Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Parts of the Arbil Agreement Are Published: So What?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 30 April 2012 13:41

As if any reminders were needed, the leak of some outstanding issues related to the Arbil agreement over the weekend only served to underline the essentially utopian and completely unimplementable character of that whole concord. The published list is not an “agreement” at all; rather it is a schedule of legislative priorities that includes several items seen as particularly difficult, including the law on the supreme court which constitutionally requires a two-thirds majority. Also, it should of course be emphasized that the released points are not the full Arbil agreement, which also includes a more limited trilateral document which is the only thing signed by PM Maliki, Allawi of Iraqiyya and the KRG’s Barzani (and which among other things deals with the intention of establishing a strategic policy council).

Only emphasizing the amateurishness of the whole thing, some points released from the Arbil agreement amount to de facto rewriting the Iraqi constitution. This includes the ridiculous “consensus” file, which stipulates 100% consensus for certain “fateful” issues including constitutional reform. Never mind that constitutional procedures with lower thresholds are already in place. Another dubious item that comes to light is the concept of “constitutional balance” (tawazun dusturi) – code for ethno-sectarian quotas and supposedly to be implemented for such positions as deputy ministers, ambassadors and governmental commissions. In fact, the Iraqi constitution merely stipulates such quotas for the armed forces/security forces and the constitutional review committee. The only other constitutional balance requirement is in article 105 and relates to the formation of a committee that will make sure governorates and regions (not ethnicities) are given “fair” participation in government.  Again, this depends on future legislation and cannot be implemented by fiat of the political leaders. All in all, the Arbil agreement is simply too big and ambitious – a classic case of political bulimia and nothing more.

Thus, despite these supposedly fateful revelations, the only truly interesting question in Iraqi parliamentary politics these days remains whether the Sadrists are prepared to sack Maliki or not. Everything else – including lofty agreements to implement every iota of Arbil – will play into Maliki’s hands by letting him procrastinate the many proposed pieces of legislation ad infinitum. Meanwhile he will continue along the lines of his preferred strategy: Nominal power-sharing and de facto minority government, reflected in an accumulation of acting ministers lacking parliamentary approval. As long as his enemies appear unable to unite in sacking him, why would Maliki do anything else?

A word on the international approach to the ongoing Iraqi power struggle is also in order. Those who want to get rid of Maliki – especially in Iraqiyya but also in some American circles – tend to portray him as an Iranian stooge. They should keep in mind that it is Muqtada al-Sadr that commands the swing vote in this matter. Whatever Sadr decides is probably what Iran sees as being in its best interest. Consequently, if the Sadrists should after all line up with the others to vote out Maliki, this will probably reflect an Iranian desire to see him go, perhaps in order to have him replaced with a “weaker” Shiite premier. This is why it is so hard to understand those arguing for the sacking of Maliki from an anti-Iranian perspective.

As for the US, two contradictive tendencies are seemingly at work. Some months ago, the Obama administration was accused of promoting a “split Iraqiyya” policy aimed at deeper integration of some Iraqiyya ministers and other government officials while shutting out those parts of Iraqiyya that don’t cooperate with Maliki. The merits of those accusations are disputed. But in any case, it deserves mention that if there is in fact such a policy by Washington, it gets constantly contradicted by the US government’s own insistence on keeping the Arbil agreement as the key to better integration of the government. This is so because as long as Arbil remains on the agenda (instead of, for example, a more limited but implementable deal on security ministries), key “centrist” people in Iraqiyya like Usama al-Nujayfi – the parliament speaker – will continue to take the positions of Allawi and the Kurds and the wide gap to Maliki will remain, without any meaningful integration of secularists and Sunnis in the current government.

There are reports that Barzani, the KRG president, is travelling to the United Arab Emirates today for a high-level meeting, supposedly to heap even more pressure on Maliki. The truth is that Barzani can travel as much as he wants but it doesn’t matter much unless he makes Muqtada al-Sadr actually withdraw confidence in Maliki.

58 Responses to “Parts of the Arbil Agreement Are Published: So What?”

  1. observer said

    “This is why it is so hard to understand those arguing for the sacking of Maliki from an anti-Iranian perspective.”

    really? is that how you see all the arguments. RV, the reason why we want Maliki out is not because he is an Iranian (or American) stooge. The reason is that he wants to be the only leader and in hold of all the reigns of power. If that is not amply clear to you by now (and I do consider you one of the most knowledgable think tankers on Iraq) then I do not blame the people in DC for not understanding either.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, my point is that it is better to try to change a premier that is working for himself than to install a new one at the behest of Iran!

  3. Mohammed said

    HI Reidar:

    I believe that many Maliki opponents will say that Maliki represents a greater danger to Iraq’s future prosperity than Iran does. So for now, getting rid of Maliki is the major priority, and Iran can be dealt with by the Americans later.

    Obviously, Barzani never wants to see a strong central government in Baghdad. So he would be quite happy with a weak leader in Baghdad who must keep all the Iraqi sides happy and placate Iran, Turkey, and the USA.


  4. Reidar Visser said

    Re “Iran can be dealt with by the Americans later”. I thought it was Observer who had a conspiracy theory abt a US-Iranian plot to divide Iraq. Well, here it is – Abd al-Mahdi, Jaafari, Suhayl or Bayan Jabr as Maliki replacement? Pick your choice! Except it seems Iran is more interested than the US in actually pushing this through…

  5. Santana said

    Abdulmahdi would be perfect……but Iran doesn’t like him.

  6. Mohammed said

    Hi Reidar:

    Looks like Observer beat me to the punch.

    Can you clarify what you meant by your response to Observer? How do you propose that Maliki can be removed if in fact from Iraqiya’s perspective, Sadr and ISCI/Badr all do Iran’s bidding? So there is no democratic way to remove him (given national alliance has a near majority) unless you wait for the next elections, and for Iraqiya/Kurds that may be too late.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, sorry if I was unclear. My point is simply that if Maliki is to be removed democratically, the support of 40 Sadrists will be needed. That is unlikely to transpire unless Iran thinks it is a good idea. And since implementing Arbil is also unrealistic I advocate doable goals like settling the security ministries and maybe establishing cabinet bylaws (as mandated in the constitution).

  8. faisalkadri said

    Why do you think that “settling the security ministries and maybe establishing cabinet bylaws” is doable? Don’t you think that if they were then they would have been done by now?

  9. Mohammed said

    Hi Reidar:

    I just wanted clarification. I do agree with your perspective, but to tell you the truth, the arrest of the IHEC commission a couple of weeks ago was quite worrisome to me. Maliki claims he had no knowledge of it, but given Hanan Fatlawi works for him, I find that hard to believe.

