Iraq and Gulf Analysis

An Iraq Blog by a Victim of the Human Rights Crimes of the Norwegian Government

Last-Minute Certification Hurdles?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 24 May 2010 19:02

There are conflicting stories out of Iraq about some last-minute challenges to the parliamentary election result that could mean further delays in the process of certifying them.

The first is a Reuters report claiming that “four former seat-winners” in Baghdad who had lost their personal seats in the recount have mounted appeals. This seems untrustworthy for two reasons: Firstly, there are only three and not four changes in the Baghdad recount. Second, one of them pertains to Ibrahim al-Mutlak, who presumably has already appealed the decision to exclude him on the basis of de-Baathification earlier – his appearance as a case of  “change” in the Baghdad recount is entirely spurious and has nothing to do with votes that had been miscounted. Only Maysun al-Damluji and Jabir Habib Jabir lost their personal seats as the result of the recount.

The second is an even more fantastic-sounding story (but reported in different iterations by a number of sources) that the ministries of interior and defence have sent letters asking for the disqualification of two seat-winning candidates, Abdallah Hasan Rashid of Iraqiyya in Diyala, and Furat al-Sharaa of ISCI/INA in Basra. The former is supposedly convicted in a serious-crime case and the second is an officer in the Iraqi army and as such should not be permitted to stand for election (though he has already served in the Basra provincial council).

The awkward legal justification for this kind of appeal (so long after all reasonable deadlines have expired) plus the seniority of the people involved (they are number one and two on the result lists for their entities and have close to 40,000 personal votes each which is more than the average electoral divider)  make it difficult to discount the idea of political motives. A quick recalculation of the results based on the annulment of votes for excluded candidates (it remains unclear what IHEC has decided to do on this, for example in the case of Ibrahim al-Mutlak) suggests that State of Law could win one seat in Diyala and Iraqiyya could lose one if the large vote for Rashid is cancelled (on top of that of Raad al-Bayati). In Basra, State of Law would apparently also win one seat and Iraqiyya  (rather than INA) would lose one, all due to the change in the electoral divider (very quick back-of-an-envelope calculation, disregarding minor changes due to post-election de-Baathification of non-winning candidates). And voila, State of Law would apparently have more seats nationally than Iraqiyya! The attack on both Iraqiyya and ISCI makes it somewhat hard to avoid a conspiracy theory involving sympathisers with State of Law within the defence and interior ministries – perhaps another rapprochement between State of Law and Unity of Iraq/Bolani?

A slightly less sinister explanation would be that this is all theatre agreed by the Iraqi politicians to win some more time and avoid early certification of the results…

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45 Responses to “Last-Minute Certification Hurdles?”

  1. Prashant said

    Thanks for this Reidar. Just one thing — IF SoL won one seat and Iraqiyya lost one seat in Diyala, and SoL won one seat and Iraqiyya lost one in Basra, wouldn’t SoL actually be ahead, not have as many seats nationally? They would have 91 to Iraqiyya’s 89.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Thanks, Prashant, that’s absolutely right of course; I’ll fix it.

  3. You’re much more familiar with the reporting than am I, Reidar, but given the arithmetic, the more sinister motive surely seems as likely as the other, as it would undercut the legitimacy of Allawi’s demands to be allowed to form the next government. Do you see any real prospect of these requested disqualifications actually going forward?

  4. Thaqalain said

    What will be impact of the assassination of Bashar al-Hamid:
    Gunmen shot and killed a politician from the cross-sectarian Iraqiya coalition who won a seat in Iraq’s March 7 parliamentary election, in the northern city of Mosul on Monday, police said.

    Bashar al-Hamid was wounded in the chest during an attack in front of his home in western Mosul and died a short time later, police said.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    John, I share your pessimism even if I first thought this whole plot sounded a bit on the outlandish side.

    I am especially worried when it comes to the practice of slashing the votes of any excluded candidates. A few weeks ago there seemed to be consensus to avoid that, but when I look at the revised Baghdad result I see Iraqiyya has lost around 8,000 votes, which is far more than the “minor” adjustments – reportedly in the 3,000 range in total – reported by IHEC as a direct result of the manual recount. I suspect the balance consists of votes for people like Ibrahim al-Mutlak (who had some 5,000 personal votes).

