“This is not a boycott, but the political blocs want more time to choose the new speaker of parliament,” Jafari said, adding that a decision on this post was intertwined with the jobs of president and prime minister.
Post-2003 Iraq has had a power-sharing arrangement at the top in which, in the last two parliamentary elections, the post of speaker has been awarded to a Sunni and the prime minister’s job to a Shia, while the presidency has gone to a Kurd.
Because the April election did not give any political force enough of a lead to form a majority government, the various blocs were driven to forge broader alliances, but these have been unable to agree on candidates for the three top posts.
Relationships between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions have soured over the last four years, as Sunni politicians accused Prime Minister Maliki of marginalising and targeting their communities. Ties between central government and the autonomous region of Kurdistan have been strained by the latter’s decision to invite oil companies to invest there without consulting Baghdad.
The political confusion undoubtedly created an opportunity for ISIS to make its move, and it stormed through areas west and north of Baghdad in the second week of June. ISIS took Nineveh province including Mosul and Salahuddin in addition to parts of oil-rich Kirkuk.
Political analyst Hamid Fadhil argues that the pursuit of political power for its own sake, and the squabbling and indecision that has ensued, are the principal reasons for the present security threat as well as for Iraq’s economic problems.
“The main aim of these parties is to secure important posts… This will only entrench the present state of affairs,” he told IWPR. “These disagreements have made Iraq’s democracy an experience that no one would wish to emulate.”