Jawad al-Maliki

The main news from Iraq this weekend was that Jawad al-Maliki is now Prime Minister of Iraq, following the US-UK campaign to keep Jaafari out of the job.

You won’t learn much from the papers, where journalists are having a visibly hard time filling up their biographies of Maliki. Here they are anyway: [Guardian](http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1759783,00.html), [AP](http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060421/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_al_maliki_profile;_ylt=AokX5K6udPHoiMB1bW6FpBQLewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTBjMHVqMTQ4BHNlYwN5bnN1YmNhdA–), [New York Times](http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/04/23/africa/web.0423profile.php), [Times](http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-2149366,00.html). Slightly better is [Juan Cole](http://www.juancole.com/2006/04/al-maliki-acceptable-say-kurds-sunni.html) ‘s dump of old news articles referring to Maliki’s work on the constitution and elsewhere.

But [Helena](http://justworldnews.org/) is about the only person putting the appointment into context. She has followed it through from the [nomination of Jaafari by the UIA](http://justworldnews.org/archives/001727.html) back in february (a surprise choice, the pundits were expecting Abdul-Aiz al-Hakim to be Prime Minister), to what she identified as a [campaign by Britain and the States to block Jaafari’s appointment](http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/election/2006/0405impasse.htm).

With that background, Maliki looks like a face-saving candidate, keeping power within Jaafari’s Daawa party while removing the man himself. Nothing wrong with a compromise choice, of course, but remember that Jaafari will still be the power behind the throne. I just looked at my notes on Iraqi politicians, and the entry for Maliki said one thing only one thing: “close to Ibrahim al-Jaafari”.

As for actual policies, there isn’t any difference between him and Jaafari. The US ambassador [describes](http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/04/23/news/iraq.php) him as “tough-minded” and “strong”, which sounds ominous in terms of democracy. The best that the Iraqi Islamic party has to say is that he is “more practical” than Jaafari. Because he’s an unknown they don’t have much to throw at him, but what there is doesn’t look good. In particular, it can’t be long until Maliki’s opponents bring up his role in the debaathification program, which has angered many by turning into a de-Sunnification program.

That said, this isn’t a bad compromise, and the chance that Iraq will finally form a government is a Very Good Thing.

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