As US Pressures Maliki to Resign, will Iraqi Gov’t Collapse?

By Juan Cole

A consensus is forming in Washington that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki must resign, as part of accountability for his failures with his Sunni Arab citizens. Because Washington is so good about demanding accountability.

While this analysis is correct, and I have said myself that Iraq would be better off with a different leader, it is not clear that right now is the best time to force al-Maliki out. Washington also has to be careful about trying and failing to get rid of al-Maliki. President Obama and Hillary Clinton wanted to get rid of Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan in 2009; they failed, and therefore had bad relations with Karzai ever after.

A potential departure of al-Maliki raises the question of who would take his place. Al-Maliki is the head of the Islamic Mission Party (al-Da’wa al-Islamiyah). This Shiite fundamentalist party won 92 of 328 seats in the parliamentary elections just held. The Da’wa Party was for years covert and still is secretive. We don’t know who is on its politburo. It will likely form the next government with or without al-Maliki.

You could look to another Da’wa member on the cabinet. But al-Maliki has kept most important portfolios for himself. Ali al-Adeeb, Minister of Higher Education, is the other known Da’wa member on The cabinet. al-Maliki is said to have rebuked al-Adeeb for giving free rein in universities to extremist Sadrist militias and for discriminating against Sunnis. You begin to wonder if the problem is with the Da’wa Party.

The new Da’wa PM will have to attract the support of radical or just committed Shi’ites. Such as the Sadrist movement, the Supreme Council, and the Virtue Party. The Sadrists hate al-Maliki and may find it difficult to cooperate with Da’wa.

In 2010 the Kurds put al-Maliki over the top because he was not a hawk on Kirkuk. Now the Kurds have de facto annexed Kirkuk. They have no reason to back anyone. But the Shiite parties only have 155 but need 164 for a majority.

There are likely to be months of wrangling before a new PM can be chosen. And maybe it will have to be a minority PM because the parliament is permanently hung. In the meantime, if al-Maliki is deposed, who will command the armed forces?

So if you depose al-Maliki, you can’t be sure who will take his place. His successor may be even worse.

As in Libya, the the government could also collapse.


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17 Responses

  1. The failure of Iraq to include the Sunnis in its “democracy” never bothered our anti-democracy warmongers: they declared victory for democracy until the lack of it threatened to topple Maliki, use the same false claim for Ukraine and Afghanistan, and used it in Vietnam and a dozen countries in Latin America. It recruits the young and the soldiers for the oligarchy, who systematically deny them democracy, even in the US. Democracy eventually comes, but only long after the US is forced out.

    • I was thinking the same about the approach to the government turmoil in Ukraine and how the US and Europe supported an extra-constitutional coup.

      To his credit in the recent speech, Obama didn’t touch on resignation and did mention a successful elections had happened with high participation and proper system process in Iraq. But on the whole talking about the Iraqi government did feel sanitized from accepting its legitimacy, with the ‘people choose their leaders’, sounding a bit like giving weight to the insurgency despite acknowledging an elections.

  2. “A consensus is forming in Washington that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki must resign.” Really? Would the US demand the prime minister of England resign or the Chancellor of Germany resign? Iraq was bombed, their government overthrown, their military and police force disbanded just so we could “Spread the seeds of democracy.” Now that Iraq is making its own decisions, badly admittedly, we want the president overthrown, exposing the superficial arguments made that Iraq has the right to make their own mistakes.

    I’m looking for Bill Kristol to suggest we re-invade Iraq and install Eric Cantor as Prime Minister. He seems to be available.

      • You have to wonder if there’s somewhere a “Deposed President’s Club,” maybe a chat line or conference call, where folks like Karzai and Maliki can gather to reminisce, laugh about how many billions they suckered the Empire into dumping into their personal accounts, and how to keep the dumbsh_ts from the Imperial Policy Wonkery from simply assassinating their a__ses… And other bits of gallows and bitter humor.

  3. Is there enough yearning for a legitimated-by-ballot national government in Iraq to warrant a lot of fussing over who’s nominally in charge in Baghdad? I mean, other than for purposes of getting someone to sign and sit on a SOFA with US, to give the Empire the fig leaf for more of the same? Were those 275 or however many “advisers” or whatever invited by Al Maliki PR the Iraqi legislature?

  4. Confused a little. If Maliki is the US’s to ‘force out’, the implication is that Iraq is not actually a sovereign country. Say it ain’t so!

