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To succeed in Iraq

Aug 18,2014 - Last updated at Aug 18,2014

For obvious reasons, Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al Maliki had to be sacrificed for the sake an inclusive political game in Iraq.

A coalition of Shiite parties and religious figures reached the conclusion that Maliki could not end the political deadlock in Baghdad and save the crumbling state and nominated Haider Al Abadi to replace him.

Under Maliki, the Islamic State (IS) went on a rampage through the northern part of Iraq, making the central government look pathetic.

If anything, Abadi’s nomination made it all but impossible for Maliki supporters to come up with a working ruling coalition. 

Due to his sectarian policies and narrow-minded approach, Maliki fell from grace; even Iran gave up on him.

Additionally, the international community began to turn up the heat on Maliki after IS made its major inroads in northern Iraq in June. Maliki failed to reverse the situation and lost in the process.

There is international consensus that the sectarian policies followed by Maliki since the beginning of the Syrian revolution disenfranchised the Sunni minority in Iraq.

Some the Sunni Iraqis turned to the militancy because they felt they were the prey to Maliki’s sectarian policies.

Iraq, which began to show signs of a failed state, needs a different course of action and Abadi’s key mission now is to reverse the situation and put the country back on track.

Abadi would be making a huge mistake to think that the security or military approach are the only ones that should be employed to overcome the IS challenge.

Only an inclusive political process could ensure an enduring success in dealing with terrorism and IS.

No move to circumvent the political process would pay off.

It is not as if Maliki’s removal will lead to an automatic reconciliation. I believe that the new prime minister will need to focus more on the minority Sunnis and convince them that there is a stake for them in the stability and unity of the state. 

And yet, their support for Abadi will not be without conditions. Tribal leaders and religious figures from the minority community made it perfectly clear that their backing for the new government is conditional.

Sunni Iraqis strongly believe that injustice was done to them.

We all remember that tribal awakening helped in no small amount defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2006-2009. Sunnis may be willing to take up arms against IS, provided that their political demands are met.

The new prime minister should have no illusions. Sunni alienation under Maliki could not be more obvious. Many among them joined IS in protest of Maliki’s sectarian policies.

Fortunately, key Shiite figures began to understand what it takes to fix the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani spoke in public supporting Abadi, saying that his appointment offered a rare opportunity to defuse the crisis.

Additionally, he urged contending politicians to rise up to the historic responsibility and help Abadi establish a working government.

While it is too early to predict whether Abadi will succeed in addressing the situation, one can say that in a deeply divided country, only restoring the trust among various groups and bringing the alienated Sunnis back into the fold would ensure success.

If he fails to do that, Abadi will be end up in failure.

Regional powers should act in a positive and constructive manner to help Abadi implement inclusive policies.

Still, it is all up to Abadi. If he opts for more inclusive politics, key important regional power will help him. If not, he runs the risk of facing the same future as his predecessor. 

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