As the newly designated prime minister of Iraq, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, awaits a vote of confidence from parliament for his newly appointed cabinet, the key question on many people’s minds inside and outside the country is — What’s next for Iraq?
Prime Minister Allawi has pledged that investigations into the violent attacks against anti-Iranian protestors by pro-Iranian militias will be his top priority, while encouraging the Iraqi protestors to continue their nearly five-month protests against Iranian political influence in their country.
Prime Minister Allawi, like former Iraqi prime ministers, has limited control over the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or "al-Hashed al-Sha’abi") — an Iranian backed militia that was supported by former Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani, and led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Both were killed on Jan. 3, 2020 in President Trump’s counter-terrorism strike, which prevented the loss of U.S. lives.
Both Soleimani and al-Muhandis had been the foundation of Iranian influence and power in Iraq — likely responsible for the tragically fatal attacks on young pro-Iraqi demonstrators who have taken to the streets.
The root cause of the new prime pinister’s limited control over the PMF is due to Haider al-Abadi’s decree that formally made the Iranian backed militia part of Iraqi Security Forces in March 2018. Without reform of the Iraqi Constitution of 2005, and its framework that limits voter capabilities, the divided nature of the Iraq government will continue forever.
Article 38 of the 2005 Iraq Constitution provides, "The State shall guarantee in a way that does not violate public order and morality: First. Freedom of expression using all means. Second. Freedom of press, printing, advertisement, media and publication. Third. Freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration, and this shall be regulated by law."
Notwithstanding these guarantees, nearly 500 Iraqi demonstrators have been killed by anti-democratic, Iranian-backed military forces since October.
Article 76 provides, "The President of the Republic shall charge the nominee of the largest council of representatives bloc with the formation of the Council of Ministers within fifteen days from the date of the election of the President of the Republic," effectively empowering large Iranian-backed Shia political parties, who control the largest voting bloc in parliament, to appoint the prime minister, and in turn, having the PM directed on which ministers to appoint through backroom deals.
Empowering members of a major political party that misuses Islam as a mechanism to oppress Iraqis — with pro-Iranian militias backing them up as their hired thugs — and who controls the prime minister’s office, has a very corrosive effect on Iraq’s fledgling democracy.
These fundamentally anti-democratic forces, cloaked in the current Iraqi Constitution, oppose everything the pro-Iraq demonstrators want, described by one recent article as "ending foreign interventions, and abolishing ethno-sectarian governance."
For the prime minister to achieve real and meaningful change to stabilize his country, he must reform the sectarian Constitution, and take forceful action to protect the citizens of Iraq from anti-democratic forces slaughtering the best of Iraq’s youth.
The unfortunate reality, however, is that Prime Minister Allawi is unlikely to make any impactful changes either to stabilize the country or to ensure true democracy for the people of Iraq. Likewise, Prime Minister Allawi will not be able to address the power of the PMF and its now strongest militia, Kataib Hezbollah — distinct yet similar to the Iranian controlled Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Iraq’s new prime minister needs, first and foremost, to formulate a disarmament, rehabilitation, and reintegration strategy for PMF militia members who would like to continue service under the Iraqi Army or Iraqi Police forces while de-legitimizing the PMF’s official capacity as part of the Iraq Security Forces.
Second, Prime Minister Allawi needs to reform the current Constitution, specifically Article 76, so that both the prime minister and the president are elected at the national level by the people, and to serve the people of Iraq as a whole.
Two possible way to achieve this constitutional reform goal might be:
1. Establishing an electoral system at the tribunal level of each province/tribe similar to the U.S. Electoral College to elect both the president and prime minister, so that those most senior officials can focus on unifying Iraq; and . . .
2. Amending the Iraqi Constitution to prohibit disqualifying individual leaders based on sectarian tests so that you don’t need to be Kurd, Shia, Sunni, Yazidi, Christian, Turkmen, etc., to hold any government position of power. In this regard, the Iraqi people might look to the enduring success of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution as a model, adapted to Iraqi culture: "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office."
Addressing these fundamental challenges would bring true change to Iraq, preventing it from becoming a failed state — with some of its vital organs controlled by Iranian ideology, religion, and expansionist goals.
Cory Mills is a highly decorated combat veteran with experience in multiple theaters of operation. He is Founder and CEO of PACEM Solutions International and PACEM Defense LLC, which acquired AMTEC Less Lethal Systems, Inc., in 2018. For most of his adult life, Cory Mills has honorably served U.S. military, diplomatic, and USAID missions. After Mr. Mills was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, he served as a subcontractor for the U.S. State Department from 2005-2010. During this time, he worked with thousands of diplomatic missions in the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and the U.S. Consul in Erbil. In 2016, the Republic of Iraq credited PACEM with assisting operations which led to the raising of Iraq’s flag at the Fallujah Governor’s Office for the first time in nearly three years. Prior to this, ISIS was flying the flag of the Caliph in Fallujah. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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