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The recent Iraqi election results show that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s alliance won the largest share of the parliamentary seats but fell short of a majority and so must negotiate a coalition to govern. On Tuesday, a panel of experts at AEI discussed deals the incumbent Iraqi leader might make to secure a third term and how a new government might address problems in Iraq.
Douglas Ollivant of the New America Foundation said that although the government-formation process will be “extremely complicated,” al-Maliki’s dominant position should make for a fairly rapid government formation. He cautioned against underestimating the challenges to Iraq’s stability such as a resurgence of terrorism, rising sectarian divisions, and oil and territorial disputes between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan.
AEI’s Michael Rubin disagreed, suggesting the government-formation process could result in a yearlong stalemate if potential coalition partners demand too high a price for al-Maliki or any other potential prime minister.
Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress noted that Iraq’s political atmosphere is a “complicated mosaic” in which multiple parties have incentives to join in the political system. It’s encouraging, he suggested, that Iraqi politicians are striving to resolve the country’s disputes through legal mechanisms rather than violence.
The panelists agreed, however, that forming an inclusive government was essential for the stability of Iraq and the region, as well as for American national security.
The Iraqi election results — to be announced May 25 — will likely unleash a maelstrom as the nation’s politicians begin to hash out deals, hoping to cling to power. Those deals will have lasting reverberations not only for Iraq but also for the broader region and American national security.
In the coming weeks, what deals might Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki make to keep his top spot? What compromises might the opposition make to replace him? And what might the deal making mean for Iraq’s peace and stability? Please join AEI for a panel discussion as experts debate these questions, as well as what to expect next from Iraq’s democratization efforts.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Brian Katulis, Center for American Progress
Douglas Ollivant, New America Foundation and Mantid International
Michael Rubin, AEI
For more information, please contact Ahmad Majidyar at [email protected], 202.862.5845.
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Brian Katulis is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focuses on US national security policy in the Middle East and South Asia. Katulis has served as a consultant to numerous US government agencies, private corporations, and nongovernmental organizations on projects in more than two dozen countries, including Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, and Colombia. From 1995 to 1998, he lived and worked in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Egypt for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. In 1994 and 1995, he was a Fulbright scholar in Amman, Jordan, where he conducted research on the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. Katulis has published articles in several newspapers and journals, including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, and Middle East Policy. He is coauthor of “The Prosperity Agenda” (John Wiley & Sons, 2008), a book on US national security.
Douglas A. Ollivant is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and a managing partner of Mantid International, LLC; a global strategic consulting firm with offices in Washington, Beirut, and Baghdad. A retired Army officer, his last assignment in government was as Director for Iraq at the National Security Council during both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. Ollivant spent much of 2010-2011 in Afghanistan as the Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to the Commander, Regional Command-East. Prior to his posting at the White House, he served in Iraq as the Chief of Plans for Multi-National Division Baghdad in 2006-2007. During this time he led the planning team that designed the U.S. and coalition portion of the Baghdad Security Plan, the main effort of what later became known as the "Surge." He spent an earlier Iraq tour in 2004-2005 in Baghdad, Najaf, and Fallujah. He also taught politics at the United States Military Academy at West Point from 1999-2002. He is currently at work on a book comparing the American involvements in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at AEI and a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations. He regularly instructs senior military officers deploying to the Middle East on regional politics and teaches classes on Iraq, Iran, terrorism, and Arab politics on US aircraft carriers. Rubin is a former editor of Middle East Quarterly and, between 2002 and 2004, worked as a staff adviser for Iran and Iraq in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has lived in Iran, Yemen, both pre- and post-war Iraq, and spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. Earlier this year, Encounter Books published his newest book, “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes.”