Iraq’s former PM Maliki joins chorus against U.S.-Iran policy

Maliki was the leader of Iraq during a period of intense sectarianism, when pro-Iranian forces were largely seen as increasing their hold on Baghdad.

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May 11, 2019 16:41
1 minute read.
Nouri al-Maliki

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Iraq’s former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki released several statements in the last week warning the US against making Iraq a battlefield for its tensions with Iran. Last week he warned that Iraq should not become a base to threaten other countries. This week he reiterated his views.

Maliki was the leader of Iraq during a period of intense sectarianism, when pro-Iranian forces were largely seen as increasing their hold on Baghdad. Islamic State used alienation by Iraq’s Sunni minority to galvanize its forces in 2014 and take over a third of Iraq. Maliki was pushed from power and Haider al-Abadi became Prime Minister. Yet Maliki has retained his desire to return to power in Baghdad and still heads his old State of Law party. He still has 25 seats in parliament.

After US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Iraq, Maliki met with US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield and said Iraq should be distanced from any regional conflicts. In subsequent statements he called for an end to US-Iran tensions and warned that US sanctions on Iran and other US actions were a violation of international law and would have consequences in Iraq.

The purpose of Maliki’s comments appears to be his attempt to maintain relevance in Iraq. The US has warned the mostly Shi’ite paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces against any attacks on US troops, warning that they will be viewed as proxies of Iran. Maliki previously had enjoyed US support when the US left Iraq in 2011. He was seen as a Shi’ite strongman who would keep the country intact. Today his role is seen as a driver of sectarianism who eroded the country in the lead-up to ISIS. But he wants to re-make his reputation.

It is the latest round of Iraqi former Prime Ministers seeking to stay in the spotlight. Abadi has also been doing the rounds, including a long interview with The Independent to sell himself as a future Prime Minister. There is no doubt Maliki thinks he will have a second iteration in some form or another at the helm of power in Baghdad.


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