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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid