The New York Times’ John Burns has a blunt assessment of the U.S.’s handpicked prime minister of Iraq: “If you were sitting on a local school board, you’d worry about appointing him to be principal of your local high school.”
Burns’ opinion comes during Frontline’s “Losing Iraq,” airing Tuesday on PBS. It arrives as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki faces growing opposition and criticism from even former backers.
Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, drove many Sunnis from positions of power after taking office in 2006. That fueled opposition by Sunni jihadists, including ISIS, the deadly group that has marauded across Iraq and Syria.
“Losing Iraq” makes the case that one of Maliki’s key qualifications, in the eyes of the Bush administration, was his lack of experience. He had opposed Saddam Hussein‘s Baath Party regime, so was seen as a fresh start for the country after the American invasion in 2003.
But Maliki was so inexperienced that President Bush began personally giving him lessons, by conference call, on how to lead. Critics say he was more interested in protecting himself from potential opposition within the government than in building a lasting system of rule.
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