Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Iraq’s Maliki Reneges On Remarks Not To Seek A Third Term As Premier


When national protests broke out in Iraq at the beginning of 2011, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki responded with a carrot and stick approach. One of his attempts to appease the masses was to say that he would not run for a third term. Now that the demonstrations have largely disappeared, the premier is reneging on his promise.
During protests in early 2011, Premier Maliki said he would not run for a third term. He has now gone back on those remarks (BBC)
Protests broke out in Iraq in January 2011. Across the country’s major cities, people were seen demanding basic services like electricity, complaining about corruption and arbitrary arrests, and demanding jobs, amongst other things. Clerics began warning that Iraq was seeing the same types of outbursts as other countries in region such as Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen. In response, Prime Minister Maliki announced that he would not run for at third term at the beginning of February. His operatives quickly qualified that however, saying that the premier had not ruled out becoming premier again, but that he supported changing the constitution to limiting the office to two terms. A spokesman added that Maliki would not be premier again if he failed to achieve his goals. This was one of many remarks that Maliki made during the early months of the year when discontent was brewing across the nation, and spilling out into the streets. As it increased in intensity, the prime minister made more and more promises to try to appease the public. His ultimate goal was to stop the activists however, not actually reform the government.

Maliki’s remarks during the height of the protests proved to be just words. At the beginning of December, a legal adviser to Maliki told the press that he had the right to run for a third term if he wanted. There is no Iraqi law stating how many times someone can be the premier, and it is not included in the 2005 constitution either. That being said, the adviser’s press briefing showed that Maliki’s earlier statements about not seeking to stay in office after the next election was just rhetoric. The premier has no intention of stepping down or giving up power, and only wanted to calm the masses.

The prime minister has successfully out maneuvered all of his rivals and allies, and is increasingly centralizing power around him. Given his current position, there was no reason to believe that he would give it all up, because of protests that have largely subsided. Saying that he would not seek a third term was simply one of many promises that Maliki made at that time to get people off the streets, so that he could go back to consolidating his hold over the country. For a short period, it appeared that Iraq might face the same changes as occurred in other neighboring countries during the Arab Spring. The prime minister was able to tackle them just as he has his opponents, and the demonstrations brought about no real changes to the country.

SOURCES

Lando, Ben and Ammar, Munaf, “Iraq’s Maliki Doesn’t Rule Out Third Term,” Wall Street Journal, 2/6/11

Latif, Nizar, “Iraqis step up protests in job and food crisis,” The National, 2/6/11

Sly, Liz, “Iraq’s Maliki says he won’t seek 3rd term, in possible reverberations from Egypt,” Washington Post, 2/5/11

Al-Wannan, Jaafar, “Maliki might seek a third term,” AK News, 12/1/11

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's a pretty misleading headline. Your anti-Maliki tone tends to be quite subtle but this is just over the top, which us a shame.

Joel Wing said...

What's the matter with the title? He said he wasn't going to run for a third term, but since then his aides have been saying that there's nothing stopping him from doing it. That's what renege means, going back on what you say. It was obvious then and now that he just wanted to end the protests. Do you have any evidence that he actually did anything meaningful to meet the protesters' demands or reform the government?

Anonymous said...

Come on Joel, renege does mean going back on your word. Maliki has not said he will seek a third term. You can say his aides say there is nothing stopping him from a legal standpoint but that's not the same.

Joel Wing said...

Anon said, "Come on Joel, renege does mean going back on your word."

Yes it does. Here are definitions from Merriam Webster's dictionary online:

Definition of RENEGE

transitive verb
: deny, renounce

intransitive verb
1 obsolete : to make a denial
2 revoke
3 to go back on a promise or commitment

Here are some headlines from February 2011:

Iraq's Maliki says he won't seek 3rd term, in possible reverberations from Egypt, Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2011

"I have personally decided not to seek another term in office after this one, a decision I made at the beginning of my first term," Maliki said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.

Iraq PM Nouri Maliki 'will not seek third term', BBC, Feb. 5, 2011

PM says won’t run for third term, Aswat al-Iraq, Feb. 5, 2011

Iraqi PM Says He Will Not Seek 3rd Term, Associated Press, Feb. 5, 2011

Immediately after he said that his aides started saying that Maliki hadn't ruled out a third term, until Dec. 2011 when an aide said that there was nothing stopping Maliki being prime minister again. I assume that his aides act upon his orders, so he said he wouldn't run aagain, but now his aides are saying there's nothing to stop him from doing just that. Hence reneging on his earlier statement, unless you think his aides are not speaking for him.

Anonymous said...

Jackpot Joel!

BTW - If you re-read my 2nd comment, I did not disagree on the definition of renege :)

As it stands, it's a misleading headline. I expected a statement from Maliki saying he'll seek a third term when I read your headline. By the time I'd finished your article I had to check I wasn't reading a tabloid.