Showing posts tagged as "Joost R. Hiltermann"

Showing posts tagged Joost R. Hiltermann

4 Dec
For Iraq, Year Ends the Way It Began, With Guns Drawn | The New York Times
By Tim Arango and Duraid Adnan
BAGHDAD — It was just the sort of episode that observers have long worried could provoke a serious conflict: when federal police agents sought to arrest a Kurdish man last month in the city of Tuz Khurmato in the Kurdish north of the country, a gunfight ensued with security men loyal to the Kurdish regional government.
When the bullets stopped flying, a civilian bystander was dead and at least eight others were wounded.
FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)
Photo: James Gordon/Flickr 

For Iraq, Year Ends the Way It Began, With Guns Drawn | The New York Times

By Tim Arango and Duraid Adnan

BAGHDAD — It was just the sort of episode that observers have long worried could provoke a serious conflict: when federal police agents sought to arrest a Kurdish man last month in the city of Tuz Khurmato in the Kurdish north of the country, a gunfight ensued with security men loyal to the Kurdish regional government.

When the bullets stopped flying, a civilian bystander was dead and at least eight others were wounded.

FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)

Photo: James Gordon/Flickr 

24 Oct
Power games in Iraq over ousted Central Bank chief | Al Bawaba
The targeting of Iraq’s well-respected central bank chief appears to be a move by Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki to consolidate power and sends a bad message to international investors, experts and diplomats say.
Sinan Al-Shabibi was last week replaced as governor of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) while he was overseas, and arrest warrants have since been issued for him and other bank officials over allegations of currency manipulation.
FULL ARTICLE (Al Bawaba)
Photo: U.S. Airforce Staff Sgt. Jessica J. Wilkes/Wikimedia Commons

Power games in Iraq over ousted Central Bank chief | Al Bawaba

The targeting of Iraq’s well-respected central bank chief appears to be a move by Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki to consolidate power and sends a bad message to international investors, experts and diplomats say.

Sinan Al-Shabibi was last week replaced as governor of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) while he was overseas, and arrest warrants have since been issued for him and other bank officials over allegations of currency manipulation.

FULL ARTICLE (Al Bawaba)

Photo: U.S. Airforce Staff Sgt. Jessica J. Wilkes/Wikimedia Commons

30 Jul
Violence in Iraq? It’s the politics, stupid!  |  CNN GPS
By Joost Hiltermann
With all eyes trained on Syria’s unfolding civil war, the only headline-grabbing news to emerge from the former battleground, Iraq, concerned a fresh wave of violence. Last week, well over a hundred Iraqis were killed and several hundred injured in a series of attacks throughout the country that were claimed by Iraq’s al Qaeda franchise, the Islamic State of Iraq. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had warned of what was to come the day before, announcing a “Breaking the Walls” campaign. On Thursday, Islamic State militants battled with security forces for the first time in years, succeeding even in bringing down a helicopter. It looks as if, having been driven out of most of the areas they controlled and dealt a body blow during the U.S. surge in 2007-08,  al Qaeda is rebounding and launching its own military surge now that U.S. troops have gone.
FULL ARTICLE (CNN GPS)
Photo: US Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jessica J Wilkes/Wikimedia Commons

Violence in Iraq? It’s the politics, stupid!  |  CNN GPS

By Joost Hiltermann

With all eyes trained on Syria’s unfolding civil war, the only headline-grabbing news to emerge from the former battleground, Iraq, concerned a fresh wave of violence. Last week, well over a hundred Iraqis were killed and several hundred injured in a series of attacks throughout the country that were claimed by Iraq’s al Qaeda franchise, the Islamic State of Iraq. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had warned of what was to come the day before, announcing a “Breaking the Walls” campaign. On Thursday, Islamic State militants battled with security forces for the first time in years, succeeding even in bringing down a helicopter. It looks as if, having been driven out of most of the areas they controlled and dealt a body blow during the U.S. surge in 2007-08,  al Qaeda is rebounding and launching its own military surge now that U.S. troops have gone.

