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article imageOp-Ed: Iraqi PM Maliki has made a deal and will go peacefully

By Ken Hanly     Aug 14, 2014 in Politics
Baghdad - After earlier appearing on TV to denounce the nomination of Haider al-Abadi as unconstitutional, today Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki appeared again to announce he was stepping down and would support al-Abadi as his successor.
Given that the US, Iran, Sunnis, Kurds, a prominent Shia spiritual leader, many in his own Dawa party, and even Muqtada Al Sadr oppose his bid for another term, it should not be too surprising that Al Maliki finally gave in after making a number of threats first. This was probably all part of his negotiations for a role in any new government. What was happening was clear the other day.
On Tuesday, al-Maliki told the same soldiers that he had ordered to surround the Green Zone on Monday that they "should stay away from the political crisis". Then Abadi in a statement praised al-Maliki's leadership and promised that he would have a continuing role in any new government. Obviously the fix was in already. Of course reports say little of this.
Maliki said that his decision was directed at maintaining Iraq's unity:"I announce before you today, to ease the movement of the political process and the formation of the new government, the withdrawal of my candidacy in favour of brother Dr Haider al-Abadi," Ali Mussawi, a spokesperson for Maliki also said that Maliki would withdraw his complaint and lawsuit and support the nomination of al-Abadi. The most senior Shia religious leader Ali al Sistani may have asked for al-Maliki to step down during Friday prayers. Sistani earlier released a letter asking al-Maliki to step down.
President Obama on Monday sent a clear message that Maliki should step aside quietly. Obama praised the nomination of al-Agbadi: “Earlier today, Vice President Biden and I called Dr. Abadi to congratulate him and to urge him to form a new Cabinet as quickly as possible, one that’s inclusive of all Iraqis and one that represents all Iraqis...Meanwhile, I urge all Iraqi political leaders to work peacefully through the political process in the days ahead,” Obama has always claimed that a unified functioning central government is a necessary condition for defeating IS as well as military action. Earlier, John Kerry US Secretary of State had also warned: “We believe that the vast majority of the people of Iraq are united in an effort to be able to have this peaceful transition. We believe that the government formation process is critical, in terms of sustaining the stability and calm in Iraq..And our hope is that Mr. Maliki will not stir those waters.”
Al Abadi still needs to name a cabinet and form a government among a very fractious group of politicians. He may need Al-Maliki's help. Meanwhile, the Kurds are being independently armed by the US and other countries. They may be unwilling to give back areas they occupy to the central government. In many areas Sunni rebels are cooperating with IS. The new government will need to offer them guarantees that they will have more power and autonomy if they help drive out IS. A unified Iraq seems a distant dream unlikely to become a reality.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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