_Steve Enorrste update 4-9-12
WHERE WE ARE AS OF APRIL 9, 2012 - THE POLITICAL CRISIS AND SHABIBI'S CHOICES
As many of you may be aware I gave an analysis of the situation on March 27 in which I speculated that Shabibi would be forced to pull the trigger on the RV by the end of April.
I wrote that before the most recent events occurred and would like to revise my feelings on the matter with this post.
There are two significant issues that have impacted my thinking since the last post. The first is the recent movement toward a “no confidence” vote against Maliki, with the attempt being to remove him from office.
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_The second is the dispute over the CBI and to whom it is supposed to report for approval on the RV.
I will address each of these matters in turn, after which I will give my current view on the RV in terms of potential timing.
It is now clear that there is a ground swell of concern about the increasing accumulation of power by Maliki. Most recently he has attempted to take over the CBI by having Shabibi fired.
This, added to the fact that he still is running the Defense, Security, Interior, and Intelligence Ministries by himself, has now brought several of the opposition groups to the point where they are now openly talking about attempting to remove Maliki from power.
From Maliki’s point of view, he has called all of this talk a “whirlwind”, apparently implying that it will all blow over and that he will survive whatever attempts may follow to remove him.
On the other hand, there is increasing pressure mounting from the opposition. In particular, Iraqiya has announced publicly that it is fervently attempting to come up with the 163 votes necessary to vote “no confidence” in Maliki which would remove him from his position as Prime Minister.
In addition, Mr. Barzani was bold enough to discuss the removal of Maliki openly to the press from Washington, D.C., where he was meeting with Vice President Biden. He was so bold that he claimed outright that Maliki was attempting to become a dictator just as Saddam Hussein had done in the last decade.
Added to this, however, is a statement from the National Alliance faction. This group, you may recall, had joined with the State of Law (Maliki’s party) to form a super alliance that gave him enough votes to win the election in March of 2010, even though he did not have even a plurality of votes (Allawi of the Iraqiya List actually had more votes than did Maliki).
The National Alliance has called for a change in the Prime Ministership but has not gone so far as to call for a new election. Presumably they would prefer Maliki to step down in favor of another Shiite from within the State of Law/National Alliance coalition.
In any case, it seems to me that these opposition groups are almost in a position to obtain the 163 votes necessary to oust Maliki. Iraqiya has 91 votes, the Kurds have about 43 votes, and the National Alliance has about 50 votes, as I recall If they all banded together, then Maliki would potentially be voted out of office.
I believe that Iraqiya and the Kurds are prepared to act on the “no confidence” vote, but I don’t think they will act until they are convinced that the National Alliance will go along with them. The last thing they would want is to call for a vote and have Maliki squeak out a victory!
Therefore, I suspect that it will be at least a week or two before this comes to a head. It will take this long for the various factions to discuss the matter privately among themselves and come to a consensus.
The main reason that the National Conference was not held was because they could not even agree on the agenda of the conference. In addition, even if they had agreed on the agenda (Allawi tried to set it at least once) there was no indication from Talibani’s point of view that the Conference would be successful.
Therefore it was postponed indefinitely. I also read that if it had been held there was a good chance that Maliki himself would have boycotted the Conference. Obviously that would not have been productive, to say the least.
My opinion is that the situation is therefore tenuous, at best.
Maliki is as intransigent as ever. In addition, he has a tremendous amount of power accumulated and will be difficult to remove, even if the “no confidence” vote is made and is successful.
I do not believe that this will lead to civil war, however, in spite of the fact that Barzani clearly made the statement that this is a crisis for the country. I say this because I believe that Maliki has deservedly earned the disgust of the majority of the people of the country.
I believe that he will not be able to retain the allegiance of the army, given the supposition that the opposition would be up to ¾ of the parliament. It seems to me, then, that when “push comes to shove” Maliki would be forced to step down. There is some evidence that he would be arrested for war crimes in that scenario.
However, it may be premature to talk about a “no confidence” vote.
After all, this politician Maliki has been around for a long time, and there is no evidence whatsoever that he will just lie down and give up. This is the import of his words calling all of this brouhaha a “whirlwind,” in my opinion.
The question then is this: just how will he manage to defuse this political crisis? This question becomes all the more imposing when we recognize, again, the simple fact that Maliki does NOT compromise.
From an outsider’s point of view it would appear that this is a crisis that could collapse the democratic process in Iraq. It is my opinion, and I agree with Kaperoni on this, that both the United States administration and the UN (Ban Ki-Moon in particular) are deeply desirous that the “experiment” in democracy in Iraq be maintained, if even only as a shell of a real democracy.
Therefore, I believe that external pressure will increase on Maliki. Evidence of this seems clear in that Barzani was invited to visit with Biden and did not mince his words when the meeting was over.
In addition, Barzani is now in Europe having meetings with other leaders there as well. It seems obvious to me that he is attempting to build a ground swell of support from outside the country at the same time that Allawi and Talabani are working for a similar ground swell from within the country.
The outcome of this crisis is yet to be determined. I will speculate on some possible outcome scenarios after I discuss the issue of Shabibi.
Mr. Shabibi is a very talented and capable head of the CBI. He has attempted to walk a tightrope with the Maliki administration for nearly 2 years now. It seems clear to both Kaperoni and myself that he has been ready to revalue the dinar for several months now.
