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Intimidating the Iraqis - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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From the appearance of outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, it seems as if he has not enjoyed a good night’s sleep in weeks, perhaps since the announcement of the Iraqi election results. His comments also demonstrate that he is in a continuous state of anxiety about leaving the premiership, which is a position that he was lucky to obtain.

For those who do not recall the story behind this, the National Iraqi Alliance emerged victorious at the 2005 Iraqi elections and their prime ministerial candidates were Dr. Dr. Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Adil Abdul-Mahdi. However a deep division occurred with regards to choosing one of the two for the Iraqi premiership, and four months of stalemate forced the candidates to step down and allow a third candidate to be put forward to put an end to this problem, this third candidate was Nuri al-Maliki who did not expect to find himself in this post. This is how Nuri al-Maliki was lucky to become Prime Minister.

Al-Maliki has undertaken his duties as Prime Minister for the past four years, and to be honest he has done this to the best of his abilities amidst a difficult political and security situation. Then the recent elections took place, and the results were announced with no clear victor, although Allawi’s bloc was in the lead by just two seats. Everybody in Iraq expected such unclear elections results except perhaps for al-Maliki, and I do not know where he got the idea that he would emerge as the landslide winner. Since that day, al-Maliki has been calling for a recount of the votes and sheltering behind the Accountability and Justice Commission which has created a number of innovations to void the results of the Iraqiya bloc, accusing their candidates of being Baathists in order to reduce the number of seats held by Allawi.

It is not strange for al-Maliki to try to hold onto his position – for this is the case with most Arab rulers – but by doing so he is threatening the political process and putting all of Iraq in danger. Al-Maliki is today trying to scare the Iraqis with the prospect of UN interference; however the UN is the chief election monitor and observer, and Iraq remains under the purview of Chapter VII of the UN Chapter which gives the UN Security Council the final say in this matter. Al-Maliki is right that there is no need to involve the UN, but the problem is that by trying to change the announced election results he has caused the elector bloc that originally won the most number of seats to call for help from the authorities in charge of supervising the elections. Al-Maliki has also called for a recount without first guaranteeing that this will take place in a transparent atmosphere and under the supervision of a party that is acceptable to all electoral blocs, not just his own. We do not understand what has afflicted al-Maliki to cause him to raise all of these obstacles, especially as there is no clear victor that would be able to form a government on their own, and al-Maliki or Allawi or anybody else cannot form a government or become Prime Minister without first allying with other parties.

Do not forget that this was an open election that was overseen by bodies that al-Maliki’s government put in place and found acceptable, and they the elections results that did not produce a clear victor was ratified by them. Perhaps a candidate not winning a majority is in the interests of Iraq as this is something that forces the politicians to work together over the next four years as a team and form a government that represents everybody, rather than there being a majority ruler who issues orders. This will be a difficult task for the next Prime Minister of Iraq, but this is a good balance, especially for Iraq at its current stage of political maturation.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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