Saturday, April 22, 2006

Al-Maliki asked to form government

Jawad al-Maliki of the Dawa Party (part of the UIA) has been formally asked to be the new PM of Iraq. He now has 30 days in which to form a government. As mentioned before, the Interior Ministry will be one of the key posts. It isn't clear at this stage whether there has been any agreement reached between the UIA and the Sunni groups over that. I suspect this might be the next sticking point.

The numerical situation is slightly different now though. After the elected President has asked the candidate of the largest party to form a government, which Talabani has done today, the constitution states that:
The assigned prime minister presents the names of the members of his cabinet and its ministerial platform to the Council of Representatives. He is considered to have won confidence when his ministers are approved individually and his ministerial platform is approved by an absolute majority. (Article 74.4)
This means that al-Maliki doesn't need a two-thirds majority to approve his cabinet appointments. All he needs is an absolute majority, 138 votes in the CoR. The UIA has 128 seats and there are 4 others who've signalled that they'll vote with it. If Al-Maliki is smart, and he appears to be from what I've read of him so far, he won't need to offer a great deal to secure the handful of extra votes he requires to form his government. (It's a classic prisoners dilemma type scenario for the various opposition groups. They'll all be worried that al-Maliki can get the required votes from elsewhere if they themselves ask for too much. The chances of the disparate opposition groups being able to maintain a united front, as they did concerning al-Jaafari, is greatly diminished given that it'd now take so few defections to defeat it.)

This does mean that the next stage in forming a government, isn't likely to take as long as the last. It also means that the Sunnis and Kurds have a lot less political leverage today than they did yersterday. If they haven't already secured an acceptable commitment on the key cabinet posts, I doubt they'll get one now. Al-Maliki might still decide to offer them more than he actually needs to if he genuinely feels it'll help the overal situation. He does say that he wants to create a broad coalition. On the other hand, I just can't see that the SCIRI would have agreed to putting al-Maliki forward for PM if he intended to remove them from the Interior Ministry. We'll just have to wait and see on that.

Aljazeera report that he intends to tackle the various militias by merging them into the Iraqi armed forces. That could be seen as a serious attempt to disband the militias and create an exclusively unpartisan reliable security force which answers to the government. Or it could be an attempt to disguise the further infilitration of the security forces by Shiite militias loyal to the Islamists. Time will tell on that too. The militias certainly won't be going anywhere in a hurry.

Whatever his motives, Al-Maliki now faces trying to govern a country on the verge of total breakdown and all out civil war. I genuinely hope he succeeds in hauling Iraq back from the brink. Given the scale of the problems which currently exist in Iraq, the odds remain extremely bleak.

This postscript is really for all those universalists who seem to think in black and white. Here's some background on the Dawa party which you might find interesting.
Ironically, the first major source of the suicide disease was the Iraqi Shiite Dawa Party, which now plays a vital role—terrorists turned freedom fighters—in the U.S.-backed Baghdad government. Dawa leader Ibrahim Jaafari is Iraq’s prime minister. But back in the 1980s, his fellow party members attacked anyone who supported Saddam Hussein, anywhere they could. They saw Saddam’s secular Baath Party as an alien force occupying sacred Shiite land. And on Dec.17, 1981, in the first massive suicide attack since World War II, a Dawa bomber blew up Iraq’s embassy in Beirut, killing 30 people. In 1983, at a time when Washington and Paris and Kuwait were big Saddam supporters, the Dawa blew up the American and French embassies in Kuwait City, killing six people and wounding 80. The Dawa’s close allies in Hizbullah soon started using suicide attacks against the Israelis, Americans and French in Lebanon. In October 1983 Hizbullah blew up the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American servicemen.
Do try not to blow a fuse as you try to accomodate that into your strange worldview. Terrorists? Freedom fighters? Brave supporters of democracy? Opposers of tyranny? Supporters of Hizbullah? Tyrants? Suicidal Islamists? Koranimals? Does not compute! Does not compute! Does not...

This does, of course, mean that the current US government is linked to groups known to have committed terrorist acts against US interests. Will they attack themselves as part of the Global War on Terror new and improved "Long War" though? That's the burning question.

Tags: , ,

No comments: