Political vendettas and ministerial infighting have paralysed Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s government in Iraq and he should start to consider stepping down to trigger new elections so that a more forceful coalition can try to stem Iraq’s sad slide into the abyss of continual violence. An illustration of the scale of the problem was given by the Interior Ministry spokesman who told the Wall Street Journal that as the government tries to fight terrorism, “part of the problem is the political infighting and regional conflicts ... There are shortcomings and we need to develop our capabilities mainly in the intelligence-gathering efforts”.
The latest violence means that more than 1,000 people were killed in political violence last month and more than 4,500 people have been killed since April. This horrifying tally was completed on Monday when a number of car bombs killed at least 55 people in Baghdad’s Shiite neighbourhoods in one of the latest of a series of attacks blamed on Al Qaida, seeking to restart sectarian conflict and benefit from the confusion and hatred generated by such violence. Al Maliki needs to take responsibility for not doing more to stop the violence. It is true that Iraq’s civil war was triggered by the America-led invasion more than 10 years ago and the disastrous failure of the consequent administration. However, Al Maliki has been the Prime Minister since 2006. He won a second term after complex coalition talks. In these seven years, his Shiite-dominated government should have done more and his recent announcements are not expected to achieve much.
Al Maliki is talking of a number of new security measures, including wide-ranging searches of suburbs suspected of holding insurgent hide-outs. He has also sponsored some lacklustre talks on political reconciliation, but nothing has stopped the bombing. It is time for him to step down and for others to seek a more dynamic approach and gather a wider coalition of Iraqi politicians who can exclude the violent radicals from dominating the political process.