Max Boot recommends “pressing the Iraqi government for serious political reforms that include embracing Sunni tribes, ending the persecution of Sunni leaders, curbing the prime minister’s authority and weeding out political hacks and sectarian actors from the security services.” To which one can only say: “Good luck with that!” As for the neocon-installed Maliki:
It is unlikely that he would agree to such reforms, so the United States needs to work behind the scenes to ensure that he doesn’t win a third term in office. His State of Law party was the top vote-getter in the April 30 elections, but it needs support from other factions to form a government. The U.S. should take advantage of ISIS’ attacks to press the other political parties to dump Maliki and find a more inclusive figure.
The Economist also speculates that Maliki may be on his way out:
Mr Maliki faces a stark choice. Either he must plunge his forces into a full-scale war of reconquest, at untold cost in lives. Or he must embrace the remaking of Iraq into a looser, genuinely federal state. But his days as Iraq’s leader may be numbered, as the Americans began hinting heavily that they would give extra military help only if he speedily departed.
But Maliki says he won’t quit to facilitate US airstrikes. And no leader in these circumstances is likely to resign. He’s not Sarah Palin. More to the point, deposing Maliki could be extremely dangerous:
There are likely to be months of wrangling before a new PM can be chosen. And maybe it will have to be a minority PM because the parliament is permanently hung. In the meantime, if al-Maliki is deposed, who will command the armed forces? So if you depose al-Maliki, you can’t be sure who will take his place. His successor may be even worse. As in Libya, the the government could also collapse.
One thing I’ve learned from having to study and watch this distant country for the past decade or so: whenever you think the worst has happened in Iraq, you’re wrong.
(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, on January 4, 2012. By Azher Shallal/AFP/Getty Images)