    Thus even before security ministries, we need to guard iraq’s judicial and electoral independence. I do happen to believe that IHEC staff as of now are not at all unbiased (as they should be given their posts of supervising elections) since Faraj Haydari made some inappropriate political statements against SOL/Maliki afterwards. But summary arrests is not the way to go. I am glad that Maliki suffered a defeat in the parliament related to IHEC afterwards thus showing that the democratic process can work if everybody does their damn job. While Maliki has been autocratic in certain ways, I believe the democratic process has NOT been exhausted, and before we go searching for solutions from Turkey, UAE, GCC, and Iran, there is more work that can be done in the parliament to hold Maliki’s feet to the fire (and the sadrist may go along with Iraqiya in such matters since Iran hasn’t interfered as much when it comes to legislation except voting for the PM)…


  10. Reidar Visser said

    Faisal and Mohammed, to answer both of you at once, I think the security file is important as part of a piecemeal approach. The problem with the Arbil agreement, as I have tried to argue above, is it is just overkill in every possible way. I believe that only when the opposition to Maliki liberates itself from the unrealistic Arbil agenda can it play a constructive role.

  11. observer said

    you obviously do not believe what I have been saying about what the future of the strategic council (it is dead jim!). What the ANTI MALIKI/DA3WA (i.e the majority in parliament) want is that Maliki stops trying to take the reigns of power for himself and actually works in the “spirit” of the Arbil Agreement (i.e. share with his partners the decision making process and making sure that the institutes that serve a democratic federal Iraq are independent). If the actions of Maliki over the past 7 years have not convinced you that he intends to be Qaid Dharora of the teens, then I do not know what will convince you.

  12. Gentlemen, though it will not come off this way, I genuinely do not mean to offend or insult when I say I am really, really tired of Iraqiya members or supporters moaning and complaining about Maliki monopolizing power. Yes, he controls all the security ministries/apparatuses.
    But is that what the Iraqi Govt is composed of? A military and a police force? Observer says they want Maliki to “act the “spirit” of the Arbil Agreement meaning share with partners the decision making process”.

    Iraqiya Ministers are in charge of the following Ministries: 1- Finance, 2- Agriculture, 3- Communications, 4- Education, 5- Industry & Minerals, 6- Science & Technology. They also HAD the Electricity portfolio until their Minister infamously bungled it colossally.

    Meanwhile, the Kurds who are *allegedly* anti-Maliki (I say allegedly as I remain unconvinced that Barzani genuinely wants to depose him, and is probably delighted Maliki is such an authoritarian so he can both distract his domestic constituents i.e. Kurds from the continuing shortcomings of the KRG Govt and corruption in the KRG, while also using Maliki as an excuse for further US support) are in charge of the following Ministries: 1- Foreign, 2- Displacement and Migration, 3- Municipalities and Public Works, 4- Trade, 5- Women’s Affairs Minister.

    Why is Maliki needed for your Ministers, or at least non-Maliki Ministers, to take action and enact policies in ALL those ministries?

    Considering the immense corruption permeating Iraq, surely Iraqiya can do something while in charge of the Finance Ministry. Iraq seriously needs to become self-sufficient agriculturally for food security. I forgot the figure, is it less than 1% or 5% of Iraqis who use the internet? Surely this falls within the purview of the Communications Ministry? Iraq desperately needs thousands of schools built; surely Iraqiya can act on this front? They can also develop Iraq’s non-oil primary sector while heading Industry and Minerals. Science and Technology in Iraq desperately needs to be re-developed.

    As for the Kurds, Zebari is doing a good job. With millions of internal and external Iraqi refugees, action can be taken at the Displacement and Migration Ministry. With Iraq’s national infrastructure chronically undeveloped, a lot can be done at Municipalities and Public Works. While trade with neighboring countries and the USA is a heavily political issue, I see no reason for trade not to develop with Europe. With over a million widows, I’m sure much can be done to improve the lot of Women.

    So I’m sorry if its coming off rude, but the relentless whining and lamenting about Maliki “centralizing power” seems to be extremely melodramatic and quite the damp squib.
    There are many Ministries the *supposedly* anti-Maliki group (again, I’m unconvinced of Barzani’s seriousness) are in control of through which they can do many positive things for Iraq. Instead, all we’re hearing about is Maliki!

    Even if Maliki lasts this term, with the tide rising against him, it seems quite certain that he won’t be allowed a third term. Something never discussed on the forum are the views within SOL/Dawa itself about Maliki. What is the general perspective of the party of the conduct/actions/policies/direction their leader is taking them and the nation?

    Thank you.
    Again, I sincerely do not mean to be rude, but it really appears to be exaggerated.

  13. placebo12 said

    RV, I understand that this comment may not be entirely relevant to the post, but I hope you see it’s significance for the blog in general.

    I follow the comments posted here with a lot of enthusiasm, although that has waned recently with what I perceive to be a nuanced toning down of criticism towards the current Iraqi government on RV’s side. Isolated from all current events this is not necessarily a bad thing, however in the context of the last few months I simply cannot understand how security ministries or (the lack of) the Arbil agreement can be considered the topic of the day. The danger here is to provide a certain legitimacy to a system and a government that has failed Iraq’s people for too long now.

    I understand that Reidar may not see himself and his fellow think tankers as having any responsibility other than discussing topics relevant to their interests or research. However, I am sure many will agree with me when I say that this is one of the few spaces where Iraqis and non-Iraqis alike can genuinely debate the political situation there. Perhaps this demonstrates something that is often overlooked – the Iraqi people (with the exception of a vote over 2 years ago) have no say or influence over the crimes that occur on a daily basis in their country. In turn, it is on blogs like these where voices can be heard, I hope posters and commentators alike are aware of that.

    Observer, much respect to you and others for keeping a veneer of opposition alive on here. It is too easy to get chummy with geopolitics whilst forgetting what is actually occurring on te ground. I salute you for sticking it out there and keeping it real. It was a pleasure meeting you a few weeks back (although I doubt you would remember who I was) and wish you all the success with your current and future projects.

  14. observer said

    oh by the way, I do no have a conspiracy theory belief. I have evidence that does not fit the logic of the public positions of the US vis-a-vis Iranian influence. Once you can explain to me the logic of why the US supports an obvios ally of Iran and goes to the extent of fooling Iraqia into believing that they (US) will stand by the agreement to share power and fix the constitution and then just shrugging its shoulders when nothing happens… then I can change my thinking. But the evidence is too strong to just ignore and pretend that everything will be ok only if we go and kiss and make up with Maliki and screw the kurds. On the latter – if you think that Allawi will ever screw Barzani then you do not know Allawi. (note I said Allawi not Iraqia).
    peace and out for now

  15. observer said

    If I were a whiner, I would have left this place a looong time ago and joined you and the rest of the Iraqi diaspora living the “good life” 😉

    You may think that our concern with Maliki’s tendencies are exaggerated, but those of us who lived in Iraq in the 60’s and 70’s recall the gradual and piecemeal approach that the Baath used to take over the country. It is said that history repeats itself, once as a comedy then as a tragedy (or is it the reverse?)… Well for us old guys, history is repeating itself.

