran sanction effectiveness so much, it won’t be the first time the USG chose tactics over strategy.

  18. Salah said

    Just reminder US looking for its long strategic interests in the region, one of those the energy (Oil) this was clear running for the war with Iraq. Despite what they telling the world why they went to war day after day all those fails claims uncovered.

    As for Iraq’s political crises, is more internal affairs between Iraqis and gung of thieve fighting for control, power and money. Honestly Malki cannot and also other stay in power without support and foolish Iraqis who went with blue fingers, most important is the wide spreading corruptions, crimes and all sorts of bad things now in all around Iraq not those in the top of the government.


    With all due respect, US interest to the strategic Iran sanction effectiveness not really a matter. Let go back with Iraq sections do remembers those days and what US done to Iraq and his oil?

    Did remembers who those oil smugglers caught in the middle in the gulf and Iraqi oil were looted by Kuwaitis or Emirates?
    Let say US having problem with Mullah in Teheran but don’t forgot they giving hands in Afghanistan and Iraq that big bonce for them but they trying to gain more.

    Iranian have their own strategic view just as old days when British withdraw from those Emirates when Shah Iran jumped and invaded those Island in the Arabian Gulf.

    This for you RV

  19. faisalkadri said

    IF the P5+1/Iran meeting takes place in Baghdad, IRAQ’s fate will be on the dinner table.
    I wonder if the meeting will be cancelled..

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