    But I still have problems seeing how they can disqualify anyone so late in the day. Of course, that was what Ali al-Lami tried to do, but where this whole thing has gone awry is with respect to initiative in the process. According to the law and relevant regulations, IHEC is supposed to be in the lead, asking for information on candidates when it finds this relevant, and the ministries and authorities in question will then supply the requested information and IHEC will make a decision. Lami tried to establish a precedent whereby the de-Baathification committee was in the lead, and this is now apparently being copied by people in the defence and interior ministries. I haven’t been able to find an exact deadline for this kind of activity but I think the reason is simply that their whole approach is so totally at odds with the legal framework (political entities, on the other hand, had 30 days to protest the way they were treated when the first list of candidates was published in February).

    It is interesting that IHEC in its meeting on 4 February concluded it would delete the names of any candidates unfit to serve as deputies before the announcement of the results, hence clearly indicating its expectation that everything would be closed before that announcement (which eventually took place on 26 March).

  6. Reidar Visser said

    Thaqalain, all I can say something about is the legal framework. The 2005 election law has a clause (14) that says if a candidate loses a seat for any reason it will be given “to the next person on the list of the entity”. Not sure if that was intended for by-election situations though (and it was certainly not intended for open-list contexts).

    The only precedent I can think of is Qasim al-Sahlani of Daawa/Tanzim al-Iraq who died last year in a car accident. A replacement from the same party (don’t know whether he actually ran in 2005), Hashim Jaafar, was sworn in around November 2009, but the official roll of the parliament still lists Sahlani in fact.

  7. Reidar – Many thanks for all the enlightenment – but it is indeed disconcerting. It sounds as if precedents are being established for disqualifications to be proposed from almost any quarter, at least within the government (and perhaps even beyond?). And if I’m correct in my understanding that the ministries have become de facto fiefdoms of various political parties . . . then, who can demand a stop to all this and make it stick?

  8. Reidar,
    It is widely understood that the votes of de-baathified members are annulled, comedy programs in Baghdad are full of scorn, if the international community does not make its position clear then the scorn will turn on the US and EU..

  9. Jason said

    http://en.aswataliraq.info/?p=132138

    Govt arrests in the Shia south seem to be stepping up, and more weapons being found. This is about the third day in a row of 12-18 being arrested.

  10. Reidar Visser said

    John, as you say it is hard to identify any institutional barrier against this kind of negative development. You’re right, the ministries are heavily politicised, and lately the various relevant arms of the judiciary, including the special appeals board for de-Baathification and the judicial electoral board, have taken many decisions that have been seen as politicised and hence not neutral.

    I thnk the most promising avenue would be if the international community could stick more forcefully to the principle of not taking away votes from lists regardless of the status of individuals, as Faisal mentions above. This would remove most incentives for pushing the purge further, and would be a justifiable but moderate form of “conditionality”, if perhaps a long-overdue one.

  11. Salah said

    Galbraith to run for Vt. senate!
    http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20100522/NEWS02/5220354/1003/NEWS02

    Looks 5% of Iraqi northern oil helped him to prepare himself for this new post.

  12. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, thanks, but let’s not pursue this theme further here. Still I agree that everyone who cares for Iraq should be kept up-to-date with the doings of this man… Note that his arbitration with DNO is due for settlement in London this spring, potentially awarding him lots of money. Also I wonder whether he might be into Vermont separatism?? But again, let’s save those issues for later.

  13. Salah said

    هيئة النزاهة العامة تعلن عن قائمة جديدة باسماء مزوري الوثائق الدراسية للانتخابات الاخيرة
    2010-05-25 16:21:18
    [-] نص [+]

    بغداد ( إيبا )… أعلنت هيئة النزاهة العامة إنه ثبت وبالوثائق تقديم 76 من مرشحي انتخابات مجلس النواب لوثائق دراسية مزورة ضمن المستمسكات المطلوب تقديمها من قبل المرشحين الذين خاضوا الانتخابات التشريعية في السابع من آذار 2010 .

