Friday, April 20, 2007

Opinion (Anne-Beatrice Clasmann): Maliki on shaky ground

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has his back against the wall. Last month, 15 members of the Fadhila party left the Shiite Alliance - Al-Maliki's most important power base. Later, all six ministers of the movement led by the radical cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr left the government. Now Al-Maliki has been forced to dismiss Defence Minister Abdul Kader Al-Obeidi - a Sunni. Otherwise, the Iraqi Accord Front, which with 44 seats is the strongest party in parliament, threatened to withdraw its seven ministers as well as Deputy Prime Minister Salam Al-Zubai. This would have meant the final break-up of the government. "Al-Maliki will remain in office for another few months at most," politicians were speculating at the Arab Summit in Riyadh in late March, where Iraq was represented by two Kurdish politicians - President Jalal Talabani and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

In fact, the Shiite prime minister is increasingly struggling to juggle US strategy, the power interests of rival Shiite parties, the influence of Iran, the Kurdish strive for independence and the constant criticism from dissatisfied Sunnis.

Read the rest at Kuwait Times