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News Analysis: Maliki's cling to power plunges Iraq into political turmoil

English.news.cn   2014-08-13 05:08:12
• Maliki has rejected his successor appointed by newly- elected President Fouad Massoum.
• Maliki accused his political opponents of collaborating with U.S. to prevent him from a third term.
• UN special envoy to Iraq welcomed the Abadi's nomination as prime minister-designate.
 

By Jamal Hashim

BAGHDAD, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's embattled Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has rejected his successor appointed by newly- elected President Fouad Massoum in his last attempt to cling to power, a move that analysts say is plunging the war-torn country into political chaos.

The rejection of Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abdai's appointment has come just as some elite Iraqi security forces were seen deployed in various Baghdad streets, blocking off main avenues, while hundreds of Maliki's supporters also held rally in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, raising fears that Maliki may resort to force by using loyalists within the security forces to stay in power.

Given that Maliki is still commander-in-chief of Iraq's armed forces and holds many security posts, some worry that Maliki and his allies could lead a coup to stay in office.

However, Sabah al-Sheikh, a professor of politics at Baghdad University, says that fears of a coup are overblown, pointing out that many of Maliki's officers are from the former security forces of Saddam Hussein, and these officers would most likely change their allegiances to new leaders.

"Maliki brought those officers on the basis of changing loyalties from (Saddam) to (Maliki), so they will easily change their loyalties to whoever takes power," Sheikh said.

On Monday night, defiant Maliki aired fiery speeches after Abadi's nomination when he appeared on the state-backed Iraqiya television station and pledged to fix what he considered a " mistake," calling the nomination "a dangerous violation" of the country's constitution.

"The mistake is a setback that will be fixed as the political process is heading the right direction," Maliki said in a televised speech.

Maliki went on to accuse his political opponents of collaborating with the United States in their effort to prevent him from running for a third term.

"The external collaboration was disclosed when we rejected the constitutional violation. The U.S. administration stood at the side of those who violated the constitution," Maliki said.

"It is unlikely that Maliki will (carry out) a real coup although he has delivered speeches similar to coup speeches," Sheikh told Xinhua.

Maliki has vowed that he will turn the table on his opponents and will likely go to the federal court system to file a lawsuit against what he calls "constitutional violations."

Iraqi political analyst Hamza Abbas says that if Maliki succeeds in the federal court, nullifies Abadi's nomination, and becomes the prime minister-designate, it's unlikely that he would be able to form the cabinet within one month and gain parliament's approval, further hampering Iraq's sorely-needed political process.

"He will not be able to form a government even if he gets a period of whole year," Abbas said, adding that it would be better for Maliki if he withdrew peacefully because he could retain his position as a political leader.

Abbas believe that Abadi will continue to find support and legitimacy despite Maliki's accusations because he is backed by Kurds, Sunnis and most Shiite parties, along with two influential countries: Iran and the United States.

Abadi is a leading member of the Dawa Party, and he is a British-educated lawmaker with a background in electrical engineering. To most political factions, he is seen as less polarizing sectarian figure than Maliki and has good relations with the Kurds.

"If Maliki stayed on for a third term, Iraq would split apart, there is no way for Maliki to reconcile with the Kurds, and his conflict with the Sunni Arabs will reach to the level of civil war, " Abbas said.

Like Washington, Iran has been alarmed by the Sunni insurgents' advance toward Baghdad and seizing large parts of Iraqi provinces.

"The U.S. stance was clear in preferring to sack Maliki and bring a change in Iraq. Iran, on the other hand, cares for its interests in Iraq and it is keen to preserve the Shiite grouping," Abbas said, adding that the Islamic republic supports a wide variety of Shiite leaders and is not limited to just Maliki.

The swift congratulatory letters for Abadi's nomination from U. S. officials and Iranian leaders, Abbas says, will make things harder for Maliki.

"There are real battles on the ground with the militant groups, including the Islamic State terrorist group that would threaten the political process. It is essential for the United States, Iran and all the Iraqi factions to quickly form a government to fight back the militants," Abbas said.

Abbas warned that if the political impasse persists and if there is any possibility for protests and turmoil in Baghdad, it would be very serious as Islamic State militants and other anti- government militants could exploit the situation and turn the capital into battlefield.

However, there were some signs that the situation in Baghdad won't pivot toward chaos and insecurity. Maliki met Tuesday with senior security officers, urging them not to intervene in the political conflict, while Abadi assured that Maliki is still "a key political partner," hailing his role in fighting terrorism.

"I want you to stay away from the political crisis and to carry out your security duties to protect the country. Do not intervene and let the people, politicians and the judiciary to deal with the crisis," Maliki told a group of senior military officers in Baghdad.

Amid the political and security tensions in Baghdad, the UN special envoy to Iraq welcomed the Abadi's nomination as prime minister-designate, confirming that the security forces should not intervene in political process.

"The President of the Republic has fulfilled his role in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and asked the nominee of the largest political bloc to form a government," Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary- General for Iraq said in a statement.

Mladenov, also head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq ( UNAMI), urged the political leaders to show "moderation" in their statements and actions, emphasizing that security forces should refrain interfering in "the democratic transfer of political authority."

Related:
 

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- More than 100 additional U.S. military advisers are being sent to Iraq to look at relief options for local civilians trapped by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in northern Iraq's mountainous area, CNN reported on Tuesday.

The military advisers would look at humanitarian relief efforts to consider how to get thousands of Yezidi Iraqis off Sinjar Mountain, the report said.Full Story

Maliki warns Iraqi security forces to shun political crisis

BAGHDAD, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's outgoing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered security forces not to intervene in the political crisis over who will form the next government.

"I want you to stay away from the political crisis and to carry out your security duties to protect the country. Do not intervene and let the people, politicians and the judiciary to deal with the crisis," Maliki said during his meeting with a group of senior officers from the army, police and other security forces in Baghdad.Full Story

Editor: Yamei Wang
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