Political, constitutional trouble in Iraq - GulfToday

Political, constitutional trouble in Iraq

Muqtada Al-Sadr attends a news conference in Najaf, Iraq. Reuters

Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr attends a press conference. File photo

Though election results were announced in October, there is as yet no government in Iraq, UN Secretary General’s envoy to Iraq, Jeannine Hennis-Plasschaert told the UN Security Council, and she pointed out that 40 million Iraqi’s are looking for jobs and economic opportunities and jobs. She also pointed out that a political vacuum would make Iraq vulnerable to terrorist attacks. According to a UN report Daesh had carried out 120 attacks on Iraqi security forces in the three months. Hennis-Plasschaert praised Iraq for repatriating Iraqi nationals — 450 families and 1800 people — from the camps in north-east Syria where foreign terrorists with the families have been detained. Iraq’s battle against terrorism is not over.

The political stalemate seems to arise out of Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr trying to form a majority government with the help of Taqaddum Party of Sunni Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbousi and Kurdistan Democratic Party. On the other hand, the pro-Iran Shia parties are demanding a consensus government. According to the 2005 constitution, the prime minister will be a Shia, the parliament speaker will be a Sunni and the president will be a Kurd.

The Federal Supreme Court has made matters worse as it were when it debarred Kurdistan Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Hoshyar Zabari from contesting for the post due to allegations of corruption. This is a setback to the efforts of Moqtada Al-Sadr to form a government.

Meanwhile, the Iraq Supreme Court had earlier this week struck down the Kurdish region’s independent oil policy. It has raised concern in the Kurdish region. President of the Kurdish region Nechrivan Barzani said, “At a time when Iraq is passing through a turbulent political period, it is unfortunate that the ruling of the Federal Supreme Court deems the Kurdistan Region’s oil and gas law unconstitutional, causing the Kurdistan region great concern.”

The 2005 constitution says that the regions have a degree of independence over oil but that the government should frame a law indicating the specifics. The law has not been made. Meanwhile, the Kurdish Region has earned $750 million per month in 2021 through its oil exports via Turkey. A conflict between the Kurdish region and the federal government in Baghdad could create fresh problems for the country. The court’s ruling has come in a decade-long suit filed by the federal government against the Kurdish region. The case was suspended at its last hearing in September 2021 and then prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was asked to sign off on pressing the case. The timing of the court’s verdict has come as a surprise and puzzle to the observers in the country.

Iraq then is not come out of the crisis that has dogged it for years, especially through the 1990s when the country had to endure economic sanctions after Saddam Hussein’s attack on Kuwait in 1990, and after the Western troops went into the country in2003 to depose the Saddam Hussein regime. Iraq has not found political or economic stability in these years. And the challenge rests squarely with Iraq’s political leaders. In a democratic setup, it is inevitable there would be political competition of an intense kind and is good for the polity as well. People will get to hear different points of view.

But this very pluralism should not become a liability if no compromises are made and no decisions for the welfare of the people are made. It is indeed a positive sign that Iraq has not returned to any kind of dictatorship, and that democratic politics guide the country. It is however necessary that democracy should help people to improve their economic conditions and their quality of life.

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