Supporters say the Iraqi PM is simply shoring up support and abiding by the law. Critics say he’s more interested in ditching the difficult three party system and starting a new government of his own. Will al-Maliki become Iraq's new dictator? Or will he struggle on with the democratic process, asks this article from Niqash.
Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Earlier this week, Baghdad was thrown into a serious political crisis when al-Maliki asked the Iraqi parliamentarians to dismiss one of his three deputy prime ministers, Saleh al-Mutlaq, with a no-confidence vote. Al-Maliki was also behind an arrest warrant for one of Iraq’s two vice presidents, Tariq al-Hashimi, on charges of terrorism.
Al-Hashimi is accused of being involved in a death squad that targeted politicians during the height of sectarian unrest in Iraq between 2006 and 2008. He has denied the allegations, saying that they are politically motivated.
Both al-Hashimi and al-Mutlaq are senior members of the Iraqiya bloc, the main opposition group to al-Maliki’s governing State of Law bloc. As a result of al-Maliki’s moves, the Iraqiya bloc, which has 83 seats in the 325 seat parliament and heads nine ministries, declared its intention to boycott parliament. Later on Monday, parliamentary proceedings were suspended for 15 days. There was no quorum – the minimum number of MPs needed to be present in order for decisions to be made – because many Kurdish MPs also stayed away.
"With this arrest warrant, Iraq is facing a serious political crisis,” Itab al-Douri, a member of the Iraqiya bloc who was once considered a potential Minister of Defence, told NIQASH. “There have long been fears that government officers would use the army and police force to eliminate the opponents,” she said.
While allegations about al-Hashimi’s involvement in violence are not new, it is also true that the arrest warrant is a political hot potato for obvious reasons. Both al-Hashimi and al-Mutlaq have been harsh critics of al-Maliki in public and in parliament.
Al-Maliki himself has just returned from a visit to the US where the foundations were apparently laid for Iraq’s future relationship with that country, after the withdrawal of US troops.