    On the ministers? Are you aware of the people being placed in key positions within ministeries (even a little place like the ministry of environment does not escape the systematic approach)? Are you aware that 16 of 18 division leaders in the Iraqi army are Da3wa people (not to say anything about the rank and file)?. You do know of course that the head of the army is Kurdish, but what you probably are unaware of is how little power he actually has.

    As for your take on the responsibility of ministers – let me tell you that I do not share your philosophy. I want government out of agriculture, out of communications, out of even electric service (by the way, electricity is not run by the minister but is under sheristani ;). Time Iraq joins the globalization process and activates its free market and entrepreneurs.

    On corruption – I exclude nobody from iraqia ministers on charges of corruption EXCEPT Muhammad Allawi whom I know personally and I know that he is cleaner than a whistle). The people of Iraqia are opportunistic (probably even more than the rest), otherwise they would have stuck to their guns and let the crisis government continue till now. Enough said on that.

    At any rate, you make light of our concerns and indicate that we should wait for the next elections and prevent Maliki and Da3wa from having a third term. Are you not concerned that Da3awa would shut down the election process of take over completely? . I say if we wait for two more years, it will be too late if we let him have a free ride till 2014. You do know that is when the F16s are supposed to be delivered – right? You think the Kurds are going to wait to be slaughtered again- think again my friend. Think again.

    Placebo12. I think I recall who you are as very very few know who I am on this blog. Even Allawi does not know who Observer is !! Thanks for your comment and rest assured we will not let anybody take away the hard earned gains paid for with blood and tears (not to mention treasure) both from iraqis (Kurds, Arabs, etc.) and coalition forces….

  16. On a bit of a side note, Santana and Observer, a query gentlemen; a number of us on twitter have been griping recently about the shallow reporting on Iraq by many journalists who keep seeing Iraq’s problems through a sectarian lens, diagnosing problems simply on Sunni-Shia issues instead of doing real journalism and analyzing problems in detail, realizing that many issues have nothing to do with sectarianism.

    One example is reporters frequently mentioning that Maliki targeted Tariq Al-Hashimi simply because he was a Sunni, when most Iraq experts agree that in reality, Maliki went after Hashimi because he called him a Dictator.

    Are you gentlemen in agreement that Maliki removed Hashemi because he called him a Dictator, or do you think its simply because “he’s a Sunni, Maliki is a Shia” ?


  17. observer said

    My 2 cents worth:
    Adel Abdel Mahdi resigned leaving Hashimi and Khuzai as the VP. Given Talabani’s health, it would be quite strategic on Maliki’s part to have only one VP that can take the seat of Talabani if the latter esigns/passes away/or become incapacitated.
    By the way, Maliki went after Mutleg for calling him a dictator but the charges against Hashimi are very serious. We know that a lot of the “confessions” were extracted by torture, but I am not going to sit here to defend Hashimi or his guards. I will state, however, that Hashimi can not be stupid enough to be engaged in the manner that he is accused of. Furhter, i have a deeper concern for the independence of the law and frankly, i would rather see guilty people walk away than allow for a crooked judiciary to continue.

  18. Reidar Visser said

    Placebo, just to set the record straight, here are some recent articles that are critical of Maliki in various ways:

    I don’t want to be seen as soft on Maliki. There are well-known and indisputable signs of creeping authoritarianim in his government. But I think it is equally important to be critical of his opponents, whose antics – supposedly aimed at getting rid of him – seem likely to set Iraq on course towards ever greater disintegration and sectarianism. I mean, Iraqiyya’s regional friends in Doha and Abu Dhabi are now hosting the Kurdish leader Masud Barzani who has never made a secret of his desire to see Iraq partitioned, preferably into three ethno-sectarian states!

    Seerwan, I agree with many of your points. In fact, the electricity minister is also Iraqiyya and with the defence minister set aside for Iraqiya the number could be even higher.

  19. placebo12 said

    Reidar, my criticism is not for your being “soft on Maliki”. I am more concerned about the focus of the blog (although as I mentioned earlier, I cannot claim it to be your responsibility to analyse anything different). As Observer rightly pointed out, you can spend all-day discussing the (apparent) balance of power in Iraqi politics without realising the tell-tale signs of power accumulation in the hands of one group.

    Regardless of whether you agree with that statement or not, it is my understanding that the party and individuals who control a government are the ones to whom criticism for the government’s failings (and in Iraq it is much worse than that) should be directed towards. The litmus test in this case of who is really in control is to question whether critics of non-daawa/SOL/Maliki affiliated parties are treated in the same way as those who come out against Maliki and co, be they civilian or politician. It doesn’t take an idiot to answer that one based on the harassments, murders and arrests in Iraq the last few years and the contexts in which they occurred. Criticisms should be meted out to all who deserve it, but some are significantly more at fault than others and I simply do not see that distinction being made here.

  20. Mohammed said


    You said: “Are you aware that 16 of 18 division leaders in the Iraqi army are Da3wa people (not to say anything about the rank and file)?.”
    However, it is specifically written in the Iraqi constitution under Article 58c:

    Article 58:
    The Council of Representatives specializes in the following:
    Fifth: To approve the appointment of the following:
    A. The President and members of the Federal Court of Cassation, Chief Public Prosecutor and the President of Judicial Oversight Commission based on a proposal from the Higher Juridical Council, by an absolute majority.
    B. Ambassadors and those with special grades based on a proposal from the Cabinet.
    C. The Iraqi Army Chief of Staff, his assistants and those of the rank of division commanders and above and the director of the intelligence service based on a proposal from the Cabinet.

    Explain to me how these 16 division commanders were appointed without the approval of parliament? This would be a DIRECT violation of the constitution equivalent to Maliki summarily appointing a cabinet minister of his choosing without submitting his nomination to parliament. Why stop there? If Maliki can appoint division commanders on his own, he should not waste a minute and simply pick every member of a new IHEC staff as well. What is forcing him to go to parliament for IHEC but not division commanders?

    This is what I don’t understand about Iraqiya and Arbil agreement and this wonderful phrase of “power-sharing.” The constitution effectively makes Maliki commander in chief of the armed forces, and there is no constitutional basis why Maliki should share that responsibility with Allawi or Barzani. But, the constitution does require Maliki get permission from the parliament for every major military appointment. Who is not doing their job and enforcing this stipulation?

    Why isn’t Nujaifi going in front of the supreme court and launching a lawsuit against these violations that bypass parliamentary powers to oversee military appointments? Even if the court is in Maliki’s pocket, it would be good to at least be vocal and at least utilize constitutional mechanisms to point out this gross infraction. Show the court to be a kanagaroo court when they defend Maliki’s actions.

