Thursday, February 17, 2011

Iraq’s Parliament Takes Longer To Name Leadership Than Form Cabinet

Iraq’s new parliament is supposed to consist of 26 committees this time, up from 24 from the old one. By January 2011, the membership of most of these committees was decided upon, but so far only four chairmen have been named.

By January 17, the membership of all the 26 committees were agreed upon. The most powerful committees corresponded with the most important issues facing the country, such as foreign affairs, security, legal affairs, finance, and oil. Like the rest of the new government, the different legislative bodies were divided up according to the size of the winning lists. The security and defense committee for example, has three members from Maliki’s State of Law, one from Fadhila, one from the Sadr Trend, all of which are part of the Iraqi National Coalition, and three lawmakers from Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement.

The leadership of those committees is still on hold however. Originally, lawmakers said that naming the committee heads would be delayed because of the hold up over forming the new cabinet. Parliamentarians didn’t want a list to control a ministry as well as the committee supposed to oversee it. On December 21, 2010 however, most of the ministers were named, but as of February 2011 only four chairmen have been appointed. Those are Khaled Shwani of the Kurdish Coalition for the head of the legal committee, Adnan Janabi of the Iraqi National Movement for the oil committee, Saeed Rasoul Khoshnaw also of the Kurdish Coalition for youth and sports, and a member of the Iraqi National Coalition for finance. There’s no timeline for when the rest of the chairmen are supposed to be appointed, but the rough outline of what list will get what positions has been decided.

The same divisions that dragged out the formation of the ruling coalition, are at work in the assembly. There are still four open cabinet positions, and 22 chairmanships. It’s still weeks, and perhaps months before all those posts will be filled since almost every winning list has been included in the new government, and none of them can agree upon much of anything. There is deep distrust between Allawi and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and many parties have a zero-sum view where any gain by another is seen as a loss for themselves. Eventually the ministers and committees will be finished, but the amount of time wasted to accomplish that will be a loss for the country as little is moving forward until then.


Abdul-Rahman, Mohammed, “KBC allocated second parliamentary committee,” AK News, 2/2/11

Ali, Yaser, “KBC’s Khaled Shwani named Legal Committee chairman,” AK News, 2/1/11

Lando, Ben, “Iraqiya nets Parliament oil committee leadership,” Iraq Oil Report, 2/10/11

Visser, Reidar, “Parliament Agrees on Committees, But Not on Their Leaders,” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 1/17/11

Al-Ziyadi, Kholod, “Kurds chair legal committee, Iraqia oil and gas,” AK News, 1/31/11


Steve Donnelly, AICP said...

At the risk of sounding optimistic, this appointment adds to a growing trend of very regular political sounding stuff.

What's our biggest problem/solution? Oil revenue grab the person most experienced to get it done.

Add to the list Mr. Maliki's self-imposed term limitation, the decision for butter-over-guns (food vs. jets), and the current and legitimate protests of Iraqis over extreme problems of service delivery, and pretty soon, you have a very vibrant (if chaotic) re-emergence of government "of the people."

Much better than news of Iraq is a War Zone."

Joel Wing said...

Politics have obviously been the main area of contention since the end of 2008, and that's a huge change from violence dominating everything. The problem is that the lists have so many deep seated divisions and personal rivalries that they are sacrificing actually governing the country to carry out their disputes.

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