Iraq and Gulf Analysis

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

More Drama between ISCI and Daawa as the National Alliance Meets

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 27 September 2010 21:54

The recently-finished nightly meeting of the putative all Shiite National Alliance combining State of Law and the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) stands out if only because the poker play went a little further than usual: ISCI was absent; the rest of the parties apparently came very close to declaring Nuri al-Maliki their prime ministerial candidate.

The scenarios sparked off by this constellation of players are intriguing: Would ISCI really be prepared to defect from the Shiite umbrella in order to voice their contempt for Maliki? If so, would it do the only logical thing after so much dialogue with the secular Iraqiyya on the anti-Maliki theme, i.e. support Ayyad Allawi as premier candidate despite the wishes of Iran (which used ISCI to start the process towards forming the NA in the spring of 2009)? It would have been something of a political earthquake, but the numbers could have added up: Iraqiyya has 91 seats, ISCI including Badr around 17, the Kurdistan Alliance 43 with further support from Kurdish independents and some of the minority representatives amounting to maybe 15 extra deputies. Altogether some 166 MPs on a good day, just above the magic 163 mark.

In the end, it wasn’t quite that dramatic. Despite a simultaneous meeting between Iraqiyya and Ammar al-Hakim and Adel Abd al-Mahdi of ISCI (he is ostensibly the INA candidate to compete with Maliki), Hadi al-Amiri, the chief of the Badr organisation, was reportedly present at the NA meeting, and the meeting itself decided not to formally adopt Maliki for the time being, giving ISCI instead 48 hours to come around (and with some Sadrists for the nth time indicating doubts about Maliki). Perhaps what the episode underlines more than anything is the gradual marginalisation of ISCI within the NA. If Badr stays with the other Shiites, there will be less than ten deputies left with ISCI – certainly something to think about for American and other Western ambassadors who tend to use Abd al-Mahdi and Hakim as their main points of contact with the INA half of the NA. And, importantly, also something that would impact on the arithmetic of it all: Any ISCI/Iraqiyya/Kurdistan Alliance project would fall below the 163 mark again.

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9 Responses to “More Drama between ISCI and Daawa as the National Alliance Meets”

  1. Kermanshahi said

    All Kurdish lists have fused already months ago into one 58-man bloc (so you cannot speak of an ISCI/Iraqiyya/KA project) + backing of 5 Christian candidates, meanwhile ISCI/Badr have got 18 seats now, with the compensation seat counted + Iraqiyya it would be 172 (169 if the ITF leaves due to the inclusion of Kurds).

    But ISCI could much better, instead of accepting Allawi as Premier, give up the Premier position to some other element of the INA, for instance al-Jaafari (who has also backing of the Sadrists) and still get the deal with Iraqiyya and the Kurds, where in the INA has the Prime Minister candidate.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Regardless of how you count them (I always thought it was 43 for the original KA and then 14 added deputies rather than 15) and how much you rely on them (the 5 Christians for example), the main point is that if you subtract Badr (9 deputies) you are below 163.

    And Amiri just said very publicly they had not abandoned NA. Also I would imagine that Jaafari as the NA candidate would prompt rather negative reactions in Iraqiyya.

  3. Ameer said

    I’m sure it would be very easy for Iraqiya/INA/Kurds to coopt Unity of Iraq (4) and Tawafuq (6) to make up the numbers.

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Unity of Iraq has been leaning towards Maliki and Tawafuq has some problems with Iraqiyya since it lost so many members to them by defections. Nonetheless these developments are significant since any ISCI defection would increase the distance between the NA and the 163 mark from the current 4 seats (159: 89+70)to around 13 seats (150:89+61). That does make the whole game a lot more open.

