Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Maliki Responds to the ISIS Attack on Mosul

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 13 June 2014 19:55

My piece for Foreign Affairs on Maliki’s response to the ISIS offensive in northern Iraq, with some comments about how it relates to the enduring tension between sectarianism and Iraqi nationalism in Maliki’s political thought:

24 Responses to “Maliki Responds to the ISIS Attack on Mosul”

  1. Query ? I am reading where some commentators are saying that Maliki loses his powers as Prime MInister on the 15th when a ” caretaker government ” begins. My understanding is that in a parliamentary form of government that the incumbent government is the ” caretaker government ” until the next government is seated and of course that would mean that Maliki is the chief executive until replaced by a new government. Am I wrong ?

  2. This is completely untrue. The status of the Iraqi govt is 100% the same before and after 15 June (when the term of the current parliament expires) and right up until a new govt has been formed.

    Unfortunately, the myth of the caretaker govt lives on in the Obama administration, which made it up together with Iraqiyya and other critics of Maliki:

  3. Edward Dennis said

    ” If Maliki wants to try to strike a partnership with the Kurds instead — probably the most realistic alternative at present– he will find that they have already secured much of what they want on their own. The only things Maliki would have left to offer are more generous payments to the Kurdish armed forces out of the central government’s coffers and painful compromises on the independence of the Kurdish oil sector. ”

    I heartily concur with the foregoing, but wonder how such a ” partnership ” can be implemented to the satisfaction of the Kurds given the timing and circumstances. I doubt that any promise(s) by Maliki are reliable in the eyes of the Kurds or whether Maliki can actually deliver upon any such promises ?

  4. Reidar Visser said

    If the Kurds are smart, they will ask for a few specific things this time, rather than everything under the sun (as in the Erbil agreement). They now have the territory they want, leaving presidency, oil and peshmerga as most prominent desiderata.

  5. Salah said

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

  6. Salah said

    If the Kurds are smart, they will ask for a few specific things?

    But they are now took/ control Kirkuk now?

  7. Well, Kirkuk and indeed disputed territories more broadly must be considered to be off the table for now. The Kurds have taken them and will not give them back. As long as there is any ISIS in the neighbourhood, Iraqi central govt threats to use the army for the sake of the disputed territories will come across as unrealistic.

    My feeling is Maliki will hunker down nonetheless for as long as possible, and rule instead of entering into painful compromises. He is the incumbent after all. As long as Sadrists and ISCI insist on working through the pan-Shiite alliance, Maliki can rest assured that there will be a permanent stalemate re his premiership and hence no significant movement at all.

    What is perplexing is the apparent belief of the US that it can impose benchmark-like conditions for military help at the present time. From the Iraqi point of view, the logical framework now is government formation (and its stalemates). Anything else is likely to turn out to be empty promises, I fear.

  8. Salah said

    the logical framework now is government formation (and its stalemates).
    Ok when you think that Maliki or non Al-Maliki able to produce govern formation?
    Last election took more than 9 months with a huge pursuer from US &Iran he got his 2nd term so what’s on the table now?

    Ned Parker said:

    I think when we talk about Iraq and the failures of the Obama administration in Iraq—and I think that Iraq for America is a bipartisan failure, and it’s not about troops staying or going. It’s about these core issues that are democratic values. The Obama administration looked at how does Iraq—how does the United States get out, and how does Iraq stay stable? And what they chose was Prime Minister Maliki as their guy. And at the time they made that decision, it wasn’t necessarily a wrong choice, but they focused on personalities, and not values and building the foundations of a government that could work. And that’s a large reason of why we are where we are today, both the United States and Iraq, in terms of the implosion we are seeing.

    At CNN, Derek Harvey and Michael Pregent ask, “Who’s to blame for Iraq crisis”? Their answer includes:

    For more than five years, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his ministers have presided over the packing of the Iraqi military and police with Shiite loyalists — in both the general officer ranks and the rank and file — while sidelining many effective commanders who led Iraqi troops in the battlefield gains of 2007-2010, a period during which al Qaeda in Iraq (the
    forerunner of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) was brought to the brink of

    Al-Maliki’s “Shiafication” of the Iraqi security forces has been less about the security of Iraq than the security of Baghdad and his regime.

  9. But no matter how much you blame Maliki, there is no instrument in the US toolbox at the moment to get rid of him. He remains PM with full powers until such time that his adversaries can unite against him, and that still seems a long way off.

