Opposition members have accused Maliki of abusing his authority and fear that he is consolidating power that according to the constitution of Iraq, should have been devolved to local bodies.
It is the view of some Iraqis that al-Maliki must allow the country to become more federal and devolve even more responsibilities to the provinces. Once Maliki has created a truly federal Iraq, his time to step down as Prime Minister will have arrived.
If Maliki continues to hoard power in this manner he will cause the fragmentation of Iraq.
His consultants advise his that increased federalism with greater funding to the provincial governments is the only solution for the country. Until now, no region has gathered enough signatures to call for a referendum on autonomy but this will not always be the case. If the regional authorities do garner enough support and achieve autonomy, the Iraq of today will cease to exist.
At present, despite the official federal nature of Iraq, too many decisions are made by the Maliki government; this needs to change. If Maliki continues to refuse the demands of the local governments, for greater autonomy, they will put more and more pressure on him and Iraq could fragment.
What Maliki will do about federal Iraq remains to be seen.At present his focus is on the withdrawal of the US troops, scheduled for the end of the year; which is, according to Mayada Al Askari, Maliki’s greatest test yet.
Al-Maliki’s government continue to postpone their discussions over whether they wish America to leave as scheduled or remain in the country a little longer. Many Iraqi’s and Iraqi groups strongly oppose any future for the US in Iraq and the American people would also need convincing.
The Iraqis must sit down together and decide what to do about the future of American troops in Iraq... but will this leave time for discussion on the future of federalism or will it all be too late for Maliki and indeed for Iraq?