Iraq and Gulf Analysis

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

Three Competing Paths to the Next Iraqi Government

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 13 October 2010 15:36

Today, there are apparently three races going on in the struggle to form the next Iraqi government.

Firstly, there is the Maliki project. This is based on his recent success – apparently with a little help from Iran and the Sadrists – in strong-arming parts of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) to accept him as the premier candidate for an all-Shiite National Alliance (NA) that also has the backing of Maliki’s own list State of Law (SLA). Quantifying the exact level of support for Maliki among non-Sadrist INA deputies is an inexact science, but it is thought that he has got at least the 89 SLA deputies, the 40 Sadrists plus Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi on his side – which would bring the total number to a minimum of 131. On top of this, Maliki is obvious angling for the support of the Kurdish parties (58), which would easily bring him above the magical 163 mark required to have a majority in parliament. Additionally, it seems clear that Maliki is also hoping to lure a new coalition between Unity of Iraq and Tawafuq  into his coalition (10 deputies altogether with promises of more), in order to serve a symbolic “Sunni representation”. Importantly, even though Maliki is clearly trying to satisfy the Kurds when it comes to their long list of demands for supporting a government, he is not particularly positive to the idea of making constitutional changes (such as limiting the powers of the premier) as a basis for government formation. Still, it is noteworthy that the project involves two “regional” kingmakers: The Sadrists with Iranian support, and the Kurds and perhaps especially Jalal Talabani, again with an apparent nod from Iran.

Second there is the Allawi project. This appears to consist of a competing path to hit the 163 mark: First building a coalition between Iraqiyya and as many INA breakaway elements from the NA as possible plus Tawafuq and Unity of Iraq; then convincing the Kurds that this kind of coalition would be favourable compared to a deal with Maliki. Again there is the problem of estimating exactly how many NA deputies can be trusted to join: ISCI including Badr account for around 18 deputies (19 with “Hizbollah in Iraq” which is also part of this family), Fadila have six, and one Shaykhi deputy from Basra is reportedly leaning in this direction too. That would add up to around  26 on top of the 91 Iraqiyya deputies, thus 117 and still some way to go to catch up with Maliki, and there is the added insecurity about what the Badr representatives (and “Hizbollah in Iraq”) would ultimately do if it came to a vote: All of the ISCI-affiliated parties were traditionally close to Iran, and whilst the current level of protest against what appears to be increasing Iranian support for Maliki is unprecedented, many commentators still believe that  ultimately some of these elements will fall back into the NA fold. The latest twist relating to this project is the apparent willingness of Ayyad Allawi to let Adel Abd al-Mahdi of INA/ISCI be the premier candidate in a move that could perhaps make this kind of alternative more attractive to the Kurds, and might also serve to compensate for the inability of Iraqiyya to meet Kurdish demands on oil and Kirkuk (which would bring them into trouble with their own electorate). Still, one should probably not discount entirely the idea of a more straightforward Iraqiyya-led government under Ayad Allawi as at least a theoretical possibility. It is interesting, too, that if carried out the reported threat by the Kurdish Goran list to withdraw from the Kurdish coalition in protest against the electoral law for the Kurdistan provincial elections next year would create yet another medium-sized bloc in parliament potentially open for grabs for would-be premier candidates.

It is important to note that both these projects are competitive. Each of them pays lip service to the idea of all wining blocs eventually joining, but it seems perfectly clear that in reality the Maliki alternative will marginalise Iraqiyya and the Allawi alternative will marginalise State of Law: The “invitation” to their main opponent to join is mostly tongue in cheek. By way of contrast, the Americans still seem to be hoping that all the original four big winning blocs – Iraqiyya, SLA, INA and the Kurds – will somehow eventually get together in a single coalition to form the next government, preferrably without the Sadrists in a too-dominant role. In this third approach to government formation, the Americans are actually raising the threshold in more than one way. Firstly, a four-way agreement is logically speaking more difficult to achieve than a three-way one. Secondly, and this has perhaps not received the attention it deserves, almost all American proposals on the subject of government formation seems to involve simultaneous measures of constitutional reform, since redefining the powers of the presidency now appears to be an aim after the initial failure to resuscitate the dormant Iraqi national security council as a way of appeasing Iraqiyya. Constitutional reform, in turn, can be achieved in one of two ways in Iraq: Either under the transitional article 142 of the constitution, according to which a single batch of changes can be approved by an absolute majority of parliament (163) but then would need popular approval in a popular referendum where a two-thirds majority against the changes in any three governorates can torpedo the whole project. Alternatively the changes can be passed with a two-thirds majority in parliament (216), to be confirmed in a general referendum,  this time with no special-majority requirements.

