How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maliki? Change The Iraqi PM's Job Description
The Iraqi Parliament met for the first time this week. But new MPs were unable to get any further than deciding they couldn’t decide who was to be the next Prime Minister. The problem is, despite how Iraqi politics is supposed to work, the Prime Minister will hold more power than he is supposed to. Solving this problem could be the key to solving Iraq’s current crisis.
Amidst the crisis currently affecting Iraq, the country’s new Parliament sat for the first time this week. However almost immediately negotiations to elect the country’s most senior politicians broke down. According to all parties involved this was because the Shiite Muslim politicians failed to nominate a single candidate for the position of Prime Minister, a post currently held by Shiite Muslim politician Nouri al-Maliki.
The other major groups in Parliament – the Iraqi Kurds and the Sunni Muslims – said they wouldn’t nominate anyone for the senior roles they usually occupy until the Shiite alliance had come up with their nominee.
The reason they couldn’t come up with anyone? Because all of the different Shiite Muslim parties would like one of their people to do the job.
Part of the reason for this is because since al-Maliki has been in the Prime Minister’s seat, the job of Prime Minister has taken on more and more significance and more and more power. For years, his opponents, who include leading figures within the Shiite Muslim political scene, have criticised him for monopolizing power, for making all decisions by himself and for never consulting other parties in Iraq. It is for this reason that al-Maliki has been described as a dictator.
And it is for this reason that everybody wants his job, rather than any other. Since 2003, when Saddam Hussein’s regime was ended by a US-led invasion, the major roles in Iraq’s Parliament have been distributed evenly between the three major population groups – Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims and the Iraqi Kurds.