Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki's self-inflicted 100-day deadline, which expired on June 10, to ensure that all facets of his country's administrative machinery were functioning at peak levels, has left him with egg on his face.
Standards were set and consequences for failure were announced and yet when the time came for some stock-taking, Al Maliki's inaction has left him facing intense queries for which he would be hard- pressed to provide answers.
Admitting that the 100-day deadline hasn't worked would have been an easy way out. He could have always taken a fresh guard after that. With the Arab Spring touching new heights and with civil society sensing that they have made rapid breakthroughs across countries in the Middle East, Al Maliki can ill-afford to cloak his explanations in ambiguity.
This has been done by setting a fresh four-year plan for each ministry amid claims that ‘massive progress' has been achieved in the stipulated 100 days. The opposition obviously does not agree. This is not the time for extreme long-term vision, especially when the route for the short term is littered with roadblocks.
The Iraqi government is lucky: there is relative calm in the country; no signs of civil war, or any symptoms of civil disobedience. This is good, especially for a young government.
Al Maliki should bolster his confidence with achievement. The presence of US forces in Iraq no longer acts as a double-edged sword — especially in terms of acting as a political deterrent for the prime minister on the ground. He must address the well- being of his people actively and ensure that his government is above suspicion. Iraq has its own internal regional strife and he should tread with caution while tackling it. Al Maliki must take a look at the region — that alone could improve his effectiveness.