Posted Today, 10:55 AM
Premier Maliki LashesOut At His Political Rivals In The Iraqi National Movement
By Joel Wing*
After travelling to Washington D.C. to meet with PresidentBarak Obama to mark the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, Prime MinisterNouri al-Maliki promptly returned home to take on his main rivals in the IraqiNational Movement led by Iyad Allawi. First, he asked parliament to have a noconfidence vote against Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq, and then charged VicePresident Tariq Hashemi’s bodyguards, and then the man himself, withinvolvement in terrorist attacks. This came just after Allawi said he was readyto reconcile with the prime minister. From what’s known now, some of Maliki’smoves are purely political payback, while others may have legal standing.
While Maliki was in the United States, and upon his return,members of the National Movement launched a series of attacks and challenges tohim. First, Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq gave an interview with CNN where hecalled Maliki the worst dictator in Iraqi history. He accused Maliki of runninga one party state, and consolidating power in his hands. That was followed byNational Movement leaders meeting at the residence of Vice President Tariqal-Hashemi in Baghdad’s Green Zone. They emerged declaring that the list wouldboycott parliament until Maliki included them in decision-making, implementedthe power sharing promises he made after the 2010 election, and stoppedcarrying out arbitrary arrests. These have been common accusations against theprime minister, although saying that Maliki was the worst autocrat in Iraq,ignoring Saddam Hussein, was obviously hyperbole. Even before the 2010elections, many critics claimed Maliki was attempting to dominate the stateapparatus, and was mistrustful of others. Those trends have continued since hegained his second term at the expense of the INM. The difference this time wasthat most of the leaders of the National Movement were finally agreeing upon acommon stance. Before, it was mostly Allawi acting unilaterally, complainingabout Maliki’s centralizing of power in his own hands. Now, the whole list wasjoining in.
Premier Maliki was quick to retaliate. First he askedparliament to hold a no confidence vote against Deputy Premier Mutlaq. Two dayslater, he issued orders to bar Mutlaq from entering the parliament building.The prime minister first made the proposal at a meeting of the NationalAlliance on December 15, but the rest of the list rejected the idea. Thatdidn’t stop Maliki. Then it was leaked to the press that there was an arrestwarrant pending against Vice President Hashemi. At the beginning of December,the police received a tip that one of the vice president’s bodyguards wasbuilding a car bomb in his home. The residence was raided, explosives werefound, and the guard was taken away. According to sources, he confessed, whichled to another arrest. Three more bodyguards, along with the manager ofHashemi’s office were all later detained. The Baghdad Operations Command wassupposed to hold a press conference explaining the arrests, and the charges againstHashemi, but Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court said that nothing should be aireduntil the investigation was completed. On December 19, parts of the guards’confessions were released to the press, implicating their role in attacks for the last two years, with Hashemifunding and directing them. Finally, Army units were placed outside of theresidences of Hashemi, Mutlaq, and Finance Minister Rafi Issawi, and Allawiclaimed that several members of his staff were arrested as well. The next day,a source close to Maliki claimed that he had given Hashemi two days to provehis innocence against the terrorism charges; otherwise he would be arrested aswell. This came after more leaks to the press about the
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