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Iraq: A Lame Duck! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The ordeal of forming the next Iraqi government, with its inconsistencies, concessions, deals, and Iranian influence, means one important thing: The next Iraqi Prime Minister, whether it is Nuri al-Maliki, or otherwise, will be a restricted one, with limited powers, a man sitting on a chair with four weak legs. This is because any alliance will not be based on mutual interests, but instead on pressure and overseas influence, namely from Iran. This is what Moqtada al-Sadr confirmed in his statement when he announced his acceptance of al-Maliki’s nomination for a second term in office, acknowledging that pressure is normal in politics and that everybody is “trying to move their bread closer to the fire” [Iraqi proverb meaning everybody is acting in their own interests].

Therefore, the Iraqi Prime Minister will be a lame duck, as politicians say. The Iraqi Prime Minister will not assume his position until he has exhausted all of his bargaining chips, offering one concession after another. This means that the Prime Minister will be weakened, both in the short and long term. There is now way of knowing the full repercussions of course, because a weak Iraqi Prime Minister in Iraq is just as dangerous as an authoritarian Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister will make concessions with the sole aim of staying in power, without considering national interests, or the formation of an inclusive government for all aspects of society, but more importantly a government which reflects the reality of the ballot boxes. This means that the role of Iraq in the region will weaken, and also that Iraq, with its government being formed under Iranian influence, will not be a truly independent state, primarily concerned with national interests. Instead it will be a satellite state; its attitudes and positions will reflect those of Iran, a matter which we currently see in the predicament of Lebanon’s position.

It is strange that the Americans today are expressing their concern about Ahmedinejad’s forthcoming visit to Lebanon, and its potential impact, whilst ignoring the gravity of what Iran is doing in Iraq, where it is both forming the government, and infiltrating the infrastructure of the country. This is what we [Asharq al-Awsat] suggested in a previous article entitled ‘Iraq…Are the Americans Conspiring?’. This prompted the editorial team of the official Iraqi newspaper, ‘Al-Sabah’, to launch a sharp attack against the author of the article, and Asharq Al-Awsat. They accused us of sectarianism and so on, using rhetoric resembling that of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Interestingly, the official Iraqi newspaper says that we are playing with ‘borrowed time’. I do not know what is wrong with that, especially as ‘borrowed time’ is within the rules of the game. However, it is not in the rules of the game to manipulate the facts. Yet is this not what the Iraqi newspaper has done? It has contrived a calculated opinion, in statements attributed to the Saudi ‘government and people’, stating that Saudi Arabia welcomes the nomination of Nuri al-Maliki to form the Iraqi government, even though Saudi sources have described these statements as lies and slander.

Returning to the result of what is happening in Iraq today, which is of course the most important issue: Whatever the current satisfaction amongst the different sects, or leaders, and whatever has been agreed regarding the formation of the Iraqi government, under Iranian pressure, the result is that Iraq will be a lame duck. This means a deepening of problems for the already depleted country, and a reduction in its expected role, whether politically or economically, or even culturally. This is what is being felt by wise Iraqis, and concerned Arabs alike.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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