On Aug. 26, the Iraqi judiciary resolved a six-month controversy concerning a law passed to limit the terms of the president, prime minister and parliament speaker in an attempt to prevent current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from running for another term. The Federal Supreme Court, the body authorized to interpret the constitution, declared the law unconstitutional, landing a severe blow to Maliki's opponents, who had failed in June to round up enough votes for a parliamentary vote of no confidence.
Although the controversial law targeted the speaker and president as well, the law was clearly aimed at the prime minister. Passed in January, it stipulated that “for the purposes of the implementation of the law's provisions, a full term is one that ends upon exemption, resignation, withdrawal of confidence or upon the dissolution of parliament.” The text clearly showed that Maliki's opponents had personalized it, which prompted its referral to the Federal Supreme Court a few days after it was passed.
Some observers believe that Maliki heeded, at least in part, the advice of close associates who urged him to postpone the appeal against the term limits law and pave the way for compromise and resolution by reconciling with Iraqi Kurds, considered to be his fiercest opponents. Indeed, Maliki broke the ice with them in June and restored relations, which had been strained to the point of deploying tanks and soldiers on the border of the Kurdish region in late 2012.
The reconciliation took on broader implications when the federal court, one day before its decision on the term mandates, abolished an article providing for normalization with the Kurds and scrutinizing voter registrations as a precondition for local and legislative elections in Kirkuk province, which the Kurds are demanding be annexed to their region.
Now that Maliki is free to run for a third term, he has to work on two levels to secure another mandate. First, he has to convince Iran and the United States of the importance of his remaining in office. Second, he must build a new coalition that includes Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish forces to secure an overwhelming majority in parliament.
Maliki's opponents have not been standing by idly while preparing for the blow from the federal court. They forged trial alliances in provincial elections, through which the Sadrist movement and Ammar al-Hakim's party, the Islamic Supreme Council, took control over a number of important provinces, in particular Basra and Baghdad. They also managed to attract the Mutahidoun bloc, led by Osama al-Nujaifi, to their coalition.
This coalition is not, however, based on clear understandings other than an a desire to remove Maliki and prevent him from running for a third term. The alliance became the rightful heir to the Kurdish, Iraqiya list and the Sadrist movement coalition to withdraw confidence from the prime minister. Today, however, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani has left the coalition, and Ayad Allawi is no longer active on the political scene. Hakim is new to the alliance.
The anti-Maliki camp managed to pass the law limiting presidential terms by a majority of 170, which is more than the 163 votes required to withdraw confidence from the prime minister. Although Maliki's opponents have managed to embarrass the prime minister on more than one occasion, it has consistently failed to overthrow or entirely exclude him.
Maliki is known for having the ability to unravel alliances and draw close to his rivals. In fact, he brought down the Iraqiya list while keeping its leader, Allawi, separate from the conflict. This led the Mutahidoun list to steal the spotlight from Iraqiya and Nujaifi, the current Speaker of parliament, and assume the influence and status of Allawi.
While Maliki succeeded in restoring amicable relations with Barzani, he also managed to break through to Hakim’s party by adding the Badr organization, headed by Transport Minister Hadi al-Amiri, to the State of Law coalition, becoming allies in the April provincial elections.
Now that the game of cat and mouse has ended between Maliki and his rivals, three years after they agreed to grant him a second term in 2010, the moment of truth has arrived on changing the rules for the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Insistence on passing a law such as the one limiting the terms of prime ministers shows that the opposition is confused and immature. The overturning of the law, however, affirms that the judicial system is subordinate and dependent on Maliki, regardless of its legal justifications. In addition, the insistence of the prime minister on challenging the law does not reflect a keenness to preserve the constitution but a twisted attachment to the premiership.
Many observers believe that what is more important than whether to grant Maliki a chance at a third term is the necessity of ridding the government of the structure of partnerships and quotas, the failure of which Iraqis have experienced since 2004. The country's problems in terms of services and security should compel the coalitions to come to an agreement on a number of issues prior to the next parliamentary elections.
