Iraq and Gulf Analysis

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

208 Days and Counting: Iraq Beats the World Record in Slow Government Formation (With a Maliki Nomination Update)

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 1 October 2010 14:49

It is now official: Iraq leads the league of the worst-performing democracies on the planet.

On 19 December 1977, 208 days after the Dutch general election of 25 May 1977, the Christian Democrat CDA finally formed a coalition government with the Liberals. For months, the big winner in the election, the Labour party, had attempted to form a government combining itself and the CDA – a new conglomerate of old Christian parties which included some left-wingers that had cooperated with Labour in the previous government. However, thanks not least to personal distrust between CDA and Labour leaders, the anticipated agreement fell through and the CDA-Liberal government was formed with the slightest possible majority. It lasted until 1981.

At midnight Friday, Iraq will have beaten that record… Full story here.

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32 Responses to “208 Days and Counting: Iraq Beats the World Record in Slow Government Formation (With a Maliki Nomination Update)”

  1. Santana said

    Not only did we beat the world record- but since we are still not even close to gov formation then by the time it is formed it will kill any hopes for anyone worldwide to EVER try and beat it !!

    Thanks to Iran that has made this possible ! what a great neighbor !

  2. Michael Knights said

    Reidar,

    a very concise formulation of the present situation, particularly your three levels of internal INA backlash against Maliki and the resultant effects they would have.

    I think “leverage” is a very accurate characterisation of the use that most factions are envisaging when they encourage Iraqiyah’s advances. This poltiical theatre, combined with Gulf-sponsored media coverage, seems to be keeping alive the idea that Allawi remains a contender. If, as some suggest, an Iraqiya-led is still possible, I will be surprised. Like yourself, pleasantly surprised.

    One can also see a degree of “day after” thinking in the actions of Allawi and the words printed in Saudi-owned papers: that this is an Iranian deal, an Iranian government, tolerated by the United States for its own short-sighted reasons, anmd that Iraqiyah is already the voice of the poltiical opposition. I also noted the high numbers of respondants who stated (in the June IRI poll) that any government without Allawi would be illegitimiate: 56% overall, 70% in the “northern triangle” and even 66% in Basrah.

    Put together with Sons of Iraq demobilisation, ISF mistakes, and more savvy insurgent operations across the north, all this is fertile ground for a return to broader – or at least more effective – anti-government insurgency in the areas between Abu Ghraib, Bayji, Kirkuk, Qara Tappeh / Hamrin Lake, and Taji.

    Regards

    Dr Mike Knights

  3. Reidar Visser said

    Mike, I think that this may be the worst of the bad scenarios, since Iraqiyya is not particularly interested in taking part and it means all bridges for some kind of deal between Iraqiyya and State of Law, if they ever existed, have now been burnt. The only interesting questions, as I see it, concern the size of the defection from the NA and the price exacted by the Kurds for supporting a government – the latter probably being correlated to the former.

  4. Jason said

    What will the Sadrists demand for their support? MOD? MOI? Are we going to have to watch Sadr tear the country down to its foundations before more reasonable Sunnis and Shia agree to work together?

  5. Reidar Visser said

    The rumours say they are interested in security ministries, yes. I suppose the ante for giving Maliki the nod must have been a promise about the release of some people from prison.

  6. observer said

    information I am receiving indicate that the Sadris will not as a block (there are many genuinely anti Maliki and no amount of pressure from iran is going to bend them) and furthermore, the Kurds stated time and again that they will not join a government without Allawi. Talabani might want to join Maliki, but I think Barzani and KDP are smarter than putting their trust in Da3wa and Maliki.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    I assume Maliki will try to build on whatever momentum he perceives and will ask parliament to vote on Talabani as president. The Kurds also hold the procedural keys because Iraqiyya gave away the temporary speakership to them. It will be interesting to see whether the Kurds are happy to let Talabani be elected without further negotiations at this stage – if not things could easily take a lot longer… Not something I know a whole lot about but I cannot help getting the impression that the perennial KDP/PUK struggle may get somewhat accentuated as a result of all of this…

  8. Mohammed said

    Observer:

    can you shed some light about this animosity between Iraqiya (in particular Allawi) and Maliki? Obviously the sadrists did not like maliki, yet they were able to extract some promises and came under force from iran to support him. Putting this “trust” issue aside, when Iraqiya and SOL negotiate, what are the two sides demanding of one another that makes negotiations break down? I find it unfathomable that Maliki will release sadr’s criminals into the streets just for staying in power.

