The making of the Iraqi cabinet is a comedy rerun

Clearly, Iraq, its fate and its people are unfortunately the last things on the minds of the Barazanis and the Talabanis.
Sunday 01/03/2020
An Iraqi demonstrator covering her face with the national flag looks on during an anti-government demonstration by Basra University students, February 11. (AFP)
No light at the end of the tunnel. An Iraqi demonstrator covering her face with the national flag looks on during an anti-government demonstration by Basra University students, February 11. (AFP)

For 15 years, we’ve witnessed reruns of the same comedy in Iraq. Every time the ruling class brings a new prime minister, they try to sell him in the same manner. They turn him into a wise leader and brave hero and shower him with exaggerated praise. They multiply their optimistic public statements and promise that he is the only one capable of making a miracle, the right man in the right place at the right time.

True to their habit, they flirt with the guy publicly when the time to form a cabinet comes. In public, they shower him with honey-dipped discourse, heap praise on his origins and family. However, in private they make sure to give him a taste of their power so he knows his limits. He must agree to give them their share of power or shares for their militias or for their tribes or for their sects.

That’s the fruit of the poisoned seeds sown in Iraq by Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator Paul Bremer or US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, Americans who have hidden in the seeds the impossible-to-cure virus of quotas and sectarian discrimination. Then Bremer simply got out of the country, leaving his orphaned children to kick each other in the head.

As usual, each lucky candidate for the position of Iraqi prime minister — or unlucky depending on who is making the call — would end up having die-hard fans among the great Knights of the Green Zone and another group of die-hard detractors.

The first group, usually including people whom this wonderful prime minister had privileged with the most powerful and juiciest ministries, never fails to go to his rescue. The second group of disgruntled and angry losers never fails to put him down in the name of the constitution, the sanctity of the nation, the interests of the Iraqi people and the demands of the protesting masses.

We know that all these wonderful motives of the second group are mere words with no content to the members of these groups. What angers them is that they couldn’t secure equal privileges and interests for their parties or tribes or sects. They are first-rate hypocrites, dangerous thieves and the biggest liars.

You might wonder why I am writing this article. Well, it appears those in the inner circle of Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi have been circulating a rumour that “he rejected requests from Shia, Sunni and Kurdish political forces to include their representatives in the government, so they turned against him.”

Allawi declared that he knew of a plan to thwart the parliament’s approval of the new government. “The details of the plan are to pay exorbitant sums of money to the MPs in order to make the vote secret, during the confidence-giving session,” Allawi said.

That statement angered parliament, which sent an official request to the public prosecutor to begin an investigation into Allawi’s allegations about the existence of a “plan to thwart the parliament’s approval of the government by paying deputies exorbitant sums of money.”

The root of the problem is that the Shia blocs in parliament received orders from beyond the borders to involve their Sunni partners, both those sponsored by the Iranian Embassy and those sponsored by the US Embassy in Iraq, in approving Allawi’s government.

They also insist on satisfying the demands of the other Kurdish and Sunni representatives, driven by the desire to save the good old political process, a process founded and essentially driven by striking balance and understandings between its major players. Moreover, Allawi’s proposed cabinet might give demonstrators the impression they have scored a victory over the government and the parliament, an unforgivable crime that must be prevented.

Take parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, for example. He blamed Iraqi President Barham Salih for choosing Allawi as prime minister and accused him of refusing to designate other personalities whose names were put to him before Allawi’s name came up, which, Halbousi said, was unconstitutional.

Salih publicly called Halbousi’s bluff. “The speaker of the parliament personally attended Allawi’s assignment and he explicitly approved the decision,” Salih said.

It is said ministerial positions in Iraq are for sale to the highest bidder, behind closed doors, of course. The best customers are the various Sunni currents and blocs, whose hypocrisy and double games have been exposed. They’re particularly avid for certain lucrative ministries and all their boring talk about democracy, patriotism, Arabism and the interests of the Sunni community is nothing more than a smokescreen.

As for the leaders of the (brotherly) Kurdish parties, they have been pretending since 1990 that they were the only ones who have confronted the authoritarian Iraqi regime and that, along with other Arab-Iraqi liberation forces, were fighting selflessly for the liberation of the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and for the sake of establishing a just and sane democratic system that does justice to the citizen, regardless of his religion, ethnicity or sect.

However, the whole rotten load of quarrels, deals, alliances and conflicts that followed the fall of Saddam’s regime said a different story about the high morals of the Kurdish parties and proved that their leaders are a bunch of first-grade opportunists.

They quickly turned their backs on the Iraqi democratic forces and allied themselves with Iran and its reactionary, sectarian and corrupt parties in Iraq, sharing in the spoils without the slightest hint of remorse. So much for patriotism, democracy and justice!

Meanwhile, a lot of blood was shed in Iraq and cities and villages, both Arab and Kurdish, were reduced to rubble right on top of their inhabitants. The bitter reality is that the Kurdistan region is not an independent state so it can’t deal with its big “neighbour,” the Iraqi state, as equals nor is it a full-fledged part of the Iraqi state, enjoying the same rights and duties as any other part of the homeland.

The evidence is sad and revolting but overwhelming. Leaders of the Kurdish parties place the interests of their parties and of their clans above everything, even above the interests of the Kurdish people themselves.

The angry demonstrations in Sulaimaniyah against the dictatorship of the two Kurdish families, the Barzani family and the Talabani family, are the best proof of this reality. Clearly, Iraq, its fate and its people are unfortunately the last things on the minds of the Barazanis and the Talabanis.

What kind of state do we have in Iraq? A state run by usurers, opportunists, ignorants and dupes. It is a state that does not hear the voices of the people, the true owners of the country, because it is a state without ears.