    If these 16 division commanders are all Da3wa, can you just publish their names on a website or newspaper? Since they are Da3wa, I presume they are all Shia too? (also a violation of the constitution that stipulates there should be relative balance in the military)

    If Maliki is not willing to abide by something so crystal clear in the constitution, why would he bother to abide by anything in the fabled Arbil agreement that he supposedly agreed to? Why are you even bothering with Arbil? I just don’t understand Iraqiya’s logic. If you have developed some magical powder dust that you can sprinkle on Maliki and voila!— he suddenly is willing to abide by Arbil, why not use that same magic dust on getting him to follow the constitution instead?

    Reidar, what is your opinion about this alleged gross constitutional violation. How is Maliki able to get away with it?

  21. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, the violation is well known though I cannot vouch for the contention that so many of them are Daawa – seems exaggerated since some of these people can also be labelled ex-Baathists.

    As you say, that does not really matter. The point is that specified constitutional procedure is not being followed. But again, the opposition to Maliki has also failed to lodge a properly articulated complaint with the supreme court. Same thing as the failure to hold federalism referendums, in which the govt also has violated crystal clear constitutional and legal procedure.

    The critics of Maliki would be doing a better job if they approached these constitutional infractions by reporting them to the supreme court instead of creating additional constitutional infractions of their own through ill-conceived attempts at rectifying the problems! They will say the court is biased, but the court would at least be forced to speak its mind and there are hopefully limits to how many times it can afford to stultify itself publicly.

  22. observer said

    I do not intend to spend hours debating with you and have a repeat of the rant you threw last time I called you to the carpet. I will make an exception and respond this time, but do not count on me responding to you int eh future as I dislike the immature way you ranted last time.

    You obviously do not believe the number I quoted – please go do your own research and come back to me. Why should i publish names for you which you are then going to dispute (in all innocence of course)? and what do names mean anyway? can you tell affiliation of a person (say Sadri or Da3wa) from a name? Dude you have to know who nominated and who appointed them. For that you need internal intelligence. Which of course you do not have access to since you live in the good old US of A. But maybe one of the erstwhile thinktankers here has access to CIA and DOS records 😉 You all have no idea what Da3wa is doing on the ground and the details they are going to in appointing incompetent (yet loyal) people in key positions in government.

    On approval of the parliament??? Have you heard of appointment by Wakala? Go check it out. Tell me which deputy minister is permanently appointed? They are all by Wakala. You make me laugh sometimes with your seemingly innocent questions which show your disconnect from the reality fo the ground here in good old Meso of Potamia. Or worst, your internal bias towards Maliki and Islamic parties ;). (yes – I am biased towards Iraqia, but I have the courage to show it, and I do not pretend to be neutral, as you would like me to believe you are).

    On – IHEC it was appointed WAY before and Maliki can do nothing about them. They are not by Wakala – see? (light bulb should be coming on about now). Nujaifi and parliament are powerless to address these by Wakala appointments. Moreover, why bother going to a supreme court controlled by your erstwhile Maliki? Really – you do not think they are going to find an explanation as to why Maliki is correct. What Utopia do you live in Muhammad? Come back here and smell the coffee. I have no doubt in my mind that once you come back (assuming you would) that you will be one of the first standing in front of Maliki. Please stop being Naive like the rest of the hink tankers out there and try to see it from the prospective of us who are on the ground.

    On Arbil – I am not going to address that any longer. See previous threads and this thread. Bottom line – Iraq is a mosaic and it is a partnership. You like that fine, ignore it at your own peril. Allawi is never going to trust Maliki and he is not going to screw Barzani. Good luck advocating otherwise. Maybe Iraqia can kick Allawi out and then do what you guys want them to do 😉
    Peace and truly out.

  23. observer said

    HAHAHA – really. You think the supreme court justices have a limit to how much ass kissing they will do to satisfy Maliki? Well, you need to come live in Iraq for a couple of years and live with these characters to know that there is no limit to what they will do. These same people made it possible for Saddam and the Baath party to control this country for 35 year. Gimme a break man.

  24. Reidar Visser said

    But what is the problem with just filing a complaint, to keep the court busy writing potentially eyebrow-raising jurisprudence? Again, I think this would be the most proper response instead of ad hoc attempts at rewriting the constitution behind closed doors.

  25. observer said

    Dear RV,
    We discussed this “path” several times within the “circle of advisors”, and to be honest I have pushed for it, but I was convinced that it is useless. Truth be told is that Allawi is afraid of setting precedence that can not be changed (at least not easily). It is like when Maliki, realizing that he had lost the elections (even though he managed to negated 400,000 votes for Iraqia!!), went to the “supreme court” to get a ruling that negated months of debate during the constitutional writing process. With precedence set forth by Maliki and the supreme court, there is no need to have election coalitions any longer since it is the bigger block in parliament (which can be formed after the seating of the parliament) that gets the PM position. You and other think tankers just shrugged your shoulders, not realizing the long term effects on the dynamics of politics and elections in this young democracy. You, and others, even tell us to stop whining about it and live in the future – no? So what do we gain by going to the court and getting “eyebrow-raising” rulings? How does that help Iraqia or more importantly this young democracy? You see Maliki and company taking on more and more power and you shrug your shoulders and blame Iraqia for the failings of Da3wa (because if Iraqia screws the kurds and kisses and make up with Maliki the latter will give up Ira – as ih he will ever give up his sectarian core).

    Here is the difference between us. We live the tragedy, you are just watching….

  26. faisalkadri said

    Well said Observer, and we should not need to live the tragedy inside Iraq in order to appreciate the slippery slope we are heading into.
    I can only speak for myself and I am concerned about the seeming lack of strategy for Iraqiya, the kind of decisions that lets you seek manageable and achievable changes rather than impossible witches-brew type of solutions, like the details of the Irbil accord. Iraqiya is cornered and it shows it in its decisions. Iraqiya should not allow fear or concern for itself to show, Allawi’s best attribute is being a statesman, he was not showing this side of him recently.

  27. Reidar Visser said

    For the record re the original topic, here are links from my Twitter feed (see right sidebar) on additional materials relating to the Arbil agreement released by Al-Mada:

    Al-Mada claims to publish “complete” Arbil agreemnt, but this is really a retrospective doc from 2011

    New info abt Arbil agreemnt suggests only thing signed by Barzani, Allawi, Maliki in 2010 is this previously leaked doc

  28. observer said

    You are not aware of the details of the discussions carried out by Allawi over the past two months and more specifically the last 5 days. A statesman – HE IS. Any other politician would have given up a loooong time ago. What drives him is not thirst for power, but the desire to leave a better Iraq behind him, a democratic iraq, focused on secularism, not Islamism. The more I talk to the man, the more I am traumatized by the state of affairs.