    وذكر بيان للهيئة تلقت وكالة الصحافة المستقلة ( إيبا ) نسخة منه إن الفرق التحقيقية في هيئة النزاهة تعكف على عملية تدقيق الوثائق الدراسية المرفوعة من قبل الجهة التي اوردت المعلومات وهي المفوضية العليا المستقلة للانتخابات بموجب كتابها في 26/4/2010 .

    واضاف البيان اذ تنشر هيئة النزاهة قائمة بأسماء هؤلاء المزورين حيث اعاد البعض منهم ارتكاب الجرم نفسه بعد ان كان قدم شهادة دراسية مزورة لانتخابات مجالس المحافظات ، فهي تسعى لتحقيق اهداف الردع القانوني والدفع بأتجاه اعادة الثقة بالشهادة الدراسية العراقية التي اراد لها البعض ان تكون وسيلة للتسلق بغير حق .( النهاية ) / ع /..
    http://www.ipairaq.com/index.php?name=inner&t=politics&id=25754

    Reidar,
    These Iraqi parliament or new elected members committed crime like the above, should they strip off from the election/seats?

    Is it submitting forge documents a crime? What Iraqi constitutions law and Iraqi parliament members should be aware if they committing crimes?

    How it works here with this sort of members or just the de-Ba’athest had crime and should be out?

  14. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, note that those 76 candidates with forged documents are not described as winning candidates. It is of course particularly infuriating that some of them did the same thing in the local elections last year, but what would happen to them if they did indeed win seats on 7 March is less clear. Again, it seems, the horse and the cart come in the wrong order somehow. IHEC was supposed to have completed these investigations prior to the elections. The election law only deals with this kind of offenses in terms of specifying jail terms and penalties. It assumes that candidate requirements are checked prior to the election, and rightly so, because any kind of post-electoral disqualification is problematic in terms of democratic theory.

    The question now is why did not the integrity commission complete its work earlier? Is it suddenly acting in a pro-active capacity, just like Lami/Chalabi and more lately the ministries of defence and interior?

  15. Jason said

    It seems ironic that the complicated parliamentary system designed to bridge fearsome sectarian and regional differences is, instead, hung up between two Shia politicians with similar ideology, split by run-of-the-mill political ambition. The fear was that a straightforward Presidential system would produce an Iranian-allied, theocratic dictator. Instead, 2/3′s of Iraqis have rejected that path. The parliamentary system seems likely to deliver more power to Iranian proxies than would have resulted from a system that produces a clear winner.

  16. Jason,
    It will be very sad if Iraq gets less democracy as a result of the power struggle instead of more. I think what is needed is more elections and openness. A sooner elections run by the UN with the same PR will be more calming than change to presidential system, I think.

  17. AS said

    Jason it’s hardly a complicated system. It may be difficult for an American to comprehend, but most democracies operate a parliamentary non-presidential system.

  18. Jason said

    Faisal, if I understand correctly what your saying, then I agree completely. A country needs an election every two years minimum to be allowed to blow off some steam. Four years is too long. That’s what the U.S. House of Representatives is designed for. If nothing else, Iraq should stagger the provincial elections in between the national elections to allow the people another opportunity to express their will.

  19. observer said

    Jasin,
    Do you really believe that Allawi and Maliki have similar agendas? If so, i would say that “Islamic” parties have long practice in telling people and others what the people and others want to hear, while pursuing their own agenda. Da3wa and Maliki are intent on rooting the party deep into the government and thus repeating the experience of the Ba3th, albeit, in an Islamic cloth. I believe that is he basis of why the INA, Kurds, etc., are intent on depriving Maliki of a second term and assuring themselves that governance is not the property of any one given party or person.

    I am not convinced that there will ever be a rapprochement between SLA and Iraqia. Nor am I convinced that SLA and INA will ever unite. The recent pronouncements by Barzani are telling of a re-alignment, but the sands are shifting and there is no guarantee that any alignment, or re-alignment are permanent.

  20. Salah said

    Jason& Faisal

    I do not thing and agree more repetitive election make good and transparent democracy spatially if those who involved more corrupted as a politicians or as a state officials.

