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Issues in Iraq

Before discussing Iraq, I want to remind everyone that on Thursday, at 5 pm in the Cyber Cafe, Sigurd Neubauer will be speaking on relations between Gulf States and Israel. You should all come!

On to Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is behaving in ways that have some suggesting he is becoming a Saddam-like dictator.  This Al Jazeera article gives a good, quick overview on the situation in Iraq.  Basically, Maliki is accusing other politicians of supporting terrorism, specifically those politicians who are not Shi’a and who oppose him.  Those same opponents claim that Maliki is using trumped up charges to eliminate and silence his competition while strengthening his grasp on power.  Many experts are viewing this moment as the biggest crisis Iraq has faced in several years, and there is broad concern that the jockeying of political leaders could spark a new wave of sectarian violence.

“He [Maliki] is a dictator without wisdom,” Mutlaq said, and called for Maliki to step down immediately. “He should leave his position for somebody else and [we should] form a new government until we reach the election.”

Maliki has defended his moves, claiming to adhere to the power-sharing agreement and the Iraqi constitution.

Further complicating matters, the political bloc loyal to Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called for the parliament to be dissolved and new elections to be held. So has Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Barzani said there should be early elections if the political leaders fail to resolve the crisis. He said that Iraq is facing the most dangerous crisis since the Americans entered the country in 2003, adding that Iraq’s constitution allows for federalism and Maliki has no right to object to it or to the creation of federal regions, which more Iraqi provincial leaders are aiming to do.

I suppose the question I now have is whether or not all of these problems that Iraq now faces could have been avoided if the Obama administration worked to find a way to keep US troops in Iraq.

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2 Responses

  1. It’s definitely suspicious that these events have occurred in the few weeks since the U.S. withdrawal – I seriously doubt Maliki’s claims have any credibility. Well I don’t think the U.S. should have stayed longer (I’ve read numerous pieces detailing the opposition toward a continued presence voiced by many powerful and influential clerics, including Sadr), I’m nervous for the future. It’s interesting that the article mentioned Barzani and the Iraqi constitution, because in some of my latest research I’ve found that many Kurds feel threatened by what they see as Maliki’s desire to alter, in his belief, the “fluid” constitution. He supposedly thinks it needs updating, particularly to eliminate the option of federalism. Kurds argue the inclusion of that option was the only reason they supported the constitution in the first place.

  2. Kara, if the problems in Iraq now grow into more widespread conflict, do you think the United States has any responsibility to reinsert itself? I suppose that between financial aid, military aid, and development deals the US does have some leverage to pressure Maliki to moderate his behavior. But if secular violence begins springing up again I’m not sure if the US has any capacity to act. On the Kurds, I’ve also heard it said that their reason for remaining part of Iraq is an interest in getting a cut from future natural resource exports. They would miss out if the push for any more autonomy than they already have.

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