The more general point is this: Any government-formation involving constitutional reform is risky and potentially time-consuming business. If the route to constitutional reform under article 142 is chosen one needs to remember that the Iraqis have been working on this package of reforms since 2007 without being able to agree on it. The other alternative, however, involves a special majority in parliament of 216. The question then is, even if Washington should succeed in pushing for a move that would strengthen the presidency to such an extent that it becomes attractive to Iraqiyya, is it not likely that Iran would seek to introduce counter-measures if it felt threatened? It would then need only 109 deputies on its side to derail the whole project and everything would be back to square one. Have we already forgotten what happened in Iraq in February and March this year, when almost the entire Iraqi system succumbed to the pressures from Iran and Ali al-Lami, the great de-Baathification leader? And then of course, there would be the long wait for confirmation in a referendum and the concomitant risk involved for the party that is banking on an empowered presidency: What if the referendum disapproves of the changes and the presidency remains in its current form, with symbolic powers only? Clearly, it would be unconstitutional and therefore quite impossible to “upgrade” the presidency before any such a move had been approved by the population in a general referendum.

The bottom line is that any government-formation process involving constitutional reform (i.e. the “broadly inclusive” policy of the Obama administration) is likely to take many months, with no realistic prospect for a referendum on the required changes until some time in 2011, at best. For this reason alone, the more straightforward but competitive attempts at acquiring absolute majorities of 163 in parliament seem more realistic in terms of timely government formation in Iraq.

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56 Responses to “Three Competing Paths to the Next Iraqi Government”

  1. I agree with your reading of the Maliki path to reelection, and also why the third option – I presume you mean that the U.S. proposals are the third option – isn’t really feasible, and for more reasons than what you have stated here. What I’m not sure about is whether U.S. proposals arise from an incorrect assessment (i.e. lack of understanding of the nature of Iraqi politics, and how things really work) or from a decision that this is what would serve U.S. interests, so we should push this whether it is practical or not. I agree that a Maliki-Allawi coalition would serve U.S. interests, but am surprised that anyone in the U.S. embassy actually thinks Iraq’s political forces have any interest in that.

    Regarding what you frame as the second plan – Allawi/ISCI – I’d like to suggest that this could just be a ploy to defeat Maliki and force him to offer a weaker alternative within State of Law, not a real political project. I never throught that either Jaafari or Abd al-Mahdi’s candidacies within the INA were sincere – I think they were always set up to block Maliki, and I don’t think the Sadrists would ever have voted to put ISCI in the prime minister’s office.

    Likewise, now, does anyone really think that Iran’s primary surrogate is going to engage in a real coalition government with Sunni Arab nationalists? Would having Abd al-Mahdi as the PM do anything to convince the Kurds that this coalition – a majority of whom are Sunni Arabs and anti-Kurd Turkoman – would implement their demands more than Maliki? I think not. But since the Sadrists have said that they will only give Maliki a certain amount of time to achieve a majority, they must be hoping to break that Maliki-Sadr deal, and force Maliki’s bloc to offer the “alternative” candidate ISCI has been seeking for months. Or maybe just give ISCI a better ministry allocation in the final deal.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Well, I agree we should not discount the possibility that Iran may prefer someone weaker than Maliki as long as he emerges with the NA as his parliamentary support. However, if Ammar al-Hakim is really a double-agent (a theory which I would never reject out of hand) then he is pretty far inside enemy territory these days…

  3. Observer said

    good stuff Reidar,

    My feelign is that it is all a big “chicken game” now between hakim and Maliki. Who is going to blink first. Expect that Fa3wa will back down the minute they “feel” that there is a serious attempt to cement an Iraqiyya/ISCI/Kurdish alliance. The Kurds do not trust Maliki Raeidar. He can promise all he wants about Kirkuk. The saying goes, you fool me once – shame on you. You fool me twice – shame on me.