    US made democracies around the world from south East Asia to Latin American the democracies they set were corrupted not transparent despite many decade passed with repetitive election when US set them there.

    It depends on the people will, justice and transparency under the rule of laws.

  21. Ali W said

    Observer, thats a change from what you say on your blog.

    From what I remember, your a big fan of Maliki especially the way he tackled the Mahdi army!! And what, you think Allawi would be more democratic?? With his Saudi Backers. Dont let the misgivings that happened to your esteemed family blind you my friend, the biggest threat are the Arabs and their Backers.

    And I agree, there will be no alliance between Iraqia and SLA.

  22. Ali W said

    Reidar, a quick question please, I have heard on this blog about the Barazani comment that he is ready to ally with Allawi, is it a serious comment, and is it likely?

    I just have not read about it in any of the mainstream media.

    Thanks

  23. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, both Barzani and various other Kurdish leaders (including Talabani, albeit in a contradictive fashion, see http://gulfanalysis.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/dabbagh-confirms-that-iraqiyya-remains-the-biggest-bloc-in-parliament/#comment-2884 )have expressed the view that they consider Iraqiyya the biggest kutla and that it should form the government.

    That does not mean they want to exclude the Shiite parties, but that they want Allawi to be the PM and take the initiative. It is interesting that at various points during the de-Baathification process, some Kurds expressed the view that they thought things were going too far. It is also my (very superficial) impression that Barzani is a little less enthusiastic about Iran than Talabani is.

    As ever, there is not complete unity in the Kurdish position. I saw a report that others praised the INA/SLA attempts at alliance, and also the relationship between Goran and the two big ones seems to be heading downhill again, but again this is not something I follow closely at all.

  24. Ali W said

    Thats very interesting Reidar, thanks. It would be interesting how they would be able to agree on many kurdish issues especially with Hadbaa.

    This could also make Iran put pressure on the Sadrists to agree on Maliki to stop it happening, which some statements recently show that they have already softened their opposition to him.

  25. Ali W said

    http://en.aswataliraq.info/?p=132279

    I think it seems that Iraqia might get the first shot at forming the governmet.

    Reidar, sorry for asking this question that iam sure you have answered a million times before, but if Allawi gets the first shot, how long will he have to form the government, and if it is limited by time, could SLA and INA just refuse to co-operate to scuttle his chances, which would then give them the chance to do so?

  26. Reidar Visser said

    Ali,

    Allawi would have thirty days. But the key point is that in order to get the process going, parliament would have to convene to elect a speaker and then a president, whose job it would be to charge Allawi with forming the government. It seems unlikely that anyone would be prepared to take those jobs without some kind of political deal beforehand, which is why everything is moving so slow. Mathematically speaking, INA and SLA alone (159 deputies) do not have the numbers to prevent an Allawi government from being seated under this kind of scenario.

    The procedures and the timelines are outlined at the bottom of this article: http://historiae.org/uncertified.asp

  27. Jason said

    Allawi and Maliki are the two leaders on the national stage most likely to preserve Iraq as a whole nation, not allowing it to be carved up by the Kurds or run into the ground by Sadr’s criminals. On those two issues that matter most, yes, they have similar ideology. As far as I can tell, everything else is just political theatre as the politicians struggle for personal power.

  28. Kermanshahi said

    So eventually it seems, it was Maliki and not ISCI, who is behind the undemocratic moves.

  29. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, it has not yet been confirmed that Maliki is behind this latest move. But if that’s the case, then it represents the desperate last-minute actions by someone who probably experienced a net loss from the de-Baathification revival, which hurt Maliki in Sunni and secular constiuencies. There can be no doubt that ISCI and Chalabi started it: Back in March last year when Maliki was talking to Mutlak, ISCI started criticising him for being too soft on “Baathists” and started the push for a single Shiite bloc.

    Again, we don’t know the outcome of this latest move, but to my mind alarm clocks should go off simply because the personal votes in question in both cases are bigger than the electoral divider which means changes to the seat allocation are far more likely if this comes to pass than in the 52 + 9 cases of de-Baathification exclusions. It will all depend, it seems, on what approach is chosen with respect to the relationship between personal and entity votes in the case of annulment of candidates.

