x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Al Maliki must go for the good of Iraq, but what comes next is vital

In light of the latest regional developments – notably the recent declaration of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – Iraq is in precarious situation.

“We all blame prime minister Nouri Al Maliki for the chaos and discord that have pushed the country on a downwards slope that it may not ascend in 20 years,” wrote Abdel Rahman Al Rashed in the pan-Arab daily Asharq El Awsat. He noted that the government in Iraq was “a failure, similar to that of Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan”.

“The danger of such an awful fate is one recognised by politicians and leaders in [other] countries, although some may not grasp the extent of the problem,” he continued.

“The demands expressed by demonstrators in the province of Anbar in December were generally fair and deserve to be supported, and most of their demands were widely supported by various Iraq leaders, whether Shiite, Kurdish or Sunni. Today, they have cornered Mr Al Maliki.

“The people of Anbar have led both Iraqi and international public opinion against Mr Al Maliki’s defective government, which was prepared to sabotage Iraq for its survival. This is why Sunnis should not let extremists take away their revolution, demands and minds. They are closer than ever to achieving the justice they have longed for,” he concluded.

In Al Ittihad, The National’s sister Arabic-language newspaper, columnist Mohammed Khalfan Al Sawafi noted that “it is almost impossible to talk about any positive development that may lead to a stabilisation of the situation in Iraq without the departure of prime minister Nouri Al Maliki, who has been accused by various internal and external parties of causing chaos”.

He remarked that “talk of Iraq’s administrative disintegration have turned into fact, especially since the Kurds have taken control over the region of Kurdistan, which is the only part of Iraq that enjoys a fraction of stability”.

“This means that the possibilities of declaring the independence of a province are just a matter of waiting for the right time – and the escalation of chaos may just be it,” wrote Al Sawafi.

“We have yet to witness joint Arab action asserting a common will to put an end to this mayhem ... There is a political vacuum in Iraq, and Arabs must take joint action before it is too late”.

He noted that “Iran is good at the game of collecting regional cards to use while negotiating with the United States and the West in general, and the card it will play is that of ‘sectarianism’”.

In the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, columnist Hareth Hassan remarked that there seems to be an agreement among observers that Mr Al Maliki should abandon his attempt to seek a third term as prime minister. This would ease political tension and open the door to the establishment of a government that would enjoy wider approval.

“We must realise that Mr Al Maliki stepping down would not be sufficient to solve the country’s immense problems, unless it is followed by serious steps to reform the Iraqi political system,” Hassan added.

The post-Maliki period must mark a true period of reform that tackles the problems that have arisen from Mr Al Maliki’s policies.

“His departure should not be seen as an opportunity to bring things back to where they were in 2006,” the writer concluded.

Translated by Carla Mirza

CMirza@thenational.ae