  4. Jason said

    I strongly agree that mixing Constitutional changes (reform is an overused, and often inappropriate, word) with government formation is a terrible precedent that will open a terrible, new can of worms. Your prior assessment that the Obama Admin is looking for an “armistice” solution is dead-on. They would choose temporary stability over a functioning democracy.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    There is some interesting commentary on these issues by the former US ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, at

    http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/turning-the-page-iraq-4207

    Basically, he is suggesting that Maliki is in fact a good Iraqi nationalist, he is just cheating a little, temporarily! In this case by using the Sadrists/NA card to win the premiership.

    I personally preferred Maliki to the Hakims in the 2007-2009 period, but I think Maliki changed a lot after de-Baathification came on the agenda. He has been on the defensive ever since, and the Sadrist/NA turnaround is just one among several examples.

    At any rate, whilst Crocker is not creating US policy anymore, I think his views in that article are shared by many in Washington. Compare with what his successor, Chris Hill, said just some weeks ago (below) and I think Iraqiyya supporters should not expect too much from the USG whether before or after 2 Nov…

    “But what I can tell you is, at the end of the day, there will be a Shi’a prime minister. And that Shi’a prime minister will represent a Shi’a-led coalition. And Maliki fits that description, but there are a lot of people who are distrustful of him and, hence, the need to have some kind of power-sharing agreement. And that’s what he’s been working on, and I know they’ve been working rather assiduously on this in the last couple of months. So let’s see if they can finally get it done.”

  6. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, Maliki is not a “good Iraqi nationalist” neither is he a proper Shi’a Islamist. He never changed in the 2007-2009 period and he never changed “back” during the de-Ba’athification. What happened was, he started to compete with his Shi’a rivals for power and that’s why he suddenly had a change of heart and became nationalist, he needed Allawi, al-Mutlaq and other such people and parties to support him in this power struggle. After Allawi became his main threat in the election, he “suddenly” shifted back to Shi’a Islamist, cause now he needs Sadr & co to back him against Allawi. Ofcourse one thing is true, he does support a centralised system, but not because he’s nationalist, but because it gives him more power. In the end it’s not about ideology or political views for Maliki, it’s about power and who can give him the most.

  7. Jason said

    “Maliki is not a ‘good Iraqi nationalist’ … In the end it’s not about ideology or political views for Maliki, it’s about power and who can give him the most.”

    Is there some credible evidence that Maliki is not a nationalist, or that he has grossly abused his power? (Besides crushing the Sadrist criminal militias and resisting Kurdish separatist ambitions, because I support both)

    PS: I am concerned about reports of turning loose Sadr men.

  8. Kermanshahi said

    Jason, it’s up to you what you want to see as proof, but this is how I interpret al-Maliki’s moves. He’s been playing all sides, he’s anti-Kurdish when it suits him, he’s pro-Kurdish when it suits him, he sucks up to Iran when he needs them, bashes them when he tries to make propaganda, he never crushed Sadrists, he just played in between ISCI and Sadr and 2008 is an example militia conflict between ISCI and Sadr, which al-Maliki later publicized and used in the media, unrightfully claiming credit for supposedly cracking down on militia. Like 2008-2009 were all about arresting Sadrists and make propaganda about it, since the election he’s been all about releasing Sadrists to gain their sympathy.

    This man has no ideology, all he wants is power. He was willin to be a puppet at first to be Prime Minister, after that his signature is backstabbing allies to benefit and gain more power, than change his policies to find new allies and that way make sure he stays in power.

