This is not the first time that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been accused of being a dictator. For more than a year, senior politicians have been leveling this charge, long before it ever rung out as the defining chant of the demonstrations in Anbar and other Sunni cities.
Assessing the interplay of accusations between Iraqi political parties is a highly sensitive task. It must be approached cautiously and credibility must be granted sparingly due to the escalation in the nature of the accusations, having started with corruption, terrorism and subordination to foreign countries, and ending with dictatorship.
The latter charge is never leveled independent of the other accusations. This reveals a systematic flaw inherent in the Iraqi state structure which facilitates this interchange of accusations and in turn could lead to major crises.
The mistakes, which first plagued the establishment of the political system in Iraq in 2003, are part of a century-long legacy of mismanagement in Iraq. It is a burdensome legacy whose blunders, stumbles, and uncertainties culminated in Maliki assuming executive powers in 2006. This occurred in tumultuous circumstances when large areas of Iraq were under the sway of al-Qaeda or armed militias, not to mention the U.S. military presence and the vagaries accompanying its operations in Iraq that year.