After P5 Plus 1: Time to Move on with Iraqi Politics

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. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

As expected, negotiations in Baghdad between Iran and the P5+1 (permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) on the Iranian nuclear file have ended without any major breakthrough.

For Iraq, this means the country can get back to its normal politics, perhaps without the added distractions that inevitably come with a major regional event involving Iran. There has been plenty of speculation as to the causes for the conspicuous synchronicity between the nuclear meeting and the apparent peak of the crisis of the current cabinet headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Has Iran somehow exploited the opportunity to send a not so gentle reminder to international players about its leverage in Iraqi politics?

Whatever the external pressures, the Iran nuclear file has for now been consigned to Moscow as its next destination in the second half of June. Maliki no longer has any major external event that can remove attention from internal problems and threats about unseating him. And those threats are gaining momentum.

On 28 April, an unprecedented gathering of leaders of the Kurds, the Sunni-secular Iraqiyya and the Shiite Islamist Sadrists issued a letter at Arbil calling for Maliki’s own Shiite alliance to make Maliki change his ways within 15 days or else take steps to withdraw confidence in him. The ultimatum wasn’t presented to the parliamentary head of the Shiite faction, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, until 3 May, meaning that it expired on 18 May.

One Response to After P5 Plus 1: Time to Move on with Iraqi Politics

  1. sheytanelkebir June 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    interesting analysis as always by reidar. but as usual he omits (or is not aware of) what’s happening on the ground in Iraq. From Maliki’s perspective he’s already created a huge mass of ground support for himself by employing hundreds of thousands under his patronage (both shias and sunnis) and he’s made alliances with mish’an juburi, harith al dhari and other well known sunni figures and setting himself up as an “iraqi strongman” (which he’s selling to sunni-arabs). Maliki is attempting to move away from his “shia religious” background, and, in baghdad at least, he is now more popular than ever at “grass roots” level. A new election now would result in him cementing his grip on power by massively increasing his powerbase… it is also expected that Nujaifi would ally with “whoever is strongest” in a reshuffling of alliances and sadr’s bluff would be called and he would fall in line. This would be a great loss for Allawi who’s already lost a lot of the grass roots support that he earlier had, and he lost it to the “arab nationalists” who returned from exile (who are allied with Maliki).