    Is iraqiya demanding the security portfolio? I cannot believe this is all just personal. A great statesman (as you say Allawi is) usually clashes based on interests/policies, and not on personality. Just what did Iraqiya demand that al-Maliki would refuse (yet he would agree to al-sadr’s heavy demands).

    As always, I appreciate your keen insight.

  9. observer said

    Muhamad,
    few of you actually believe that Allawi has principals and is actually afraid from the repeat of the experience of 68-75, which led to the deliverance of Iraq to the 3ouja clan. When I state that there is a program by Da3wa to take a hold of all the reigns of power in Iraq (ala baath of the early 70’s), it is not based on newspaper reports, but rather on actually information about how key positions are being given to only da3wa people without consideration of qualifications. This is not the fear of Allawi alone, by the way.

    I will tell you what I find amusing in all the questions. The questions insinuate a basic distrust of Allawi’s democratic credentials and the assumption that he will yield and would not stick to his principals (just like Maliki yielded on his seeming hard line attitude against Sadr and his militia!!!) just to get a position of strength (i.e your insinuation that all Allawi wants is the security portfolio so he can presumably organize a coup). I am not going to go out on a limb and say Allawi will never yield on any given issue, but I will state that Allawi’s belief in an ALL IRAQ project is a core foundation and he would rather quit politics than yield on his non-sectarian principals. I am aware of the incredible offers which where made before the coalitions were announced (almost a year ago) but his steadfastness on the creation of an ALL IRAQ coalition prevented him from accepting what would easily have been a coronation as the leader of Iraq as head of an all She3a coalition.

    Da3wa is a sectarian party. SoL is nothing but meaningless slogans. Allawi knows it, Maliki knows it, Kurds know it, Jaafary knows it, Adeeb Knows it, 3badi knows it, the Americans know it, etc. When I say that nobody trusts Da3wa or Malii, I say it with regret in reality as it is truly tragic when a supposedly Islamic party (i.e. based on the tenants of Islam) has so much “regular politics” in the behavior of its leaders (this is not a new phenomena – though). Distrust of Da3wa goes back to the time of opposition. Do please recall that Da3wa was AGAINST the American invasion, yet they came in and took power. So they talk from both sides of their mouths and have done so for their entire history.

    It is not personal, it is in fact based on principals. Few in politics have principals, but amongst the Iraqi politicians, I can tell you that Allawi can do better by being a business man than by pursuing the PM-ship. Yet, he is consumed by the desire to see his vision of an ALL-IRAQ coalition running the affairs of the state. Amateur phycology on my part – I think he feels guilty for his role in the 1968 bringing of the baath to power and for leaving Iraq to the control of Saddam’s mafia. But that is speculation on my part as I have no training in phycology whatsoever.

    Reidar, the inter-party movements in the Kurdish region are very intricate. Look for the KDP to go after votes in Suli in the coming regional elections. I wonder how that is going to fair with the PUK. I wonder what is going to happen in the PUK vs. KDP once Talabani is out of the equation (given his age and health and the health of Kosrat – that is not that far out). I fear for the Kurds and hope they will not slide back into civil war…

  10. observer said

    ps
    as for what happens in negotiations – the real negotiations happen on phone calls and face to face meetings between leaders in Iraq. The committee meetings are meaningless in the final analyses as nobody has the authority to make final decisions on behalf of the 8 or so top “leaders”. That is why you see so many trips happening. Allawi travels to Irbil, Salih travels to Baghdad. Allawi goes to Syria, Amman, Kuwait, Hakim goes to Saudi, Irbil, Tehran, Kuwait, and back. This is because everybody knows that the phones are listened to by friend and foe alike and no sensitive issue is discussed on the phone. It is done by face to face or personal messengers – 1860’s style before telegraphs arrived. Even email is not trusted (encrypted or not). I find it amusing to be honest. I mean you would think that a program such as PGP is good enough… but there you have it.

