Maliki Out as Iraqi PM?

There may be a significant reshuffling of Iraq’s cabinet.

Major partners in Iraq’s governing coalition are in behind-the-scenes talks to oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki amid discontent over his failure to quell raging violence, according to lawmakers involved. The talks are aimed at forming a new parliamentary bloc that would seek to replace the current government and that would likely exclude supporters of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is a vehement opponent of the U.S. military presence.

The new alliance would be led by senior Shiite politician Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who met with
President Bush last week. Al-Hakim, however, was not expected to be the next prime minister because he prefers the role of powerbroker, staying above the grinding day-to-day running of the country.

While politics makes strange bedfellows and putting together a workable coalition in Iraq is, to say the least, quite difficult, it has never made sense to include Sadr’s allies in the Government without demanding that he stop backing violence against said government.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    I don’t know Iraqi politics, but the only way an anti-Sadr coalition will work is if strong-enough anti-Sadr militias join together. (Where “militia” is the military arm of the “parties” … I’m assuming any party worth considering has its parallel militia.)

    In other words, if it ain’t a civil war yet, it’s gonna be.

  2. legion says:

    Major partners in Iraq’s governing coalition are in behind-the-scenes talks to oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki amid discontent over his failure to quell raging violence, according to lawmakers involved.

    Ha! And I wonder how many of those “major partners” are caucasian & live in DC…

  3. Cernig says:

    Hi James,

    Raed in The Middle, the Iraqi blogger, had a story from a Jordan newspaper story back on the 4th Dec. Only then, the broadly-based “national salvation front” included the Sadrists and didn’t include SCIRI and Al Hakim.

    A number of Iraqi political groups are planning to announce a broad national front in the next few days aiming to correct the falling political process.

    Mr. Saleh Al-Mutlaq, the head of the national dialogue front, told “Al-arab Al-Yaum” that the national salvation front that will be announced soon will include the national dialogue front, the national Iraqi list led by allawi, the reconciliation and liberation front led by meshaan aljuburi, and the Sadr movement.

    Mr. Almutlaq added that the new front will include a number of groups that are not participating in the current Iraqi government including Baathists, pan-arabists, the Founding Conference that includes 46 political movements, the old Iraqi army leadership, and tribal leaders from the middle and south of Iraq. In addition, the front will include representatives from Turcoman, Yazidi, and Kurdish patriotic leaders who are against the occupation and for Iraq’s unity, and other Christian movements that believe in Iraq’s unity.

    Mr. Al-Mutlaq added that the national salvation government will be supported by 7 religious leaders who hold the Ayatollah title, including Al-Baghdadi, Al-Yaqoubi, Al-Muayad, Al-Maleki, Al-Sarkhi, and Al-Khalisi.
    The Iraqi Muslim Scholars association will have representatives in the front as well, according to mr. almutlaq.

    Concerning the goals on the new front, Mr. Al-mutlaq said that the front will work to set a timetable (or time limit) for the U.S. presence in Iraq, which is an important condition that will convince the Iraqi resistance to stop fighting and start participating in the Iraqi government.

    Mr. Al-Mutlaq said that the NSF will take over the current Iraqi government either by pulling out from the current parliament and creating a new government, or through holding an international conference that may be based on points 30, 31 and 32 of the UN Security Council resolution No. 1546 that calls for a conference every three months that includes the Iraqi government, the multi-national forces, and the UN secretary general to discuss the developments in Iraq.

    Finally, and concerning the time that the national salvation front will be announced, Mr. Al-Mutlaq said that the front is coordinating with other regional powers to reach the right timing for this announcement to achieve the front’s goals and minimize any sacrifices.

    So now it looks like we may have two nascent new governments that both intend to usurp the Maliki government. My guess is that the SCIRI one will get the backing of the U.S. but that the other one will get the backing of most of the Iraqis with guns. The Chinese proverb “May you live in interesting times”, eh?

    Regards, C

  4. James Joyner says:


    My presumption, perhaps incorrect, is that al-Hakim and friends intend to achieve their aims via the normal processes by which plurality coalitions in parliamentary systems are broken and replaced by new ones.

  5. Cernig says:


    That’s my understanding of both group’s plans. There’s a possibility that this may lead to a new phase of two-party democracy, both parties with broad spectrum support, that could defuse the current sectarian violence.

    Then again, it may just be that, yet again, just as everyone else thinks they have a handle on who is fighting who and why, the Iraqis decide to change it up.

    I am, like Heinlein, an “optimist by nature and a pessimist by temperament”.

    Regards, C

  6. MSS says:

    “Plurality coalitions”? There is a majority in Iraq, and that majority is Shiite. Unless you had cross-sectarian parties (a la India, for example), you will not get electoral alternation in power. (I am assuming the reference to “plurality coalitions” had a sylized version of the UK in mind.)

    Obviously, Iraq does not have cross-sectarian parties. It does have sub-sectarian parties, which could be a good sign of the pluralism needed to generate alternation. If each one did not have its own militia…

    Sadr’s allies are part of the UIA, which is a pre-election coalition of Shiite factions, each of which (and not only Sadr) has its own militia.

    It looks like any alternation that comes will be of the inter-election reshuffling variety (as the first line of the main post implies), not of plurality blocs alternating in power. And that shuffling will be in large part determined by the capacity of factions to employ violence.