One of the prerequisites for a functioning state is that the government, regardless of what party or faction runs it, retains a monopoly on violence. The Iraqi state, such as it is, suffers from so many seemingly incurable maladies that it’s easy to forget how terrifyingly simple these things actually are. Here’s how Abu Muqawama’s Iracologist sees it:
Conventional wisdom (which Iraqologist has no reason to doubt) has it that many of the various Iraqi security forces have loyalties that trump their loyalty to the Iraqi state. For example, we can point to ISCI/Badr’s infiltration of the ISF from their inception, Maliki’s recent efforts to cultivate forces and agencies loyal to him personally, and supposedly entire divisions of the Iraqi Army that Iraqologist has heard are merely re-hatted peshmerga. What happens to these security forces if the ruling parties who own them get voted out in the national elections? Is it really possible to believe that peshmerga will be loyal to a central government in which the Kurdish parties are not part of the ruling coalition, or that, the moment they’re ordered to do something the Kurds don’t like, Arbil won’t veto it? (cf. Khanaqin). Same goes for ISCI/Badr and Maliki as well. People often refer to Maliki’s strongman efforts as “coup-proofing,” but they also potentially amount to ‘peaceful transition-of-power-proofing’ as well.
And the ultimate question, worth posing again and again:
What good are these provincial and national elections that so many have invested such hope in if the people who win them don’t get control of the security forces?