    So in committee meetings, the She3a insisted that the NA has the right, Iraqiyya says there is no NA and even if there were such inside the parliament, it does not apply as they have the proof that the intention of the framers is such and such TO bypass this, Iraqiyya suggested some time ago to start talking about programs and gave their positions on six or seven portfolios and not surprisingly there is agreement on 95% of the principals. Yet everybody knows that agreement on principals is meaningless in Iraq as the PM will end up doing what he wants to do given his unlimited constitutional and extra constitutional powers. So we go back to who is the PM and that is what has been happening for at least the last 3 months.

  11. mostafa said

    Hi Reidar,
    Finally it is true this time. Maliki is officially the NA’s PM candidate.
    With Hadi Alamiri attending the meeting and rumors about 14 ISCI/Badr deputies supporting him, what is going on with ISCI?
    Note that the Maliki now has 159 votes as the PM candidate (not 142 or 132 as some journalists say) until ISCI announces his defection (which – i think – will not come true)

    As for the Kurds, I don’t think they are happy to join an ISCI-Iraqiyya-Fadila government

  12. SK said

    Dear Reidar,

    I want to ask how you tend to view Al-Maliki’s endurance and now nomination with respect to the foreign powers in the region.

    If we accept that at the outset that US-Saudi-much of Arab world backed Allawi for PM, and that Iran wished to see someone other than Maliki form a grand Shi’i alliance, how then do we interpret Al-Maliki’s eventual success?

    Is this simply a case of a compromise between the two camps after one failed to get the upper hand over the other, meaning Al-Maliki owes his success to these power dynamics, or could it be seen that he in fact got the nomination in spite of what the greater powers wanted. Of course the difference is substantial and I would be interested to read your thoughts on the broader context in which you situate this all.

    Of course, the fact that Al-Maliki would be PM from within the broader Shi’i kutla means that Iran will be satisfied (but clearly not as much as if another more loyal Shi’i candidate could have been ageed upon), but for Saudi and Syria (who have been talking lots about Lebanon of late, so they clearly have been discussing Iraq), would they not have needed to tacitly approve this.

    In sum, does this Al-Maliki news represent a grand bargain after maximalist options failed, or does he have a chance to Iraqify the process, albeit to a lesser extent than if we witnessed a SoL-Iraqiyya alliance?

    Thanks!

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Mostafa, I think we are seeing the disintegration of ISCI. Adel Abd al-Mahdi was always an outsider but it is interesting that Ammar has gone as far as he has. As you say, it would be surprising if the rest of ISCI eventually joined Iraqiyya in opposing Maliki. Still, note that Buratha news agency, close to Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, who has a feud with Maliki, keeps publishing anti-Maliki propaganda today, suggesting there is more opposition beyond Adel/Ammar.

    SK. First, I do not go along with the suggestion that the Obama administration has ever supported Allawi for PM. It’s just not true; it is a media cliche. It is not based on what the administration says or does. It has been supporting Allawi as head of the (non-existent/dormant) national security council! That’s all the support it has been prepared to offer; Chris Hill even said publicly that he has been working on the assumption that Maliki would be the PM. As for Iran, I think they (and the Sadrists too) originally wished for someone more amenable than Maliki but they got a little nervous when Maliki and Allawi seemed to intensify their dialogue after the second announcement of the NA merger on 10 June (at which Maliki was still absent). To arrest any such tendencies, they eventually threw their support behind Maliki.

    Maliki will rely a lot more on Iran when he owes his nomination to the NA, and since the Kurds will likely form his chief coalition partner, that will put limits on any attempts to go back to his nationalist tendencies in 2008-2009.I think the greater hope of Iraqification now rests with the “opposition”, but I am unsure whether in the end it will consist of much more than Iraqiyya itself. We are probably looking at a combined ISCI-Fadila defection of no more than 15 deputies in all.