  10. bb said

    RV – do you see any possibility of any of the Sunni leaders joining the call for citizens to volunteer to defend their homeland and holy places? In the absence of such it is hard to see any wisdom in bringing in any of the Sunni parties into the government.

  11. As we await ratification of the election results and some announcement of a candidate by the National Alliance, I have pondered the literal meaning and broader significance of the following article.

    Liberals expect to delay ratification of the election results for the granting of the blocks “enough time” to negotiate


    BAGHDAD / Mohammad Sabah

    I expected the Liberal bloc, on Monday, to press some of the political blocs on the Electoral Commission to defer action on the “electoral appeals” in front of it to make way for the completion of negotiations to form the next government.
    This suggested to the circles of political asylum to a breach of the blocks first meeting quorum to circumvent the “open meeting” that prevented the Federal Court, and gain more time to negotiate.
    In the meantime, an election expert confirmed the absence of regulations, the Office of the State “time limit” to decide appeals made by the winning blocs, revealing the arrival of a large number of them to the Commission.
    And provided the political blocs on May 4, dropped its complaints past results as provided by the laws of the Commission, and timed out after 10 days to appeal. And wait for the political parties to ratify the final results for the start of their negotiations Avenue, but it faces a critical timings in which oblige them to hold the first meeting 10 days after the ratification of the results, and to prevent the Federal Court’s “open meeting” which was used to him after the 2010 elections.
    Bright says Naji, a spokesman for the Liberal bloc parliamentary, that “after the ratification of the election results is imperative for the presidency call for the convening of the new parliament to choose a major and Parliament of the Republic. ”
    Added Naji “long” that “this call to be during the period of 15 days may be extended to 15 days and the other only once is extendable thereafter be selected major and his deputies and Parliament of the Republic in the first session chaired by the oldest member. ”
    Article 54 of the Constitution states that “The President of the Republic, the Council of Representatives to convene by a presidential decree within fifteen days from the date of approval of the results of the general election, and the meeting will be held under the chairmanship of the oldest member, to elect a president and two deputies, may not be extended for more than the previously mentioned period” .
    On the steps expected for after the ratification of the results, explains MP for the Liberal bloc said that “scenarios formation of the current government are different from what happened in 2010 to the presence of a decision of the Federal Court which prevents the parliamentary session open to it baseless legal or constitutional,” noting that “the Federal Court shut down the road in front of the political blocs if it wants to resort to the open meeting. ”
    He favored bright MP Naji said that “the political blocs and the winner will resort to powerful pressure on the judiciary and the Electoral Commission to postpone the ratification of the election results until the completion of transactions forming the next government and the distribution of positions among themselves. ”
    Asked whether there was a “time limit” to decide appeals filed about the election results, says Naji, “according to the rules and regulations of the Commission is to decide appeals during the period of ten days, and then approved by the Federal Court. ”
    In the same context, predicted political circles spoke of the “long” to “turn the political blocs to prejudice quorum call after the first meeting of the presidency to them. ”
    It adds circles familiar with the scenes of the negotiations, saying that “the masses feel in this parliamentary session by pressing the constitutional timings that do not allow them to conclude deals to form the next government Balnho who aspired to. ”
    She spoke circles about the “existence of an agreement semi-final to go to the first session, if there is no agreement on the formation of the largest parliamentary bloc, after inviting the presidency and then breach the quorum Parliament to circumvent the ban on open meeting by the Federal Court,” and drew circles that “scenario breach of quorum for the first session will allow all parties to take the time to negotiate the shape of the next government. ”
    In this regard, confirms Adil al-Lami, an expert in electoral affairs, said that “the Iraqi constitution includes loose ends did not address the issue of prejudice to the legal quorum for the first meeting. ”
    Explains Lami, in an interview for the “long”, “The previous regulations of the Commission had to decide appeals during the period of ten days from the submission and then approved by the Federal Court,” adding that “the current regulations do not specify a time limit specified for deciding appeals. ”
    He noted the former official in the election commission said that “the number of appeals received by the Commission amounted to 680 appeal and therefore the judiciary to follow up on appeals will be delayed in deciding it. ”
    Lami and stresses that “in case there are many challenges on the supposed head of the Supreme Judicial Council mandate additional judges of the electoral body for the completion of the appeals in the period specified in the regulations. ”

    almadapaper. net

    And, specifically the following excerpt : [ She spoke circles about the “existence of an agreement semi-final to go to the first session, if there is no agreement on the formation of the largest parliamentary bloc, after inviting the presidency and then breach the quorum Parliament to circumvent the ban on open meeting by the Federal Court,” and drew circles that “scenario breach of quorum for the first session will allow all parties to take the time to negotiate the shape of the next government. ” ] ” Translation ” or better explanation and meaning from anyone, please ?

