Friday, September 7, 2012

With Less Involvement in Iraq, US Interests and Iraq’s Future in Jeopardy

By Ali Rawaf

Writing about Iraqi politics has become more frustrating than starting a fire by rubbing two sticks. There are hardly any positive political developments and our politicians are stuck in debating issues that bear no substance or benefit to the people.

To remind you, as soon as the last US soldier stepped outside the Iraqi borders, things have been going downhill.  Today, Maliki's Iraq almost seems as far from democracy as it was under Saddam Hussein. The PM is on a journey to court as much power into his hands as possible. The opposition forces continue to lose ground. And the Iraqi people continue to suffer from poor quality of life.

Soon after the US left, Maliki moved to prosecute his VP for alleged terrorist activities, a move that reignited sectarian tensions and as he is being tried in absentia, Iraqis are reminded of the sectarian violence that they thought was winding down.

Last week, the Minister of Communication resigned after growing interference from the Prime Minister in moving ministry officials around with no regards to the minister, who is a member of the same political entity of the VP. Anonymous sources say that three top leaders from the same political party have given their support to Maliki, after his perpetual threats of ousting them from their positions.
Maliki is also in a major political battle with the Kurds. As Iraq’s oil revenue grows so does the fight between Baghdad and the Kurdish federal region over oil contracts that are being granted to foreign companies by the regional government. Maliki’s office says that the central government is the only one that is authorized to grant such contracts. As a result, foreign companies are growing more hesitant to do business with Iraq and the Kurds renewed their calls for secession.

The growing frustrations with Maliki’s politics lead to a meeting between the major political parties in parliament. They agreed to question Maliki within the constitutional power the parliament. A day before Maliki was going to be summoned, a military unit under his command lifted the belt of concrete blocks that fortify parliament against bomb attacks, a move that was seen as a threat.

The PM also threatened the parties that if he was going to be questioned, he would divulge embarrassing secrets about those who question him. As a result, the efforts to oust him or question him withered.
Iraqi politicians claim that Maliki seems emboldened by the US lack of interest in Iraqi affairs and an expanding Iranian support. That lack of involvement from the US and the West will not only cost Iraqis, it will cost the US interests in the region.

Iraq so far has helped lessen the effects of the US sanctions against Iran by letting local banks handle Iranian trade transactions and Iraq is also helping Iran send military supplies support the Syrian regime through Iraqi airspace.

Despite calls from Iraqi parties, regional and foreign countries, and US VP Joe Biden to halt both activities, Maliki remains defiant and those activities still go on. 

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