The Turkish Leader And The Iraqi Ruler

October 2, 2012

The congress of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) demonstrated the difference between the prime minister of Iraq and the prime minister of Turkey.

With every new turn of events in Turkey and the Middle East, Erdogan’s position as “prime minister of everyone” in Turkey is strengthened and tries to transcend ethnic and sectarian differences. He sends messages of conciliation to his opponents and manages to corner his adversaries into engaging with him, or at least not working openly against him.

This is simply because his behavior is that of a statesman, not a party or sect leader. A stark contrast to our prime minister, who started his career as a prime minister for all of Iraq but managed to lose an ally or a new ground with every new development that took place.

The AKP congress was a clear demonstration of this. The Turkish PM’s invitation to Maliki’s adversaries was enough for Maliki to forget that he is the prime minister for the whole of Iraq and decide to boycott the congress.

As a result, it was clear that the Kurds were there and were represented at a high-ranking level. The Sunnis of Iraq were also heavily represented. This was all happening while news of Maliki’s boycott was all over the media.

This sent a clear signal that he is prime minister of his sect only. Even within his sect, he does not represent everyone. They may be on his side on this occasion, but in many other instances they are against him. Maliki should look at the congress and at Erdogan’s behavior and learn from him.

The way the congress was conducted and its large international and regional presence should also send Maliki a message. While he making allies with the worst possible neighbors — Iran and the dying Syrian regime — Erdogan is embracing the people of Syria, the Kurds, a new Egypt and all the other promising nations.

The main reason for this is that Erdogan wants to be a leader and Maliki wants to be a ruler. The difference between the two is huge. One looks at policy and how to include everyone; the other looks at who is with him and who is against him.

A leader thinks of tomorrow while a ruler thinks of today and yesterday. A leader thinks of winning people and a ruler looks at intelligence reports. (Apparently, our prime minister enjoys keeping intelligence reports on his adversaries in his office).

The list is long and, to cut a long story short, Maliki should seriously revise his policy and adopt a new approach to how he conducts himself with friends and foes. He may win the non-confidence battle, but he will lose more by remaining the way he is.

Today he is the prime minister of only the Shia people of Iraq. Soon, this will change and he will lose that too.

Looking at the Iraqis who were at the conference, they were a lot more relaxed in the presence of Erdogan than they would be around Maliki. He should ask himself why that is.

After all, Iraq is a new country and one cannot be an old ruler of a new democracy.

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