  12. Edward, that article is already a half-week old and not particularly relevant. The “Liberals” in question are the not-so-liberal Ahrar (Sadrists) and they discuss possible pressure on IHEC to delay the certification of the election result. This has been superseded by events to some extent since IHEC declared it would send the result to the supreme court for certification on Thur, ahead of the Iraqi weekend. We’re still waiting but I think the general discussion about a state of emergency will be more important than this.

    PS When quoting Google-translated material please provide source as far as possible as it is a bit of extra work to trace the Arabic original which is needed to make sense of it. In this case, it is here:

    Bb, there have been Sunni clerics making similar appeals. Some from Basra where the Sunnis live in a Shiite-majority setting but also further north. But a Sunni fatwa is generally far less effective than a Shiite one given the less stratified character of the Sunni religious community.

  13. bb said

    I was thinking more of the political leaders – Nujaifi, al Mutlak, Allawi. Black joke, really.
    I think the shia and Kurds are on their own in this one.

    Reidar regarding your tweets on Human Rights Watch – the western institutions and commentariat have always been enthral to the Sunni Arab establishment view point. They have always blamed the shia and Iran for every repression and atrocity since 2003 even while the mass graves were being opened, the war crimes trials were taking place and the sunni arab insurgency was blowing up thousands upon thousands of shia. What else is new?
    (Ironically new Saddam era mass graves were uncovered recently, just before the election. Got no coverage whatsoever.)

  14. Am certainly aware of the bias in some Western circles towards Sunni Arabs, but hadn’t expected it to translate into praise for medieval organisations like ISIS!

  15. Salah said

    Reidar,But no matter how much you blame Maliki

    Reidar, I don’t expecting someone like you who devoted himself to rule of law and democracy that most your interests and writing comes with this feedback.

    Whoever looks to Iraq and his institution of what it called democracy and freedom or rule of law which they far fa from it who believe and state that: But no matter how much you blame Maliki>

    Defiantly in democratic world and under rule of law Malik should be punished for many mistakes and crime, you need to figure them, from massive corruption under his noise and eyes to misuse of state assets and resources to killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis (for the last past years each month the average loses in Iraqi civilians life between 3000-4000/Month)

    So all that forgotten by you and saying “no matter how much you blame Maliki

    It’s NOT me as impotence blame as such but where those people like you from all that happen?

    I think its shame those who devoted themselves for freedom and human life to be silent about what shameful and bad guys like Maliki &Co.

  16. Salah said

    Just quake note here>

    we all know states and countries invested to get the best trainer for their sport activities, but in Iraq Neither US and or UK did any think to invest of bring the most stupid and I can say Iraqi blood in their hands like Maliki Jaafri and other Daawa party members who supported/ allied with Lunatic Khomeini in fights Iraqi military and been sided with the enemy of their country not as they say there are opposition for tyrant regime which we all agree it was.

  17. Salah, I’m not quite sure I understand what you mean, but I’m quite sure you may have misunderstood my comment. It just meant, “even if you criticise Maliki in this way (and that criticism may well be right), there is no US option on the table that seems fit to deal with it.)”

  18. Salah said

    Reidar, I don’t go back to explain what may not clear enough but thank you for your feedback.
    I don’t agree that’s US who brought Maliki & his ilk to rule a state like Iraq (which he failed miserably) have no options on the table to deal with him or any country around the world?

    Where is NSA & or as your suffering from Stacking?
    Which more dangerous you or terrorists who endanger the world as western news agencies?
    Where is the Drone? Is Pakistan or Yemen more important?
    Ok why these terrorists left oil pipe line all along the Iraq within the land they control without attacking holding oil productions?
    These real questions here, terrorists are more interested in setting havoc between civilians and killing them demolish state structures bringing the country under lawlessness and rebels control as after 1991 rebels during tyrant saddam.
    However the politics inside US very sensitive when it comes to Iraq which very understandable, but to me as watching both sides during the last days there is some sense of go ahead for dividing Iraq, despite what’s happen on the ground as such, but it driven more by social media and western news reporting as if ISIS which as Iraqi officials said there are 100 W4x4 trucks, or 3000 terrorists who able to take land and town from west to north and east Iraq in two days?
    Just yesterday listening to speech by the stupide Malki who prized Sistani for his fatwa forgetting he is The Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces and his duty to call for fighting the enemy of the country not Shadowy man called Sistani?

