After Losing Iraq, Is Maliki Going to Lose His Job?

Political deadlock in Iraq’s National Assembly, Baghdad’s parliament, means that it may be until after mid-August before it tries to elect a speaker, two vice presidents, and a new prime minster, which are steps in forming a new government following April elections. Bargaining goes on backstage; hence, it is critical to examine how Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki might be outmaneuvered from office.

Domestic politics are against Maliki being selected to form the new government. He is unacceptable to key stakeholders: religious leaders; Iraqi Kurds; Sunni Arabs; and many Shia factions, such as followers of Moqtada al-Sadr. They do not trust Maliki’s pledges and believe he uses State institutions to consolidate his hold on power.

Maliki lost confidence of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose opinion carries great weight. In 2014, Sistani has been critical of the government. Michael Knights, an expert on Iraqi politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, considers the Sistani critique a blow to Maliki.

In the March 2010 elections, Maliki’s State of Law Party won 89 seats of 325 possible and was second to Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya list, which had 91; the Kurds won 57. Pushed by Tehran, backed by Washington, and supported by Irbil (Kurdistan), Maliki not Allawi formed the government. Washington and Irbil presently have buyer’s remorse.

Now defunct, Iraqiya was a cross-sectarian coalition, which Maliki targeted with politically-motivated charges. He made allegations against former Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, the highest-ranking Sunni Arab in Maliki’s government. In my 2013 interviews with Hashemi in Brussels, he provided evidence that he was unlawfully besieged by Maliki. Hashemi’s mistreatment is a vivid indication of the political shadow cast by outside military presence: Fewer than 24 hours after the last American combatants departed Iraq, Maliki ordered the arrest of Hashemi. Without boots on the ground, Washington’s influence plummeted.

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World Insight – CCTV News: Iraq divided; Ukraine crisis; Cross-Straits relations

RT CCTNews Paris 3

Actions by Tehran in support of Damascus and Baghdad give the impression that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, (ISIS rebranded as The Islamic State (IS), is acting alone. In fact, The IS implicitly acts in concert with Damascus and Tehran, which creates a narrative for Assad and Maliki to argue they are fighting terrorists; but Damascus and Baghdad are also suppressing dissent from their respective populations.


Stabilizing Iraq— Refrain from Coordinating with Iran Pressure Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by Arming Syrian Moderates Condition U.S. Arms and Airstrikes on Inclusive Political Coalition

The following talking points are the basis of two media appearances by Raymond Tanter on 18 June 2013: BBC World Service Newsday, Radio, 2205 EDT and World Service TV, 2215 EDT

Thanks to Michael Eisenstadt for insights on which some of these bullets are based.

First, stop the loose talk about meeting with Iran to discuss the situation in Iraq.

Turning to Tehran to help stabilize Iraq would be like asking an arsonist to help put out the fire.

So the road to stabilizing Baghdad does not run through Tehran.

The road to Baghdad runs through a coalition of moderates in the region and in Iraq.

Second, the road to Baghdad passes through Damascus via moderate Arab rebels.

The White House has debated whether to train and equip the moderate opposition in Syria long enough. Now is the time to do so. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has an important presence is in eastern Syria. It is critical to threaten it there: The regime in Damascus seems to have a quiet understanding to refrain from attacking ISIS so long as it is fighting moderate rebel forces.

As Washington reaches out to moderate Syrian rebels with arms, the United States also needs to send a signal to Tehran that Washington is paying attention to Iranian dissidents. In this respect, the road to Tehran may go through an alignment of moderate Arab rebels and Iranian dissidents.

Third, make U.S. arms and airstrikes conditional on an inclusive political coalition.

Build an alliance with Kurds and Sunnis opposed to ISIS. The goal would be to recreate the coalition of moderates that defeated al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007. Because Prime Minister Maliki is unlikely to concur, quietly work with other politicians to create a majority able to select a new prime minister that reaches to minorities.

Condition expedited delivery of U.S. arms on whether there is a cross-sectarian strategy of inclusion of Sunnis and Kurds.

Continue refraining from launching American airstrikes until a political coalition of moderates is in place in Baghdad, preferably without Maliki.


487280799_720Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat in Iraq’s Elections

When Iraq holds nationwide parliamentary elections on Wednesday, is it possible for Washington to secure a victory for the Iraqi people and enhance U.S. interests? The answer depends on awareness of past bipartisan mistakes, effects of those blunders, and willingness to use U.S. leverage more wisely than after prior Iraqi elections.

Ayad Allawi captured two more seats than Maliki’s faction in 2010, and yet Maliki received the mandate to form a government. Just as Washington backed Tehran’s preference for Maliki then, it is in the interests of the Iraqi and American people to align with the Kurds in support of the democratic opposition, including Allawi, now. In this way, Obama might snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.