The failed state un­der Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-ma­liki

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Aziz Ah­mad

“By re­mov­ing the few ex­ist­ing in­de­pen­dent bod­ies and demon­strat­ing lit­tle in­ter­est in de­liv­er­ing good gov­er­nance, al-Ma­liki is keep­ing Iraq amongst the most failed and cor­rupt states.” – Aziz Ah­mad.

Over six years in of­fice, Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Ma­liki has proven to be in­ca­pable of pro­vid­ing ba­sic se­cu­rity and ser­vices to the peo­ple. By openly ad­vo­cat­ing a con­flict be­tween Kurds and Arabs, he is threat­en­ing the ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity of Iraq and the success of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion of Iraq.

Al-Ma­liki is de­lib­er­ately un­der­min­ing the prospects of a pros­per­ous Iraq by threat­en­ing oil and gas su­per-ma­jors against op­er­at­ing in Kur­dis­tan, with­hold­ing their rev­enues at ran­som and bar­ring them from auc­tions. His for­eign pol­icy is a dis­as­ter, pro­vid­ing bla­tant sup­port for Bashar al-As­sad’s regime and his blood­shed while weak­en­ing ties with Iraq’s largest trad­ing part­ner – Turkey. In the armed forces he openly in­cites and pro­motes sec- tar­i­an­ism and seg­re­ga­tion in the mind­set of a frag­ile peo­ple.

The re­cent un­con­sti­tu­tional cre­ation of an over­ar­ch­ing Ti­gris (Di­jla) Op­er­a­tions Com­mand Cen­tre to over­see the in­ter­nal se­cu­rity af­fairs of the North­ern prov­inces is a stark re­minder of the pre­vi­ous regime for our peo­ple. Al-Ma­liki also ac­cuses our lead­er­ship of ha­rass­ing lo­cal Arabs and other eth­nic mi­nori­ties by pil­ing our se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers into the largely Kur­dish ar­eas out­side of our re­gion - in­ac­cu­rately re­ferred to as dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries. By way of a twist­ing me­dia cam­paign al-Ma­liki and his as­so­ci­ates are mask­ing fail­ures by shift­ing at­ten­tion to­wards the largely peace­ful Kur­dis­tan Re­gion.

By re­mov­ing the few ex­ist­ing in­de­pen­dent bod­ies and demon­strat­ing lit­tle in­ter­est in de­liv­er­ing good gov­er­nance, al-Ma­liki is keep­ing Iraq amongst the most failed and cor­rupt states. His ha­rass­ment and marginal­i­sa­tion of po­lit­i­cal part­ners and op­po­nents, in­clud­ing Sunni-Arabs, has de­stroyed any hopes of na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, leav­ing the coun­try in com­plete po­lit­i­cal stale­mate.

The Kur­dis­tan Re­gion has proven to be a gen­uine part­ner in build­ing a safe and pros­per­ous Iraq. In fact, de­spite U.S. involvement, the Iraqi government has re­fused to pro­vide our lo­cal se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus ac­cess to their crim­i­nal records data­base in the past – that would help in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing and stem vi­o­lence. In a rare in­ter­view with al-Ara­biya re­cently, Mas­rour Barzani, Di­rec­tor of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion Se­cu­rity Pro­tec­tion Agency and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor, said that alMa­liki is mak­ing an 'un­for­giv­able mis­take' by in­cit­ing ten­sions amongst Kurds and Arabs, un­der­lin­ing the need for the pre­mier to ad­dress de­mands for ser­vices, not mass thou­sands of troops against the safest part of Iraq. Se­nior of­fi­cials in Bagh­dad should be pe­ti­tion­ing our lead­ers, specif­i­cally Mas­rour Barzani, to ex­change in­tel and ex­per­tise to rid the coun­try of in­creas­ing vi­o­lence, not stand united be­hind an emerg­ing au­thor­i­tar­ian man.

The agency plays a key and covert role in cre­at­ing an at­mos­phere that en­cour­ages for­eign gov­ern­ments to dis­tin­guish of­fi­cial travel ad­vice to the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion from other parts of Iraq, in­creas­ing di­rect flights to our in­ter­na­tional air­ports, al­low­ing Western­ers and diplo­mats to roam our cities with lim­ited se­cu­rity de­tail, the United Na­tions elect­ing to ease its rigid se­cu­rity reg­u­la­tions across our three prov­inces and above all it al­lows our chil­dren to at­tend school with­out parental con­cerns about their per­sonal safety. It has com­pletely erad­i­cated Al-Qaeda off­shoots from our re­gion and has im­pris­oned its mem­bers – groups that have staged deadly at­tacks in Iraq this year.

It also co­op­er­ates with west­ern gov­ern­ments in ap­pre­hend­ing most wanted crim­i­nals, works with In­ter­pol to en­sure this re­gion does not be­come home to ter­ror­ist cells, and has thwarted at­tacks against our peace­ful com­mu­ni­ties. Th­ese mea­sures en­able us to be home to tens of thou- sands of fam­i­lies flee­ing from chaos in Syria and other parts of Iraq, in­clud­ing mi­nor­ity Chris­tians, al­lows us to be amongst the fastest grow­ing economies, at­tract­ing un­prece­dented in­vest­ment and trade as in­vestors choose our re­gion over the South, and paves the way for stronger ties with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity through part­ner­ships – all for the bet­ter­ment of Iraq.

Last month the US Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion cited ‘in­creased sta­bil­ity’ in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion to lift their 16-year-old ban on com­mer­cial flights by US car­ri­ers to Iraq, al­low­ing flights only into Er­bil and Sulaimaniya in­ter­na­tional air­ports – but not Bagh­dad.

Al-Ma­liki is ad­vo­cat­ing a di­vide that will be dif­fi­cult to undo. The con­tin­u­a­tion of his au­thor­i­tar­ian poli­cies against the Kurds and key po­lit­i­cal forces leaves him with few chal­lenges as the Pres­i­dent of Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, Ma­soud Barzani, has pub­licly de­clared the re­fusal to stay in a cen­tralised or dic­ta­to­rial Iraq.

We are a part of this coun­try and should not aban­don Bagh­dad for al-Ma­liki to rule sin­gle-hand­edly. The Kur­dish lead­er­ship must recog­nise, how­ever, that to those in Bagh­dad their unity is far more po­tent than our one-sided pro­mo­tion of the Kur­dish-Shia po­lit­i­cal al­liance, the same politi­cians in al-Ma­liki's coali­tion con­demn­ing him of dic­ta­tor­ship have joined forces with him in the dis­puted prov­inces to com­pete in up­com­ing pro­vin­cial elec­tions.

The sta­tus quo re­quires strate­gic changes in our ap­proach in Bagh­dad if we are to con­tinue be­ing a part of this coun­try, in­clud­ing re­vis­it­ing our po­lit­i­cal part­ner­ship with the largely-Shia Iraqi Na­tional Al­liance.

Aziz Ah­mad is a Kur­dish writer based in Er­bil, Kur­dis­tan Re­gion of Iraq. He is a grad­u­ate of Royal Hol­loway, Univer­sity of Lon­don.

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