    Like I said before, the document I saw signed by Barazani, Allawi and Maliki has only three items. The longer “laundry” list is put together by a committee. Meetings in KRG continue.

  29. Imperial Diet said

    “A statesman – HE IS. Any other politician would have given up a loooong time ago. What drives him is not thirst for power, but the desire to leave a better Iraq behind him, a democratic iraq, focused on secularism, not Islamism. The more I talk to the man, the more I am traumatized by the state of affairs.”

    What a difference five years can make. In 2007, Safia al-Sohail, an Allaw insider, told the US she was “disgusted” with Allawi’s attempts to overthrow the elected GOI leadership outside the democratic process. Still others claimed Allawi’s behavior in 2007 “undermines Iraqiyya’s democratic values,” as he “runs the bloc as a dictator, without consultation or transparency, and is motivated solely by his ambition to become Prime Minister again.” Mehdi al-Hafez grew so exasperated with Allaw in 2007 that he publicly withdrew from Iraqiyya. Hafez would later say that “Allawi’s efforts to form an opposition front are polarizing, playing into sectarian feelings and harmful to reconciliation efforts…Allawi’s decision making is non-transparent and without consultation…and that Allawi’s efforts to illicit Arab government support for himself and against Maliki are unhelpful.”

    It was around this time Allawi, His Serene Highness of Kurdistan, Mutlaq, Zawba’i, Daini, Pachachi, and of course Hashimi aggressively lobbied the US to stop supporting Maliki so they could topple his government. Then, the argument was just the opposite of the line used today: Maliki, they aruged, was too weak to lead Iraq. Their view, of course, conveniently belied the fact that the narrow forces they represented- the mostly Sunni expatriate opposition- were actively and harmfully grinding their own axes in an effort to make predictions of a weak Maliki government self-fulflling.

    I suppose Allawi changed his ways since then, leaving his lust for power and extrajudicial strategies to unseat Maliki in the dustbin of history. Now he is a benevolent statesman, described much like the founding fathers were by sycophantic 19th century historians. And all in the span of five years. What a difference.

  30. Mustafa said

    It is interesting to see how do some people who support Maliki’s opponents ignore very clear facts. None of those politicians who advocate against Maliki’s assumed ‘dictatorship’ is a democrat. In fact, Maliki might be the less authoritarian among them. Just try to look at the names and history of Barazani, Sadr, and Allawi, to realize that ‘democracy’ is the last concern of each. The simple fact that both the president and PM of KRG has the surname ‘Barzani’ (not for the first time, by the way) is sufficient to demonstrate their authoritarianism. Sadr is from a school that considers ‘democracy’ a western invention which is non-Islamic. Allawi, apart from his Ba’athist legacy and alliance with the most authoritarian regime in the region : Saudi Arabia, was the only ‘non-elected’ prime minister who combined the executive, judicial and military powers in his hand. The current conflict was/is never about democracy. It is a conflict between the centripetal and centrifugal forces in which Al-Maliki is the only one, apparently for his own interest, who presents a model different from the Oligarchic power sharing based on ethno-sectarian distribution of revenues and posts ( but never responsibilities).

  31. Observer said

    Mr diet,
    It is obvious you are a diaspora iraqi. If you are in the know you would know who or safia wanted and what wirwit wants and what hafez did. You want to base your opinion on press reports go for it. It is your right. Those of us who are on the inside know what kind of rson ms suhail is ;).
    I have no idea whaere you got your ” maliki is too weak story” but i am not going to bother wasting myntime on the likes of your “throw mud and lets see where it sticks” attitude. Argue ih th facts and then we can hav a dialogue. Untill then please feel free to hold whatever opnion regardless of the facts you want..

  32. Observer said

    Mustapha ya mustapha,
    What has your post to do with the facts on the ground. Allawi was the only one to give his position freely and he could have screwed up the elections. Who stick to his position for 7months in 2006? Was it mot jaafa of da3wa. Who stuck it for 11 months to stay in his seat? Was not uour democracy loving maliki? What has the rest of diatribe to do with the FACTS. Honestly, sometime i wonder why i waste time even reaponding to “informed posts” suah s yours and mr diet.. Have a great life wherever you guys are

  33. faisalkadri said

    Allawi is the only recent prime minister who left his position after an election gracefully. I think people will remember this a long time after you and I are gone when comparing Allawi with the likes of Jaafari and Maliki. And your bringing in Sadr, Barzani and Allawi’s Baathist legacy shows how quickly you are judging by association.

    Imperial Diet,
    I would like to expand on your comments because I think your line of thinking is behind the think tankers’ self-justifying position of: Maliki/Allawy they are all the the same, none of them wants democracy.
    Let me remind you of what Talbani said regarding Allawi’s dictatorship: He can’t rule his own family. So I am torn between the political judgment of a veteran like Talbani and that of Safiya Al Suhail.. Mehdi Al Hafez is a good administrator and clean as far as I know but his political judgment is influenced by his Communist past. The Iraqi Communist Party withdrew en mass from Iraqiya. In any case, I am bothered by many opinions that expect Allawi as a leader of a party to reach a decision within his party “Democratically”. Party leaders are not democratic in deciding policy anywhere in the world, your raising the point of “Allawi’s decision making is non-transparent and without consultation” is playing dumb. And your statement about a group of politicians including Allawi who “aggressively lobbied the US to stop supporting Maliki so they could topple his government.” What is your interpretation of “topple”?? I think you are creating fuzzy notions to justify inaction.

  34. Mustafa said

    Observer, it seems to me that you did not ‘observe’ that Allawi was not an elected prime minister. He was ‘placed’ in this position through Bremer-Ibrahimi deal. Despite all the financial and media support he obtained by his international and regional friends, he did not manage to win the majority. How on earth you want him to stay in power. Ja’afari and Maliki secured a majority. Of course, I am not saying that Maliki is a committed democrat, the same apply to his opponents. Their version of democracy is the famous ‘democracy without democrats’, a system-based on patronage, like the one the Kurdish leadership is very good at.

  35. Imperial Diet said

    Observer, I spent the first 19 years of my life in Bashiqa, the next seven in Ramadi, and the last 20 in Baghdad. I was in Baghad for the Um- al-Hawasim and for the Hawasim that followed. The shop adjactent to my home overflows with hawasim from Iran and China. Do you know what I refer to? Are YOU really in Iraq?

  36. Santana said


    Everyone knows that the Supreme court is completely controlled by Malki…….so why even bother? I don’t understand why you and Mohamed like that route?

    Medhat Mahmoud follows every instruction from Maliki-…….If Maliki is walking fast and stopped all of a sudden- Medhat will go right up Maliki’s rear-end.

  37. Reidar Visser said

    Santana, I’ll let Mohammed answer for himself, though I can perhaps say that some of the criticism directed towards him above seems unfounded.

