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Opinion: Maliki’s Bad Advice | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraq’s prime minister of eight years, Nuri Al-Maliki, announces he is relinquishing his post to Haider Al-Abadi (2nd L) in Baghdad on August 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Iraqi Government)

Nuri Al-Maliki, who had described the appointment of Haider Al-Abadi as Iraq’s prime minister-designate as a “conspiracy,” is today offering advice on how to save the country from a crisis that he created. Maliki, the prime minister who was pulled out like a bad tooth, wants Iraq to continue bleeding. He is now advising Abadi on how to govern. Don’t let them overrule you, use the majority to impose the government you want, so goes Maliki’s advice.

What a twisted man, haunted by personal, trivial conflicts. Maliki wants his successor to carry on these personal political battles, at a time when Iraq is facing its most serious crisis in a decade. The crisis is even more dangerous as there is no international force supporting Iraq nor is there an internal force that can be relied upon. The only solution is a successful national salvation project that safeguards the regime and an integrated Iraqi state.

It is not mandatory that Haider Al-Abadi form a government made up of the parliamentary majority, particularly as the parliament does not reflect the true majority of Iraq. Such a government would not be able to prevent the risks of disintegration, nor would it ensure sufficient popular support to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al-Qaeda and the rebels.

What really exposes Maliki’s ignorance is that he is actively seeking to form a parliamentary “majority” that keeps hold of decision-making. It does not matter how people think outside the walls of the Green Zone. His main concern is to create this political “majority,” buying votes and preventing opponents from winning; this is the axis of his political project.

Maliki sank into despotism; this ultimately proved his undoing and blinded him to reality. He could not even see that the country was sliding toward disintegration and terrorism because of his insistence on excluding all those who were not on his team.

The narrow-minded Maliki is now urging his successor Abadi to reject what he described as “dictates,” advising him to resort to the formation of a majority government. However if the parliamentary majority was a successful project, Maliki would not have been forced to step down. So how can he advise his successor to follow this doomed approach?

The demands of Iraqi citizens are not dictates. The Iraqi people are speaking out to express their desire to cooperate. Otherwise, these forces would have been entrenched in their regions, holding on to their weapons. It is not wrong for these groups to ask for the release of detainees who are being held without trial, and for the re-examination of the cases of those who were sentenced under suspicious circumstances. These are not dictates; they are trying to redress past mistakes and create a healthy and united Iraq. Under Maliki’s rule, one third of the country was lost to terrorism; another third wanted separation, and the remaining third wanted Maliki out and does not want a another tyrant in power.

So Abadi should not listen to the man who ruined Iraq. He should see that all the Iraqi forces, even the opposition, are willing to cooperate with him; something that has not been witnessed since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Only a fanatic like Maliki could be blind to this positive spirit because he believes that Iraq is the Green Zone, and that what happens beyond Baghdad is of no account.

The political process promised by the prime minister-designate goes beyond the issue of parliamentary seats. It is not just counting the number of raised hands in Iraq’s parliament; rather it seeks to bridge the gap, instill confidence, persuade opponents to participate and prepare for reconciliation between Iraq’s divided political parties. It seeks to form a true national unity government. This is not a recipe that would work for Maliki whose euphoria of ruling Iraq made him unable to think rationally.

In Maliki’s opinion, the parliament became limited to those who voted for him; justice prevailed through security investigators and judges who were appointed by him; and whoever disagreed with him was a rebel who was immediately accused of treason and conspiring.

From the outgoing prime minister’s speech on Wednesday, it is clear that Maliki does not understand why he was forced to step down, nor does he understand that Abadi has come to save Iraq from his mistakes.