  30. Kermanshahi said

    You say Maliki lost from the de-Ba’athification, but it was his own choice to support it because he clearly felt it benefits him. He probably thought that taking out “nationalist competition” would gain him more nationalist votes and strengthen his position V his main Shi’a rival the National Iraqi Alliance while heavily weakening the list of his nationalist rival Allawi.

    As for his losses in Sunni communities, the State of Law Coalition didn’t do well in Sunni areas in 2009 either and his failure to attract any major Sunni players (which all went to Allawi) was the main reason he failed to do well.

  31. Reidar Visser said

    He did well among Sunnis in Baghdad though and had been hoping to expand on that. Just half a year ago people close to Maliki expressed pride in being more moderate on Islamisation than ISCI and the Sadrists.

  32. JWing said

    Reidar said:

    “That does not mean they want to exclude the Shiite parties, but that they want Allawi to be the PM and take the initiative. ”

    I have seen many more comments by the Kurds that they are awaiting the Shiite parties to pick the prime minister than any of them saying that they want Allawi to become PM.

    For example, after the recent meeting at Talabani’s offices a Kurdish MP said that most of Iraqiya were ex-Baathists and didn’t want to see the Kurds join with the Shiites.

  33. Reidar Visser said

    Joel, I was surprised myself, but it is quite impossible to ignore the following very recent statements by Talabani and Barzani, as discussed in the comments above and earlier:

    Barzani:

    وفي حوار موسع مع صحيفة «الحياة» اللندنية نشر أمس، قال بارزاني ان صيغة الحل للخروج من مأزق الجمود السياسي الراهن، هو «تطبيق الدستور» معربا عن اعتقاده بأن زعيم القائمة العراقية اياد علاوي وبوصفه رئيس القائمة الفائزة «يفترض ان يكلف تشكيل الوزارة سواء نجح في تشكيلها ام لا».

    وتابع بارزاني «الدستور يعطيه هذا الحق، وهذا استحقاق انتخابي» مستدركا بالقول ان علاوي «على الاكثر لن يتمكن من تشكيل الحكومة، ولكن على الاقل تنتهي الحجة».

    Talabani:

    وإذا بقيت الحال على ما هي عليه الآن فيتم تكليف الكتلة النيابية الأكثر عددا وهي الكتلة العراقية

    As discussed earlier, Barzani is more consistently pro-Allawi than Talabani, and this aspect is also mentioned in the Al-Hayat article. I find it hard to ignore the slew of reactions in the Iraqi press yesterday prompted by the Barzani statement.

  34. Ali W said

    Could it be possible that Barazani’s comments are said just to put more pressure on the shia to give into their demands?

    I still find it hard the Barazani would favour a more nationalist centralist Allawi than a week shiite alliance with different ideologies and blocks.

  35. Julien said

    Reidar, do you think it actually makes a huge difference if Allawi is given first shot at forming the government? I mean without SLA or INA support he cannot realistically hope to succeed right? Might even be a bit of smart political theatre going on whereby Allawi is allowed to keep the initiative and then when he fails it becomes easier to exclude him (assuming he cannot rule a minority gov?). Or do you think Allawi still has enough weight be able to put something together if he’s given first chance? Thanks.

  36. Reidar Visser said

    Ali and Julien, for sure, there may be ulterior tactical motives behind this move, not least since there still seems to be some movement between Maliki and the Kurds. But can it really be posturing alone? A deal of lasting significance would have to be cut on the speakership and the presidency before anything could get going, and Allawi is unlikely to give both of them to the Kurds.

