The fresh palace coup in Iraq was most likely orchestrated by the CIA which is currently getting closer to accomplishing the goal of toppling Maliki (thereby removing a threat to the Petro Dollar hegemony) and replacing him with a more docile puppet so as long as the Iranians can be convinced to support it in order to save the Shiite domination over Iraq from total collaspe. Maliki’s refusal to step down increases the prospects of a renewed civil war in the country, drawing the Iranians (and their Shiite Afghan recruits) deepr into the quagmire vs. ISIS. The rushing of US arms to the Kurds is meant to contain the cauldron from spilling out into Big Oil interests in Kurdistan, as previously reported by us. This simply follows up in the natural footsteps of the long envisaged NATO plan to Balkanaize Iraq according to sectarian lines in order to secure Big Oil interests and the Petro Dollar scheme in general.
Iraq’s Prime Minister just lost his job. Will he use force to keep it?
The Iraqi political system is in crisis, with the country’s parliament electing a new prime minister to replace Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is so far refusing to leave office. It’s not clear whether or how Maliki, who has taken an increasingly authoritarian turn during his eight years as Iraq’s leader, might try to cling to power. Here’s what we know so far about the crisis and where it could lead Iraq next.
The crisis began late Sunday, at 12 am Baghdad time: the deadline for Maliki to form a new governing coalition in the country’s parliament. When he missed the deadline, he announced that he would be staying on as prime minister anyway. On Monday, Maliki’s own party voted for a new leader party leader: a member of parliament and former finance minister named Haider al-Abadi. He will legally become the next prime minister if he can form a government within the next 30 days. Iraq’s president, whose position is otherwise largely ceremonial, gave Abadi the authority to do that. All of this bring Abadi very close to replacing Maliki as prime minister. But it’s still unclear whether Abadi will be able to form a new government — or whether Maliki will let go of power peacefully.
Here’s a breakdown of what we know — and don’t — about this political crisis in Iraq.
What we know
This political crisis started because Iraqi parties couldn’t agree on forming a government. Maliki’s State of Law coalition won a plurality of Iraqi seats in the April elections, but he couldn’t figure out how to put together a coalition large enough to get a governing majority by the Sunday midnight deadline. Part of the problem here is factionalism: Iraqi politics are divided along largely sectarian lines. Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds mainly vote for sectarian parties (Maliki is part of the Shia majority), and there’s also competition even inside the sectarian blocs. Abadi, just appointed to replace Maliki as the leader of the State of Law coalition, is now trying to form his own governing majority, which would make him prime minister.
Maliki is now legally obligated to step down. After Maliki’s Sunday night announcement that he planned to stay on as prime minister, his own party took that choice away from. About 50 members of parliament from the State of Law coalition — over half of the party’s total numbers — voted to nominate Abadi for Prime Minister rather than Maliki. That means Maliki no longer controls the largest bloc in parliament, and hence no longer has any claim to be prime minister. Legally, he is required to abdicate in favor of Abadi once Abadi puts a government together. So far, Maliki hasn’t.
Maliki wants to stay on. Maliki was very clear on this point in his speech on the Sunday midnight deadline: he’s staying in office. Legally, he can stay on as caretaker prime minister, unless Abadi forms a new government, in which case Abadi will legally replace Maliki as prime minister. If that happens, then one of three things happens: Maliki is persuaded to step down peacefully, he’s ejected by force, or he manages some long-shot political compromise that allows him to stay.
Abadi was appointed to form a new government. Abadi, a reasonably popular Shia politician (who’s open to overt Iranian intervention against ISIS), has been charged by Iraqi President Fuad Masum to form a new government. A rough count suggests Abadi has the support of about 128 members of parliament, which is still short of the 165 needed for a majority.
The US has endorsed the decision to replace Maliki. Secretary of State John Kerry was clear on this. “We stand absolutely, squarely behind President [Masum],” Kerry said after the crisis began, endorsing Masum’s decision to appoint Abadi. “He has the responsibility for upholding the constitution of Iraq, he is the elected president, at this moment Iraq has clearly made a statement that they are looking for change.” The US sees Maliki as refusing to carry out the political reform necessary to address the Sunni grievances fueling the ISIS rebellion.
Maliki is planning to sue Iraq’s president over this, but it doesn’t matter. “Today I will file a formal complaint to the federal court against the president,” Maliki said in his speech. Iraq’s president is largely ceremonial, but hs is responsible for giving the election winner (in this case, Maliki’s party) the authority to form form a new government. It is true that Article 76 of the Iraqi constitution says the president has to do that within 15 days of the election. Masum didn’t, although he would likely argue that’s because Maliki never got enough parties to join him for a governing majority. Regardless, Maliki thinks Masum violated the constitution and is suing him over it. But the fact that Maliki was voted out by his own party suggests that this lawsuit won’t effect the crisis much.