  9. Jason said

    So your complaint is that Maliki has no blind allegiance to any of the competing sub-groups, most of whom are pursuing their narrow agenda above the country as a whole. The Kurds want to divide Iraq. ISCI wants to tilt it toward Iran. The Sadrists want to loot it.

    And the fact that he is a good schmoozer, “playing all sides.” It may not be pretty, but I’d say that’s the sign of an effective politician doing what politicians do to build a broad coalition. At least he is an equal opportunity schmoozer – not having entirely pleased anybody.

    And that is your best evidence that Maliki is not a nationalist? Please!

  10. Kermanshahi said

    Jason, al-Maliki’s political ideology depends completely on the situation. After he’d picked fights with both ISCI and Sadr, he had to rely on sympathy from Allawi and Sunnis, so he was suddenly nationalist, now he’s picked a fight with them he’s an Islamist again. Yes, he is an oppurtunist and he changed his principles so many times, it’s safe to say, he has none. There’s only one thing that is consistant about al-Maliki’s politics and that is that he is wiling to go through any lengths to cling on to power and to get more of it.

  11. bb said

    I am thinking a useful constituional change might be this: that when there is a virtual dead heat (say within 3-5 seats) if neither bloc can form a government within 3-6 months, then there is a new election with a runoff between the two?

    btw, one marvels at the Iraqis talent for putting off decisions. Who would have thought that ISCI, forever touted as the lackeys of Iran, would be spurning a shia-led govy in favor of Iraqiyya?

    One has to assume it is all a feint designed to force a better deal out of Malik in terms of cabinet representation.

    Ryan Crocker has more than earned his credibility.

  12. bks said

    So at the time of the writing of the Constitution, and despite fifty years of advanced theoretical study of voting schemes, the first “official” Iraqi government of the post-Occupation can’t form? One would almost believe that the current situation was the goal rather than the consequence. After ten years of deadlock, will Maliki be the new Saddam? Too bad Moqtada wasn’t a secular leader or I would have had someone to root for.

    –bks

  13. IMARK said

    Jason said to Kermanshahi :
    “So your complaint is that Maliki has no blind allegiance to any of the competing sub-groups, most of whom are pursuing their narrow agenda above the country as a whole. The Kurds want to divide Iraq. ISCI wants to tilt it toward Iran. The Sadrists want to loot it”

    Well said Jason. I wish to add that Maliki crushing of the criminal elements of jaish al-Mahdi, did a great service not only to Iraq but to Muqtada Al-Sadr himself who publicly disowned them. I don’t like Al-sadr movement any more than other political parties using religion or sect for political purposes, however, all Iraqis and specially the Shiites know the big difference between Al-sadr who is basicly an Iraqi patriot and Al-Hakeem who is an Iranian lackey. So it is not strange to me that the Sadris supporting Maliki for the second time.

  14. Jason said

    Bb, I’m not sure that would do any good – they would just put off holding new elections. The same way they are now holding off electing a President. Just hold a damn vote.

  15. So does anyone have any solutions then? Personally, I don’t support a so-called ‘national partnership government.’ I doubt Iraqis want a Lebanese-style government. Nothing will get done. The PM will be too weak with all the concessions made. Does anyone here think it will be helpful for Iraq’s democratic development to have a good-sizes opposition in parliament?

  16. Reidar Visser said

    Mahmoud, I agree with much of what you’re saying. I think constitutional changes would be bad since it would reify sectarian divisions and make Iraq more similar to Lebanon. It is also not feasible within a reasonable time frame, and I hope this point will begin to sink in because there is so much wasted energy right now predicated on the erroneous assumption that such revision is possible as part of the process to seat the government.

    I would say that the best option would be to have the smallest possible government, just above the 163 mark. The more cracks in the sectarian alliances the better: I.e. hopefully the “NA” will remain divided, the Kurds will become divided and Iraqiyya will not crack up along sectarian lines.

