Cabinet Revision in Iraq: New Problems on the Rise?

August 10, 2011, Wednesday/ 10:15:00

The government formed only after nine months following the parliamentary elections on 7 March 2010 in Iraq, doesn’t still seem to be steady.

Although it has been 1, 5 year after the elections and 7 months after the government formation, the problems related to the structure of the government and the distribution of tasks in the government is one of the topics that are preoccupying the politic agenda of Iraq. The names to manage most of the ministries, especially the names for the interior ministry, national security and defense, haven’t been determined. Moreover, contrary to the idea that the disagreements  among the political parties can be solved with a national unity government, the lack of a mechanism to control the government, like an opposition,  not making a progress about the subjects on which a consensus had been reached during the formation of the government, have made the government lose its functionality.  The riots having started in the other countries of the region and having spread to Iraq, and the protest demonstrations against local administrations, the presence of USA in the country but especially against the government, have stalemated the Iraq government  whose prime minister is Maliki. The protest demonstrations whose main focuses are government corruption, unemployment, insufficiency of public services, corrupted public institutions, lack of security, have led Nouri Al-Maliki to the decision to revise the government activities.  Therefore, Maliki demanded a period of 100 days in March 2011 to revise the activities of the ministers and to prepare plans for the future.  However, it didn’t seem credible that in this period of 100 days the problems of Iraq would be solved. And at the end of this period of 100 days no positive results about the government’s studies were obtained. While the disagreements among the political parties in the government went on, the new scenarios about the political future of Iraq were put forward.  Particularly, The Iraqi List, winner of the elections of 7 March 2010, insisted that the Iraqi government had lost its function and called for an early election.

On the other hand, it has been rumored that Maliki would form a majority government.  Apart from that, it has been claimed that along with KDP and PUK, Sadr Group and Iraqi could also form a majority government. However, as between Sadr group and Iraqi and the Kurdish groups the disagreements, which are primarily about the presence of USA soldiers in Iraq; persist on an extreme level, the majority government of Maliki seemed more logical. Meanwhile, it was also claimed that Maliki was not content with the performances of some ministers and about 15 ministers would be replaced.  In spite of all these statements, the government crisis in Iraq remained unsolved.

Besides, the number of ministers in the cabinets in Iraq was criticized harshly. No example of a cabinet with 46 members could be seen in the administration structure of a country.  Although designed to include every political group in Iraq in the government, the fact that there are many ministers in the cabinet can be a contributing factor to the increase of disagreements. We still cannot talk about a well-established government structure and a political collocation in Iraq.  We can say that Iraqi politicians act with their group identities and even in the government their priorities are their group identities. It won’t be wrong to say that every political group engages in a conflict of interest according to their ethnical and denominational relations and that they are using the governments facilities thusly. This results in a corruption in the government. The fact that The President of The Iraqi Parliament stated that a separate region for Sunnis could be created contradicts the attitude of most Sunni groups that are against the separation. So, the faction in the government has become quite evident.

Under these circumstances, with the new decision taken on 30 July, the Iraqi Parliament vacated 17 ministries, notably the ministries of state, out of the cabinet with 46 members.  However, it was decided that, the Ministry of State For The Provinces, For the National Assembly Affairs and For Women Affairs, should remain.  Within this framework, among the ministries of state; State law lost 3 ministries, (2 by procuration) ,Iraqi lost 2, Sadr Group lost 2, Kurdistan List, Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Islamic Virtue Party, Iraqi Hezbollah, Iraq Constitutional Party lost one ministries each.  The Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has declared that the political groups whose ministries have been taken will be assigned other tasks in the government. The integration of some ministries has also been put on the agenda.

This decision which was taken with the agreement of political groups of the Republic of Iraq is seen that will cause new problems for Iraq even if it seems as positive at first. First of all, there is a big question mark that is about which tasks will be given to political groups whose ministries are taken over. On the other hand, associating ministries is in question. For instance, associating Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is being discussed. However, the Ministry of Culture was afforded to the Coalition of Iraqi union under the leadership of Cevat El Bolani who is the former internal affairs minister and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities was afforded to one person of Al-Sadr’s group. In case of associating these two ministries, the possibility of being a moot question concerning it will be afforded to which group is pretty high. Because of the fact that there has not been any appointment to ministries, it is thought that the new assignments will raise problems in Iraqi politics. This situation may lead the Republic of Iraq to a new crisis. On the other side, the continuing discussions relating to the existence of American soldiers in Iraq and also the disagreement among political groups might deepen this crisis. In the forthcoming period, the issues such as reviewing of government or calling an early election may be anticipated to be brought up to the agenda again.

Bilgay DUMAN, ORSAM Middle East Researcher, bilgayduman@orsam.org.tr, ORSAM Middle East Researcher, bilgayduman@orsam.org.tr

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