  37. Julien said

    Reidar, I agree that this is a means of upping the ante to put pressure on SLA/INA. After all they no longer hold much leverage (INA/SLA could quite easily get four seats from elsewhere). But I still think the weakness in the game plan is not that Allawi won’t give them as much as they want either, but that even with an Allawi-Kurd link up, they still fall short of a governing majority and its hard to see where else they could pick up support no? And the SLA/INA know this…

  38. Reidar Visser said

    But SLA/INA is barely hanging together, confer the latest spate of declarations about an imminent announcement of, well, a committee, to be charged with exploring the modalities of arriving at agreement at a possible consensus PM candidate, a bloc leader and a name, with an “eighty percent” majority… There is supposed to be a fixed timeline for this, with authoritative estimates ranging from 2 to 14 days. There was supposed to be a really important meeting yesterday. Today it is supposed to be today. We’ll see.

  39. observer said

    Ali,
    I do not know which Observer you are referring to. I am new here. I have always had mistrust of the Islamic parties and I know that what they say in private has nothing to do with the public proclamations. Da3wa itself was against the invasion of 03. Recall London demonstrations by Da3wa while the Iraqi opposition (then, rulers now) were meeting. Yet, Da3wa had no problem “climbing” on American tanks and ruling.

    I feel that the analysts and readers here, while a lot more informed than other boards, lack a direct connection to people on the ground in Iraq, be they politicians or regular people. I will tell you that I have both. I know that nobody in the iraqi political body TRUSTS Da3wa. The relation between Barzani and Allawi transcends “national aspirations. The relationship between these two are based on principals of past stances. Recall 1996 and Barzani’s use of Iraqi army to defeat PUK and you will understand better the basis of the relation. In the Middle East, TRUST, trumps all, including politics.

    I do not want to sound negative, but I will say that if you base your analyses only on reading announcements from outside of Iraq, your predictions will not pan out. It is similar to the DOS sitting inside the Green Zone and sending report to DC that all is good in Iraq when they should limit themselves to reports about the Emerald City limits.

    People now are cussing both Maliki AND Allawi and look at each other in wonderment comparing the time it has taken to get the votes clarified. Allawi is viewed as a victim of the political process, but also is condemned for not being pragmatic enough to let SLA get the PM position (that is in the south). In Baghdad, supporters of Allawi want him to stick it out and get the PM and are wondering why he does not use the US to pressure the others (as if the US is supporting him – but the locals are convinced that he is a US backed candidate).

    Suffice it to say, if SLA gets away with influencing the judiciary, game over for Democracy. I would be surprised if the turn out would be more than 50% nest time. People are tired and they want change and more importantly, they want electricity and services. They have given up on ever being “secure”..

  40. Ali W said

    Observer, there is no need just to mistrust the islamic parties, if i was you, i would not trust a single one. There are no differences between any of them, even the so called Islamic parties are not really islamic, especially Dawa. Yes I do remember their stance in 03, they were against the war which i personally found stupid, but when Bremer Formed the governing council, and they were invited to join, it was not hypocrytical at all that they accepted, what should they have done, start to resist militarily, or go on protests? So I find your analysis weak.

    And I do have a very strong link to the government and the Iraqi people, because my father moved back last year, and now my mother is following him next month permanently, and most of my extended family is there.

    Your analysis about Barazani and Allawi also does not make sense, how do you know they have trusting relationships? What has Barazani’s use of the Iraqi army got to do with Allawi-Barazani relationship, I have never heard this before, please elaborate.

    As for people cursing Maliki, yes thats true, my mum just came back from Baghdad and she said that as well, however I would say that most of these people would also vote for him again tomorrow if they get given another chance.

    And no body trusts dawa, so do the Kurds trust Allawi? Or the Sadrists. Or does Allawi and his team trust the Kurds, or INA? IF yes, it seems you truly know more than us.

  41. observer said

    Ali,
    having your father and mother in Baghdad for a year does not equal to you living in Iraq (be it in Baghdad, the deep south, nor in Kuridstan-Iraq). I am talking here about breaking bread with regular, poor iraqis (the real people) and listening to them instead of talking to them. Listening to their interaction and knowing their personal history so that you know the basis for their respective opinions. That is something that I do with most of my time in Iraq and I am telling you that what you see on TV and read in the newspapers does not reflect the nuances and the complexity of this society. Unfortunately, neither does the DOS understands, so do not feel singled out.

