Iraq’s political system has always been in crisis and now the turn of things is signalling a new one. The country’s Parliament is electing a new Prime Minister to replace the current premier Nouri al Maliki, who apparently, is refusing to leave office.
Even after reigning at the top for eight years with an authoritarian line, Maliki is trying his best to cling onto power. In Iraq, since the President’s post is more of a ceremonial one, the power is mainly in the hands of the Prime Minister. Maliki has isolated the Sunnis all along and has amassed immense wealth, influence and power establishing private security forces in Baghdad which report to him exclusively. Due to his dictatorial attitude, pressure has been building up against Maliki even from his own Party. He has been abandoned by almost all of his party and regional allies. But with a craving for power, he is unwilling to step down challenging the move to unseat him. Analysts say he might even use force to remain in power.
The crisis started with Maliki missing the deadline to form a new government coalition in the country’s Parliament, which was on Sunday and announcing that he would be staying in power. But on the very next day, Maliki’s own Islamic Dawa Party voted for a new leader, Haider al Abadi, a member of the Parliament which was also backed by the Kurdish President Fouad Massoum. "The country is now in your hands," Massoum had told Abadi, moments after being nominated for the Prime Minister post. If Abadi could form government within the next 30 days, he could be the new Prime Minister. Maliki has threatened to file a legal complaint against the President Massoum for committing a "clear constitution violation" by missing a deadline to ask the Parliament to nominate a prime minister. Abadi reportedly gained 127 votes from members of the National Alliance including almost half of Maliki’s State of Law bloc members. Significantly, 38 votes came from Maliki’s Dawa party. The move is expected to create an internal dissent and Maliki would try to block the formation of the new administration as long as he could.
Obama had clearly said that he was ready to back the new Iraqi government led by Haider al-Abadi offering financial as well as military support. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneii, UN, NATO and Saudi Arabia have all come forward to congratulate and extend support to Abadi on his nomination. Despite all the backing for Abadi, one cannot predict whether Maliki will step down willingly and peacefully. The support of all the groups including the Sunni and the Kurds is essential for the new government in order to stop the advancement of the militant group, ISIS. Whether Abadi would be successful in forming and handling the new government and revive a country that is steadily declining, is yet to be seen.