By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
13 August 2014
Imagine if the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) didn’t confront Nouri al-Maliki’s forces when it attacked Anbar around three months ago. Imagine if ISIS hadn’t taken over the city of Mosul on June 10. Imagine that fear and anger hadn’t found its way into Iraq as a result of the consecutive collapse of the army and the state’s security forces.
All these dangerous failures convinced the remaining constituents of the Iraqi people that Maliki is responsible for the current crisis and that his hold on power threatens the entire country, especially as he has dominated all decision-making centers, including those in the military and security fields.
ISIS under the leadership of the world number one terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi pushed Maliki towards a quick political defeat in the battle of electing a new prime minister. It came as a surprise to Maliki himself. Maliki has fortified his position to the extent that he secured enough parliamentarian votes to guarantee remaining a prime minister for another four years. This is why he defied all his rivals and why he mocked all those who were actively building alliances to topple him. When the Americans initially warned him against staying in power, he pledged to respect the democratic process and that the premiership post will be assigned to whoever wins the highest number of votes.
Although the majority of Iraqi parties, including major parties such as the Sadrist Movement, the Supreme Council, the Kurds and the Sunnis, have been working for a long time to remove him, Maliki did manage to secure the required number of votes to win! I asked more than one Iraqi politician about this and they all said they feared counting the votes as opening the parliament doors would enable Maliki to secure enough votes to impose his name on the president and thus be assigned as prime minister!
Is this an indicator that he was about to win? How did he secure this support amidst an almost full consensus to remove him?
It’s said that he used money and governmental benefits which were under his remit to buy as many votes as possible. It’s also said that he threatened his rivals, saying he would open up cases of corruption and terrorism against them.
Those who opposed him escaped while those who stayed and had to submit to him did so. These dirty methods caused many Iraqi politicians to complain while admitting they could never confront Baghdad’s dictator!
According to one politician, even deputies of the Arab Sunnis in parliament had pledged to vote for Maliki while tribes - whose votes got these deputies into parliament - threatened to seek revenge if they were to vote for him.
Baghdadi toppled Maliki. Abu Du’a defeated Abu Esraa. ISIS exploited chaos and anger against the government as well as Maliki’s mismanagement of the armed forces in order to achieve sweeping victories.
Fear spread throughout Iraqi cities, particularly following the fall of Mosul. The U.S. and Iran, the two guarantors of the new Iraqi government, felt that if Maliki were to remain in power, it could spell the end of Iraq as we know it!
Maliki staying on as prime minister would divide the country, especially considering the Kurdish threat of independence. He would lead other parties to engage in a civil war and he would trigger the spread of terrorist groups. Iraq would thus turn into a hub that threatens the region and the world.
Getting rid of Maliki has become a global necessity. Electing another premier, of whom the Iraqis approve, is to be welcomed immediately. So, Haider al-Abadi, the prime minister-designate, garnered immediate global support, which Saudi Arabia and Iran lent their backing to yesterday.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.