First is tasking the candidate of the coalition that wins the elections, rather than the coalition that assembles the largest number of members, with forming the government, within one month pursuant to Article 73 of the constitution. In the past, coalitions have fought fierce conflicts and taken too much time before naming a prime minister. Although there is a constitutional justification for tasking the latter, it contradicts the philosophy of the parliamentary system. The candidate of the coalition that wins the election enjoys more flexibility in forming the cabinet. Amending Article 73 will eradicate the tension and confrontations that have marked the relationship between Maliki and his parliamentary rivals. It would also normalize political and constitutional life.
The second issue is the necessity of the winning coalition to allow its candidate full freedom in selecting ministers and to resist insisting that inept, partisan individuals receive ministerial portfolios. This would facilitate holding the prime minister and ministers accountable and limit the rampant corruption in state institutions, which have been transformed into partisan fiefdoms above control.
The third issue involves coming to an agreement that the losing coalition will serve as the parliamentary opposition and will help improve the state's performance by forming a shadow government tasked with following up on the daily operations of cabinet members.
If the powers in Iraq were to agree to these changes, the fact of one person occupying the position of prime minister for more than one term would become insignificant, as other parliamentary systems. During the kingdom of Iraq, which ended in a bloody military coup in 1958, Nouri al-Said served as prime minister 14 times despite objections and accusations leveled by his rivals. In the end, Said was executed and his body dragged through the streets of Baghdad.
There never seem to be any good policy options for the United States on Syria. After the Assad regime’s apparent use of chemical weapons on the largest scale since Halabja, the White House began casting about for the “least worst” response with renewed desperation.
Continuing on as before would seem to give Assad a green light for further atrocities and severely dent American credibility, not to mention international conventions against the use of chemical weapons. If the United States will not enforce its publically proclaimed red lines regarding chemical weapons use in Syria, what does this mean for red lines regarding Iran’s nuclear program? If post-Iraq war America looks impotent in the region, what message will this send to allies and potential allies?
Intervening forcefully in Syria, on the other hand, might just make things worse and push the civil war into an even bloodier phase. An increasingly desperate Assad might resort to even more atrocious tactics. Once a military intervention starts, there is also no telling where it might end – western militaries might get dragged into yet another nasty sectarian conflict in the Muslim world. If the West helps depose Assad, who knows what will replace him? While the United States and the likes of Saudi Arabia might think “anyone is better than Assad so long as they are not so friendly with Iran,” we need only recall that the Taliban in Afghanistan were not friendly to Iran either. If given the chance, Sunni extremist groups like Jabhat al Nusra or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant might well kill even more Syrians than has Assad. Finally, a military intervention in Syria to enforce international law on chemical weapons usage done without United Nations Security Council approval or a clear case for self-defense is, arguably, illegal. Breaking one international law to enforce another entails more than a little irony, which many will call hypocrisy – especially in the absence of clearer proof about the Assad regime’s guilt on the chemical weapons issue.
Intervening forcefully in Syria, on the other hand, might just make things worse and push the civil war into an even bloodier phase.
When a local radio station interviewed me about the issue last week, I told them that “I would not want to be in President Obama’s seat right now – no matter what option on Syria he chooses, it will be a poor one.” A few hours later I learned that Mr. Obama had another option – he could choose not to make a choice under such circumstances, and instead refer the question to the United States Congress. American law actually requires U.S. presidents to refer the question of going to war to Congress, although few could be bothered to do so in the past.
By ‘passing’ the decision of whether or not to militarily intervene in Syria to Congress, Mr. Obama brilliantly turned a “lose-lose” proposition into a political gain. If he had chosen not to attack the Assad regime, his domestic critics would have called him weak. If he had sent in the bombs, other opponents would have branded him a warmonger, entangling America in another Middle Eastern mess. Now each and every American member of Congress must make the decision instead. Republican and Democratic members of Congress must vote for either another expensive, potentially difficult policy abroad or risk looking weak themselves. If they authorize the president to take military action, they can scarcely criticize him once he does so. If they refuse him, they can not berate him for appearing weak.
Given that American public opinion runs very much against another Middle East entanglement (even if Assad did use chemical weapons), I am not so certain Mr. Obama will get his green light to attack from Congress. At best, he may only receive a limited authorization from Congress, for a very circumscribed deployment of American force over a short time span. In that case, he might do well to do nothing militarily – if you’re not able or willing to shoot the lion in Damascus, poking him with a stick is probably not your next best option.
