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The Lost Potential of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki

By: Nick Stumo-Langer ’15

Iraqi PM Nouri al-Malaki is, seemingly, on his way out of the Iraqi political scene. With damaged credibility and a startlingly stratified country, Maliki’s third bid for Prime Minister was ill-advised at best. Many blame him for the Iraqi army’s dismal response to the enormous threat ISIS has posed to the region, resulting in a vast takeover of land from the Syrian border to past Mosul in the north and as far east as Fallujah.

IraqMap

1 Credit: Outside the Beltway (6/30/14)

Al-Malaki is being replaced by the newly elected President Fuad Masum, however, more than an unfortunate story for Malaki personally; this defeat is a defeat for the entire region.

Nouri al-Malaki, the first nationally elected leader of post-war Iraq, is the leader of the Shia Dawa Party and could have proved to be a uniting figure, flying in the face of Iranian intemperance. Between former Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Khamenei and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the modern Middle East has not experienced a moderate, peaceful Shia leader.

What is needed and what Malaki potentially could have been for the world’s population of Shia Muslims, could be a moderate voice in the “perpetual” conflict between Islam’s most populous sects.

Iraqi political leadership is ripe for a moderate voice, post-Saddam Hussein the mosaic population of Kurds, Sunnis and Shias could have produced a successful pluralistic society. For now, the opportunity is lost; Malaki has shored up support from regional leader Iran to the detriment of relations with Saudi Arabia and their allies in the region (including the United States). One side isn’t necessarily better than the other, however, and by steering a middle path Malaki’s Iraq could have been better served.

Now, with the threat of ISIS looming large over the region, the autonomous Kurdish region taking on a bigger role to defend their territory, and the Shia-led government in Baghdad fumbling through a new Prime Minister appointment, the time has passed for a strong national coalition, the fight is at the front door.

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