Politically Exposed, Iraq’s Maliki Cracks Down

Politically Exposed, Iraq’s Maliki Cracks Down

While details remain uncertain about who started the fighting and exactly who did what to whom, last week saw a marked escalation in rhetoric and violence between mostly Sunni Arab protesters and Iraqi government forces under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s control. Peaceful protests turned into armed camps. Dozens were killed in the most intense clashes with security forces since Iraq’s virtual civil war in 2006-2007.

The Iraqi state is today much better equipped to hold its own against armed adversaries than it was six or seven years ago, when the U.S. played a crucial role in ending sectarian fighting, not least by negotiating to bring Sunni “Awakening” forces over to the government’s side. Maliki’s approach is less nuanced -- his political coalition is not called “State of Law” for nothing. He feels justified using the state’s monopoly on the legitimate means of violence to subdue protesters who take up arms, even as he also promises investigations into any abuses.

The protesters feel equally justified. They view Maliki as increasingly sectarian and authoritarian. Torture is common in Iraq’s prisons. Iraq’s media are under pressure. Maliki has bypassed official processes to appoint personally loyal military commanders and undermined the independence of the central bank, the judiciary, anti-corruption investigators and other countervailing institutions. Several Sunni politicians have been accused of supporting terrorism and their personal security details subjected to arrest, with at least one guard dying in detention under suspicious circumstances.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.