Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Maliki Flip Flops On Majority Rule

On February 17, 2010 Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared that the next government of Iraq would be based upon majority rule. The previous administrations were broad alliances made up of Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds, something encouraged by the United States to foster reconciliation and power sharing, demanded by the main ethnosectarian parties that came to power in 2005, and made necessary by the parliamentary form of government adopted after the overthrow of Saddam. A quota system was also created that carved up the major offices by party. The Prime Minister criticized this system, saying that it was a failure because the different parties in power disagreed with each other, leading to deadlock. Maliki went on to claim that the next government would be a coalition as well, but one based upon lists that shared the same views.

By the end of the month however, the Prime Minister had flip flopped. The secretary general of Maliki’s State of Law said that the list would be open to forming a government with the Iraqi National Alliance, the Kurdish Alliance, and others after the March election. Those are the major players in the current regime, which Maliki said was dysfunctional. None of them agree on major issues either. Maliki and the Sadrists from the National Alliance for example, are opposed to the Kurds’ aspirations to annex Kirkuk and the disputed territories, while Maliki went after Sadr’s militia in 2008, and continues to arrest his followers. Interestingly, the main nationalist list the Iraqi National Alliance wasn’t mentioned, which might have more in common with Maliki’s policies before campaigning for the 2010 vote began, and State of Law jumped on the anti-Baathist bandwagon. Either way, the most recent comments by State of Law and the political reality of no party holding a majority of the public’s support will likely mean that whatever new government comes into power this year, will look and act much like the old government. 

SOURCES

AK News, “Maliki seeks coalition after March polls,” 3/1/10
- “MP: majority’s dictatorship to alter majority’s democracy in Iraq,” 2/17/10

Aswat al-Iraq, “Maliki reveals intention to form coalition after elections,” 2/28/10

Al-Mada, “Iraqi PM Al-Maliki: Next Government Will Be Coalition Government,” MEMRI Blog, 2/18/10

3 comments:

Jason said...

Maliki is likely refusing to countenance pairing with Allawi in order to protect his Shia flank from attack by the INA. That may very well change after the votes are counted. (We saw how shallow his commitment to de-Baathification is, given his veto of firing a large swathe of the military.)

No issues or sectarian allegiances seem to matter in forming coalitions so much as raw power. And the poll you linked suggests that the two main power-brokers after the election will be Maliki and Allawi. So the issue becomes, are both of their egos so large that one of them can not agree to accept the presidency or a preferred ministry? Wouldn't their partners insist on it since such a two-way alliance would allow each to divvy up a full one-half of the ministry seats?

An awful lot depends on how badly the INA's base is eroded - whether or not Maliki can afford to cut them loose. The Change List could significantly reduce the "kingmaker" status of the main Kurdish list. With the new election rules, new unknown locals could further divide up the field. That would make it more difficult for either Maliki or Allawi to cobble up a fractured coalition instead of joining forces.

IMO, it is wide open and anything could happen.

Joel Wing said...

Agreed, the elections are wide open this year. One thing that will probably be the same however is that whoever the Kurds throw their support behind will end up PM.

As for Allawi and Maliki sharing power, I still can't see it happening. Both want to be Prime Minister. The presidency doesn't have the same power, and not only that, but the ethnosectarian quota system, which is likely to continue means that this position is reserved for the Kurds.

Anonymous said...

Well, this is not good news at all. The problem with the majority rule, is that the majority will be Shi'a. The problem with that is there is quite a bit of Iranian influence in Iraq. If at least some of their pals in Iraq are going to be major players in the next Iraqi administration, then more power to Iran and Iraq won't be so sovereign as it will appear.

The Kurds are a bit ridiculous. While they attack other Iraqi people and claim that the north of the country is entirely theirs, they want to be involved in the national politics. I think if they want to be involved, they better start acting like citizens of Iraq and not part of their imaginary Kurdistan.

At the same time though, some Iraqi politicians realize that the "Old Guard" in the military and government would be very effective in developing the country. Recently, the Iraqi government reinstated 20,000 Iraqi army officers from the old army. As for the government, it's gone two ways. While the Iraqi government has appointed positions to admitted former Ba'ath members, they also banned 440 candidates from today's elections, very few actually having ties to the Ba'ath, and to my knowledge, none of them being Islamic fanatics. One of the craziest, Muqtada al-Sadr, is still a strong Iraqi politician. Meanwhile, many, mostly strictly-secular candidates were banned.

Now that the dust, 19 years of it, has settled, Iraq must engage in rebuilding the country and forming strong strategic alliances with other Arab states while keeping Islamic fanaticism at bay. As long as the US no longer interferes, or is deterred from doing so, we should see consistent positive growth and development for Iraq.

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