The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Another Batch of Security Ministry Nominees: Turning the Clock Back to 2006?
Parliament speaker Usama al-Nujayfi has confirmed that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has presented a second batch of nominees for the crucial security ministries that were left out of the vote of confidence on his second government in December 2010. Nujayfi has not indicated when parliament will vote on the three candidates – Sadun al-Dulaymi for defence, Tawfiq al-Yasiri for interior, and Riyad Ghrayb for national security affairs.
The absence of an agreed date for a parliamentary vote reflects uncertainty relating to the parliamentary base of support for the three new candidates. In terms of their background, Dulaymi is currently culture minister but previously served as defence minister and is affiliated with the Sunni Islamist Tawafuq bloc. Both Tawfiq al-Yasiri and Riyad Ghrayb belong to the State of Law/Daawa milieu. Whereas Yasiri does have a military background, he left Iraq after having participated in the failed uprising in 1991 and remained in exile for a decade. That means all three candidates belong to the segment of “returned exiles” rather than to the important group of officials in the army that continued to work with Saddam in the 1990s and have been pragmatically coopted by the regime after 2003. In other words, they are all seen first and foremost as “party nominees”.
That aspect, in turn, relates to a potential problem for Maliki in obtaining parliamentary support for his nominees. Above all, Iraqiyya has been critical of the way Maliki circumvented its own candidate – Salim Dalli, who does have a military background but is currently a parliamentary deputy – and how he instead reverted to Tawafuq as a source of “Sunni” support. Additionally, the small breakaway faction from Iraqiyya known as White Iraqiyya has indicated its support for Maliki’s nominees, potentially leading to a situation in which Maliki and his Shiite coalition once more joins with Kurds and mostly symbolic representatives of the Sunnis to sideline Iraqiyya.
That in itself sounds very much like 2006. But whereas Iraqiyya has protested openly, it is still not clear where the Kurds and the rest of the Shiites stand on the latest batch of nominees. For example, a Fadila spokesperson has said Maliki “enforced” Yasiri as the Shiite candidate for interior, and it is unclear whether the Sadrist demand to have Abd al-Karim al-Sudani as deputy interior minister will be acceded to. It is however noteworthy that the pro-Maliki newspaper Al-Muwatin indicated Dulaymi as a possible defence minister as early as on 19 April, suggesting that perhaps this latest move does indeed represent Maliki’s plan for getting the parliamentary approval that would finally complete his second cabinet line-up.