Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 9
Investigation Escalates Hashemi Case
The spokesman for Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council announced on February 16 that the committee of nine judges investigating the allegations against Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi had concluded that Hashemi was involved in 150 terrorist acts carried out by his bodyguards from 2005-2011. According to their study, the attacks targeted Shi’a pilgrims, political opponents, and security personnel. However, the spokesman, Abdul Sattar al-Bayraqdar, did not discuss details or evidence on how Hashemi was involved when stating the operations were “under the guidance of Hashemi himself.” One of the judges, Saad al-Lami, argues that he was exposed by Hashemi as one of the investigating panelists, warning the vice president, “I’ll hold him fully responsible if anything bad happens to me or my family.” Interestingly, Lami is the same judge who is actively trying to have three MPs arrested, all of whom have been vocally critical of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s governing behavior, and had recently requested parliament to remove their immunity. Last week, Hashemi had made reference of taking his case to an international court should Iraq’s judiciary not allow him a fair trial in accordance with the articles of Iraq’s Code of Criminal Procedure and the Iraq Constitution.
Blocs Debate Agenda for National Conference
This week, blocs have begun exchanging their position papers for the National Conference in hopes of forming a consensus on an agenda. On February 12, a meeting was held in the parliament building between bloc members, led by Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi for Iraqiyya, Vice President Khudhair Khuza’i for the National Alliance, and Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Shaways for the Kurdish Alliance. According to a senior Iraqiyya MP, the discussion focused exclusively on their bloc’s paper. The same leaders met again on February 15 and discussed papers from the three major blocs. An advisor for Maliki has stressed that all judicial issues should be excluded from the conference’s agenda. This was reiterated, more specifically, by State of Law MP Haitham al-Jabouri on February 17, warning that the National Alliance would boycott the conference should the cases of Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be on the agenda. But according to an Iraqiyya MP, both cases, in addition to the destabilizing developments associated with the December 12 declaration by the Diyala provincial council to form a federal region, will be on Iraqiyya’s position paper for the next preparatory meeting, scheduled for Sunday. In hopes of resolving their cases through a political agreement among the blocs, Iraqiyya is requesting to have Hashemi and Mutlaq become part of the agenda. Reportedly, however, some Iraqiyya members might be willing to drop Hashemi and Mutlaq from the conference’s agenda should the prime minister be willing to deliver on the points featured in the Arbil Agreement. Kurdish lawmakers are emphasizing the Arbil Agreement as the centerpiece for the conference as bloc leaders will attempt to formulate a more unified position in Sunday’s meeting.
Maliki’s Charm Offensive in Basra
This week, Maliki held a cabinet meeting in the southern province of Basra, inviting the governor and provincial lawmakers to discuss improving conditions in the governorate and plans to respond to the province’s request regarding allocation of funds, basic services, investment, and the building the Faw port. Earlier, Maliki had delivered a speech before tribal chieftains in Basra, emphasizing the importance of efficiency and how governance of power-sharing structures can lead to having “incompetent, inexperienced, and sometimes corrupt figures” in government. Maliki also stated that Iraq is not ready for federalism at the moment. “Federalism is indeed guaranteed by the constitution, and it is a system followed in many countries of the world. But first, all legal conditions and requirements for the formation of federalism should be fulfilled, and then we can determine the appropriate conditions for federalism,” Maliki said, “We say let us first achieve stability in the country, and then we will come to a stage where we can create federalism within the framework of Iraq’s unity.” Basra is one of the southern Shi’a provinces unhappy with the lack of attention and resources it receives from the central government. It has demonstrated desires to form a federal region and establish a degree of autonomy from Baghdad. Multiple Shi’a political parties are active within the province.
Anbar Re-Signals Federalism Warning to Maliki
On February 11, the Anbar provincial council held a meeting that included tribal and political leaders in which they discussed a plan for the “Anbar region project,” referring to the province’s debate on forming a federal region. Reportedly, Anbar lawmakers are unsatisfied with the central government’s elusiveness over the 20 demands the provincial council submitted to Baghdad in December 2011, and have warned that embracing federalism is still an option.
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.