Sadr Bloc Boycotts Iraqi Cabinet to Protest Bush-Maliki Summit

As promised Moqtada al-Sadr and his delegation have walked out of the Maliki cabinet.

A bloc of Iraqi lawmakers and cabinet ministers allied with militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr launched a boycott of their government duties Wednesday to protest Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s decision to attend a summit in Jordan with President Bush. “We announce the suspension of our participation in government and parliament,” said Nasar al-Rubaie, the leader of Sadr’s parliamentary bloc. “We gave a promise last Friday that we will suspend our participation if the Prime Minister met with Bush and today [Wednesday] we are doing it as a Sadrist bloc.”

We’ll see whether this, as Eric Martin reasonably contends, a temporary hissy fit or a permanent divorce. Either way, this strikes me as a good thing. Sadr has been simultaneously fomenting violence against the government while participating in it and Maliki has acquiesced in that strange arrangement. At the very least, this move further shines the spotlight on Sadr’s desire to exacerbate rather than alleviate Iraq’s chaos.

Blake Hounshell is right to note that the rise of something like the Mahdi Army was inevitable given the vacuum created by lack of security; still, it has fueled the violence at least as much as it has protected Shiites from it.

Like the Bush Administration (and Steven Taylor) I don’t have much confidence in Maliki. It’s not entirely clear, though, that there are better alternatives at this point, much less that we can do much to effect that change. Renewed threats that the Saudis will intervene on behalf of the Sunnis if the U.S. leaves prematurely further complicate the situation.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor 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.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    Like the Bush Administration (and Steven Taylor) I don’t have much confidence in Maliki.

    What are you talking about? Bush has been singing Maliki’s praises for months. He’s called him “courageous,” “wise” and a “man of strong character.” He has spoken highly of Maliki’s leadership and plan for governance. Nearly every speech Bush gave during the campaign season he talked up Maliki’s skills in governance.




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  2. James Joyner says:

    Triumph: What, exactly, was he supposed to say? Maliki is PM of Iraq’s duly elected government. Saying things that will further weaken him becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes from the president of the United States.




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  3. Dave Schuler says:

    This is kabuki, James. Maliki is a creature of Al-Sadr’s militia. Any notion that he’ll crack down on those who put him into office is illusory.




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  4. James Joyner says:

    Dave: I must confess, the incessant shifting of alliances, with friends becoming enemies and vice versa at the drop of a hat, in Arab politics is one I’ll never understand.




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  5. Triumph says:

    Triumph: What, exactly, was he supposed to say? Maliki is PM of Iraq’s duly elected government. Saying things that will further weaken him becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes from the president of the United States.

    Sorry, James, I guess it is too much to expect candor from the President. When he says such idiotic things that are in such obvious conflict with the facts on the ground, one can only come to one of two decisions: he’s either clueless or lying.

    I’ve always thought the “Bush is stupid” criticism was a bit simplistic. However, when you see the track record relating to his judgement on people’s leadership and qualifications, it does raise questions.

    This is the guy who wanted Bernie Kerick to run Homeland Security–the same Bernie Kerick who had bungled Iraqi’s reconstruction of its police forces.

    This is the guy who argued that Harriet Miers was the most qualified person to sit on the supreme court.

    This is the guy who gave “Slam Dunk” Tenet and Paul Bremer Medals of Freedom.

    This is the guy who thought that Michael Brown was doing a “heckuva job.”

    How are US citizens supposed to evaluate Bush on anything other than his statements and actions and policy results?




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  6. legion says:

    Triumph,
    Don’t forget, he’s also the same guy who stated flatly that Rummy would remain ’til 2008 just before the elections. I wonder if that means Malilki won’t even have a job by the time he gets back to Iraq…




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