  17. Kermanshahi said

    Bb, the reason ISCI doesn’t support the supposedly “Shi’a led government” is because it’s not a Shi’a led government, but an al-Maliki led government. The differnce between Sadr and ISCI, is that ISCI have realised that if you are going to be al-Maliki’s coalition parter, specially if you are a more junior coalition parter, you are going to be lied to, cheated, betrayed, a bilion times, he’s gonne break all his promises, he won’t do a single thing you want and he’s merely going to use you for his own ambitions to cling on to power. The Sadrists still think that because he is a Shi’a, he might be pursuing a Shi’a agenda, which he isn’t.

    Reidar, if the Kurds are “divided,” that means they lose 8 seats, big deal. And if Gorran sells out the other Kurdish parties to join a government which doesn’t allow a Kerkuk referendum it will be the end of them, specially since he’s been constantly attacking Talabani for “not being able to deliver Keruk”.

  18. Reidar,

    So what you’re saying is Iraqiya be at the center, joined by the Kurds, ISCI, and Fadhila? That leaves you just above the 163-mark with strong Sunni representation, a split in the NA with the cooperation of ISCI and Fadhila (who I feel are the more pragmatic of the Shi’a Islamists). I like this scenario, but are the secular Shi’as who voted for Allawi, plus ISCI and Fadhila, enough to represent the Shi’as of Iraq?

    Also, is Ammar al-Hakim a more pragmatic (and more Arab) figure, and less of an Islamist than his father (certainly less than Baqr al-Hakim)? I haven’t seen an ISCI leader as much engaged with the Arab leaders in the region as Ammar has been in the past couple of months, who has agreed with the significance of the Arab identity role in Iraq. I understand you mentioned Hakim could possibly be playing two sides of the equation (i.e. double agent), but I feel he is likely to be less eager to please Iran than one might expect. Otherwise, he would have joined Maliki like Sadr had, because there is no point to playing a double agent when you could participate towards one side and easily achieve a pro-Iranian Shi’a government. If that kind of government was the end goal, Hakim just passed it up! He may be thinking about how to rebuild ISCI after his father’s death, and after ISCI’s poor performance in the 2009 and 2010 elections. I do not believe his vision for rebuilding ISCI and reconnecting with the Shi’a populous includes doubling-down on the Islamist, pro-Iranian card.

  19. Santana said

    Guys-

    Look who’s back ! The new and improved JAM…just released from prison and full of hate and vengeance and a new license to kill from Maliki (cuz becoming PM again is more important to him than the blood of innocent Iraqis)

    http://wasatonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2853&catid=40&Itemid=99

  20. Reidar Visser said

    Mahmoud, I got disillusioned when the prospect of an Allawi-Maliki alliance slipped away… Anyway, to your question, my take is that if Allawi were nominated with Kurdish support, a new dynamic would probably get established and more moderate voices in NA would get interested in serious talks to join the government. As long as the aim is 163 and not 216 this should be feasible. The scenario of an Abd al-Mahdi premiership supported by Iraqiyya is far more problematic, time-consuming and uncertain because it is premised on the idea of a strong presidency for Allawi which in turn would require constitutional reform + referendum, making it easy for Iran to act in a spoiler role.

  21. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, if Allawi demands both the position of President (which Talabani is after) and refuses to hold a referendum for Kerkuk and the disputed territories, there is no way in hell, even with ISCI at his side and Abd al-Mahdi as his Prime Minister that any of the Kurdish parties would ever even consider joining.

  22. Jason said

    Kermanshahi, So just to be clear, the Kurds are holding the formation of a govt hostage in exchange for surrender of Kirkuk and the disputed territories – even though it is obviously a promise that no PM can deliver. Yet you accuse Maliki of not being a good nationalist – because he doesn’t want the country broken apart. With that kind of logic, you would also make a good politician, playing the sides just like Maliki.

  23. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, that would make another argument against Iraqiyya gambling on some kind of fortified presidency. They’d make it simpler for themselves by focusing on a premier candidate, be it Allawi or Abd al-Mahdi.

