Baram on Maliki

Amatzia1 "Dear Pat,
We know about Maliki’s latest moves:


‘s prime minister has threatened to exclude the supporters of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr from politics.

Nouri Maliki told CNN that the cleric’s movement would not be allowed to take part in elections unless it disbanded its militia, the Mehdi Army" . Muqtada for his part turned to Sistani (Najaf) and Kazem Ha’iri (Qomm) for their opinions (BBC).  In view of his and his late father’s bitter rivalry with Sistani, this is a revolutionary move.

Maliki: yesterday the Iraqi TV reported of his speech at the funeral of his security aid Salim (Abu Layth) al-Ta’iyy who was killed in a battle in Basra. Maliki presented the government troops’ attack on the Mahdi Army in Basra as part of the legacy of Muqtada’s father, "Al-Shahid al-Sadr". By this he attempted to present Muqtada as someone who betrayed his father’s legacy. Maliki presented himself for the first time as the "Commander in Chief (al-Qa’id al-‘Amm) of the Iraqi Armed Forces".  This is based on the Iraqi Constitution according to which: "The Prim Minister is  … the Commander in Chief of the armed forces" (Article 77). It also seems to be following in the footsteps of the American Constitution, but under Saddam, too, the president was the Commander in Chief. Maliki however has not until yesterday used this title. It seems that using it is part of his confrontational and uncompromising (so far) position vis-a-vis the Mahdi Army but also a part of an attempt to impose his will on his ministers of defense and the interior, two independent and strong personalities at the helm of the two most important security apparatuses.



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8 Responses to Baram on Maliki

  1. Jonathan House says:

    I wonder if Amatzia Baram would like to comment on the tension between his take and that of Juan Cole on the same development.
    Baram writes:
    “Muqtada for his part turned to Sistani (Najaf) and Kazem Ha’iri (Qomm) for their opinions (BBC). In view of his and his late father’s bitter rivalry with Sistani, this is a revolutionary move.”
    Today Juan Cole writes:
    “Then the US press went wild for this supposed report that Muqtada al-Sadr said he would dissolve his militia if Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani ordered it. Folks, he always says that when there is a controversy. (He said the same thing in spring, 2004). He says it because he knows it makes him look reasonable to the Shiite public. He says it because he knows that the grand ayatollahs are not going to touch the matter with a ten foot pole. They are not so foolish as to take responsibility for dissolving a militia that they had nothing to do with creating. And that is probably the real meaning of this CNN report that they ‘refused’ when asked. I doubt the grand ayatollahs in Najaf actively commanded Muqtada to keep his militia. They just declined to get drawn in.”
    for full article go to

  2. Montag says:

    That’s like our U.S. Supreme Court refusing to consider a case thrown up from the lower courts, allowing the decision to stand because it would be inconvenient for the Court to take the case up.
    As for Maliki’s high falutin title, Clarence Darrow had a take on such. When one politician boasted, “I am the Captain of my soul and the Master of my fate!” Darrow remarked caustically, “That jasper wouldn’t rate being made Deckhand on a raft.”

  3. meletius says:

    Gee, I wonder if a certain malevolent VP on his recent visit encouraged Maliki to make greater “use” of the “Commander in Chief” moniker under the Iraqi constitution?
    That cynical gambit has worked quite well in another nameless country in expanding unchecked executive power and encouraging strongman-type rule.
    To be fair, Maliki does seemed faced with something that can more properly be called a “war” in and upon his “homeland”, unlike the nonsense to which C-in-C Bush has attached the jingoist “We’re at war!” phrase.

  4. jon says:

    Sadr’s father was more of a peer with Sistani, and had great personal veneration in addition to his religious authority. That halo effect has given Sadr his start and sustained him through the occupation.
    Muqtada is far outranked. Which is one of the reasons he’s gone off to ayatollah school. Sistani would be obligated to make a religious ruling, and Sadr would be obliged to obey. This would be separate from (though informed by) their approaches to politics.

  5. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Mr. Sistani is not obliged to intervene unless and until some one formally solicits his legal opinion in regards to the various militia in Iraq including the Mahdi Army.
    His legal opinion would only be binding on Mr. Sadr if Mr. Sadr had elected Mr. Sistani to be his personal Source of Emulation.
    To my knowledge, there is no living Source of Emulation that has both the moral and the political authority to dissolve (or form) any of these militias. The best you could get would be a public consensus of all the major Sources of Emulation on this matter – it will not happen.

  6. Mo says:

    No its more like a Supreme Court with an even number of judges not taking up the case because they know there will be an even split and the split could lead to some real nastiness on the streets.

  7. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    1. Aswat Aliraq, Bagdhad, April 8: “Al-Obaidi stressed that all the decisions related to Mahdi Army “are exclusively in the hands of Sayid Muqtada al-Sadr,” and that “al-Sadr used to make decisions regarding the Mahdi Army after consulting the clergy.”
    “He revealed that Sayid Muqtada al-Sadr “recently consulted the clergy about dissolving the Mahdi Army, but the major clergies rejected this issue.”
    “In a TV interview with al-Jazeera satellite TV station two weeks ago, Sayid Muqtada al-Sadr identified those clergy as Sayid al-Sistani’s and Sayid al-Ha’iri’s,” al-Obaidi clarified.”
    2. Per hydrocarbons: “Shahristani says the Basra assault, which was led by Iraqi forces and backed up by the US and British militaries, will allow better control of vital oil resources and facilities, curb smuggling, and help boost production to 3 million barrels per day (b.p.d.) by the end of the year, which would be the highest level in 20 years.”

  8. Fred says:

    “Commander in Chief (al-Qa’id al-‘Amm) of the Iraqi Armed Forces” This doesn’t make him commander in chief of the citizens, though it might play well for domestic consumption in the US, especially with the current congressional hearings. I don’t think the US Congress, and certainly not the US press; has bothered to actually look into the make up of the Iraqi Armed Forces. Thier composition has been pretty well described on SST.

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