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Opinion: Iraq’s New Government and its Old Faces - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The new government in Baghdad can be said to include all the old faces involved in Iraq’s crisis—and it doesn’t even include the the defense or interior ministers yet, who are yet to be named.

Looking at the new government—in particular the new vice presidents and deputy parliamentary speakers—it is clear that parliament did not vote for a new government, but rather voted to legitimize the old faces of Iraq’s crises. No one can claim that this new government is a consensus government; it is one that reflects the magnitude of the crises and divisions that have beset Iraq. This suggests that Iraq’s politicians and leaders have not come to grips with the size of the crisis facing the country and that they are more interested in reaping the benefits of the international consensus regarding the importance of intervening in Iraq to address the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). What is happening in Iraq makes it clear these are not statesmen, politicians, leaders or political parties in any sense of the word; rather, they are groups that believe their interests are best served by securing their own selfish gains. It is clear from the figures that have been included in the government that everyone is seeking shelter from the storm.

As for the return of Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, Adel Abdul Mahdi, Osama Al-Nujaifi and Baqir Jabr Al-Zubeidi, this in itself is a crisis. It seems that Iraq today is not seeking to overcome crises, but to recycle them. The appointments of Iyad Allawi and Nuri Al-Maliki as vice presidents, and the appointment of Hoshyar Zebari as deputy prime minister, make it clear that the new Iraqi government is nothing more than a government of self-interest, not a technocratic, national unity or reconciliation government. This is a government where all the faces of Iraq’s previous crises have returned to haunt us again, on the basis that everyone is reassured, not on the basis of true participation to build a state and avoid future crises. Otherwise, how can we give Maliki the same post as Iyad Allawi, particularly after everything Maliki has done in Iraq?

This all confirms the magnitude and the threat of the political and sectarian crisis currently taking place in Iraq, particularly as everyone is pursuing their own partisan interests and no one is looking out for Iraq as a whole.

This analysis of events in Iraq is backed up by Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s inability to name new defense and interior ministers, which are among the most important ministerial portfolios today, particularly when taking into account the presence of ISIS and possible US military intervention. So how can Iraq’s politicians say they are committed to protecting and safeguarding the country from ISIS when they cannot even come to an agreement regarding who should head the defense and interior ministries?

Parliament’s voting to back this government—which includes these old faces of Iraqi crises—without the interior or defense ministers being appointed is like someone going to the store with the grocery list, but without any money or credit cards. So how can Iraq fight ISIS without a minister of interior or a minister of defense to lead this battle?

So, the new Iraqi government, and the faces and figures they contain, demonstrate the sheer magnitude of the crisis facing the country, as well as the magnitude of the mistrust between Iraq’s main segments. This is something that can only be address with genuine, not superficial, reconciliation.

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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