    As for Maliki being voted “for” if the elections are held today again. I say that you are not correct. For if Maliki really knows that, he can arrange for a stalemate in the Parliament and after two tries, the constitution indicates that a re-election would be held (Reider, please correct me if I am wrong on this one -but I seem to recall that this is the procedure, but it maybe just a TAL thing or the first Parliament).

    A lot of those that voted for SLA did so because supposedly they were anti Sadris and JAM (reminding people that SLA and INA were negotiating a merger before the elections are useless!).. I would say that the majority of those who voted for SLA in Baghdad, had based their trust on that “claim”, only to be disappointed by what is happening now. More importantly the visit that Talbani arranged on the eve of announcing the results of the votes to Iran is not forgotten and I would say that Iraqia would capitalize on this.

    As for relation between Barzani and Allawi – well, I elaborated on that in a different entry on this blog. As for the trust issue, it is true that nobody trusts anybody. However, there are past incidents that inform the present. There are few book (if any) written on the minutia of Iraqi opposition politics and one has to live through those events to remember them and their influence on the present. Suffice it to say, the past influences the present to a far greater extent in iraq than in the west.

    Kirkuk is what drives the negotiations of the Kurds. INA/SLA dance is influenced by events in Iraq as well as their inter-rivalry in the years of exile. As for who is going to get the Kurds, let us just say that those with outside the box solutions to the Kirkuk problem will hopefully save iraq from a certain repeat of the last century of tragedies.

    Sorry for being cryptic here, but not everything is for public disclosure.
    Regards

  42. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, if I understand correctly your scenario relates to dissolution of parliament, which can be done in one of two ways: Either you successfully withdraw confidence in the PM, or the council may dissolve itself on the basis of an absolute majority of its members, based either on the request of one third of its members, or on a joint request from the PM and the president. This would prompt another election within 60 days.

    Note though, that as of today, those options are limited since the parliament is in limbo.

  43. observer said

    not quite Reider.
    If I recall well, the first PM select has thirty days to present his cabinet and get 50%+1.. If not, then a second PM Select is authorized, and he/she is given 30 days. IF not possible, then a re-election is called for. That was the procedure in TAL and in my memory, that was taken into the constitution whole. Otherwise, we will have PM select ad nauseam..

  44. Reidar Visser said

    Aha, but that is a different matter, i.e. failure of the first PM candidate. But no, there is no re-election mechanism, i.e. if the first one fails the president simply nominates another one in fifteen days. It is not abnormal for the Iraqi constitution to end in blind alleys or situations that involve ad nauseam repetitions. (Consider for example the scenario of non-approval of the special batch of consitutional revisions.)

    Actually, there is no automatic re-election mechanism in article 38 of the TAL either as far as I can see, only a different threshold in the assembly for the second attempt.

  45. observer said

    Reider,
    I jut checked the final form of the constitution and it looks like that line was “dropped”. I do recall that after the January election, there was discussion in which the issue was raised. Nevertheless, it is not there now and that is what we have to deal with.

    This said, the point still stands, Maliki is on shaky ground now as a result of the developments since the elections. The population is not happy and the more time passes while they haggle in Baghdad about the share of everyone in power, the more dissatisfied the Iraqis (especially in the south) will be. That can translate into either apathy (which seems likely) or going out in anger can vote for the candidates who call for “change”, ala Goran in Kurdistan.

    The point about the constitution being ambiguous is well taken and it is yet another symbol of the short term thinking of policy makers in the US who wanted to show “improvement” in Iraq for the sake of local elections (we are now talking about October 04 when the constitution was ratified and the elections of the US in November 04). The Bush administration understood how bad the document was and what long term implications it may has, yet helped engineer its passage despite that just so that the Republicans can deprive the Democrats of an issue they can use in the elections in the US. Despite the promises that the constitution would be “revised” during the first parliament, nothing happened. eventually Iraqis will realize how unworkable it is (maybe like the US deciding to hold a constitutional assembly some 14 years after the 1776 revolution and wrote the Federal constitution which superseded the confederation articles).

    But for now, we have a huge problem ahead of us. Kirkuk, oil law, water sharing, etc. There is much troubled waters before we reach safe harbor.

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