  5. More gob-smacking cluelessness from Team Obama or whoever is responsible for this “latest” widely reported American demand of “regime change” … while “our” candidate in Afghanistan has reportedly thrown a spanner in the works of that country’s election by accusing Karzai of ballot box stuffing AGAIN … Abdullah Abdullah notably was the second runner up, facing a run-off with Karzai when he decided to bow-out handing the last election to Karzai (in an election that we ultimately signed-off-on, giving it necessary “legitimacy”)

    When it comes to the United States and “democracy” — with friends like these, willing to undermine democratic processes again and again — as an American, I am appalled and ashamed and reminded of our own (barely) contested election of 2000 which ushered in so much our current crop of “interevcentionists” and neocon, the direct descendents (and in fact some of the same people) as escaped their “just desserts” from Iran Contra and similar “extra-legal” overeach by a unitary executive. Our eagerness to declare conflict in other countries as beyond the reach of democratic processes bodes badly for our own democracy, imho.

  6. What a mess. If Maliki did resign, U.S. war hawks would be able to put even more pressure on Obama to start shocking and awing ISIS like we did Saddam. Dead civilians would be American “collateral damage.” When we dropped our bombs, if was their fault for being under them.

    The Cheney’s video would be perfect Republican war propaganda if Dick was holding a shotgun and the daughter was holding up a dead duck. Love his cowboy hat.

    “President Obama should do to ISIS what we just did to this bird.”

    Whether Maliki stays or goes, it doesn’t solve the long-term problem. With one word, Grand Ayatollah Sistani could have a couple of hundred THOUSAND Shiites armed and ready on the streets in Baghdad, so ISIS is facing imminent and very certain martyrdom if they attack.

    Maliki ain’t at the Alamo. ISIS marching on Baghdad would be exactly like George Armstrong Custer’s two hundred men attacking several thousand Indians at the Little Big Horn.

  7. “So if you depose al-Maliki, you can’t be sure who will take his place. His successor may be even worse.”

    As Andrew Bacevich noted on CNN this morning was the case in Vietnam. As for Bacevich being on CNN, I could hardly believe it after CNN’s parade of neocon culprits who helped get the US into the Iraq war and to continue the insanity.

  8. You fail to note the irony of a purported democracy issuing a dictate to another country to remove its popularly-elected executive. I think the United States should reciprocate and Obama should be removed from power. It’s only fair.

  9. Obama in his recent speech seemed to neither back nor disown Al-Maliki or make that an issue. Overall he articulated well what he saw as the problems there, defending US stances and consequences of any actions and struck the right balance in his message urging for a political solution. He briefly mentioned Jordan’s security, and at the end addressed and leaned on Iran mostly for a solution for Iraq, despite the Shia sectarian perception risk, rather than other regional Sunni states for help.

  10. While they may have believed their own rhetoric about spreading freedom, in practice the US regime in Iraq reflexively backed separatist factions (dawa, “sons of iraq”, kurdish parties, “el salvador option” death squads…) and moved against anyone with some kind of nationalist agenda (oilworkers Union, Sadrists when they were reaching out to Sunni groups e.g. in Falluja). Occupations have their own momentum, leading to divide and rule, torture, and so on.

    So it is a little rich for them to drop their puppet – whose real “crime” is being too independant and too close with Iran – on account of factionalism.

  11. The American government doesn’t have the knowledge nor wisdom to suggest, pressure, demand and mandate government changes to the citizens and present rulers of Iraq. Most of the government cannot speak nor read the language.

    1. For the last 50 years, most of the US legal and illegal military actions have made things worse and have not been won.
    Any doubt, read Tom Engelhardt, “A Record of Unparalleled Failure” & “Don’t Walk Away from War”.
    link to

    2. Americans do not have a democratic government. We vote but are choices are limited to the rich, millionaires and billionaires. Nor is everyone treated equally and with equal rights. Money buys votes, elections and power.

    The Congress of the US government does not represent nor relate to 98 or 99% of Americans. Half of Congress are millionaires and the other half are becoming millionaires with “Illegal Inside Information”, III. Congress represents and relates to the evil billionaires. Congress consists of evil, dumb millionaire puppets to their billionaires masters. They don’t experience real joy nor real love.

    3. The US Military Industrial Complex has trained and armed many that are, were or became terrorists and corrupt dictators.

    4. America and the world are being ruled by the corrupt billionaire families that own and/or rule most of the governments, the banking corporations (the Federal Reserve, the IMF, etc), a majority of the large and giant corporations (news, food, health, education, power). Who gets richer and more powerful during the depressions and recessions?

    5. The austerity economic programs in Europe and in other countries are not working. They are proof that austerity economics will not work in America. They mainly make the rich richer. Who has bought up the home and business foreclosures?

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