    Anyway, my point about filing complaints with the supreme court is that if the goal of the Maliki critics is to pose an alternative to him they must achieve the high moral ground that comes with adhering to constitutional procedure. Yes, call Maliki out when he fails to do so, but do it in parliament or before the supreme court instead of devising alternatives that are themselves unconstitutional, including much of the Arbil agreement. Same thing re Iraqi unity, muhasasa etc. Iraqiyya can hardly claim to be acting in a nationalist fashion on these issues when they keep coming back to Arbil which is framed in a way that would fuel the logic of quotas in Iraq.

  38. Observer said

    Diet. If you do not believe that i am on the ground then that is your problem. I need not prove to you ANYTHING, nor am Ii going to give you tid bits that would let you conclude who i am ;). The rest of your post is irrevelant.

    It is a free world. You are entitled to your opinion. Be my guest and defend maliki and company all you want. To defend maliki, you need to justify his actions, and not point at the competition as a defense.
    The likes of you show up every now and then to create a bit of an excitement then you go back to your

    Reider, what you keep on failing to recognize is that the government could not have been formed without the promises made by maliki, which were guarenteed by the US… We could have lept the government in paralysis and caused a constitutional crises.. Anyway, my breath is wated here as long as you are unwilling to recognize the creeping authoretarianisim in iraq.

  39. Observer said

    Apparently being elected gives one the right to hang on to his seat regardles… If ireider, is this is what passes for a logical argument on this blog these days? Suddenly i am loosing my enthusisim for visiting here with you 😉

  40. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, there is no lack of recognition of serious problems in Maliki’s rule on my part, please see #18 above. But I maintain the right of being equally critical of the opposition. It is as simple as that, I am criticising both sides. This may not endear me to those who have particular favourites in the struggle, but then again the point of the blog is not to provide panegyrics for Iraqi leaders, whoever they may be.

  41. Mohammed said


    You are obviously not over my “rant.” I apologize if I offended you. But again, I would like to remind you that I have kindly asked you to stick to discussing policies and interpretations of events. You will notice that I have never once accused you or anybody else on this forum on issues regarding your personal qualities, moral convictions, and what your “real internal motivations” are, etc. In fact, when Santana came under attack by another poster, I defended Santana and told that poster to refrain from personal insults. When you tried to “call me to the carpet,” as you say, I merely showed how your accusations just don’t fit, and offered you polite advice out of genuine concern for trying to elevate the discussions to more relevant matters. Take it for what it’s worth, but, for many reasons, I will never insult you in kind: a) you are older than me and we are from the same country, and my father taught me to respect my elders, b) I respect RV too much to turn his forum into an insult competition, c) I hold the utmost respect for you that you went back to Iraq to fight the good fight for what you believe in, and obviously you are a very talented and intelligent Iraqi that makes me proud of my heritage, d) finally, I am an eternal optimist, and believe you when you tell me facts and experiences you witnessed (as Sean Connery said in “The Untouchables”: “who would claim to be that who was not?”). And it would be a waste of my time if I thought you were a liar. But, I do have the right to kindly challenge and question you on your interpretation of the events and what response is wisest and most helpful for the future of Iraq. And I do have the right to disagree with your opinions.

    Regarding my neutrality, I have never claimed to be neutral. I have certain political views and I have made them amply clear on this forum. No Iraqi can be neutral because that basically means he or she doesn’t give a damn about the country. I certainly do care as my family lives there and I hope to work there as a physician and engineer in whatever capacity I can that makes the greatest difference—upon completing my training in the USA. But while I am NOT neutral, please understand that I have no love for any one particular politician. I may agree with Maliki’s policies on certain issues, and disagree with him on others. But, I am not a blind follower of any politician. When Maliki does something that I disagree with, I call him out on it (like the gross violations regarding IHEC). I have no particular fondness of Maliki or Allawi. They both have defects in my view.


  42. Mohammed said

    Here folks, I just saw this breaking news item from the news wires

    Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki Agrees to Arbil Pact

    May 2, 2012

    Arbil, Kurdistan – In a surprise move shocking all political sides, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made a surprise trip to Arbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and met with all political parties and agreed to sign the Arbil Pact—yet again. Maliki’s staunchest political opponent, Dr. Iyad Allawi was delighted at the news. Allawi said, “I am hopeful that this important move by brother al-Maliki will finally lead to a political solution and preserve democracy in Iraq.” Allawi further stated, “I and others have been worried that brother al-Maliki was not sharing power and not following Iraq’s constitution.”

    When Allawi was asked by an AP reporter why he thought Maliki would follow the Arbil pact when Maliki violated Iraq’s constitution at times when it was not convenient for the PM, Allawi replied, “I thought about this dilemma too, but we inserted language in the Arbil Pact that will be very difficult for brother al-Maliki to break.” The AP was provided with a copy of the “New and Improved Arbil Pact” and the key phrase was “Dear Brother al-Maliki: Pretty please—with sugar on top, respect the Arbil Pact.” They also created the Arbil committee— a special committee of 5 Kurdish sheep herders from Arbil who will offer independent opinions free from Maliki’s interference to determine if Maliki was abiding by the spirit of the Arbil pact. If Maliki is found to be in violation of the Arbil pact, their sheep would all yell in unison, “baaaaaa!”

    Maliki also reluctantly agreed to be interviewed for this story. “When brother Dr. Iyad asked me to abide by the Arbil pact, I followed my heart and it led me to Arbil,” said al-Maliki. When asked by the AP if he intended to follow the Arbil pact, Maliki replied: “For the time being—yes. I figure it will get Allawi and Barzani off my back. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was a win-win for all of us. I would rather have them focus on whether I was following Arbil, and forget when I am disregarding the Iraqi constitution. It will make them feel like they have actually saved Iraq from the brink, and it will save me headaches from reading brother Dr. Iyad’s Tweets on Twitter about his latest visit with a regional leader where they have agreed on a shared approach to regional issues, etc., etc.” Maliki also felt re-assured that there were no real enforcement mechanisms to the Arbil pact beyond the Arbil shepherds and their flock of noisy sheep. Maliki stated, “As long Arbil doesn’t require me to stop pressuring the Supreme Court to vote my way, and allow me to arrest my political opponents, I don’t mind signing it.”

    When asked why Allawi didn’t simply insist that Maliki just follow Iraq’s constitution by lodging a complaint with the Supreme Court, Allawi replied: “What’s the fun in that? The Supremes are all in Maliki’s pockets. I mean, have you tasted the food in the Iraqi Supreme Court Cafeteria? It’s nothing compared to the nice qoozi I had in Doha last week. Besides, it’s much more fun to fly and meet exemplary Jeffersonian democrats like King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia and the Emir of Qatar when I am complaining about Maliki’s authoritarian tendencies. When the Emir of Qatar speaks about democracy, Maliki listens. Plus, I get more frequent flier miles!”