He has delayed doing so primarily, in my opinion, because of the crisis in the failure of the GOI to get finally formed. In other words, he has been waiting on Maliki, thereby giving Maliki the practical “keys” to the RV.
Maliki, as I have stated before, has his own agenda. I have always believed that he has withheld the RV as a “quid pro quo” for getting release from Chapter VII from the United Nations. I was quite honestly surprised that he did not accomplish this goal when he went to Kuwait.
He signed a number of documents that gave the appearance of a significant compromise. After thinking about this further, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that there was no significant compromise on his part.
Instead, he cut a deal with the Kuwaitis that had already been agreed to some months prior. In this case, they just decided to put it all on paper. You may recall that Kuwait has been in favor of getting Iraq out from Chapter VII for some time now, so the “show” that Maliki made by going to Kuwait was not groundbreaking.
It was just a formalizing of their own previously held positions, in my opinion. In other words, Maliki did not change.
We must now ask ourselves if Maliki was ever ready to allow the RV.
At this point I do not believe he ever gave Shabibi the authority to do so. Had he done so he would not be having to justify his current position and the Cabinet would not have sent him a letter stating that he needed their approval.
This situation is getting complex, just as the Maliki power grab is complex. We have Shabibi firmly convinced that he has the authority from within the CBI laws alone to act on matters of monetary policy.
Admittedly he believes that he is obligated to report to both Parliament and to the Government, but he does not believe that he has to have their approval, or he believes he already has it. For our concern it doesn’t matter which is correct; what matters is that Shabibi feels he is right.
The Parliament is on record stating two things: first, they claim that the CBI should correctly be reporting to THEM and not to the Government. That statement was made recently.
However, in addition to that statement a second statement was made by a key member of parliament. That statement quite clearly said that the Government should leave the CBI alone and allow it to continue to formulate and enact monetary policy.
Furthermore, the Parliament is on record now stating that it FAVORS the actions of the CBI during the last few years and is impressed at the consistency of the CBI in controlling inflation and handling monetary policy.
All of this sounds great, but unfortunately there is another shoe to fall.
On January 18 of this year the Supreme Court stepped into the fray and stated that the CBI reports to the Government. It was quite clear in its interpretation of Section IV, article 110, paragraph 3 of the Constitution. It specifically stated that the CBI was not autonomous.
Here is the statement:
“The Federal Supreme Court issued a decision in January 18 this provides a link independent bodies referred to in the Iraqi constitution, including the Central Bank under the chairmanship of Prime Minister directly, not under the chairmanship of the House of Representatives, and the decision came at the request to show a link bodies of Cabinet Office submitted to the Federal Court in second week of December last year. “
Furthermore, a federal judge reiterated that position in a letter sent directly to the CBI just last week.
We know from past experience that Maliki has the Supreme Court in his back pocket, so we shouldn’t be surprised at these statements made by this body. However, in my reading of the Constitution it seems to me that the Supreme Court is actually right on this matter, in spite of what the by-laws of the CBI state. In other words, according to the Constitution of Iraq the CBI is NOT like our Federal Reserve in this matter.
Whether my opinion is correct or not is not significant. What IS significant is how it is handled in Iraq. IF Mr. Shabibi acts on his belief that he is autonomous, he could be arrested or charged in some manner.
Assuming that he acted by revaluing the currency, it is possible that the Supreme Court could immediately vacate his decision, based upon their previous warning of January 18. Therefore, it is unlikely that Shabibi will act on his own, in my opinion.
It is possible that he could go to Parliament and obtain a resolution from that body that would authorize the RV. However, given the Supreme Court’s ruling, it is not clear to me that this would be sufficient to protect Shabibi, or the RV.
Therefore, it is my opinion that Shabibi will have to work with the Government in some manner to affect the RV. This means, ultimately, that he will have to obtain approval from Maliki.
Having said that, we are now back to Maliki alone. Given his current political crisis problems I suspect that the RV is NOT high on his list of priorities. Therefore I doubt that we will see any action on the RV unless and until the political crisis is resolved.
This brings me back to the crisis itself and the opposition’s attempt to vote Maliki out of office. I believe that our focus should be directed at this crisis from this point forward. If the vote is unsuccessful then we would look toward the release from Chapter VII as our next key date, after which we MIGHT see an RV.
If, on the other hand, the “no confidence” vote is successful, then we will have to see how the removal of Maliki is affected, and the timing of the same.
Assuming the most positive scenario, Maliki would be forced from office in short order. In that case some form of political process would have to be implemented to replace him.
This would probably mean that new elections would be scheduled and that would mean at least a 4 to 6 week delay. In the interim, however, it is possible that a National Conference could be held in which Talabani could be named the interim leader of the country.
Given that scenario it is likely that Shabibi would attempt to work closely with Talabani to get the RV done. It is my opinion that Talabani would agree to the RV because of the positive affect that it would have on the economy and the good will of the people.
All of this speculation is based upon a series of assumptions, any one of which could derail the entire thing. Therefore, rather than speculating on a next possible date for the RV it is my opinion that we should concentrate our energy on seeing how the political crisis unfolds. I do NOT believe Shabibi will act prior to a resolution of this crisis.
I hope that my views have helped some of you and that your patience, like mine, will be extended somewhat.