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Charting Nouri al-Maliki’s turbulent eight-year tenure as Iraq’s prime minister

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sits alone at the Iraq parliament in Baghdad.
AP Photo/Karim Kadim
Out of allies.
By Jason Karaian
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Although he is not going quietly, it seems that Nouri al-Maliki’s time as prime minister of Iraq is up.

The premier’s tumultuous tenure, which began in May 2006, looks likely to end amid a brutal civil war fueled by the bloodthirsty extremists of ISIL. With al-Maliki saying that only the country’s supreme court can force him to step down, the succession saga could drag on. And so Iraq’s traditional sectarian tensions, compounded by infighting within al-Maliki’s own party, has plunged Iraq into a political crisis, reflecting the general chaos that is quickly sweeping the country.

The prime minister is set to depart against a backdrop of US airstrikes and urgent international shipments of arms and aid to the north, the frontline in the fight against ISIL. The prime minister’s achievements, such as they were, will be overshadowed by the turmoil now engulfing his country.

Economic growth under al-Maliki accelerated early on, but has stumbled recently. Still, per capita incomes have roughly tripled since 2006:


But the wealth is not shared equally—almost one in five Iraqis still lives below the poverty line:


Iraq’s oil production has steadily recovered, although the central government has seen revenues siphoned off by the increasingly independent Kurds as well as smuggled by ISIL to fund their campaign for a caliphate:


This doesn’t bode well for the government’s ability to fund its many pressing priorities, not least its security forces. Despite higher oil revenues, Iraq is running a budget deficit, limiting its capacity to spend:


Al-Maliki’s premiership began during a bloody wave of suicide attacks and a ”surge” of US soldiers in support of Iraq’s overwhelmed troops. The recent rise in violence against civilians—including the threat of full-scale genocide of some minority groups—makes for a similarly grim end to the prime minister’s time in charge:


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