Nowhere man, don’t worry; take your time, don’t hurry

The Iraqi parliament is apparently in no hurry to resume beating its head against a wall to try and come up with an alternative to Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister:

Iraq’s newly elected parliament has postponed its next session until August 12, state television said, amid political deadlock over choosing a new prime minister.

Parliament met last Tuesday for the first time since its election in April and had planned to meet again this Tuesday.

The office of acting parliamentary speaker, Mehdi al-Hafidh, confirmed to the Reuters news agency that the session had been postponed but did not give further details. He said parliament would soon issue a statement.

Hey, it’s not like there’s some enormously pressing armed conflict currently threatening your country and the entire region, and whose continuation is being exacerbated by political dysfunction in Baghdad. You guys take all the time you need.

I’m actually of two minds on this. There are two outcomes to whatever deliberations parliament winds up having: More Maliki or Not Maliki (I’m assuming the country won’t run indefinitely in inertia, with Maliki as a lame duck). More Maliki will make tamping down the Sunni rebellion (by which I mean the underlying unrest that’s allowed the Islamic State to do what it’s been doing) incredibly difficult. But it will also be incredibly difficult to pull off the Not Maliki result, given that Maliki’s State of Law Coalition won a sizable plurality in the election (94 seats) and currently dwarfs the other two major Shiʿa parties, the Sadrists and the Islamic Supreme Council. Putting together a majority government that doesn’t include Maliki would require either near unanimity between the other Shiʿa parties, the Sunni parties, and the Kurdish bloc, and that’s a tall order, or peeling away some of Maliki’s supporters, which is also going to be tough. Unless/until something can be worked out in the back room, it’s probably better for parliament to do nothing than it is to have them ratify another Maliki administration or to just sit around squabbling and looking useless. Then again, not meeting at all looks pretty useless as well, and leaves a very illegitimate Maliki hanging on to power anyway.

There’s also some question as to whether it’s better to press IS militarily now or give them time to alienate everybody first. I am not a keen military mind (or if I am then I’ve really missed my calling), but it would seem to me that for a typical enemy in this situation you’d like to counterattack quickly before they have a chance to consolidate their gains. But IS isn’t a typical enemy, and the longer they’re in place demanding hyper-piety from their subjects and allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Caliph Ibrahim from their nominal allies, the more those subjects and allies will start to hate these guys. The declaration of the caliphate does seem to have put them ahead of the Al-Qaeda types in the jihadi recruitment race, at least in Syria where Jabhat al-Nusrah is struggling to keep up, but these big gains that IS made in Iraq were made possible by the acquiescence of the local population and by the military expertise of the ex-Baʿathist generals in the Naqshbandi Army. It could be that the longer you leave IS to its own devices, the more likely it is that the locals and the Naqshbandis will turn against them.

Author: DWD

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