    Observer. One thing I wanted to ask is about the idea that the Kurds will not participate in a govt without Iraqiyya. This is also making the rounds in Washington among worried officials, but I really think it is a misreading of the Kurdish position. Are you serious that if Maliki offers the Kurds Kirkuk, Barzani will protest and say “never, because my dear friends Allawi, Nujayfi and Mutlak are not participating in your government”? I think we need to think of it more like a principle: There will be an invitation for Iraqiyya to join. If they don’t, then I worry the Kurds may say that is Iraqiyya’s problem. Remember that even the Iranian ambassador said long time ago the door would always be open to Iraqiyya. The whole point is that Iran feels confident as long as the NA exists; as said earlier, it is their minimum demand.

  14. Santana said

    This whole Daawa-Sadrist move may actually be a blessing in disguise for Iraqiya and start true gov formation rolling.I now know that ISCI will not be swayed by the Marjaaiyah nor Iran according to some reliable sources but I am still a bit skeptical. Fadhila will follow ISCI around and want Iraqiya to promise some nice positions for them.Right now -If I had to bet I would say it will be Iraqiya+ISCI+Fadheela+KA

    Sadrists want MOI more than anything in the world-I know that for sure and they want a DPM position ,their criminals released ( 60% of their criminals have actually already been released by Maliki as a show of good faith to get them where they are at now with SoL) They also want two key ministries.

    They are insisting on control of the Police (back to their good old days when the police and JAM shared uniforms and JAM had a license to kill).

  15. Reidar Visser said

    So, Santana, in your scenario I assume Allawi is the PM, right? It would not make sense with Abd al-Mahdi since any ISCI-Fadila bloc would be like 10-15 deputies. What would sway the Kurds towards supporting Allawi instead of Maliki?

  16. Santana said

    Adel as PM (might be the same illegal arrangement as NA) and the Kurds will be TOLD where to throw their vote ! (If it hasn’t happened already)

  17. Reidar Visser said

    Hmmm. I can imagine the US may have a little more leverage in Arbil than in Sulaymaniyya, but at the same time Barzani strikes me as a very pragmatic, first things first kind of person. Remember 1996 and all that. The only thing I can think of is that Nujayfi may help him get what he wants in Nineveh and that Kirkuk could prove a mixed blessing if there is greater competition to the KDP there.

  18. observer said

    http://www.shatnews.com/index.php?show=news&action=article&id=572

    Reidar, all I am saying now is that the battle has no been joined at last. Maliki can promise all he wants, but nobody trusts his promises. Recall he promised same in 05 (On article 140), and reneged. You also seem to be having trouble understanding that trust is essential in Iraq. Barzani knows very well that Iran (and turkey) do not want to have 140 applied.

    W are a long way from the end game. There are constitutional court cases to go through yet. There is much drama to come, if you ask me. I wish I were in the room with Salih and Allawi when they met!!!. I will have to wait to see what happened :)

  19. observer said

    http://aljeeran.net/iraq/18066.html

    indeed the battle has just been joined.

    More drama yet to come. If you do not love watching Iraqi politics, you do not love politics. It makes the soap opera’s of TV fade in comparison. Stay tuned.

  20. Reidar Visser said

    Yeah, that is the same piece that Buratha ran as well. One Badr figure even claims Hadi al-Ameri attended the NA coronation ceremony merely in a “personal capacity”!

    I noticed Aliya Nusayf wants Unity of Iraq, Tawafuq, ISCI and Fadila to join Iraqiyya in a kutla: I readily agree that would seem positive, if only for being a non-sectarian, distinctively Iraqi alternative. It should be called the “We hate Maliki bloc”, since this would be the only shared agenda! But watch out: The numbers don’t add up and many Kurds and some in Tawafuq are positive to Maliki. It really seems the ball is in Barzani’s court this time; for the first time in this process he really has the kingmaker role so often erroneously attributed to the Kurds.

  21. observer said

    Reidar,
    My information indicates that Bolani, and twafuq already have agreements with Iraqyaa. Talabani, as per usual, is against Allawi. Talabani will never forgive Allawi for the latter standing with Barazani in 1996. The driver is Massoud for now and possibly for a while longer.

