Maliki Planning a New Majority Govt?
|December 26, 2011||Filled under Iraq Daily News|
Supporters say the Iraqi PM is simply shoring up support and abiding by the law. Critics say he’s more interested in ditching the difficult three party system and starting a new government of his own. Will al-Maliki become Iraq’s new dictator? Or will he struggle on with the democratic process, asks this article from Niqash.
Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Earlier this week, Baghdad was thrown into a serious political crisis when al-Maliki asked the Iraqi parliamentarians to dismiss one of his three deputy prime ministers, Saleh al-Mutlaq, with a no-confidence vote. Al-Maliki was also behind an arrest warrant for one of Iraq’s two vice presidents, Tariq al-Hashimi, on charges of terrorism.
Al-Hashimi is accused of being involved in a death squad that targeted politicians during the height of sectarian unrest in Iraq between 2006 and 2008. He has denied the allegations, saying that they are politically motivated.
Both al-Hashimi and al-Mutlaq are senior members of the Iraqiya bloc, the main opposition group to al-Maliki’s governing State of Law bloc. As a result of al-Maliki’s moves, the Iraqiya bloc, which has 83 seats in the 325 seat parliament and heads nine ministries, declared its intention to boycott parliament. Later on Monday, parliamentary proceedings were suspended for 15 days. There was no quorum – the minimum number of MPs needed to be present in order for decisions to be made – because many Kurdish MPs also stayed away.
“With this arrest warrant, Iraq is facing a serious political crisis,” Itab al-Douri, a member of the Iraqiya bloc who was once considered a potential Minister of Defence, told NIQASH.
“There have long been fears that government officers would use the army and police force to eliminate the opponents,” she said.
While allegations about al-Hashimi’s involvement in violence are not new, it is also true that the arrest warrant is a political hot potato for obvious reasons. Both al-Hashimi and al-Mutlaq have been harsh critics of al-Maliki in public and in parliament.
Al-Maliki himself has just returned from a visit to the US where the foundations were apparently laid for Iraq’s future relationship with that country, after the withdrawal of US troops.
Al-Maliki’s supporters describe his moves, made shortly after his Washington visit, as his way of shoring up his power within the delicately balanced coalition government and of confronting opponents who have repeatedly described his position as weak and who have spoken about bringing about the collapse of the government.
Al-Hashimi repeated this threat as recently as last week in an interview with NIQASH. Al-Hashimi has also been outspoken critic of the influence that the Iranian government, a Shiite Muslim-dominated theocracy, has over the Shiite Muslim politicians in Iraq. He has criticized the fact that this influence is never spoken about by Shiite Muslim politicians and last week, al-Hashimi told NIQASH that after the US withdrawal, “the real challenge for the Iraqi people is how they’re going to manage their own country, by themselves.” This was in reference to Iranian influence.
There is no doubt the current situation has been building up for some time.
After the 2010 elections in Iraq, the two major political groups – one Sunni Muslim-dominated, the other Shiite Muslim-dominated – in the country emerged with almost equal representation within the Iraqi parliament. After much manoeuvring and negotiation, Al-Maliki’s State of Law list, which is Shiite Muslim dominated, won the right to rule.
However, in order to do so, they had to make a number of deals with opposition parties, including the Kurdish representatives from the semi-autonomous state of Iraqi Kurdistan as well as with the Iraqiya list, led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayed Allawi. They also had to dispense high ranking positions to opposition politicians, like al-Hashimi and al-Mutlaq.
The tricky power sharing deal between the three major blocs – the Shiite and Sunni Muslims and the Kurdish – was supported by the US but the results have not been pretty. Far from settling the country down, almost every mildly controversial decision the Iraqi government has had to make since then has been either been endlessly debated or postponed.
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