Iraq's Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 10


Judiciary Sets Hashemi’s Court Date

On February 21, Iraq’s Supreme Judiciary Council announced that it had set May 3, 2012 as the first session of Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi’s court trial, which will also try his son-in-law Ahmed Qahtan and others. According to the council’s spokesman, the date cannot be deferred and the trial will still take place in the case of their absence. The following day, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Arif Tayfour said that Hashemi “should appear before court and prove his innocence against all the charges,” warning that if Hashemi refuses to accept a Baghdad trial, he would be tried in absentia. As a member of the Kurdish Alliance, Tayfour is the highest-ranking Kurdish official who has publicly called for Hashemi to stand trial. This week, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani called on the blocs to resolve Hashemi’s case politically, contrary to those who argue that the case is up to the judicial system. A Sadrist lawmaker said that Barzani’s statement “discredits the Iraqi judiciary and challenges the political process.”

Mutlaq Case to Be Resolved in Parliament

Whether Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq gets to keep his job after Maliki tried to sack him  will reportedly be resolved by a vote in Parliament. According to an unnamed source close to Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, the latter had inserted Mutlaq’s case in the parliamentary agenda “under obligation and in response to great pressure from the political parties and some representatives and heads of blocs.” Nujaifi and the Iraqiyya bloc had been attempting to work out Mutlaq’s status as a deputy prime minister through the National Conference initiative in hopes that the blocs could resolve disputes via a political settlement. However, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his State of Law coalition are refusing to place Mutlaq’s case on the conference’s agenda. Maliki sought to sack Mutlaq since he characterized the prime minister as a “dictator” in an interview with CNN last December while Maliki was visiting Washington, D.C.

Parliament Passes 2012 Budget

Parliament passed a $100.5 billion budget in a seven-hour session on Thursday, February 23 after lawmakers approved each article of the bill individually. Concessions were made toward the final draft to gain the endorsement of several parties. The Sadrist Trend achieved a concession that allows a part of the oil revenues to be awarded to the Iraqi people, though it appears that revenues would be allocated to the public only after all other expenses are paid. Sadrist lawmakers were threatening to not vote for the budget until their demands were included in the final draft of the legislation. To gain support from Iraqiyya lawmakers, funds were guaranteed to pay wages for the Awakening forces in Diyala and Ninawa. Finance Minister Rafe al-Issawi stated that the 2012 budget is pegged to an average price of oil at $85 per barrel. According to Oil Minister Abd al-Karim al-Luaybi, Iraq plans to increase production this year to 3.4 million bpd from 2.9 million bpd, and increase exports to 2.6 million bpd from 2.1 million bpd in 2011. Parliament decided to adjourn until March 6.

Diyala Governor Given Three-Day Ultimatum

On February 22, state television reported that Maliki had given an ultimatum to Diyala Governor Abd al-Nasir al-Mahdawi to return and resume responsibilities in the capital city of Baquba. Dilir Husayn, a Kurdish member of the provincial council, stated that the prime minister had given the governor 72 hours to return to Baquba or be dismissed from his position. Mahdawi fled the city in December after hostile protests erupted following the province’s declared intention to form a federal region.

For a comprehensive look at the first two months since U.S. troops left Iraq, read Ramzy Mardini's backgrounder, " Iraq's Recurring Political Crisis."  To read a transcript from the Feb. 29 event "Policing Iraq," click here, and to read a transcript from the Feb. 16 event "Iraq After the U.S. Withdrawal," click here. To read past and future weekly updates, click here.