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On the Crisis of Governance in Baghdad

Public Policy

Peaceful citizens were killed not by bullets fired by terrorists or the occupation forces but by government bullets and this comes at a time when the country has not been able to extricate itself from a political labyrinth to learn who will be the country’s next Prime Minister. Iraq’s parliament has been unable to take any decisions since last March, and when the first parliamentary session since the elections was held, the leaders of the disputing parties decided that this parliamentary session would remain open until a Prime Minister is chosen. Some Iraqi observers believe that due to the differences with regards to forming the cabinet this represents a circumvention of the Iraqi constitution.

The political situation is further complicated because Iraq has not changed much since Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki first took office and despite the relative improvement in security it is still the country most at risk from terrorist attacks, according to the Maplecroft Terrorism Risk index. This report, published on 16 February, shows that the civilian death toll from acts of violence in Iraq exceeded 4000 in 2009, with approximately 100-500 civilian deaths taking place each month. Some people see the situation in Iraq as a recurrence of the sectarian model, and therefore they explicitly justify the sectarian quota system. One Iraqi commenter drew attention to the fact that the United Nations had sought the help of a Lebanese consultant at the beginning of the invasion to help achieve stability in Iraq. Perhaps the most important question at this stage is: is Iraq in need of a strong central government, i.e. greater powers for the post of prime minister?

In an interview with Nuri al Maliki (published 9 June in the New York Times) he said that “every country needs a strong leader…especially Iraq” and that “I will not be a prime minister with the job of a traffic cop.” These comments reveal an attempt to endow the position of prime minister with greater power, and this is a position that al Maliki is striving to keep hold of, especially following his rejection of the National Iraqi Alliance’s proposals to put forward a number of other prime ministerial candidates. Al Maliki is within his rights to insist that he stands once more as his coalition’s candidate and it is important that we note that the constitutionality of the “largest bloc” has not yet been resolved because this was something announced immediately after the elections and not before.


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