Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Iraq and the gridlock government

Thomas E. Ricks (Foreign Policy) highlights an analysis of Iraq by Adam L. Silverman and here's an excerpt:

The Shi'a exile dominated government of Iraq, especially Prime Minister Maliki, has made no pretense of indicating it wanted to roll up the Awakenings' members. From a very heavy handed Sons of Iraq (SOI) transition that failed to foster and promote societal reconciliation and civil society reformation to cracking down on both the Awakenings and the SOI, Maliki has demonstrated that his goal is consolidation of power. One of the three Iraqis elected to parliament on the Iraqiyya list earlier in the year, then suddenly faced with an arrest warrant by Maliki's government in order to change the electoral outcome was an Awakenings and SOI leader (full disclosure -- he was also the subject of one of my social history/tribal study interviews, which you can read at the link). Add to this the fact that the Kurds still have plans of their own for Kirkuk, let alone an independent Kurdistan, and post U.S. presence Iraq looks to be unsettled and unpleasant for a long time to come.

Staying with the government, Al Rafidayn notes Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet did mange to finally complete their fiscal year 2012 budget (FY 2012 started October 1, 2010) of $100 billion. While the Cabinet continues to move slowly, Aram Roston (Daily Beast) points to a new development:

Ahmad Chalabi and Ayad Allawi, two rival Iraqi opposition politicians who were instrumental in pushing the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, are setting aside their differences for the time being to try to create a formidable counterforce to Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, according to Iraqi and American officials.
[. . .]
Those familiar with the current maneuverings by Chalabi and Allawi say their budding alliance is momentous, especially given the circumstances. “The system has come full circle,” said one former CIA official who knows both Allawi and Chalabi, and who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Historical opposition figures are working together against another tyrannical government in Baghdad. It just drips with irony.”

And more criticism comes from one of Nouri's allies. Al Mada reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's political bloc is criticizing the current system noting it is gridlock and that little is accomplished. Moqtada is calling for Saudi Arabia not to execute three Iraqis. This as Al Rafidayn notes that the Iraqi government has announced that Tariq Aziz will be executed next year. And while all it took for the US press to declare Nouri a target of an assassination attempt was for his spokesperson and Nouri to offer conflicting stories, the Iraqi press has more skepticism and, in fact, Ahmed Abdul-Jabbar Abdullah (Dar Addustour) looks back at last week and notes that Osamaal-Nujaifi was the target of Monday's bombing (not Nouri).

In other news Al Sabaah reports that Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashimi has accused the Parliament of violating the Constitution by ignoring the request of Salahuddin Province to have their desire to become semi-autonomous forwarded to the Electoral Commission. He notes that the decision of what Salahuddin should do is up to the people -- per the Constitution, a vote of the province's residents will determine what happens next. Related, Rania El Gamel (Reuters) reports the province of Basra is making noises about wanting more control and more say (especially on oil) and may follow Salahuddin's lead in demanding to go semi-autonomous. (Currently only 3 of Iraq's 18 provinces are semi-autonomous -- the three make up the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq.)

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