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Challenge lies in uprooting Al-Maliki

WHEN Nuri Al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, was questioned at the beginning of protest demonstrations against him in Baghdad last year, he replied, “It was Iraq that started the Arab Spring.” This reminds us of what Bashar Assad said to the Wall Street Journal two weeks before the start of the Syrian revolution, claiming that the Syrians are not afraid of a spring in Syria because Syria constitutes a resistance front against Israel.
In fact, neither Iraq began the spring, nor does Bashar represent the opposition against Israel. Even if the two views are correct, the question remains as to what is the view of the people within.
Al-Maliki’s main concern is only to stay in power, but he faces several obstacles, primarily that this is his second and last term as prime minister. Although he has sought to amend the constitution to allow himself a third term, he has not yet succeeded. Al-Maliki may not complete his current term and thus now seeks alternative measures such as the dissolution of Parliament before it votes against him, and holding early elections.
Recent protests may mark the beginning of the first battle. Al-Maliki, who failed to collect enough votes in the elections, was appointed through a coalition and was given votes by the Shiite and Sunni Kurd parties.
However, this coalition’s alliance equation has changed. As such, now he is open to an alliance with his opponents, whether it is the Shiite Sadrists or Sunni Arabs that are grouping against him through demonstrations and statements that surfaced in the last few days following the pursuit of another Sunni leader, Finance Minister Rafa Al-Essawi. Al-Maliki removed almost all the Sunni leaders and got involved in a confrontation with the Kurds in northern Iraq for reasons that seem to be linked to Iran’s desire to make way for Syria to save the beleaguered Assad regime.
Al-Maliki marginalized Shiite leaders such as Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, who had more right to the premiership, and sensible politicians such as Adel Abdul Mahdi. He is getting closer to Iran, and willing to do anything it demands to stay in power.
It is important to note that Al-Maliki’s position is unmatched by any president or king, possibly across the globe, for he has authority over all key ministries and entities such as security, intelligence, the armed forces, finance, the central bank, the media, the judiciary and “de-Baathification.” Meanwhile, he is trying to seize control of the authority in charge of combating corruption, and the list goes on.
When the deputy prime minister told CNN that Al-Maliki is a dictator, he was immediately dismissed. When Al-Maliki fell out with Vice President Tareq Al-Hashimi, he accused him of terrorism and conspiracy, and jailed his personal guards.
It will be very hard to uproot Al-Maliki from his position, whether by constitutional means — through the Parliament — or by demonstrations and civil disobedience.
Iraqis are at the beginning of another bumpy road that will lead back to square one, when Saddam Hussein was in power and when the United States paid with a trillion dollars and 4,000 of its soldiers to get rid of him and his legacy. Al-Maliki will be out after he destroys Iraq, as Assad is doing to Syria.

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