    On the issue of personalizing politics (as in the “WE hate Maliki” block – i agree. That is what I have been saying here for a while. There is a personal agenda for everything in Iraqi politics. Recall that Talabani’s hate of Allawi goes back to 1996 when the latter stood with Barzani against Talabani. Be that as it may, we have a situation developing where the outside world (and possibly even US embassy in Baghdad) congratulating Maliki for “breaking the log jam”, and in fact, it is far from over and the congratulations should be going to Iraqyya instead (note not Allawi). I am telling you that I am extremely impressed by the fact that the components of Iraqyya are sticking together, regardless of the incentives being offered.

  22. observer said

    http://aljeeran.net/iraq/18062.html

    a couple of nuggets in this article

  23. Ali M said

    Aliya Naseef seems to make a lot of unilateral pronouncements which later turn out to be in conflict with the position of Allawi himself. I wouldn’t pay too much consideration to her pronouncements.

    Now we just have to see how filthy Maliki gets to win a second term. Hakim al-Zamili apparently is being mentioned as the next interior minister!

  24. Mohammed said

    Observer:

    Thanks for your thoughts. I value reading your analysis of these fast changing events (and yours as always Reidar)….

    Observer stated: “Yet everybody knows that agreement on principals is meaningless in Iraq as the PM will end up doing what he wants to do given his unlimited constitutional and extra constitutional powers. So we go back to who is the PM and that is what has been happening for at least the last 3 months.”

    I am not quite sure why you view that the PM has such extraordinary powers that cannot be put in check by parliament and the cabinet. If you say that this is the sticking point between SOL and Iraqiya (who gets to be PM?), I would think that Iraqiya would still have a bunch of options to keep in check the powers of the PM.

    1) SOL by itself (and even with kurds) is not large enough to overcome a vote of no confidence by Iraqiya, ISCI, and others if Maliki get’s out of line.

    2) If all the parties are concerned about Iraq turning into a dictatorship, why not put term limits on being PM? Who would not agree to that? I have never heard Iraqiya or ISCI even suggest this.

    Unlike you, I am not involved in the political process, thus all I hear is from the press. The complaints about Maliki are pretty vague (he is power-hungry, he doesn’t consult, etc.). I am an issues related to person, and will not be swayed about people based on one-liners.

    Regarding your specific complaint about al-Maliki placing unqualified al-dawah people in positions. I will concede that al-Maliki probably does do this, and numerous news reports I have read back you up 100%. However, I imagine that this can only extend to the military and ministries that al-dawah control.

    Regarding the military, it is my belief that the commander in chief should be able to hire and fire people (the Iraqi constitution also requires military hires of significant rank to have parliament approval). In the USA, when general McCrystal questioned Obama’s policies publicly, Obama fired him in 2 seconds. That is the way it should be in a civilian led military.

    Now if I was al-Maliki, I too would want to make sure the military and intelligence is loyal to the PM and state (instead of political parties or worse yet, terrorists). Over the last 4 years, Iraq was in civil war, and people appointed in the interior and defense ministry were political hires by the parties who controlled those ministries at the time. For Iraq to overcome this challenge, it needs a strong leader who can command the armed forces (much like imagine Allawi would be). If there is a nest of terrorists in Adhimiya, then Maliki should be able to count on sending in the forces to lock down the area, go house to house, and root them out (of course while respecting and not harming innocent people). If his colonel who is from Adhimiya will refuse to do this, or if a Sadrist will refuse to go into Sadr city, then al-Maliki needs to replace them with people that will listen to the commander in chief. Who do you expect him to pick? Of course his gut instinct will be to pick somebody from al-Dawa because those are the only people he can count on right now. In the USA, when a new president comes into office, he fires and hires hundreds/thousands of people based purely on loyalty.

    Now, it may be wiser to find an officer from Saddam’s time who was well respected, honest, and loyal to Iraq (instead of to Saddam and the Baath party) to lead a group of soldiers going into adhimiya, but that is difficult and the price you pay can be big when you pick the wrong guy.

