News / Middle East

Serious Challenges Face Iraqi Government

Gunmen gather in a street as they chant slogans against Iraq's Shi'ite-led government and demanding that the Iraqi army don't try to enter the city in Fallujah, Iraq, Jan. 7, 2014.
Gunmen gather in a street as they chant slogans against Iraq's Shi'ite-led government and demanding that the Iraqi army don't try to enter the city in Fallujah, Iraq, Jan. 7, 2014.
Iraq is the scene of increasing violence as the Shi’ite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki faces two major challenges.

Analysts say the first challenge is the growing alienation of Iraq's minority Sunni population which considers itself marginalized from the political process and believes it is being treated as second-class citizens.

The second challenge is the presence of Sunni militants linked with al-Qaida who have intensified attacks on Iraqi security forces in the western province of Anbar - especially in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.

More U.S. military aid

The Obama administration has responded to the Anbar fighting by accelerating military sales deliveries to the Iraqi government.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Iraq will get an additional shipment of air-to-ground Hellfire missiles and about 60 spy drones known as unmanned aerial vehicles - or UAVs.

“These UAVs will help the Iraqis track terrorist elements operating within the country. We also provided aerostat surveillance balloons to the government of Iraq in September of last year and delivered three additional Bell IA-407 helicopters in December - just last month - bringing the total purchased by and delivered to Iraq to 30,” Carney said.

Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged continued support to the Iraqi government. But he said that will not involve sending U.S. troops.

In 2003 American forces toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and fought an eight-year war, costing the lives of more than 4,000 U.S. military personnel. The U.S. invaded Iraq arguing it had weapons of mass destruction, an assertion which turned out to be false.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni was head of U.S. Central Command (1997-2000) - responsible for U.S. military operations in the Middle East - several years before the invasion.

He said it is critically important that the current political and security situation in Iraq stabilizes.

“This requires investment in more than just security forces, but in their economic development, in better governance, more pressure on the government to be responsive to the needs of all their people, maybe a little more distribution of authority down to the local level too,”  Zinni said.

Maliki 'part of problem'

Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to two U.S. presidents, Gerald Ford (1974-77) and George H.W. Bush (1989-93), said Prime Minister Maliki should bear some of the responsibility for the increase in sectarian violence.

“He definitely is part of the problem," he said. "It seems to me that what he is really trying to do is to solidify a Shia-led government structure in Iraq rather than to solve the Shia-Sunni problem in a way that allows Iraq a government which has a chance to work. I don’t think that al-Maliki has been particularly helpful here.”

Scowcroft said the presence in Anbar province of Sunni militants with ties to al-Qaida poses a major test for the Iraqi prime minister.

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration, believes al-Qaida’s presence is growing in Iraq.

“In the Sunni areas, as they have seen the al-Maliki regime tilt very heavily toward the Shia population, carry out the bidding of Iran, the arguments of the terrorists like al-Qaida and other radicals to the Sunni population, that they are not going to get anything out of this regime and they need to go back to where they were almost 10 years ago - has a lot of appeal,” he said.

More turmoil ahead

Looking ahead, many experts see more turmoil and instability for Iraq.

“If Maliki were really to try to construct a government which operates, or is seen to operate on behalf of all Iraqis, it’s still not too late to turn the process around," said Brent Scowcroft said.  "But I think it’s pretty late. In addition, there is always the nascent problem with the Kurds in the northwest who are in danger, at any time, of trying to revolt and create an independent Kurdistan. So Iraq is a very, very hazardous place right now.”

Some analysts believe Iraq may slip into a civil war risking the partition of Iraq into three independent regions.

Ironically, in 2006, then Senator Joe Biden, now the U.S. vice president, advocated a version of partition along the Bosnian model, calling for the establishment of “three largely autonomous regions with a viable central government in Baghdad.”


Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid