Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

When Al-Maliki Jumped Out of the Window | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Iraqi administration announced opening what it described as a “window of communication” between the Iraqi Prime Minister and the media however what occurred was the exact opposite of this. Instead of taking advantage of this window of communication, Mr. Nuri al-Maliki threw diplomatic etiquette and the truth out of it when he gave an inflammatory statement about his neighboring country, Saudi Arabia.

Al-Maliki said that the all Iraqi initiatives towards Saudi Arabia had been exhausted, and that these had been “interpreted as a sign of weakness” and that it is now up to Saudi Arabia to take the initiative to Iraq. What is strange about this statement is its threatening language as well as its timing.

What is the justification behind this statement, especially as there are currently no issues on the horizon that put Saudi Arabia at odds with Iraq?

It is true that Riyadh’s relationship with Baghdad is not a positive one, yet this relationship cannot be described as a negative one [either]; Saudi Arabia is not hostile to Iraq, and is not involved in any hostile projects against Baghdad.

All that an observer can touch upon [with regards to the reason for this] is Saudi Arabia ignoring Nuri al-Maliki, without actually making his job more difficult to do, or escalation, with regards to the position and statements issued by Saudi officials. Therefore al-Maliki’s reaction and his language towards Saudi Arabia are unjustified, especially since according to many Saudi sources the Iraqi Prime Minister knows very well the reasons [for this]. Al-Maliki has previously visited Riyadh and discussed and agreed on many issues, and so the question that al-Maliki must answer is; what has been implemented with regards to all of these agreements [made with Saudi Arabia]?

The answer of course is nothing.

It is very unlikely that Mr. al-Maliki wants to achieve what his recent statement called for, namely the improvement of Saudi – Iraqi relations, as this is something that will be achieved by wisdom, political action, and hard work, not by inflammatory and threatening statements.

It is clear that al-Maliki did what he did [made this statement] in order to achieve several internal objectives in Iraq that have nothing to do with Saudi Arabia whatsoever. The Iraq Prime Minister announced his political project that dreams of majority rule, along with his government find itself under the pressure from the Iraqi parliament with regards to [governmental] corruption.

For whilst attacking Saudi Arabia [from one direction] al-Maliki is also advancing in another, busying Iraqi public opinion with side issues that distract from the fight against corruption in the Iraqi government. The same goes for using Saudi Arabia’s name with regards to re-alignment [distracting from] al-Maliki’s political project. We are all well aware that the political project that al-Maliki is calling for with regards to majority rule could be excellent if it was implemented by people who are not sectarian, and who do not use Iran to strengthen themselves at the expense of their own people, and even at the expense of people of their own sect. There are many nationalists in Iraq who do not accept hiding under the cloak of Iran.

Nuri Al-Maliki’s problem is with regards to having a good understanding of politics, and the region around him. Iraq’s neighbors, and specifically the Arabs who are keen for moderation and stability, and who long suffered under the previous regime, will not bow down to a new lesser Saddam.

It is up to the Iraqi government to reach out to all those around it, from the Iraqis themselves, to the neighboring states, which is something that al-Maliki has yet to pay any attention to. They must do this, not by imploring or threatening, but with the language of reason, and by preserving common interests, and before and above all of this, by fulfilling their promises.