Growing pains of iraqi politics.
Earlier today, i mistakenly wrote that Iraq's Oil Minister, Ibrahim Bahr Ul-Ulum was fired, based on Al-Jazeera's description of him being 'given leave' by Iraq's government. It turns out that he was literally given leave to attend his son's wedding, as opposed to being fired. As it goes, however, he actually was a whisker away from being sacked due to him breaking ranks with the government over the raising of fuel prices. According to a source, speaking on condition of anonymity, Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari was incensed. He had already decided to fire him and had actually signed the form authorising his dismissal when a last minute intervention on Ul-Ulum's behalf from some of Jafari's advisors convinced him to change his mind. In the UK, we have an unwritten rule, a convention if you will, called collective responsibility. What this means is that if a cabinet minister disagrees with one of the government's policies, he must either resign in protest or voice his concerns to the cabinet only, and must not publicly express his displeasure. Either Ul-Ulum had never heard of this concept or had simply been moved by more selfish motives, like distancing himself from an unpopular but neccesary policy. At the very least, it was very unprofessional of him and he can count himself lucky that he hasn't lost his job. With Iraq making the transition from dictatorship to democracy, it is to be expected that problems like these will occur. We just hope that as time goes by, and Iraq's leaders gain experience, these occurences will be less and less frequent. Ul-Ulum's acting successor at the Oil Ministry, Ahmed Chalabi, stands a good chance of being involved in the next government, despite his awful showing at the polls. The source said that, as deputy Prime Minister, he had been an active and useful member of the Iraqi government and added that Prime Minister Jafari considered him a very competent deputy. It seems like Chalabi was Jafari's prefered deputy (he had several!) and that he delegated most responsibility to him when he was out of the country. Should Jafari remain as PM, it is almost certain that Chalabi will feature in some way.
Now for some excellent news :-)
Speaking on the possible make-up of the future Iraqi government, the source added that Iyad Allawi is struggling to keep his list together, as its members are abandoning his sinking ship and are doing what almost everyone in Iraqi politics is doing these days: looking out for themselves! Allawi's list didn't win enough seats to be a force in the next parliament, so it makes sense that the people on his list are protecting their own interests and are negotiating with the Kurds and the Shias. With him being unable to keep his own house in order, it seems that Allawi's political career has finally been put to bed.
In the words of that great orator, Nelson, from The Simpsons... Ha Ha!
Two people who do have a chance at being the next Prime Minister of Iraq are the incumbent Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, and Adel Abdel Mahdi, one of Iraq's two Vice-Presidents. Jafari enjoys considerable support within the shia alliance and this has forced Mahdi to seek support from outside the alliance. Apparently Mahdi has sought the backing of current Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who has expressed frustration at Jafari and has openly expressed a desire to be more than just a ceremonial president. Considering the fact that the alliance is ultimately the one who chooses the Prime Minister, I'd say that Jafari is now the odds on favourite to be Iraq's Prime Minister for the next 4 years. Jafari is seen as the one who is most qualified to do the balancing act required to be Prime Minister. Whoever accepts the role must balance the demands of the sunni and the shia, the arabs and the kurds, and the religious and the secular, as well as dealing with an occupation. The Prime Minister must also lead a government at war with terrorists who are waging a war against Iraq. These people are not the rejectionists who are fighting the US army only, they are the ones killing shias, blowing up pipelines which carry the nations wealth, killing anyone associated with the new government etc. The Shia alliance is lending its support to Jafari to be the man to lead this government, and they have confidence that he has the ability to do the job.