Levent Basturk / World Bulletin
The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has told the New York Times that Iraq has still got a long way to go in order to restore peace, prosperity and democracy to the country. He also spoke of his desire to do so hand in hand with the United States.
Indeed, this utterance is not just a mere gesture of good will. Rather, it is a clear demonstration of the Middle-East’s search for a new power balance, as Iraq seeks US support in their battle against insurgency within the country by reminding Americans of the mutual interest in doing so.
WHAT DID MALIKI SAY?
Maliki has declared this to be his agenda for his scheduled meeting with US president Barack Obama on Friday. He also plans to discuss the threat of the spread of weapons as a result of the Syria civil war (and most likely the developments in negotiations between the US and Iran).
He also points out the importance of cooperation with the US government and arms firms in securing the necessary military equipment and technology his country desperately needs, describing the US as a key partner and the ‘corner stone’ of security in Iraq.
In mentioning that he in no way will supports his citizens in embroiling themselves in the ongoing sectarian violence in Syria, which has reached a breaking point as a result of clashing Baathist and Al Qaeda linked groups, he said that Iraq is determined to prevent external forces from using its territory, waterways and airspace from fuelling the Syrian conflict. However, their inability to do this stems from their relatively weak military in comparison to their much stronger neighbors.
Drawing attention to the fact that Iraq was the 161st nation to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, he asserted his government’s intention to make the Middle-East a nuclear weapons-free zone. This shows Iraq’s stance in the continuing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
The Iraqi Prime Minister called for patience, blaming the shortcomings of his nation on its struggle with insurgency. While counting the steps his coalition government has taken to move towards democracy since being elected in 2003, he said the only solution to insurgency would be through economic development. He expressed his belief in Iraq’s economic potential, highlighting the important role played by US firms in helping his nation to achieve this.
WHO IS MALIKI?
Before one can understand the intention behind his democracy-focused article, one must analyze Maliki’s career as a prime minister since 2007. Since then he has been increasing his political power and strong-hold on his position. Upon taking up the seat, he has been placing relatives, friends and allies in important positions in the military, thus bringing the security forces under his control. He has also done this with a number of independent bodies. In making the office of the prime minister the center of Iraqi politics, he has reduced the influence of the cabinet and parliament over political developments and practices. In doing so, he has established his authoritarian regime and is personally benefitting from loop-holes in the Iraqi constitution.
In his second term he secured his position by sewing division between political elites and set up unofficial, alternative strongholds. When it comes to agreements made regarding the city of Irbil, either he hasn’t applied any of the conditions of the agreement or he has narrated the agreements according to his own stance. He has brought the defense, the National Security Council and the internal affairs of his nation under his control by breaching agreements regarding the appointment of deputies.
Moreover, he has breached the most important factor of the Irbil agreements by not establishing a Strategic Policy National Assembly, which was supposed to be given veto rights. In weakening independent corporate control institutes and taming the high judicial authority, he is asserting his power to intimidate the nation.
Iraq’s Sunni vice-president Tariq al-Hashimi has been forced to go on the run after being accused of supporting terrorism, for which he was given the death sentence. The former finance minister Rafi al-Isawi also finds himself in a similar position.
Tensions are also increasing between Maliki and the president of the autonomous Kurdish regional government of northern Iraq, Mesud Barzani, who has criticized Maliki for taking full control of all aspects of the country. ‘Where else in the world can you find one man who is the commander of the army, head of state, head of defense, the intelligence chief, and the head of the national security council all at the same time?’ he asked.
Maliki has already been called ‘the second Saddam’ due to the torture and abuses that take place under his American-made authoritarian regime, which threatens and carries out attacks on the press and uses the judiciary not to secure justice, but to intimidate rivals.
Just like all leaders who hide behind the façade of a ‘war on terror’, Maliki is concerned with covering up the atrocities and abuses carried out by his own government and is in search of legitimacy. In his article in the New York Times, he is telling the United States that they cannot neglect Iraq because their mutual interests and common enemies make them dependent on one another.
Iraq is not prepared to forgo its ties with the US for Iran, nor has it any intention to cut ties with Iran. Rather, both the US and Iran have to consider the Iraq factor as they seek to iron out their differences. It is possible that Iraq will play the catalyzing role as all three countries struggle with terrorism, the Al Qaeda threat and sectarian divisions.
In Maliki’s point of view, the destruction of the Baath regime’s chemical weapons in Syria completes the ring of the US-Iraqi alliance. It could pave the way for Syria, Iraq and the US to cooperate against the common threat of Al Qaeda. He also mentioned that Iran wants to adopt a conciliatory image in the international negotiations over its nuclear program.
If the US wants and Iraq that meets its expectations, it needs to help Iraq boost its defenses. Iran must also pay a deterrent role in the region. Should the US help Iraq to strengthen its forces, the US will not only gain a key ally in the region, but they will also be able to reap the benefits from the investments it has made the rapidly growing energy-fuelled Iraqi economy.Last Mod: 01 Kasım 2013, 16:19