Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 12
Diyala Appoints New Governor
The Diyala provincial council met in the city of Khanaqin to accept the resignation of former Governor Abdul Nasser al-Mahdawi and the appointment of Hasham al-Hayali as the new governor. Hayali, a Sunni Arab, belongs to the Tawafuq party, now aligned with the Iraqiyya bloc in the provincial council. Mahdawi fled the provincial capital of Baquba in December after hostile protests erupted following the provincial council’s announcement to grant Diyala the status of federal region. Last month, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave Mahdawi an ultimatum to return to the capital and resume his duties as governor or face being dismissed.
Kurds Continue to Host Hashemi Despite Pressure
Senior Kurdish Alliance MP Mohsen al-Saadoun stated on March 8 that handing over Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi to Baghdad “without political consensus” would have a negative effect on the street, likely referring to the mixed Sunni and Kurdish areas of Diyala, Ninawa, and Kirkuk. Saadoun reiterated that the proposal Kurdish President Massoud Barzani made last month was the most politically acceptable in resolving Hashemi’s case. The proposal called for a political solution to be reached between the president, prime minister, and speaker of parliament. However, Maliki’s State of Law coalition had viewed the proposal as bypassing the judicial process. Saadoun’s statement came a day after Iraqiyya leader Ayad Allawi met with Barzani in Arbil following Allawi’s visit to Turkey. Both leaders agreed to resolve the political crisis through the Constitution and the principles of national partnership. Hashemi plans to remain in the Kurdish region unless his status there becomes “an embarrassment” for the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). On Sunday, Deputy Interior Minister for the KRG said that if the ministry receives a formal request by Baghdad authorities to hand over Hashemi, it will refer the decision to the Kurdish Council of Ministers. This week, a Kurdish MP from Gorran, an opposition party in the Kurdish Assembly, stated that federal forces entering the Kurdish region to arrest Hashemi would not be a provocation “if it comes under agreement and understanding” between Baghdad and Arbil.
Talabani to Head Arab League Summit
It was announced this week that President Jalal Talabani will head the Arab League Summit in Baghdad in late March, and Maliki will represent Iraq. Also, according to Foreign Minister Hoshyer Zebari, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon accepted an invitation to attend the summit. On Wednesday, Iraq’s representative to the Arab League, Qays al-Azzawi, said that 14 Arab countries have thus far confirmed their participation in the summit, and Iraq has not yet received any official declines. According to the Foreign Ministry, Talabani sent out 21 invitations. Last week, Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil al-Arabi said that Baghdad’s security preparations were going well and that Iraq was well-qualified to receive Arab delegations. However, some regional analysts believe that the summit is likely to accomplish little and lack high-profile attendance from the Arab states.
Maliki Approves Firing of Security Officials in Anbar
Maliki approved the recommendations from the provincial council to remove two of the province’s top security officials following this week’s attacks on police forces in Western Anbar. Beginning at 2:00 a.m. on Monday, unknown gunmen disguised as official forces and using security vehicles killed 27 policemen at checkpoints in the towns of Haditha and Barwana. According to the Anbar governor’s spokesman, the attacks suggested the “fingerprints of al-Qaeda.” The dismissed officials included provincial police chief Major General Hadi Razij and head of Anbar Operations Command Lieutenant General Abdul Aziz al-Ubaidi.
For a comprehensive look at the first two months since U.S. troops left Iraq, read Ramzy Mardini's backgrounder, " Iraq's Recurring Political Crisis." To read a transcript from the Feb. 29 event "Policing Iraq," click here, and to read a transcript from the Feb. 16 event "Iraq After the U.S. Withdrawal," click here. To read past and future weekly updates, click here.