The better American option might revolve around further isolating, sanctioning and delegitimizing Mr. Assad (and by extension his Iranian and Russian supporters as well). This would focus American diplomacy on the International Criminal Court and the General Assembly of the United Nations. By the time international opinion and the civil war are done with the Assad regime, he will have lost even if he ‘wins’. What’s more, he will no longer look like an ally worth having to the states that supported him so firmly.
David Romano has been a Rudaw columnist since August 2010. He is the Thomas G. Strong Professor of Middle East Politics at Missouri State University and author of The Kurdish Nationalist Movement (2006, Cambridge University Press).
Youkhana: a legal vote on military retirement and the disabled victory for Iraqis
Alsumaria News / Baghdad - MP for the Rafidain Bloc Imad Youkhana, Friday, voting on a legal service and military retirement and those with special needs "a victory for the Iraqi people," while a student Presidency of the Council of Representatives to expedite the completion of the rest of the important laws.
Youkhana said, in a statement received "Alsumaria News", a copy of it, "The vote on the first amendment to the law of service and military retirement and bill care for the disabled and those with special needs a victory for the Iraqi people."
Youkhana wished that "the standard of living Amendment guarantees fits the importance of these segments and their status in the Iraqi society and contribute to provide a decent life for tightly covered by these two laws." And called for the Presidency of the Council of Representatives, "to expedite the completion of the rest of the important laws and that affecting the lives of the citizen to be presented to the vote."
The Commission announced the parliamentary security and defense, on Thursday, the House of Representatives voted on the first amendment to the law of service and military retirement, confirming the inclusion of military and former army recruits who were referred to the same retirement privileges continued military service.
The Iraqi List, demanded, in (3 September 2013), the House of Representatives comprehensively former army Service Act and military retirement, which are discussed in the corridors of the relevant parliamentary committees, stressing that the current draft of the law are not covered by this law.
The House of Representatives voted in July 2011, the majority of the Internal Security Force Act after replacing Article 89, Article II of the Constitution, following the objection of the Iraqi List and the Kurdistan Alliance, which calls for restraint tightly Islamic law.
Deputy for Iraq: the ongoing dialogues between the political blocs is not sufficient to end the political crisis
Baghdad (news) .. MP for / coalition in Iraq / Hakki Lafras, the ongoing dialogues between the blocks and meetings of political leaders is not sufficient to end the political crisis fully in the country.
And Lafras said (of the Agency news): the political blocs that claim to stay away from escalations and statements that have a direct impact on the worsening security situation in the country and a negative impact on the public interest of the country.
He added: Iraq leaders need to politicians and decision makers in the adoption of important laws and of interest to the ordinary citizen, stressing that the ongoing dialogues between the leaders of the blocks is sufficient to resolve the political crisis facing the political process in the country.
This is indicated by the citizen Bloc MP / National Alliance / Hassoun Fatlawi, to: The House of Representatives has a good chance to pass Laws of contention between the political blocs during the last legislative year of the Council amid the current political calm.
Hassoun Fatlawi: some blocks delay submitting its latest proposals put to vote election law
Baghdad (news) .. Download a member of the Parliamentary Legal Committee MP / National Alliance / Hassoun Fatlawi, some political blocs ', which did not call it' responsibility for delaying the put a proposed amendment of the law for the parliamentary elections to vote, because it shops to submit their proposals to the law.
He said Fatlawi in a statement (of the Agency news): We are in the Legal Committee pending the political blocs to submit proposals for the completion of the legal drafting of the law, adding: some political blocs did not submit proposals and was last Thursday a recent day for presentation, explaining: that the beginning of next week, the Committee will strive to prepare the final wording that will be presented to the heads of the blocks of the House of Representatives and then entered on the agenda for a vote.
He ruled out a member of the legal committee approved the law during the current week, because the rest of the sessions of the week the current parliament are two sessions the first day on Saturday, which is unusual, it is difficult to integrate the law hearing on Monday, noting: that after the completion of the legal drafting of the law, there would be a consensus of the heads of blocs political proposal to amend the law.