    Finally, Allawi concluded: “Anyways, this is now all behind us. Brother al-Maliki has signed the Arbil Pact— again. I know this time he will not violate it. He told me personally that he will treat the “New and Improved Arbil Pact” as sacred as the Iraqi Constitution. I mean, how can we go wrong with that?”

    end satire

    I hope you can understand why I find Iraqiya’s approach to be unproductive after reading that “fake” article.

  43. Observer said

    I have not the slightest problem with you criticizing allawi, hashimi, etc. what i precieve on your part, however, is that you give both sides equal reosponsibility for the state of affairs. Do you really believe that iraq is being run as a partnership therefore all partners are equal in guilt? Who has the entire set of powers at his disposal including the supremcourt that you want us to appeal to? Come on rv, you have to see the dangers posed by now. Academic neutrality aside, there has to come a time when principles supersede…

  44. observer said

    Really – Maliki’s real concern with the Irbil agreement is whether it is constitutional or not? Give us all a break man, and admit that Maliki was following “Taqia” (please don’t go on a rant because I degraded Taqia as a method for my brother She3as) when he signed the agreement in Irbil. What you refuse to admit is that Maliki and Da3wa and all islamic parties have no regard for the “contitutions’ other than Share3a and it is all “taqia” until they get their way.

  45. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, re Daawa and Sharia, take the example of the federal supreme court law. Reports say State of Law have joined ranks in parliament with the Kurds and Iraqiyya in rejecting a clerical veto on the court. Your “friends” in SCIRI and Fadila are advocating something closer to the Iranian model.

    In other news, today the Iraqi parliament approved 23 of 24 cassation court judges after Iraqiyya had requested individual voting. Initial reports say 212 MPs were present. Even though those figures are often corrected, there is much to suggest that a considerable number of Iraqiyya MPs joined State of Law in this consensus vote. This is a different dynamic from what you describe, no?

  46. Mohammed said


    I think you completely missed the point of the satire. If Maliki will not abide by the Iraqi constitution (e.g. Maliki’s 16 division commander appointments outside of parliamentary approval), after having taken a solemn oath to do so, can you please enlighten me on how you intend to enforce the Arbil pact upon him if he hypothetically flew to Arbil tomorrow like in my satire and signed it yet again!
    You said that the strategic policy council is dead, so you can’t bring that up as a mechanism to enforce anything. What leverage do you have on Maliki once/if he signs it?

    Shari3a law pleeeeeze……I am no islamic jurist, but I am pretty sure that Shari3a law is firmly against cheating and stealing. Like I have stated before, Iraq’s politicians including Da3wa have stolen billions of dollars from the orphans and widows who rightfully deserved that money (something that even a 4 year old child could recognize as Haraam). If you really think that Da3wa follows Islamic law, you give them way too much credit. But again, we are veering off the subject.

    I could care less if Maliki or Allawi worshipped a Martian moon god or have a secret pact with the devil (neither could be proven or disproven), all I care about is their policies and actions. When Maliki starts arresting IHEC officials to intimidate them, I get concerned, and I am not searching for some contorted Islamic explanation.

    So I go back to my main query. How do you intend to enforce anything upon Maliki (beyond saying pretty please with sugar on top), and pray tell, if you have some trick up your sleeves, why not use that enforcement mechanism to get him to abide by the constitution in the first place (thus rendering Arbil pact to be obsolete!)

    And by the way, just for full disclosure, I completely agree with RV on this matter of trying to exhaust the parliamentary process as I believe there are still examples when it can work and has kept Maliki in check.


  47. observer said

    RV, our whip was in Irbil with Allawi and i believe they all went with him to Amman earlier today. I will check with the party later and report to you back on dynamics as I am on travel at the moment. Possibly report to you privately.

  48. observer said

    Not everything is for public disclosure. I will let it be for now.
    RV – I sent you a private message.

    Mo, on shre3a – you are way off the mark with respect to the intensions of Da3wa and company….

  49. faisalkadri said

    Do you have sense on who is driving SOL opposition to clerical veto on supreme court decisions? Is it Maliki or grass-root MP’s ?

  50. Mohammed said


    If you can’t disclose such issues, so be it. I think my question is logical and I am sure RV would agree (but I will let him speak for himself too). You seem like a reasonable person, so I take you at your word when you say you believe you have something brewing that could give you leverage over Maliki, but whether or not it will amount to anything (as in really providing you with leverage) is something I will reserve judgment on. As Reagan quoted an old native American saying: “Trust but verify,” and that is my motto too!

    I can only say that till now, I have not been impressed at all. The main methods to squeeze Maliki thus far seemed to be relying on rhetoric/threats coming from surrounding countries and Barzani, and unsuccessful lobbying of the US government. Plainly, you can see that this strategy has been a complete failure. Moreover, I hope you understand that when these surrounding countries are seen to gang up on Maliki, it only makes him more popular with the shiite street base by virtue of the reality that most Iraqi shia despise the Gulf sunni rulers given their blatant animosity towards all shia in general, etc. Poor allies indeed.


  51. bb said

    “Observer: Going back to Seerwan’s post at #12 it would be very helpful if you could take each of these Iraqiyya ministeries in turn, ie

    1- Finance,
    2- Agriculture,
    3- Communications,
    4- Education,
    5- Industry & Minerals,
    6- Science & Technology

    and summarise for us the Iraqiyya policy platform on each of these areas and detail what progress is being made by the Iraqiyya ministers in charge of these portfolios. Sutrely there are positives to report?

  52. @BB I’m confused, as the good brother Observer seemed to dismiss the ability of Iraqiya Ministers to run their Ministries as all he said in response to my query was:-

    “Are you aware of the people being placed in key positions within ministeries (even a little place like the ministry of environment does not escape the systematic approach)”

    So the six Iraqiya ministers aren’t really in charge of their ministries? =s

  53. observer said

    Bb and Serwan,
    when you tell me what the other ministers and the 450 advisors that MALIKI has employed have done, then I will take the time to answer you. Why am I supposed to be defending iraqia when your erstwhile Maliki is the PM. You obviously adhere to the “best defense is offense”. 😉

  54. Brother Observer, before anything else, I do not support Maliki.
    When I disagree with what someone is saying, I say so.
    Doubtless, Maliki has been crossing limits, but the hysteria of his critics regarding him being a Dictator, running for a third term, not holding the next parliamentary elections, etc. is a narrative I do not find realistic. My view is even *IF* Maliki wants to or tries to, he will be unsuccessful. I do not see how his own party will permit him to run for a third term, let alone him being accepted by the other groups like Iraqiya, the Kurds, or the Sadrists after the next parliamentary elections.