    I agree that some of the Dawah people are unqualified illiterates. But I dont think Maliki had a great selection pool to pick from, and the country was going down the drains in a hurry. I would expect that if Allawi were PM, he would also pick officers that would listen to his commands. The bottom line, the security situation is better now, and al-Maliki will probably continue to do this for the next few years if he remains PM. It’s not ideal, but why can’t Iraqiya let this go and concentrate on other things.

    If Iraqiya heads the foreign ministry, education, health, finance, etc..could they not put competent people loyal to the state to help rebuild Iraq? Are you telling me that the PM has the right to appoint people in each ministry of his own chosing and go against the respective appointed minister?

    That is why I asked you about the security portfollio. As I see it, the PM position in Iraq is pretty weak except for security. In comparison to the USA, if some low-level worker in the US deparment of agriculture called Obama a loser, Obama could have him fired in two seconds. In Iraq, the PM is pretty powerless do anything about that (and there were plenty of people in different ministries who always criticized al-Maliki) and kept their jobs.

    So as I see it, obviously SOL wants to keep the security portfolio outside the hands of Iraqiya, because of a lack of trust and fears of an imaginary coup d’etat (and Iraqiya seems to really want the security portfolio badly). An SOL + Iraqiya coalition (I would call this an all-Iraq coalition) would have been in the best interests of Iraq if Allawi was willing to give up the security portfolio, and concentrate his mind on other important things like economy, health, services, and education. I don’t see how such an arrangement would set Iraq up for a repeat of the Baath party. Also, by it’s sectarian nature, al-Dawah cannot be another Baath party because it will never have power in places like Mosul or with secular Iraqis anywhere in Iraq.

    Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to make sure you understood my positions and questions.

  25. Mohammed said

    ps

    I agree with Reidar that this gives Iran a huge leg up in Iraq.

    Imagine if SOL and Iraqiya did join forces (and allowed SOL to hold on to PM), Iran’s position in Iraq would have been very much weakened compared to today. Now, al-Maliki owes Iran big time.

  26. observer said

    Muhammad,
    a quick response as I am lacking in time. You are talking theory and I am talking sausage making, iraqi style. Checks and balances work not in iraq, but in a more advanced countries where there is respect for the constitution and the law. Give me a break man. They have the first session open for three months !!!! Talk about stretching the word of the law as opposed to the spirit. in 07, they came one session away from pulling the rug from under Malik only to be thwarted by Bush and co because Bush did not want to rock the boat in Iraq in an election year and while the congress was debating the surge. In other words, what constitution? What process. We are controlled by outside actors, whether we like it or not. Iran, the US, Turkey, SA, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria – they all have a hand in it (Pronouncement of the Iranian ambassador to the contrary not withstanding)

    The game is not over, by any means. It is just starting in fact. Maliki is a long way away from forming a government and if I have to bet right now, I will bet on Allawi Or Abd Al Mahdi !!!!! Maliki just swallowed a poison pill. THe fig leaf is dropped now. Did he not run on a platform against Mahdi Militia!!! I am very anxious to read the next opinion poll. It is going to be interesting.

    I know that in theory it looks good to have an SoL/Iraqyya axis, but I see the dynamics between the two teams and the body language speaks volumes. You have no idea how much distrust Da3wa people have managed to garner…I know one PM who was actually pushing for Iraqiyya/SoL because of the Sadris. I just exchanged and email with said PM, and let me just say that the response is brim with relief that Sadirs are somebody else’s problem now !!

    I hope that Iran does not get to tweak Hakim’s nose too much and forces him to follow in the footsteps of Sadir. That is the key now…

  27. Michael Knights said

    To belatedly chip in on the Sadrists / MoI / MoD issue:

    I think MoI is the prize. Though any faction would be smart to gain some influence in MoD, my gut feel is that the Sadrists have far more interest and basic affinity with the kinds of structures that we see in MoI. That means police training and recruitment, the National Information and Investigations Agency (the most active intel organisation in Iraq), influence over provincial and district police chief nominations, means to advance its footsoldiers into leadership positions in the Federal Police, the IP, the SWAT teams, plus the facilitities services like Oilfield Police and the other ministry guard forces.