  5. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, 58+5+18+91= 172 ; 172 – 9 = 163, which is enough and as Amir said they could add Tawafuq. That being said, I don’t think the Kurds would want to join a government like this. The INA/Iraqiyya/CKL scenario would actually make it an INA dominated government, though they’re not the biggest, it’s due to them that the Kurds (and possible others) and they’d have the PM position which would all mean that al-Iraqiyya would be less important. For the Kurds to join an Iraqiyya dominated government as one of the minor partners (along with ISCI) is a completely different scenario and in this case I think they would rather join an al-Maliki government which could probably give them a better deal.
    Note: the Coalition of Kurdistani Lists has 57/58 seats, 43 from the Kurdistan Alliance, 8 from Gorran, 4 from the KIU, 2 from the IGK and also backing of 1 Kurdish minority candidate and he is to join any government they join. The Christian lists had announced that if the Kurdistan Alliance would invite them to join the CKL or to join a government, they would do it.

    As for ISCI defections, if Badr joins in with the rest of ISCI they will not just have 13 seats less than needed, but 22 so than they’ll really need to get some al-Iraqiyya elements to defect. But I don’t think ISCI will splinter, nor do I think they will defect from the INA. I don’t believe al-Maliki will ever be capable of outsmarting ISCI in the government formation, rather the other way round.
    And al-Jaafari isn’t the only one they could nominate as Prime Minister, if the rest of the INA suddenly doesn’t want to accept Abd al-Mahdi. They could also agree to a Sadrist, for instance Baha Araji or Qusay al-Suhail, a lesser known candidate or even Ahmad Challabi. What’s also possible is that the NA can form a government with another State of Law member as Prime Minister, because if al-Maliki realises that he cannot become Prime Minister (because neither ISCI, the Sadrists, the Kurds or al-Iraqiyya will back him) than this will definetly be the best option for him, accepting someone else from his list to become PM will be better than allowing the INA or al-Iraqiyya to have the PM position. For Muqtada this will be better, since, although he wants an alliance with SLC, he doesn’t want al-Maliki as Prime Minister, for ISCI this will also be better since if al-Maliki is not Prime Minister anymore, his power inside the NA will be significantly less. Dawa only has about ~40 seats within a 159-man Shi’a bloc and 13 of them are Tanzim al-Iraq, while he doesn’t have complete loyalty inside his own faction either. With 18 seats ISCI would be one of the biggest blocs within this alliance and than parts of the SLC are closer to them than other parts, so they can get a lot more done than with al-Maliki as definitive leader, specially since they will be the NA faction which has the support of it’s government coalition partner: the Kurds. Jaafar al-Sadr could be a good option, he’s Muqtada’s cousin and came second in the Sadrist poll by 1% and he’s Dawa.

  6. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, I think we agree mostly on the numbers themselves (though I’d be interested in getting to know who the 58th Kurdish coalition member is – official statistics consistently put the figure at 57 but I suppose you may have privately added a “Kurdish” minority representative, possibly the Shabak, in your calculations, as hinted at above if I understand correctly).

    The more important point, I think, is that any government that does not enjoy a small margin in its parliamentary majority will have difficulty in obtaining approval, since rarely have all members of the Iraqi parliament been present at one time. I would suggest that anything less than 168 would be inherently unstable.

  7. Hasan said

    In the last government formation process the prime minister was estimated as 21 deputy equivalent, that means ISCI can’t have any other position in the government… and its not true that they can get more…
    Another think is that I can’t believe that Kurds can shake hands with Iraqqyia when they have the chance to support Almaliki…
    I think with these conspiracy-like behavior from ISCI they just are wasting time and making them selves the biggest looser again…
    Kermanshahi, I don’t think that you, I and even Prof. Reidar can predict or understand exactly the Sadrists reactions and behavior now…and in this moment… they are supporting Almaliki…

  8. Kermanshahi said

    But Hasan, the fact is that al-Sadr is in Iran, the reason still lives freely to command a political party is that the Iranians let him in when al-Maliki and his American allies wanted to kill or imprison him and his policies will be influenced by this.

  9. Hasan said

    Well that doesn’t really mean that they are putting a (passive) pressure on him… because before this last change in his attitude he was in a completely different place that doesn’t seem agreeable to consider him as a beloved spoiled iranian child

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