Sunday, April 8, 2012

Efforts mount to remove Maliki

ERBIL – Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been accused of running an autocracy and dictatorship, may face a vote of no confidence if he continues his current political behaviors, claim political parties.

The accusations against al-Maliki increased recently after his Shiite-dominated government started firing Sunni academics from universities on charges of belonging to the outlawed Baath party, detained former Baath Party affiliated Sunnis on charges of planning a coup after the withdrawal of the US forces and chased after Sunni politicians with terror charges.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
He also went against the allies in Kurdistan Region over long awaited issues of oil and gas. The political crisis erupted between Baghdad and Erbil recently after Kurdistan Region stopped the export of crude oil in protest against the federal government's non-payment of dues owed to foreign companies operating in the region.

The Kurdistan Regional Government claims to have asked Baghdad to pay the foreign companies some $1.5bn (1.7tr IQD), while the latter stated it would pay only $450m (522bn IQD).

On Sunday, Maysoon al-Damlouji, the spokesperson for al-Iraqiya bloc - the main Sunni bloc in the Iraqi parliament - said the list was seeking a consensus to remove al-Maliki from his position.
Al-Iraqiya Spokesperson Maysoon al-Damluji
Damlouji said a national consensus would be sought to withdraw confidence if Iraqiya and the Kurdish Blocs Coalition (KBC) were able to collect 163 votes. He added, Iraqiya has also established ongoing dialogue with parties in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's own National Coalition (NC) bloc for this purpose.

Damluji's statement was immediately echoed by Kurdish observers. Falakaddin Kakayi, a former KRG minister, said Kurds may join other Iraqi forces in an attempt to remove the prime minister if he continues his current political behavior.
Falakaddin Kakayia has been known as a close personality to President of the Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani,
"I believe that if Maliki continues his current behavior, and dealing with the Kurdistan Region, then I think the Kurds in the future will join those parties who are after such a bid."

Maliki has been accused of creating more issues in Iraq than solving them - those of a national level that affect all Iraq and others regarding Erbil-Baghdad relations.

On a national level, the PM has rejected al-Iraqiya's candidates for the ministerial positions they were entitled to under the 2010 Erbil agreement, when political parties came to a power-sharing deal following an eight-month deadlock.

But ever since, Maliki has been working as acting Defense Minister, National Security Minister, Interior Minister and acting intelligence chief – and this has been described by the political parties as a monopoly of authorities.

Bukhari Abdullah, a Kurdish political sciences academic said: "The administration of these positions is not Maliki's specialty and this is a serious indication that Maliki's behaviors have lead him to a dictatorship. "Over the last two years he has even entered disputes with parties who are his allies too. His disputes are not only with the Kurds and the Sunni Arabs, but also with some of the Shiites as well."

President of Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, also criticized Maliki for his "autocratic" rule last month in an address during the Nawroz festivities in Kurdistan Region. 
Barzani with US Vice President Joseph Biden
He also warned that if problems between Kurdistan Region and Baghdad remained unsolved then the Kurdish leadership would take action according to the will of the Kurdish people.

Barzani also said during a U.S. Congress address last week: "Iraq is heading towards a crisis, autocracy has emerged; control of the majority of state institutions is growing every day.

"After I am back [to Kurdistan] we will seriously make efforts to find radical solutions for them in a specified time frame. "We will not be convinced with futile promises like before."

MP Salman al-Musawi, who is close to Nouri al-Maliki, said Sunday that the Iraqi PM has instructed all Iraqis to remain silent about the ongoing crisis with Kurdistan Region, to preserve the historic relationship which brings together Shiites and Kurds.

"On the Kurdish side, [they] must understand that our position comes from our sense to keep a good relationship with Kurds and that does not mean or is interpreted as a position of weakness," he said.

Barzani warns that autocracy and dictatorship is no longer accepted in Iraq

President of Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani told a US Congress audience last week that Iraq was heading towards dictatorship as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is controlling the majority of the state institutions. Below is a translation s his address with a link to the video on Youtube.

"My Washington visit came upon the invitation of the US government. Yesterday, I met with President Obama and Mr. Biden and other US officials, we talked about the current situations in the region in general, but the Iraq and the relations between the [Kurdistan] Region and Baghdad were tackled in detail. We conveyed our opinion very frankly that Iraq is heading towards a crisis, autocracy has emerged; taking over the majority of the state institutions is growing every day. Therefore, the situation requires a solution and we have called on the Iraqi political forces to sit together and solve the situation, or as I said earlier in Kurdistan during the Nawroz, that "eventually, we will be obliged to go back to the opinion of our people. Whatever our people decides we will do that"

"Of course, their opinion [US officials] was that they cared about the situations in Iraq, Mr. Obama personally stressed several times that 'We emphasize on our commitment to Kurdistan Region and the achievements, and we support the solution of the issues' and after I am back [to Kurdistan] we will seriously make efforts to find radical solutions for them in a specified timeframe. We will not be convinced with futile promises like before"

"It should be clear to everyone that the current Iraqi government was formed on the Kurds shoulders and with Kurdish blood, this is one. Second, unlike before, Kurds will not leave Baghdad for other people. It is the people who are against the Kurds who have to go out of Baghdad. Therefore, yes we have issues, some of which are related to the way of governance regarding Iraq as a whole; autocracy and controlling all state institutions is by no means acceptable. Others are related to issues between the [Kurdistan] Region and Baghdad such as the Article 140 [of the Iraqi constitution] for which we as Kurds showed maximum flexibility. And the issues of Kirkuk and other territories, the Peshmarga, oil and gas. It is now openly said that federalism should not be there while one of the conditions for Iraq to stay united is that it has to be a federal, democratic and plural Iraq. The Constitution itself states that commitment to this constitution is a condition for Iraq to remain united. They [Baghdad authorities] are playing with fire; they are playing with the fate of a nation. Therefore, we will never accept the return of dictatorship top Iraq. We Kurds, as I said, have only found 3 or 4 thousand remains of a total of 182,000 Kurds, the majority of whom are women and children, in the deserts of southern Iraq. We will not accept these catastrophes happen to Kurds or dictatorship re-emerge in Baghdad again"