Dexter Filkins details Maliki’s growing authoritarianism:
Maliki has grown steadily more imperious, reacting violently to the slightest criticism. He often claims to have files on his rivals, filled with evidence of corruption and killings. “I swear to God, if the parliament wants to summon me, I will go, but I will turn the world upside down,” he said on Iraqi television last year. “I will take a list of names with me and call them out one by one, and tell everyone what they have been doing.” Maliki has even resurrected a Saddam-era law that makes it a criminal offense to criticize the head of the government. He has filed defamation suits against scores of journalists, judges, and members of parliament, demanding that they spend time in prison and pay damages. “For any political difference, any rivalry, he makes a case,” a senior Iraqi politician told me.
A depressing, concluding thought:
Emma Sky, the civilian adviser during the occupation, saw Maliki’s parlous situation as the result of the White House’s own policies: Bush and Obama had invested so heavily in Maliki, and made him so powerful, that his authoritarian behavior became inevitable. “Did we just get it wrong with Maliki and Karzai—were we that unlucky?” Sky asked. “No. Maliki wasn’t like that in the beginning. The whole point of these places—of Iraq especially—is that the leaders need to do political deals. We make them so strong that they no longer need to do political deals. So we undermine any chance at stability. It’s destroying Iraq. We’re strengthening the guy who is creating the problem.”
Recent Dish on Iraq’s upcoming elections here.