The current session ends in March of next year's parliamentary elections will be held after that date as being in the House of Representatives is currently discussing the parliamentary election law amid accusations of some blocks of seeking to adopt the closed list.
Deputy for the State of Law: Maliki stands at a distance of one of the components of Kirkuk
Baghdad (news) .. Stressed member of State of Law Coalition MP / National Alliance / honest gum, that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, standing at the same distance from all components of the province of Kirkuk and political masses, does not discriminate on the other component.
He said chewing gum in a statement (of the Agency news): The al-Maliki does not distinguish component on the other, and everyone knows that Kirkuk have cryptographic and fittings social, stressing that Maliki stands at the same distance from all the components it is possible to take sides or be tempted to hand or component on the other side .
The MP from the state law, the province of Kirkuk as representing Iraq, because of the social nature of the fittings and cryptographic, and it remains represent Iraq in miniature.
The MP for the province of Kirkuk, a member of the Iraqi List, Yassin al-Obeidi, has announced that Turkmen and Kurds fear the priest elections even the province of Kirkuk Ivkaddoa office, indicating that the central government to Ataar any importance to Hmilit of murder, assassination and displacement.
Obeidi said during a press conference: that the Turkmen and Kurds fear the elections so as not to lose their jobs and their status present in the province ', noting that' Kirkuk did not enter the elections since 2005 and the share of Kirkuk's Arabs 6 members out of 42 members shared components Turkmen and Kurdish.
He continued: that the central government does not pay any importance to the killings, assassinations and displacement of an essential component in Kirkuk, and slowed with regard to the need to hold elections to restore the true reality province, asking, 'Do you ignore the important thing was hurt in the service of the country, or is it intentional or political gain? This is what makes the smell citizen political bargaining on the Iraqi Kirkuk.
Ban Ki-moon: the military operation against Syria could lead to very serious consequences .. The intention of the United Nations staff to leave Syria
(News) said the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations staff working in Syria are not planning to leave the country despite the worsening security situation there.
And Ban Ki-moon announced in a statement on the sidelines of the twentieth summit in St. Petersburg that 'in spite of the risks that facing internationalists staff in Syria, but the United Nations and its partners intend to stay in the country and continue their work'.
He said in response to a question about the humanitarian situation in Syria, the UN staff in Syria currently has 4 thousand and 500 people.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations that the application of a military scenario in Syria could lead to serious consequences and tragic.
And Ban Ki-moon said: 'I have to warn you that a stray military operation could lead to serious and tragic consequences in addition to fueling the sectarian war'.
UN official called on leaders of the Group of Twenty to search for ways to prevent further militarization of the conflict and the resumption of work on finding a political solution.
Obama asked the Pentagon to expand the list of potential targets in Syria
(News), U.S. officials said President Barack Obama is the face of the Pentagon to prepare an extensive list of potential targets in Syria to limit the ability of President Bashar al-Assad on the use of chemical weapons.
The newspaper quoted 'New York Times' American officials that the administration spoke for the first time the use of the U.S. and French aviation strikes on specific targets, and along with missiles 'Tomahawk' fired from ships.
The officials said that the strikes would not target chemical weapon depots in itself in order to avoid a potential disaster, but units and headquarters of the military carried out the attacks.
Zebari: internal security causes deterioration of the political situation frozen
Said Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, on Thursday, the instability of the security situation in Iraq, and as pointed out shortcomings in the performance of the security services and the impact of the situation in Syria, hinted that political matters "frozen" pending the general elections next year.
Zebari said in a statement that "the security situation is not stable because of the continuing terrorist attacks from time to time," noting that "a large part of it is caused by the performance of internal security services and government control in the sound, and another part due to the reflection of the Syrian crisis."
He added, "We have an interest in ending this crisis and find a peaceful way out is safe, because we are of the countries most affected by what is happening in Syria," he continued, "As for the political situation now All things frozen did not resolve all the political issues pending the general elections next year."
Observers point out that the situation in Iraq is suffering chaos and instability in most of the joints on the background of the political crisis and the political power struggle, despite its contribution to the government, coupled with the continued bombings and armed violence are stronger than before. (Agencies)