    Now, to your response; firstly, we are *all* wondering what Maliki’s Ministers are doing. However, there are no SOL officials on this forum, but you and Santana are.

    Secondly, Iraqiya generally consistently claim that Maliki is not sharing power. The only main issue as I see it is that he has outplayed the leader of your party by not giving him an official position in government. Otherwise, every senior member of Iraqiya has some position in government.

    Positions of real authority have gone to Rafi al-Issawi as Finance Minister and Usama al-Nujayfi as Parliamentary Speaker.
    Ceremonial posts went to Saleh al-Mutlaq as Deputy PM and Tariq al-Hashimi was Vice-President (that they unprofessionally and moronically called the Prime Minister a Dictator as part of a coalition government is their own fault. Had Maliki simply removed them from their positions and asked Iraqiya to provide alternatives for the positions it would have been sufficient. That Maliki is trying to prosecute Hashimi for multiple murders, Maliki is over-reacting to the extreme).
    Then of course are the six (formerly seven) Ministries BB and I have mentioned above that went to Iraqiya.

    SO, my point is when you say Maliki is not sharing power, that seems largely factually inaccurate.
    He has largely monopolized the army and the security forces, yes, and has attempted (and failed) to change the make-up of the Election Committee, but I fail to see how this means he is not sharing any power at all. He is not sharing *some* power, i.e. the security services, but as I stated above, the Iraqi Government is not just an Army.

    Thirdly, when I asked my intention was not to attack or embarrass you or Iraqiya. You were, and generally Iraqiya constantly does, saying Maliki isn’t sharing power; but Iraqiya is in charge of six (formerly seven) ministries!

    P.S. On a side note, can a law be passed by parliament limiting the terms the Prime Minister can serve? If it can be done without amending the constitution, why don’t Iraqiya, the Kurds and the Sadrists join to pass a law limiting anyone from serving more than two terms as PM?

  55. Reidar Visser said

    Regarding the last part, I think it would have to be through constitutional change since it would otherwise interfere with the constitutional requirements for the PM.

  56. Mohammed said

    You bring up several issues:
    With respect to Hashemi, I think there is simply too much many of us are in the dark about. I have yet to hear a satisfactory explanation from anybody. Let’s take the worst case scenario about Maliki. If these are all trumped up charges, and Maliki is arresting Hashemi’s bodyguards and torturing them in jails, and he knows that they are innocent, then frankly, I would have to agree with Observer/Iraqiya and say that yes, we are back in a dictatorship. If Hashemi’s guards aren’t safe, then none of us are safe, and Maliki deserves all the grief he is getting from Iraqiya and more. I am pretty puritanical when it comes to killing innocent people, and the good book says that if you kill one person, it is like you killed all of humanity…that works for me. Giving the order to kill one innocent person puts you in the tyrant category in my book.

    However, I am not so sure Hashemi is innocent. Even in Hashemi’s interviews, he brings up the possibility that his guards were up to no good. If this is the case, and they wind up in jail, I am not as sympathetic to his guards (but I do believe that they should be treated humanely and given access to legal counsel). Whether Hashemi was or was not involved in all this is another open question. If Maliki had evidence against Hashemi’s guards, I could understand why Maliki made the move against Hashemi thinking that this is one huge conspiracy (given that Maliki is a pretty paranoid person in general). I would also not be surprised if he moved so quickly after the Americans departed because this appears to be Maliki’s modus operandi. Remember the minute he had access to Saddam, and off to the gallows he went. Now, why he let Hashemi flee to the KRG is another mystery. Perhaps Maliki felt that capturing and executing Hashemi would lead to too much sectarian strife (with the sunnis never believing any evidence presented against Hashemi), and shia may demand justice for what they perceive as Hashemi’s crimes against them, and it would turn Hashemi into a martyr and cause for more sectarian violence, so the expedient thing to do would be to just get rid of him from the political scene.

    Or perhaps it is somewhere in the middle. Hashemi’s guards did blow up people, and Hashemi just didn’t know about it. I simply don’t know. I do find it curious that somebody like Dr. Mahmoud Othman who is pretty much a straight shooter, doesn’t seem to be showing much sympathy for Hashemi.

    With respect to IHEC, I can’t even begin to imagine how Maliki could justify that. In fact, I think Maliki went away with a bloody nose after those false arrests. If it was a warning to IHEC, it certainly didn’t work. Maliki apparently (per press reports) called Faraj Haidari in jail and basically groveled and offered to help him out— a step highly unusual for Maliki. Either Maliki over-reached and underestimated the backlash he would get for such a sleazy move or somebody in Da3wa was trying to make Maliki look bad. In either case, that Iraq is progressing into a country ruled by the law of the jungle instead of a real “state of law” is indeed a problem, and yes, Maliki must bear a good amount of that blame since he is the PM.

    Finally, with respect to the ministries and sharing power, and what Iraq has to show for it. Bottom line, Maliki is the PM, and he better get it through his head that the success or failure of Iraq will be squarely on his shoulders. I think Maliki realizes this. If by 2014, electricity is substantially improved, violence is down, and employment/wages are up, people will give him credit for it, and he may very well win a third term. If he fails at that, he will be blamed for it no matter who is minister of any particular ministry. If he succeeds in delivering on these goals I have outlined, I think he will enjoy a great deal of support in the south and Baghdad. His biggest problem is losing Shiite votes to sadrists/isci/fadhila. He wont win any sunni votes though. He could give every household in Mosul their own oil wells, and they still won’t vote for him. So to win a majority in parliament, he will somehow need to break Iraqiya up and find a faction he can work with. Barzani will never support him again for PM.

    Time will tell.


  57. observer said

    I will then await the answers of those who would want to be supporters of Maliki to answer my question before I waste my time writing to you about the menutia of how controlling the advisors are and how every decision has to be vetted by PM offices, etc., etc.

    now lets wait for the pro Maliki wing to come out and start questioning your neutrality. You cant win, eh 🙂
    Seriously though, I am reasonably sure that the Kurds are determined this time not to let history repeat itself. It appears, from my own reading of attitudes, that the we are not sure how much pressure Iran is going to put on Muqtada to make him change his mind. Much to go on, but the next ten days will be crucial and I expect turbulence. There is no way anybody is going to believe empty promises by Maliki or any of his surrogates, but then again we are all aware that Da3wa knows that if they lieve the PM position, all their corruption files are going to stink to high heaven and it will be effectively their political end. Would Maliki relent? as you say, time will tell

  58. @ Reidar & Observer: gentlemen, Saddam’s Ba’ath party was simply a collection of yes-men who obeyed Saddam’s every whim and command.

    Dawa is not such a party, but to what extent is Maliki’s word law? Who within Dawa actually makes decisions, who are the senior members that can or do affect the direction and the opinion of the majority of the members, etc.? And what is the attitude of these members regarding Maliki’s recent moves?

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