Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—On Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki failed to attend a parliamentary session to discuss the country’s deteriorating security situation, sparking a deep crisis between him and the Iraqi parliament. This development comes despite what was previously announced by Safa Al-Din Al-Safi, the minister of state for parliamentary affairs and a leading member of the State of Law coalition, namely that a compromise had been reached and Maliki would be in attendance.
According to what has so far been revealed by MPs from the State of Law coalition, led by Maliki, the prime minister does not want to discuss the security issue in parliament because he is in possession of confidential information. He does not wish to disclose this information in front of MPs accused of terrorism, or those with arrest warrants issued against them, fearing that they may leak intelligence to armed groups.
In addition to verbal exchanges, the Iraqi parliament witnessed a series of press conferences on Monday between those supporting and opposing Maliki’s decision not to attend, after speaker of the parliament Osama Al-Nujaifi had invited him and prominent security leaders to come to parliament to discuss the recent violations. Kamal Al-Saadi, a State of Law coalition MP, said in a press conference that Maliki’s failure to attend does not mean he does not value the blood of the Iraqis, in reply to what the Sadrist Al Ahrar bloc had claimed in a similar conference.
Meanwhile, another leader close to Maliki added that the lack of security in Iraq has a “political background” tied to a “foreign agenda”. Yassin Majeed said that the request for the prime minister to attend a parliamentary session on the security situation was “provocative and against the principles of communication between state institutions.” He questioned why the speaker of the parliament would publicly insist on Maliki coming to parliament, adding that “the goal is to interfere in the government’s work. Some disruptive MPs want to promote their electoral propaganda and abuse prime minister Nuri Maliki.”
Instead of attending parliament, Maliki opted to participate in a conference with South Korean companies planning to invest in Iraq.
The Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee has rejected the arguments of Maliki and those close to him justifying his absence. Mathhar Al-Janabi, an Iraqiya bloc MP and member of the committee, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “it is shameful and embarrassing that these kinds of justifications have appeared to justify the prime minister’s non-attendance, which some have put down to him not wanting to reveal confidential information in front of members of parliament.” Janabi added, “The message that we received from the prime minister’s office was that he wants us, especially the heads of blocs and committees, to visit him, rather than him coming to parliament. He forgets that parliament voted for him to become prime minister, and that parliament, not the cabinet, is the true representative of the people.”
Janabi stressed that “the real reason why Maliki did not attend is because he does not want to face the security failure; a disaster that has become known to everyone. Therefore, all the talk about commitment to the constitution and the pursuit of security are just words with no basis.” He added, “We, as the Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee, are ashamed to face the street and the media because we do not have an answer for them.” Janabi explained, “The problem, in reality, is the executive and not the legislative branch. Therefore, it is our right as elected representatives of the people to know what is going on, without justifications or arguments relating to protocol or having appointments with South Korean investors, where any official could have attended and spoke on Maliki’s behalf.”
In response to a question about Osama Nujaifi’s assertion that the parliament will take further action if Maliki does not attend next week, Janabi said that “in the event of the prime minister not attending next week’s session, the next step would be formal questioning.”
In turn, Maha Al-Douri, an Al Ahrar bloc MP, said that “when we asked the prime minister to host the parliamentary session this was not out of insolence but because of important reasons related to the blood of the Iraqi people.” She went on to say that “State of Law MPs . . . said that the prime minister would not attend the meeting on Monday, and those MPs are sitting in the Green Zone . . . spoiled. They do not know what is really happening to the Iraqi people amid this torrent of bloodshed at the hands of terrorism.”