    Btw, when the rebel in 1991 rebels against the tyrant, neither the tyrant had allowed to use his Jets to clampdown the rebels , he did use chops and tanks nor getting Sistani to issue Fatwa Sistani

  19. anan said

    Reidar Visser, could you share your thoughts on Tony Blair’s latest article?

    Especially the later part starting with:

    “The starting point is to identify the nature of the battle. It is against Islamist extremism. That is the fight. People shy away from the starkness of that statement. But it is because we are constantly looking for ways of avoiding facing up to this issue, that we can’t make progress in the battle.

    Of course in every case, there are reasons of history and tribe and territory which add layers of complexity. Of course, too, as I said at the outset, bad governance has played a baleful role in exacerbating the challenges. But all those problems become infinitely tougher to resolve, when religious extremism overlays everything. Then unity in a nation is impossible. Stability is impossible. Therefore progress is impossible. Government ceases to build for the future and manages each day as it can. Division tears apart cohesion. Hatred replaces hope.

    We have to unite with those in the Muslim world, who agree with this analysis to fight the extremism. Parts of the Western media are missing a critical new element in the Middle East today. There are people – many of them – in the region who now understand this is the battle and are prepared to wage it. We have to stand with them.”

    How many Iraqis share Tony Blair’s general world view? That all of us share common values and long term interests. And that nonmuslim majority countries need to stand with muslims who oppose islamist extremism.

    How do Iraqis define islamist extremism?

  20. Anan, this is really quite far out from the original discussion, but briefly, I think Tony Blair must himself shoulder much of the responsibility for the rapid growth of political Islam worldwide given his reckless policies in the post September 11 environment and in Iraq in particular.
    My prediction is Iraqi Sunnis everywhere will ultimately turn against ISIS (like they did in Anbar) but this will take time especially in areas where there has been no widespread sahwa movement such as Nineveh.

  21. anan said

    Sorry for being off topic Reider. The broader question, however, stands. Do Iraqis believe themselves to be at war with islamist extremism? Do Iraqis think they share common values and interests with the rest of the nonmuslim world, to include Europe and America? Do Iraqis believe that they share a common enemy (ISIS) with the rest of the world; and that the rest of the world should help Iraqis fight islamist extremism? How do Iraqis define Islamist extremism?

    Would you say Tony Blair made major mistakes unrelated to Iraq?

    On Iraq, Tony Blair’s biggest mistake was to not surge Iraqi capacity and Iraqi institutions such as the ISF (and GoI civilian governance.) Of the first ten divisions in the Iraqi Army, the worst quality was the English trained 10th IAD. Of the four brigades in 10th IAD, the worst two where trained by the English (the others were trained by other coalition members.). The two worst trained provincial police forces of all 18 Iraqi provinces were the Basrah and Maysan provincial Iraqi Police when the English were responsible for training them.

    The extent of English incompetence was so great, many Iraqis believed it was intentional; to sabotage Iraq.

    Tony Blair’s lousy job training the ISF and surging Iraqi capacity was the greatest way he hurt Iraqis.

  22. bb said

    Iraqi Sunnis everywhere ultimately turning against Isis …. how far do you really think they will get with that, without US military, special forces and fire power?

  23. Salah said

    Iraq as a country or land and society, is less influenced by political Islam, what we saw in Iraq specially after Kuwait invasion is interferences and mangling from both side of the Sec, from the neighbouring countries, which most of Iraqi well informed and well aware of their self-interests.

    What happen after 2003 war is the massive flow of human some of those pushed out from Iraq during late 1970s and early 1980s on the ground as Iranian citizens not Iraqi and many others who cane as Iraq a land of opportunity for them.

    adding that most those opposition parties/groups with their Militia which midwives by Iranian during 1980 and before are well laying to Iran, which brought Iraq as land of fights between those neighbouring interests

  24. Salah said

    Soldiers who were in Mosul last week say they were ordered to leave the city, shortly before extremists took control. The question is why? And who ultimately gave that order? The search for answers has given rise to a number of frightening theories about who exactly was behind those orders.

    The rumours started last week and as more soldiers and security personnel are interviewed, those rumours are slowly but surely being confirmed: Soldiers, police and other security forces in Mosul, the first city taken over by Sunni Muslim extremists, did not desert – they were ordered to withdraw.

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