These factors suggest that Maliki might be in no hurry to expose himself to the risk of an immediate hasty stab at government formation. It might be far more sensible to pre-negotiate as many aspects of government formation as possible – to set up the giant domino set – and then to watch them fall in rapid succession, to reduce the risks of the deal collapsing during a long-drawn-out version of the process. This would ensure that a deal was solid before he risked his one shot at the prize. For companies seeking to enter Iraq’s market, the potential for added delay in government formation will no doubt be unsettling. On the bright side, a deliberate approach could avoid the pitfalls of one or more failed attempts to form a government, or the longer-term risk of a tottering coalition that might succumb to a vote of no-confidence at any moment. The second round of constitutionally-mandated elections often make or break a democracy and Iraq will be no exception.
Until next time,
Dr Michael Knights is Vice President and lead Iraq analyst at Olive Group, the first security company to operate in Iraq, operating as an Iraqi company (Al-Zaytoon) since 2003. He has worked on Iraqi political and security risks since the mid-1990s, first as an oil and gas journalist and later as an academic, receiving his PhD on Iraq at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. Since 2003, Dr Knights has run the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Iraq programme, advising US government agencies on Iraq policy and publishing a series of books on local politics and security in Basrah, Maysan, Dhi Qar and the northern provinces including Kirkuk. Since joining Olive Group in 2006, he has consulted on community and stakeholder engagement with most of the major oil and gas and construction companies entering Iraq.
He can be contacted at [email protected]