    What I find interesting is the rumoured inclusion of Badr in the pro-Maliki bloc. Why this pertains to MoI is that Badr have already achieved much of the “penetration” described above. From their perspective – and from Iran’s perspective too – are they willing to “make room” for the Sadrists within MoI? It was not so long ago that Badr guys wearing SWAT uniforms were literally butchering and burning Sadr militants across the south. If so, what we may be about to see is the “Badr-ization” of Jaish al-Mahdi, many years after Badr perfected the art of submerging itself within the well-equipped state security structures in Iraq.

    Mike

  28. Slacker said

    Reidar-

    Does al-Amri’s support for Maliki signal that Badr is no longer in lock-step with ISCI and will go its own way as it sees fit? Rumors have been rife since the death of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim that people like Amri are less than impressed with Amar for, among other reasons, his (ahem) less than manly predilections and they feel less loyalty to him than to his late uncle and father. Sure hope this happens, a pox on both. I could imagine that in 10 years there may be no ISCI, but Badr will remain because Badr has guns and knows how to use them.

    I want to remind everyone that dear Dr al-Jaffri is waiting patiently for Iraq’s political masters to turn to him in Iraq’s hour of need as the perfect interim PM — weak, ineffectual, and no affiliated militia — while the true heavyweights prepare facts on the ground for the showdown to come. In fact, I bet he is working on his acceptance speech to the parliament right now.

  29. Mahmoud Abassi said

    I have three questions for anyone who wants to tackle them:

    1.) Was Badr’s 8 seats now included in Maliki’s coalition? I am confused because some reports show that Hadi al-Amiri attended the voting, but those reports do not claim that Badr voted completely for Maliki. For example, the below article says that 2 votes were recorded from Badr for Maliki’s nomination (that along with Sadr, Jaafari, and Chalabi, the total comes to 133). But we know Badr has more than 2 votes.

    http://www.shatnews.com/index.php?show=news&action=article&id=578

    2.) I keep hearing Sadr’s Ahrar party holding 40 seats, but I think it’s actually 39. Does anyone know for sure?

    3.) Why do we keep on hearing from some news reports that Maliki now has 159 seats in his coalition? Is this because ISCI and Fadhila have not officially withdrew from the INA?

    Thanks in advance….

  30. Reidar Visser said

    Slacker and Mahmoud,

    I think that possibly the idea of Ammar’s complete isolation & rupture with Badr may be exaggerated just a little. It is noteworthy that all the ISCI and Badr media so far have stayed reasonably loyal to Ammar’s position, though in the case of Buratha this may be ascribed to personal issues between its editors and Maliki. What I suspect, though, is that there is a large segment of Badr activists who are silent in the media but who think like Ameri and conclude it is safer to stay within the NA. By the way Fadila today confirmed it remains part of NA.

    As for the maths, I think the Sadrists had 39 seats after the initial allocation and then got one compensation seat. The article quoted indicates a defection in the range of 26 seats (70-44) from INA which I think is unrealistic. Similarly, though, the 159 figure for Maliki is also just the theoretical old combination of SLA+INA (89+70) which has no basis in today’s realities. I don’t think there was a vote proper on Maliki, just an acclamation by those parties that were present.

  31. Mohammed said

    Reidar:

    3 questions for you (answer if you have time in any detail you wish):

    1)Can you please shed some light on the issues of the power of the PM? Nujaifi today was saying that if Maliki gets the nod, he will become a dictator? Who really believes this, and who is just using this as a scare tactic?

    2) I imagine that the americans are now going to put tons of pressure on Iraqiya to join some coalition. Do they still have in mind this idea of a “security council” with Allawi in some prominent role there? I am not quite sure what power they want the security council to have to check the power of the PM. Doesn’t article 58c of the Iraqi constitution already give parliament the right to reject high level military appointments? For the past 4 years, have they not been abiding by article 58c?

    3) For Iraqiya to get the PM now, would that not require the Kurds to actually joing a Kutla? Since as of now, maliki has by far the largest parliamentary block, the only hopes Iraqiya would have is Kutla including the Kurds..would the Kurds actually entertain being part of another kutla? Does it politically or legally really mean anything to be part of a kutla if they can be so easily created and destroyed?

