The New Face Of Iraqi Authoritarianism

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Michael Knights frames the increasing violence and fragility in Iraq as a crisis driven by Maliki’s ever-expanding power grab:

[S]tarting in 2008, Maliki re-centralized power, leaning on an increasingly narrow circle of Shia opponents of the previous dictatorship. And like all successful revolutionaries, this clique is paranoid about counterrevolution and has set about rebuilding a version of the authoritarian system it sought for decades to overthrow. Maliki’s inner circle dominates the selection of military commanders down to brigade level, controls the federal court, and has seized control of the central bank. The executive branch is rapidly eclipsing all checks and balances that were put in place to guarantee a new autocracy did not emerge.

The root of Iraq’s violence is thus not ancient hatreds between Sunni and Shia or Kurd and Arab, but between decentralizers and recentralizers — and between those who wish to put Iraq’s violent past behind them, and those determined to continually refight it.

Recent Dish on Iraq’s instability here.

(Photo: Iraqi Sunni protestors hold up a portrait of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki with slogans reading in Arabic, “liar…sectarian, thief, collaborator” during a protest against him on the main highway to Syria and Jordan near Ramadi, Anbar’s provincial capital west of Baghdad. By Azher Shallal/AFP/Getty Images)