FULL ARTICLE (CNN GPS)

Photo: US Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jessica J Wilkes/Wikimedia Commons

Déjà Vu All Over Again? Iraq’s Escalating Political Crisis
Baghdad/Erbil/Brussels | 30 Jul 2012
To overcome Iraq’s current political crisis and prevent the breakdown of the entire post-2003 order, Prime Minister Maliki and his opponents both will have to agree to painful compromises.
Déjà Vu All Over Again? Iraq’s Escalating Political Crisis, the latest International Crisis Group report, examines the stalemate two years into Maliki’s second term. He is accused of violating the constitution, amassing power and bringing security forces under his personal control. The latest chapter in Iraq’s political crisis has dangerously heightened tensions and created a political vacuum within which deadly attacks, such as the recent series that killed over a hundred and injured hundreds more, could spark renewed civil war. Political leaders need to return urgently to their original effort to fashion a workable and transparent power-sharing arrangement if Iraq’s drifting ship of state is to be righted.
Maliki has lost the trust of much of the political class. At the same time, the opposition is divided on fundamental issues and on whether to push Maliki to implement the 2010 Erbil power-sharing agreement or remove him altogether. The odds that his opponents can muster enough votes to unseat him are low. Even should they succeed, they are highly unlikely to find common ground to form a new government, leaving Maliki as caretaker premier until the next elections in 2014. In the meantime, the government will find it increasingly difficult to govern and all Iraqis will pay a price.
“There is no question that Maliki has added to his powers during his six-year tenure, but there also can be no question that a large part of his success comes from his rivals’ incapacity to thwart him via institutional means”, says Joost Hiltermann, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Program Director. “Maliki should implement the 2010 power-sharing deal and pledge to step down at the end of his term for the sake of national unity; his rivals should call off efforts to unseat him and instead use their parliamentary strength to build strong state institutions and help ensure that the next elections are free and fair”.
Iraq’s predicament goes far deeper than the unimplemented Erbil understanding or even Maliki’s personality. It is a symptom of the inability to overcome the legacy of Saddam Hussein and his repressive practices: a culture of deep suspicion coupled with a winner-take-all and loser-lose-all form of politics. Because it never produced a fair, agreed-upon distribution of power, territory and resources, the political bargaining that followed the regime’s fall did little to remedy this situation.
This time, political leaders must do more than patch things up and live to fight another day without touching root causes. A quick fix today could mean a comprehensive breakdown tomorrow; elections are looming, and the stakes are higher than ever. Without agreement on rules of the game, Maliki might well cling to power, using various means to determine the electoral outcome in his favour.
“The current crisis is unsustainable but Maliki, his opponents and neighbouring countries in theory share an interest in reducing tensions”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director. “Peaceful change will have to occur through constitution-based political consensus – finally beginning to address what for too long has been ignored”.
FULL REPORT

Déjà Vu All Over Again? Iraq’s Escalating Political Crisis

Baghdad/Erbil/Brussels | 30 Jul 2012

To overcome Iraq’s current political crisis and prevent the breakdown of the entire post-2003 order, Prime Minister Maliki and his opponents both will have to agree to painful compromises.

Déjà Vu All Over Again? Iraq’s Escalating Political Crisis, the latest International Crisis Group report, examines the stalemate two years into Maliki’s second term. He is accused of violating the constitution, amassing power and bringing security forces under his personal control. The latest chapter in Iraq’s political crisis has dangerously heightened tensions and created a political vacuum within which deadly attacks, such as the recent series that killed over a hundred and injured hundreds more, could spark renewed civil war. Political leaders need to return urgently to their original effort to fashion a workable and transparent power-sharing arrangement if Iraq’s drifting ship of state is to be righted.