    Observer:
    I know there is a big difference between western democracy and iraqi kabob making politics. But whether we call this (sausage, kebab, tekka, or kubba) politics, the PM position in Iraq seems to be pretty weak to me. The ISOF (special forces) that reports directly to Maliki seem to be the only deviation from the constitution. However, as far as I can tell (see: http://www.thenation.com/article/iraqs-new-death-squad), this force seems to be under the control of Americans more than al-Maliki. Otherwise, what powers did al-Maliki really have? None of the non-dawah ministers even seemed to listen to him for the last 4 years. But I digress.

    The important point I would like to drive home is that Iraqiya is playing a dangerous game. They are playing hardball and trying to extract concessions to give them more influence, but they need to not overstretch their hands. Iraq’s shia parties still have an “under-siege” mentality. By demanding the PM (or security portfolio equal), you are forcing them to pick between giving up so much power to Iraqiya versus becoming even more Iran dependent. Reading sharq al awsat today crying about Iran’s influence in Iraq, the regional arab governments have only themselves to blame. When you are the new kid in a playground and all the popular kids (arabs) don’t want to play with you, then you will go hang out with whoever will keep you company (Iran). The saudis, kuwaitis, and the rest of the gulf should use the weapon that Iran cannot match them in…money– and invest in Iraq, build up relations, and then you will get the result you want..right now, they are fighting on iran’s strengths (religion, security/military) and they are hopelessly out-gunned, and out-worshipped.

    You call these islamist parties..I call them political parties (I dont believe that they have any greater fear of God than Iraqiya or secular parties)..they all want the same thing…influence in Iraq, not salvation with God. If Iraqiya’s path to power rests upon the shoulders of Ammar al-Hakim, then I fear for Iraqiya..he just wants influence..he is taking a tough stance because he realizes that ISCI has shrunk to irrelevency, and just wants to negotiate to get some power back. After all, this is the guy Americans arrested on the border with Iran with millions in cash in suitcases (I wonder where they came from?)…As for making adel-abdul mahdi the PM, how is picking a PM who got less than 10% of the vote of al-Maliki or Allawi respecting the will of the Iraqi people (dont forget that al-Maliki was the single largest vote getter by far, eventhough Iraqiya had slightly more total votes)…

    Those who purport to care for Iraq and making Iraq independent of Iran are simply handing Iraq over to Iran by their “sausage-making” politics, and Iran is only too happy to accept the gift you are giving them. Dont count on the americans to
    save you at the end of the day. After this November, Obama is only going to be consumed with creating jobs in America or he is going to be a one term president (right now americans dont give a damn about iraq, iranian nuclear weapons, or the israeli-palestinian peace process)….

    My free advice if you can send this up the chain of command: let people breathe, forget about the security portfolio , and concentrate on building iraq’s infrastructure so all the kids can go to school and learn in peace, build up iraq’s oil, health, agriculture, and electricity sectors (all things Iraqiya can negotiate for and do since you have far more competent technocrats in your party or are you also insinuating that Maliki doesnt want Iraq to progress in these aforementioned areas). Iraqis are a proud people and have a sense of nationalism..let them get educated and prosperous, and whatever Iranian influence exists in Iraq will eventually be neutralized by organic iraqi growth..dont shoot for overnight changes, it wont happen, and will likely backfire as you have already seen over the last week.

  32. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, very briefly, I agree with you. I think it is crazy to single out the powers of the PM as the main problem when after all the complete disintegration of the centre was by far a worse issue in Iraq before 2008.
    -The constitutional article on military appointments says firqa commanders and above should be confirmed by parliament.
    -In Washington there are still those who seem to believe in the intricate national security council proposal. If they listened to Iraqiyya, they would probably realise that to the extent Iraqiyya is interested, it is more about an empowered presidency. At any rate, I think it is inadvisable to do constitutional reform and government formation at the same time: It can easily take a lot longer than planned…
    -On bloc formation, as said in the more recent post today, the decision really rests with whomever is appointed president. He could choose to abide by the more restrictive interpretation if he wishes to do so and feels he enjoys the necessary parliamentary support.

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