Maliki under pressure as Abadi pushes new anti-corruption measures

Maliki under pressure as Abadi pushes new anti-corruption measures
Analysis: Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is coming under mounting pressure as Washington declared its backing for ambitious anti-corruption proposals.
4 min read
18 August, 2015
Nouri al-Maliki (centre) has been in Iran since Sunday [Anadolu]
Pressure on Nouri al-Maliki tightened on Tuesday, as a number of his erstwhile allies pulled their support from the former Iraqi prime minster.

Among the dozens of Iraqi MPs that make up Maliki's State of Law parliamentary coalition, 11 are said to be considering whether to leave the group and align with other leaders, such as Muqtada al-Sadr's firebrand movement.

Legal action

Maliki is facing legal action after a parliamentary report on the fall of Mosul to the Islamic State group, last year, was handed over to public prosecutors.

Maliki - who was prime minister at the time - was mentioned as culpable for the debacle in June 2014, while he himself has dismissed the report as "worthless".

"There is no value in the result that emerged from the parliamentary investigation committee on the fall of Mosul, which was dominated by political differences and was not objective," Maliki said on his Facebook page.

"What happened in Mosul was a conspiracy planned in Ankara, then the conspiracy moved to Erbil," Maliki added, hinting at joint Turkish-Kurdish opposition to him.

The report blames some of Iraq's leading political and military figures as being responsible for the calamitous performance of the Iraqi army against the IS militants, who now control huge swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Billions of dollars had been invested in the military's training and weaponry. But the rapid fall of Iraq's northern and western provinces highlighted endemic corruption in the national army.

Soldiers were revealed to be just names on the pay roll with officers said to be collecting the salaries of the "ghost troops".
     Maliki and the other names mentioned in the report could now face trials in military and civilian courts

Ali al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi legal expert, said Maliki and the other names mentioned in the report could now face trials in military and civilian courts.

The first would be an ad-hoc military tribunal established on the orders of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, in accordance with Article 28 of the Military Penal Code.

The second would be a civil tribunal established by the judiciary council, in accordance with Article 4 of the Penal Code.

Both courts have the power to pass the death penalty -something which could be worrying Maliki and his allies.

Since the report was published on Sunday, Maliki has based himself in Iran, watching Abadi's sweeping reforms from the side-lines. He is on an "official visit" - but his position as vice-president has since been terminated.

Abadi appears adamant in isolating the former PM from his many powerful allies and making him an impotent political figure.

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Such measures include taking away privileges from Maliki's coalition, such as the use of one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces, now placed under state control.

Maliki's private jets have also been handed over to Iraqi Airways, according to al-Araby al-Jadeed's Iraq correspondent.

Even the US embassy is said to have boycotted a human rights symposium organised by the State of Law party today.

Militias of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, which were once loyal to Maliki, are now said to be turning away from the former prime minister, a source from the ministry of defence told al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service.

Abadi is said to have ordered the fighters to be paid their salaries, after they have received nothing from Baghdad for months. This could further strengthen the prime minister's hand as he pursues an anti-corruption drive, on the back of popular protests.
     Abadi has also been busy reorganising government and has scrapped a number of key posts and institutions

Abadi has also been busy reorganising government and has scrapped a number of key posts and institutions. 

It was reported that Abadi cancelled a trip to China to concentrate on reforms and security in Iraq.

Following a meeting between the prime minister and US Deputy Secretary of State Brett Makourk, Abadi's office issued a statement saying that Washington supported his  reforms.

Makourk also agreed to send US electricity experts to help fix Iraq's failing energy infrastructure. Power cuts last month during a heat wave sparked protests, after Baghdad residents were left without electricity and air conditioning in 50 degree heat.

"The meeting discussed training and arming Iraqi forces to increase their combat capabilities, and applauded the victories achieved in the battlefields against the Islamic State group," the statement read.

"It also urged the need for the reconstructions of the liberated areas and the return of displaced civilians."

Maliki does appear to have the support of Iran, although a source in the Iraqi parliament told al-Araby al-Jadeed Arabic that Tehran was trying to secure safe passage for the former leader to return to Iraq.

Abadi appears to have already countered such a move.

The Iraqi Supreme Court has issued a statement saying that it is working with neighbouring countries to pass a new law which would have wanted suspects handed over to Iraqi custody.