Iraqi PM Nouri Al Maliki: a Case Study in Delusion

Iraq is currently in a crisis. In recent weeks it has lost vast swathes of territory to the Sunni radical group ISIS. For every victory the Iraqi military has, it incurs several defeats. The Iraqi government is unwilling to admit or rectify its exclusionary policies which have greatly assisted in bringing on the situation that it now faces. Meanwhile the Kurds are proving to the world that they no longer need Baghdad. Externally, third parties such as Syria, Iran, and the United States are not helping Iraq’s internal situation. Blame can and should be placed on multiple parties but at this moment I would like to look at how the Iraqi PM Nouri al Maliki is complicating the situation. In some ways he is just as much of a threat to his country as ISIS.

During the Hussein era, Iraq was dominated by a minority Sunni population that marginalized Shi'a and Kurdish communities. With the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 so came the fall of the Sunnis in Iraq with the majority Shi'a population becoming dominant. Meanwhile the Kurds in typical Kurdish fashion went on doing their own thing and for the most part minding their own business and have been quite successful. With the collapse of the Hussein government in Iraq, despite being a dictatorship, the situation went haywire with sectarian groups fighting each other. The Coalition it can be said advanced this by in many ways sidelining Iraqi Sunnis through its establishment of de-Ba'athification policies (The Ba'ath party was the party of Hussein and was dominated by Sunnis resulting in most positions of power being held by them.)

What resulted? Well those that had ruled Iraq for decades were removed from power but just as important, the Sunnis were out, the Shi'a were in. Today unfortunately, the Iraqi government doesn't adequately reflect the Iraqi people. Maliki lacks the backing of Sunni, Kurdish, and many Shi'a allies that helped him to gain a majority in the Iraqi National Assembly in prior elections. While there are those in each community that bitterly oppose each other, there are just as many who fear a total fragmentation of Iraq along sectarian lines such as Shiite cleric al-Sistani. PM Maliki though is rejecting calls from all sides to form a national unity government believing that it disregards the Iraqi Constitution and that crisis or not, there is no reason for it.

Now Maliki is blaming the United States for the inability of his military to stop ISIS. Well truth be told, we did fail to answer his initial calls for assistance. Then again, the situation at hand is largely a result of his own failures and the failure of the United States to take an adequate post-occupation interest in Iraq. Indeed one of the reasons the U.S. offered for not assisting Maliki with airstrikes when requested was that he had failed to make adequate attempts to make the Iraqi government more inclusive of other groups; though it must be said we failed to take great strides in seeing this happen. The exclusiveness of the government is seen as a reason for many Sunni groups collaborating with ISIS. That and many Sunni tribal leaders are just interested in sparing their communities from bloodshed. Though Maliki is now criticizing the U.S. for failing to deliver F-16 multi role jets in time which the former believes could've been used to turn the tide against ISIS.

This is absurd but then again is the Iraqi government receiving F-16s before the delivery of proper COIN (Counter Insurgency) and CAS (Combat Air Support) aircraft. Sure the F-16 can be used in the ground support role to support Iraqi army units in fighting ISIS insurgents but its overkill. Iraq would be better off having cheaper, low-tech aircraft that are more suited for high sortie rates against ground targets such as the Brazilian Embraer Tucano which has been used to great effect in COIN operations or the Su-25. Regardless, Iraq has just signed a deal with Belarus that will provide the former with second-hand Su-27 aircraft. Presumably these include the up to 21 Su-27s that were withdrawn from service in the Belarus air force 2 years ago.

Deliveries are said to commence in several days but overall Maliki is delusional. He states "G*d willing within one week this force will be effective and will destroy the terrorists' dens." May I ask who will be flying these aircraft because it certainly won't be the Iraqis as none of their pilots have any experience in the Su-27 unless they've been secretly training outside the country which they haven't. Furthermore this is a case of a government that believes superior technology is the key to defeating a group that is motivated by religion and whose resolve is absolute. Not a good strategy when all the while Maliki is defying calls from members of all groups to resolve the differences that are seen as highly contributing to the current situation. Nor is it a good strategy when Iraqi ground forces can't press any advantage they have.

In the end an American citizen might say if this is the delusional government that exists in Iraq, then let it fall. There is no reason to help perpetuate something that is self-defeating. Though on the other hand, one would be right to believe Maliki won't survive this crisis and we should help the government long enough for it to rectify its mistakes and secure a stable security situation. Regardless, Maliki is delusional. His refusal to allow for the creation of national unity government is as much about self-preservation as it is about disagreements dating back hundreds of years. His belief that the appearance of some planes will magically alter the situation is just as bad. Now I've supported airstrikes under the caveat that they must be done along with the Iraqi government ditching its exclusionary practices. Unfortunately Maliki doesn't believe this and as long as he fails to address the situation that is at hand, Iraq will remain in a precarious situation.

Posted by SPBrooker at June 30, 2014 6:06 PM
Comment #380374

Remember that Republican convention, when all those Republican jackasses were waving around their blue thumbs to show their solidarity with the Iraqi government? Ah, those were the days. A lot of them don’t call themselves Republicans anymore. They are ‘conservatives’ or ‘independents.’ But make no mistake. They voted for Bush twice. And they hate Obama. Make sure you identify them when they show themselves in public, and shame them. They deserve it.

Niiiice job by the conservatives on the SCOTUS today. Best tweet:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are closely-held private corporations.”

