Maliki Threatens to Take His Ball and Go Home

Everyone is picking on Iraqi Prime Minister Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. In the latest insult, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said that, “The progress on the national level issues has been extremely disappointing and frustrating to all concerned — to us, to Iraqis, to the Iraqi leadership itself. We do expect results, as do the Iraqi people, and our support is not a blank check.”

Today, Maliki indicated that he’d had enough.

Maliki Threatens to Take His Ball and Go Home Photo Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malki speaks during a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart, Mohammad Naji Ottari, Damascus Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007. Al-Malki is on a three-day visit to Syria for talks with Syrian officials on ways of boosting bilateral relations and achieving a national reconciliation in Iraq. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi). Iraq’s prime minister lashed out Wednesday at U.S. criticism, saying no one has the right to impose timetables on his elected government and that his country “can find friends elsewhere.”

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Al-Maliki, on a trip to Syria, reacted harshly when asked about the earlier comments from U.S. officials.
“No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people,” he said at a news conference in Damascus at the end of the three-day visit to Syria. “Those who make such statements are bothered by our visit to Syria. We will pay no attention. We care for our people and our constitution and can find friends elsewhere,” al-Maliki said. Without naming any American official, al-Maliki said some of the criticism of him and his government had been “discourteous.”

Indeed, calls for more competence from a president with approval ratings in the 30s and a Congress envious of such high numbers must be galling. And it’s not like Bush doesn’t take his share of vacations!

Still, the bottom line is that the Maliki government is too beholden to sectarian interests to be a credible force for a unified Iraq. What the alternative is, however, is another question entirely.

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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.