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In January, 2005, al-Maliki won a seat to the transitional National Assembly, when Dawa Party leader Ibrahim al Jaafari was chosen prime minister. During this time, Iraq plummeted into sectarian violence and civil war. Al-Jaafari's leadership came into question as violence escalated and the country's infrastructure fell into disarray. The crackdown on Baathist civil servants left the country with few qualified persons to help run the government. Out of a job and exiled from the political process,
many Baathists resorted to insurgency to regain their power. Losing confidence in the prime minister, the Iraqi parliament chose al-Maliki to replace al-Jaafari.
Nouri al-Maliki's appointment to prime minister came among the belief that he was not as close to Iran as his predecessor al-Jaafari, and he had the support of the Kurds. Though he was hard on the Sunnis (particularly, anyone associated with the Baathists), it was believed that he was willing to work with the remaining Baathists who had positions in the government. Some in the Bush Administration saw al-Maliki's lack of previous government experience as an indication he lacked political ambition and that he would be compliant to their policies. They seemed to be wrong on both assumptions.
Once in power, al-Maliki worked to help formulate agreements over the government structure and unify the different religious and political factions. He solidified his political power by sending Iraqi troops to Basra, the country's second-largest city, to successfully put down a rebellion by Muqtada al Sadr's militia. Then, he played a key role in drafting the Status of Forces agreement with the United States that mandated American forces be out of Iraqi cities by June 2009. As a result of these victories, al-Maliki's reputation soared with Iraqis.
Nouri al-Maliki further consolidated his power by extending the authority and patronage of the Dawa party. He divided most of the national government's 37 cabinet ministries among the political factions in the Parliament. These cabinet ministers, regardless of their political faction, are indebted to al-Maliki, giving the Dawa Party near exclusive control of the cabinet ministries. To win a broader electoral mandate, he has used the massive power of the national government over the provincial governments. The national parliament controls the provincial councils' budgets and can vote out any governor, even though the governors are elected locally. Critics of al-Maliki state that these measures have put a virtual lock on Dawa's control of national and local government.
Known as an eloquent speaker, Nouri al-Maliki is not afraid to voice his opinion. He has repeatedly criticized occupying U.S. forces of causing needless civilian causalities and deaths in its attempt to counter the insurgency. He unilaterally ordered troops into Basra to put down the Mahdi Army (followers of Muqtada al-Sadr), without coordinating with the U.S. Command.
profile name: Nouri al-Maliki profile occupation:
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