What we don’t know
Is a coup coming? That depends on just how authoritarian Maliki has gotten. For something to qualify as a coup, the person or faction launching the coup has to take office by force (here’s an interesting post by a political scientist on the definition of “coup,” if you’re curious). So far, we have little evidence that Maliki will resort to force to hold on to office, should Abadi form a new government to replace him. But there is real concern that Maliki might try to hang on by force.
What are the Iraqi troops doing in Baghdad? Sketchy reporting from Sunday night that Iraqi troops have taken positions in Baghdad appear to have been correct. Multiple outlets are reporting security forces stationed around Baghdad, particularly in the Green Zone that houses the US embassy and many government buildings. No one is quite sure what they’re doing there, but given Maliki’s as-yet refusal to concede, it’s certainly worrying.
What will Abadi’s government look like? While Abadi has more support than Maliki did, he still doesn’t have a parliamentary majority. That means we still don’t know which Iraqi parties, exactly, are going to be in the government. Maliki may well be history, but the future of Iraqi politics is still very much up in the air.
US arms rushed to Iraqi Kurds from Jordan, Israel
The Kurdish Peshmerga fight against encroaching Islamic State troops gained a broad new dimension Monday, Aug. 11, when the US began airlifting large quantities of military equipment, including ordnance, from Jordan and Israel to the semiautonomous KRG capital, Irbil. The US maintains 10,000 special operations and marine forces at the King Hussein Air Base in northern Jordan, with large stocks of ammunition that were originally destined for the rebels fighting Bashar Assad in Syria. They are now being redirected to the Kurdish effort to stop the rapid Islamist march on their republic, along with supplies from the US emergency stores maintained in the Israeli Negev.
debkafile’s military sources reveal that for some weeks, those stores and other US facilities in southern Israel have been in the sights of IS elements, which arrived in Sinai six months ago to reinforce Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, the local offshoot of Al Qaeda.
The US, Israel and Egypt have taken care to keep this development under their hats. But in the last month, while Israel was engaged in Operation Defensive Edge against the Palestinian Hamas, IS and Al-Maqdis shot rockts from Sinai at US and Israeli military facilities in the Negev, in support of Hamas. Their attacks were described by Western observers as intense on some days as the Palestinian rocket barrage against the Israeli population.
The speed with which the American military effort in northern Iraq has spiraled in four days – from limited air strikes on IS targets Friday, Aug. 8, to direct arms supplies Monday – will soon confront President Barack Obama with the need for a speedy decision on whether to send American troops back to Iraq.
US air strikes are clearly limited by the lack of an organized list of targets. All they can do now is bomb chance targets as they are picked up by reconnaissance planes or satellites. To be effective, the US Air Force needs to be guided in to target by special operations forces on the ground, who can supply precise data on the movements of IS fighters and mark them for air attack with laser designators.
Another shortcoming is the small number of US fighter-bombers available for Iraq. The aircraft which conducted four attacks on IS forces came from the USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier in the Gulf, which has 70 warplanes on board. This is not enough aerial firepower to stop the Islamists’ advance.
They are also disadvantaged by being prevented from striking IS forces in Syria, a limitation which further curtails their effectiveness, as it did in the US war against Saddam Hussein.
In the years 2003-2007, Al Qaeda had the great advantage of an open Syrian border. Instead of maintaining the bulk of its forces in Iraq, they could slip across into Syria out of range of US attack.
Obama will not overcome any of these military issues by his determined focus on sorting out the political situation in Baghdad. Replacing Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki by having his rival, Deputy Speaker Haider al-Abadi, nominated to replace him Monday – even with the backing of Sunni and Kurdish factions who detest Maliki – won’t affect the warfront. This change may generate inter-factional violence in the capital. And it will not quickly stiffen the Iraqi Army or enhance the Kurdish Peshmerga’s ability to curb the Islamists’ rapid advance. Bringing them up to scratch by restructuring and retraining them on modern operational lines, and providing the Iraqi army with an effective air force, will take anything from two to four years.
Last week it was discovered that, among the Islamist fighters who died in US air strikes Friday and Saturday, was a large group, estimated by intelligence sources as up to 200, of American citizens fighting in the ranks of Al Qaeda’s IS in Kurdistan and western Iraq.
The Islamic State never releases facts and figures about its losses. However, Sunday, Aug. 10, a spate of threats imbued with a sense of revenge started appearing on social media, such as: “This is a message for every American citizen. You are the target of every Muslim in the world wherever you are.” Another was more brutal: “ISIS is ready to cut off your heads, dear Americans, O sons of bitches. Come quickly.”
The approaching 13th anniversary of the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks on America is causing concern in US intelligence and counter-terrorist quarters about possible surprises ahead.
- Obama “bombing ISIS targets” to gain direct possession over oil fields
- ISIS Marches On Kurdistan, Lebanon, Baghdad
- Mission Creep: Obama increases military presence in Iraq
- Obama sends “military advisers” to oversee Iraq’s Balkanization