Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Iraq: Out With Maliki in with Abadi

Haider al-Abadi                    Nouri al-Maliki

After vowing not to give up his position as Prime Minister of Iraq without a fight Iraq's incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appears to have reconsidered. Abandonment by his former supporters in Iran, as well as the military and politicians, including members of his own party quickly diffused and notions of a possible coup towards any future leader's government.  After a flexing of security muscle around the capitol on the heels of statements from Mr.Maliki indicating he would not leave office without a fight, Maliki eased off, and issued statements indicating the concession of his position to the Iran endorsed Haider al-Abadi.

Mr. Maliki's office released a statement that reflected both the growing opposition to him and the reality of the abandonment by the military - which he would need if he attempted to mount a coup.

A statement from the Maliki camp:
"Prime Minister Maliki urges commanders, officers and individuals to stay away from the political crisis and to commit to their military and security duties and tasks to protect the country, and not to intervene in this crisis. Leave this issue to the people, politicians and justice."

Selected by President Fouad Massoum, Haider al-Abadi is a lawmaker from Mr. Maliki's own Shiite Islamist Dawa Party. The former electrical engineer entered politics after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He became minister of communications in the Iraqi Governing Council in September 2003, and then was a key adviser to Maliki in Iraq's first post-invasion elected government. He has long been considered a contender for prime minister after the past two elections. Mr. Abadi has extended the opportunity for a peaceful and diplomatic transition to Mr. Maliki, urging him to join the process of government formation.

Some Iraqis believe that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's influential Shiite cleric, played an important role in Mr. Maliki's retreat, dispatching emissaries to Iran and successfully seeking the government's cooperation in pressuring Mr. Maliki.

In addition, senior lawmakers believe discussions focused on offering Mr. Maliki the position of a ceremonial vice president post, with attached immunities against past atrocities and a security detail and would allow him to remain in palatial government housing inside the fortified Green Zone played a part in Maliki considering stepping down without a fight. There are also talks of Maliki possibly considering a future exile situation in another country.

U.S. President Barrack Obama and his top aides are supporters of the Haider al-Abadi and urge him to galvanize forces that can construct an inclusive government that would eradicate Mr. Maliki's polarizing policies, which have alienated many in the Sunni and Kurd minorities.

Some Iraqis warn Maliki and his supporters should be kept on the short lease during the transition from Mr. Maliki to Mr. Abadi. Many expect Mr. Maliki to work behind the scenes to sabotage Mr. Abadi's efforts to form a new government. If Mr. Abadi fails, the Prime Minister selection process would began all over again.  

Perception dictates the notion that Mr. Maliki realized his defiance inevitably boxed him into a no win situation. His time has expired as the leader of Iraq. The failed state and chaos that emerged under his tenure cannot be argued with. His decision to embrace defeat without resistance is also an opportunity for him to save face and win some exit concessions that will make life after holding office quite comfortable for him.

In the midst of this whirlwind, another military tornado continues to swirl. ISIS has not gone anywhere and appears equipped mentally and militarily to remain a source of danger and chaos into the immediate future.

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