Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bloated Iraqi Government Could Get Bigger

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that his new government has an excess of ministers to accommodate all of the parties involved in the ruling coalition. He said that 7-8 of the ministries were simply created for political appeasement. 38 ministries were announced on December 22, 2010, ten of which are being temporarily run by other officials until their heads are named. Politicians aren’t done however with the creation of this bloated government. There are reports that some parties are demanding three vice presidents.

In the previous government there were two vice presidents, Tariq al-Hashemi and Adel Abdul Mahdi, who along with President Jalal Talabani formed the Presidential Council. Those three represented the main ethnosectarian groups within the country, Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds respectively, but also had veto power over any legislation. The deputy presidents and Council were only temporary however, and the new government only requires a president who be will a largely ceremonial head of state this time.

Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani and the Iraq Turkmen Front, which is part of the Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement, are two of those now calling for new vice presidents. The Turkmen Front wants one vice president spot for itself, while Barzani said that every group within Iraq should be represented in the government, and therefore offices needed to be created for them. Senior Kurdish parliamentarian Mahmoud Othman said that other parties had agreed upon just one vice president, and that two or three would be a waste of money, but political expediency could win the day. Either way, parliament would have to pass a new law to create any of them. 

The new Maliki administration already has too many ministers and three deputy premiers. Adding three vice presidents who are not necessary and would have no real power would only be for symbolic reasons, and to pay off parties for their support of the new regime. The premier said he wants this government to be professional and competent, but the political maneuvers to finally put it together undermine his pronouncements. The new Maliki coalition will have an excess of positions, just like the old one. Those will be divided amongst the various political and ethnosectarian groups and will be a drain on the national coffers as they offer personal fiefs and patronage systems to the officials who run them.


Dagher, Sam, “Iraq Wants the U.S. Out,” Wall Street Journal, 12/28/10

Khalat, Khader, “Iraq’s Turkoman candidates for Vice President,” AK News, 12/28/10

Saifaddin, Dilshad, “Majority votes to one vice president, says lawmaker,” AK News, 12/24/10

Taha, Yassen, “kirkuk’s political parties staking future on coalitions,” Niqash, 1/24/10

Visser, Reidar, “Abd al-Mahdi in Tehran: Who Is Paying for This?” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 12/26/10
- “Parliament Approves the Second Maliki Government,” Historiae, 12/21/10

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