Foreign Policy Blogs

Political Assassinations Further Turmoil in Iraq

The past 72 hours have witnessed a sharp spike in violence across Iraq, as systematic attacks aimed at civil officials and politicians claimed the lives of 14 people. In what has been described as a “campaign of assassinations,” at least eight Iraqi police officers, an Iraqi general, a government intelligence officer, a member of the Awakening Council, a formidable tribal sheikh, and a senior member of Baghdad’s local government have been murdered in the nation’s capital and Mosul.

Make no mistake, deadlocked efforts to resolve Iraq’s governing crisis nearly four months after parliamentary elections failed to produce decisive results, lie at the heart of this current wave of political violence.

Although Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki met with his chief political rival, Ayad Allawi, on Tuesday at Mr. Allawi’s compound in Baghdad to discuss the broad strokes of the most urgent challenge is to national security in years, there is considerable skepticism that this government can restore stability and security as the August 31 deadline for the start of US troop withdrawals approaches.

At present, these two men and their respective political allies must formulate an acceptable combination of political, confessional and ethnic groups and agree on the assignment of a vast spectrum of individuals within the various coalitions to the galaxy of positions in the new government, army and security forces.

Under current agreement, following the establishment of the basic constitutional tenets that govern the Iraqi state, a quota system determines senior government and military posts. As such, a Shi’a Arab has claim to the prime minister’s office, a Kurd the presidency and a Sunni Arab may serve as speaker of the parliament.

However, since the parliamentary elections in March, Mr. Allawi’s cross-sectarian coalition – Iraqiya – has been targeted for political assassination. All told, since ballots were cast “some 150 politicians, civil servants, tribal chiefs, police officers, Sunni clerics and members of the Awakening Council” have been murdered in a concerted effort to simultaneously isolate and remove political opposition while heightening the chaos caused by more than three months without a national government.




Reid Smith

Reid Smith has worked as a research associate specializing on U.S. policy in the Middle East and as a political speechwriter. He is currently a doctoral student and graduate associate with the University of Delaware's Department of Political Science and International Relations. He blogs and writes for The American Spectator.