Unbelievable. Five foolish old conservative men trying to fashion law. Result: Epic fail.

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Comment #380375

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Posted by: guseryre at July 1, 2014 8:41 AM
Comment #380380

I guess we can all play armchair quarterback now. We are in the midst of losing Iraq and everyone seems to have a prewar remedy now.

When we get into either Shi’a or Sunni politics it usually includes deathsquads—now in playing that game we are implicate, by “game” I mean taking sides. We entrusted Shi’a with the government in Iraq. Was that the problem? We created a Shi’a nationhood and the Sunnis are now beating them up brutally for it, deathsquads, firing squads et al.

The new laws are set down—no cigarettes, no alcohol, no drugs and women are to be draped head to toe in a burka or face death. This is all enforced by a code of ‘death’ not imprisonment. Do it or you die by whatever means they recommend I suppose.

ISIL is Taliban with a very, very tightwire code of Islamic law enforcement.

Why aren’t we reacting? What does the military think? Do we go in and bomb (we have but in small doses). Do we let Iran deal with it? Or Syria? We have no choice but to go to fullscale warfare if we want to remove them for good. BUT THEY DO NOT TAKE PRISONERS, THEY KILL THEIR ENEMIES—FLAT-OUT AND ASSASSINATION STYLE! WE GO TO WAR—WE ARE THE ENEMY—KILL ON SIGHT. THERE WILL BE NO TRADES UNLESS IT’S FOR BODIES. ISIL is serious about killing all infidel to the point where they kill them.

They have executed hundreds of Iraqi policemen and soldiers. We will get no preferential treatment otherwise. As we will have to play the same game—kill them all and take no prisoners. This is harsh unga-bunga warfare—this will not be the Viet Cong—they care less and it’s all code of death that “they” are under and that “we” are under.

There will be no Bergdahl trades with the ISIL. We are so pampered by Hollywood notions of war—this is not war this is slaughter house stuff and we are smackdab in the middle of it now.

What do we do?

Posted by: simpleheaded at July 1, 2014 11:56 AM
Comment #380384

For starters Obama has sent 200 more military personal into the pit of hell.
Is the next Obama lie, that more boots on the ground will be committed?

Just for giggles, I just saw a tank attempt to do a NASCAR tire burn out using his treads instead. The best he got was dark diesel smoke. That shows the losers that they really are.

Which decision are you talking about? Which ever you are referenced to, which or what law do you in error believe they are trying to refashion?

Posted by: tom hmes at July 1, 2014 1:21 PM
Comment #380391

The Hobby Lobby decision. Because of that ruling, a corporation now has religious beliefs, and as a matter of religious freedom, can impose its beliefs about birth control on women. The court was very specific. This decision applies to all types of birth control used by women. And it only applies to women. Men can still obtain vasectomies or Viagra through insurance at the workplace.

It’s hard to know which is worse: declaring that a corporation has religious beliefs, or allowing a corporation to make pre-emptive decisions about the availability of birth control for its female employees.

Posted by: phx8 at July 1, 2014 3:26 PM
Comment #380393

” Men can still obtain vasectomies or Viagra through insurance at the workplace.”

Nearly all private insurance considers Viagra a Tier three drug and even with insurance is very costly. Medicare will not pay anything for Viagra.

“…allowing a corporation to make pre-emptive decisions about the availability of birth control for its female employees.”

Not true. Birth control remains “freely available”.

Posted by: Royal Flush at July 1, 2014 3:54 PM
Comment #380394

Royal Flush
I am having difficulty trying to understand what phx8 is reading or hearing.
I have narrowed it down to farsi, mufti, or bs.

Posted by: tom humes at July 1, 2014 4:06 PM
Comment #380395


I think you’re looking at this in the wrong time frame. The Shia-Sunni slaughter began over what gov’t should succeed Mohammed. The Sunnis believe rulership should go to anyone who is capable and successfully installed the first Caliph, Abu Bakr. The Shia believe rulership should have been generational and handed down to Mohammed’s cousin, Talib. They’ve been killing each other for the 1400+ years since.
Having said that, al-Maliki has always been an incompetent leader but was a resistance leader against Saddam and had credibility across all of Iraq. We made his problems worse.
First, we let the political and business infrastructures that could have been leveraged into a modern society be destroyed by Brenner’s “debaathification”. Next, we are responsible for the hatred the Iraqi people have for us by letting Blackwater murder their citizens with impunity along with the many other crimes perpetrated by Halliburton and the other war profiteers.
In brief, it is not Maliki who is delusional. It is the American public. Iraqs animosities are millenia old and W lifted the lid on that particular box. Thinking our armies could have controlled the mess after Saddam was delusional. Thinking going back in with our military will resolve the mess is delusional. Thinking a single man in a single generation can resolve this mess is delusional. ISIS is a muslim world problem and it’s about time we let them settle their own problems.

Posted by: Dave at July 1, 2014 4:20 PM
Comment #380403

Maliki isn’t delusional. His party won the recent general election and he is entitled to his position as leader of the country. Now, the Sunnis don’t like that and are in rebellion.

Its a civil war along sectarian lines. We can’t solve it.

The only parties that can really solve this issue are the two principals, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Time to put pressure on them to negotiate. But, I am not holding my breath.

Posted by: Rich at July 1, 2014 6:36 PM
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