Maliki has lost the trust of much of the political class. At the same time, the opposition is divided on fundamental issues and on whether to push Maliki to implement the 2010 Erbil power-sharing agreement or remove him altogether. The odds that his opponents can muster enough votes to unseat him are low. Even should they succeed, they are highly unlikely to find common ground to form a new government, leaving Maliki as caretaker premier until the next elections in 2014. In the meantime, the government will find it increasingly difficult to govern and all Iraqis will pay a price.

“There is no question that Maliki has added to his powers during his six-year tenure, but there also can be no question that a large part of his success comes from his rivals’ incapacity to thwart him via institutional means”, says Joost Hiltermann, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Program Director. “Maliki should implement the 2010 power-sharing deal and pledge to step down at the end of his term for the sake of national unity; his rivals should call off efforts to unseat him and instead use their parliamentary strength to build strong state institutions and help ensure that the next elections are free and fair”.

Iraq’s predicament goes far deeper than the unimplemented Erbil understanding or even Maliki’s personality. It is a symptom of the inability to overcome the legacy of Saddam Hussein and his repressive practices: a culture of deep suspicion coupled with a winner-take-all and loser-lose-all form of politics. Because it never produced a fair, agreed-upon distribution of power, territory and resources, the political bargaining that followed the regime’s fall did little to remedy this situation.

This time, political leaders must do more than patch things up and live to fight another day without touching root causes. A quick fix today could mean a comprehensive breakdown tomorrow; elections are looming, and the stakes are higher than ever. Without agreement on rules of the game, Maliki might well cling to power, using various means to determine the electoral outcome in his favour.

“The current crisis is unsustainable but Maliki, his opponents and neighbouring countries in theory share an interest in reducing tensions”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director. “Peaceful change will have to occur through constitution-based political consensus – finally beginning to address what for too long has been ignored”.

FULL REPORT

13 Jun
Scores killed in bombs targeting Shiites and Kurds, feeding pessimism about Iraq’s future | Global Winnipeg
By Kay Johnson and Sinan Salaheddin
Car bombs ripped through Shiite and Kurdish targets in Baghdad and other cities Wednesday, killing at least 66 people, wounding more than 200 and feeding growing doubts that Iraq will emerge as a stable democracy after decades of war and dictatorship.
The latest bloodshed comes against a backdrop of sharpening political divisions that show Iraq has made little progress in healing the breach among its religious and ethnic communities that once pushed the country to the brink of civil war. The co-ordination, sophistication and targets of the attack bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida and its Sunni militant allies seeking to exploit these tensions.
FULL ARTICLE (Global Winnipeg)
Photo: Karim Kadin/ AFP

Scores killed in bombs targeting Shiites and Kurds, feeding pessimism about Iraq’s future | Global Winnipeg

By Kay Johnson and Sinan Salaheddin

Car bombs ripped through Shiite and Kurdish targets in Baghdad and other cities Wednesday, killing at least 66 people, wounding more than 200 and feeding growing doubts that Iraq will emerge as a stable democracy after decades of war and dictatorship.

The latest bloodshed comes against a backdrop of sharpening political divisions that show Iraq has made little progress in healing the breach among its religious and ethnic communities that once pushed the country to the brink of civil war. The co-ordination, sophistication and targets of the attack bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida and its Sunni militant allies seeking to exploit these tensions.

FULL ARTICLE (Global Winnipeg)

Photo: Karim Kadin/ AFP

8 Sep

Pushing For Reform In Bahrain

Joost Hiltermann, Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

Ever since the Arab Spring began, Washington has been faced with the question of how to ease autocrats from power. After former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was forced from office in February, President Barack Obama said that the United States had been on the “right side” of history, suggesting that that is where Washington would position itself in the Arab world’s transition to democracy. What exactly this should mean in practice remains an unsettled question — especially in states presided over by dictators whose stable rule and pro-U.S. orientation were long-standing cornerstones of U.S. strategy in the Middle East.

FULL ARTICLE (Foreign Affairs)

Photo: Al Jazeera English/ Flickr