On March 29, 2011 Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki named Khalid Mutab Obeidi as his nominee to head the Defense Ministry. Almost immediately the Accountability and Justice Commission, which replaced the DeBaathification Commission, announced that Maliki had to withdraw Obeidi because of his Baathist past. Obeidi was a general in Saddam Hussein’s air force. Obeidi ended up pulling his name from the fray himself at the beginning of April because of disputes over his nomination. The premier was playing politics with him all along anyway. Obeidi was originally the top candidate of Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement. It then backed away allegedly because Obeidi said he would not resign if the National Movement decided to go into the opposition instead of being part of the ruling coalition. When Maliki then put forth his name anyway, a member of Allawi’s list said that 95% of its members rejected him. The premier might have been trying to put the blame for a lack of a Defense Minister on Allawi since Maliki knew that the National Movement would not accept Obeidi.
The issue of finding a suitable Defense Minister is now back up in the air. The National Movement has put forth two names, Salim Dalli and Hisham al-Darraji. Some other people have been floated by the National Coalition, but Maliki’s State of Law and the Sadrist-Supreme Council led Iraqi National Alliance are just as divided as they are with the National Movement.
It’s been just over a year since Iraq held national elections. It took until December 2010 to come up with a working coalition, which left several ministries, including all three security ones, vacant. The problem as ever is that Iraq’s leaders are caught up in personal rivalries, and want to get their own people into the security slots at the expense of the others. It looks like it will take several more months before all of the differences are overcome, and some kind of consensus emerges over who will take over these important positions.
Alsumaria, “Iraqiya candidate declines Iraq Defense Minister nomination,” 4/4/11
Aswat al-Iraq, “95% of Iraqiya members reject Obaidi for defense,” 4/2/11
Rudaw, “No Security Minister for Iraq,” 4/6/11
Sowell, Kirk, “The Political Struggle for Security Control in Iraq,” Global Security, 3/29/11