Sunday, July 8, 2007

al-Maliki may be out soon

Nouri al-Maliki may face a "no confidence" vote, according to CBS:
That has led senior Iraqi leaders to demand drastic change. CBS News has learned that on July 15, they plan to ask for a no-confidence vote in the Iraqi parliament as the first step to bringing down the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Even those closest to the Iraqi prime minister, from his own party, admit the political situation is desperate.

"I feel there is no strategy, so the people become hopeless," said Faliy al Fayadh, an MP from the Dawa party.

I really don't see any way he can pull together enough votes to win. While al-Maliki may have the best intentions (I'll emphasize "may") he's always been vulnerable. I'm not passing judgement, but it still appears to me that Moqtada al-Sadr has positioned himself to be the "kingmaker". His power base has been a coalition of parties that have diverse interests.
Al-Maliki has announced his own alliance to try save his government, but even his vice president says that's little more than a short-term fix.

"Cosmetic change is not going to serve the interests of Iraqis is not going to stabilize, is not going to improve security , what we need is much bigger that that," said al Hashimi, the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party.

Leaders of the Iraq Project claim they have the necessary votes to force al-Maliki to resign, but that has yet to be tested in parliament. For now, the U.S. is still standing by the Iraqi leader – publicly at least.

As always, Juan Cole:
They would need 138 seats to unseat al-Maliki, however, and it is not clear that they would have them. The 58 Kurdish deputies will vote for al-Maliki, and he would only need 80 Shiite votes to win the vote. Even with the defection from his alliance of 32 Sadrist MPs and 15 from the Islamic Virtue Party (Fadhila), al-Maliki probably still has 80 Shiite MPs behind him (before the defections he had about 130 in his United Iraqi Alliance, so the defections should have left him with 88). It is also not clear that the Sadrist and Islamic Virtue MPs will actually vote with Sunni fundamentalist parties to unseat a Shiite prime minister.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that al-Maliki has put together an alliance of 'moderate'
, including the Da'wa (Islamic Call) Party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (Shiite, leans toward Iran), and the Kurdistan Alliance. Da'wa has 24 seats in parliament, SIIC has 30, and the Kurds have 58. That gives them 112. For a stable government they need another 26 at least. There are some Shiite independents in the United Iraqi Alliance that still support al-Maliki, and he is hoping to peel off one of the three parties (the Iraqi Islamic Party) that make up the Sunni Arab Iraqi Accord Front, so as to put him over the top. (When he made these plans, I don't think al-Maliki realized that the Iraq Islamic Party's head, VP Tariq al-Hashimi, was planning to try to unseat him). So it is close, but al-Maliki may still have a simple majority behind him.

And I must quote this from Prof. Cole:
Readers sometimes ask me if analyzing the news from Iraq every day doesn't get me down.

It got me down today. Sunni Arab guerrillas, unable to operate as effectively in Baghdad because of the US troop surge, had a suicide bomber drive a truck loaded with explosives into a market in a village on the fringes of the northern city of Tuz Khurmato and detonate his payload. As I write, authorities had counted 130 dead bodies, many of them women and children, and relatives reported another 20 dead. Another 250 or so were wounded, some of them badly, according to the Arabic daily al-Hayat. The latter says Iraqis are referring to the bombing as "the Turkmen massacre." Some 40 homes, 20 shops, and a dozen automobiles were also destroyed.

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