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His 2007 visit to Iran raised concern and suspicion among many about his commitment to align Iraq with Western interests. However, it is widely believed that his intent is to defend Iraq from oppression and instability.
Most political analysts state that Nouri al-Maliki has done a satisfactory job serving his country under extremely difficult circumstances. He walks a treacherous tightrope, trying to promote peaceful coexistence between three factions: the Kurds, Sunnis,
and Shia. He balances working with U.S. occupation forces while trying to maintain amicable relations with Arab neighbors, most notably Iran. Billions of dollars have been poured into rebuilding Iraq, yet the infrastructure of urban areas is often reported to be no better than during the days before the invasion. There are tens of thousands of refugees still in the countryside of Iraq with no allegiance to the government.
Al-Maliki has also been perceived as impotent when dealing with alleged American atrocities. When the private security firm Blackwater was accused of murdering 17 Iraqis, his government tried to prosecute perpetrators and expel the company. However, he was constrained by the agreement of the Coalition Provisional Authority, established in May 2003, that stated Americans were immune from prosecution. Al-Maliki could do not much more than complain about abuse by U.S military prison guards at Abu Ghuraib and reported harsh interrogations of Iraqi prisoners.
Nouri al-Maliki came into office saying he wanted to see a pluralist Iran whose various ethnic and sectarian groups regarded each other as equals. Critics and supporters alike say he has done a good job under the circumstances. He signed the death warrant for Saddam Hussein, putting closure to that part of the nation's past. Though insurgent attacks continue, primarily in the larger cities, al-Maliki's government has greatly improved security conditions in many parts of the country. In 2008, he convinced Sunni members of Parliament to return after a year-long boycott, and appointed some to cabinet positions. Probably most important to many Iraqis, al-Maliki successfully negotiated an agreement by which U.S. forces would withdraw from Iraqi cities to military bases in the countryside by the end of June 2009 and that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq by December 2011.
the future hold for Nouri al-Maliki? Has he positioned himself to be a
perpetual leader, similar to Vladimir Putin? Or, will he only serve a
short time after U.S. forces have completely left the country? In
January 2007, he was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying, "I
wish I could be done with it even before the end of this term. I didn't
want to take this position...I only agreed because I thought it would
serve the national interest, and I will not accept it again." As of yet,
this is not for certain. In January 2010, al-Maliki's government was elected to another term.
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