  24. JWing said

    I would agree with Kermanshahi, the only thing Maliki really cares about is staying in power and burrowing the Dawa party as deep into the bureaucracy as possible.

    Jason, besides crushing the Sadrists he has taken a lot of other actions that have angered others, and is the reason why so many people have opposed him during the government formation process.

    1st he placed pro-Maliki commanders in charge of divisions and Dawa members into government offices.

    2nd he created military commands that answer directly to him and not to the Interior or Defense Ministries such as the Baghdad command, Basra command, etc.

    3rd he used a carrot and stick approach to break up the Islamic Party’s ties with the SOI in Diyala. He sent in the army and police under the guise of an anti-insurgent campaign to arrest SOI leaders and IP members, including some that wanted to run in the 09 provincial elections, which automatically disqualified them. He then set up an organization that offered SOI security jobs to counter the IP’s own program through the Diyala provincial council to do the same. That was one of the most blatant examples of using the security forces and government offices for his own political gain.

    4th he sent government troops into the disputed territories in Diyala, and began replacing Kurdish officers in Army units in Diyala and Ninewa to gain points as an Arab nationalist against the Kurds.

    Reidar, I think in the end, the U.S. vision of a national unity government will come to fruition. Not so much because of pressure from Washington but because none of the major parties in the end, want to be excluded from the ruling coalition. If they went into the opposition they would not get any ministries, and ministries mean jobs, patronage, and plenty of money to be stolen for their followers, and that self-interest will in the end likely outweigh any dislike for whoever ends up as premier.

  25. Reidar Visser said

    I don’t think that anyone disputes that Maliki is unpopular; however the curious thing is that among the points enumerated above, quite a few were potentially vote-winning items for Maliki back in 2008-2009. Number one and two included the promotion of several officers of the old regime in the security forces; number four was quite popular among Sunni Arabs and with respect to number three we should remember that Diyala is one of the few places where Iraqiyya and State of Law have continued to cooperate in the local council after 2009 (against the ruling coalition of ISCI/KA/IIP). After all, the “strong man” ideal is supported as a concept by many Iraqiyya voters; a more likely explanation for the tension between Daawa and Iraqiyya is simply the personal animosity between Allawi and Maliki. However, since January 2010, due to his failure to build logical coalitions, Maliki has increasingly relied on the support of the Kurds and has also been forced to use instruments from the Iranian toolbox like exaggerated de-Baathification, manipulating the courts and finally the construction of the NA itself, meaning that the chorus of criticism from Iraqiyya concerning highandedness finally became truly relevant.

    Anyway, I find it alarming that US visions for a national unity government still seem to be predicated on changes to the powers of the presidency which will be impossible without a referendum and hence potentially a delaying factor in the seating of the new government.

  26. Kermanshahi said

    Jason, Maliki is against federalism because it meanas he has less power, not becuase he’s supposedly a nationalist, cause whenever it suits him he’s anti-Nationalist, banning them from election and he’s a Shi’a Islamist which wants coalitions with Sadr and who sais that the PM should always come from the “Shi’a element of government.” And the Kurds are not holding the government talks hostage to “get Kerkuk,” they just any party have their demands for participating in a new government and if the government does not accept and thus does not want to serve their interests at all, than there is no reason or obligation for them to join. Besides, they’re not demanding to have Kerkuk, there is a dispute and they’re being the reasonable side by wanting to solve it and through democratic lawfull methods (a referendum), while some Arab Nationalist politicians don’t want to solve the problem, they want the minority of Kerkuk to be in power of it no matter what and Kerkuk’s Kurdish majority is supposed to just go along with that.

    Reidar, I prefer an Iraqiyya-ISCI/Fadhila-Kurdish government over a Maliki-Sadr/allies-Kurdish government any day, but if Allawi is not willing to solve the Kerkuk issue, or even give the Kurds the Presidential position, why would they join? I am just being realistic here, they’re not gonna join if Allawi is willing to do nothing for them. They don’t prefer him, personally, that much over al-Maliki.

  27. Santana said

    Let’s not kid ourselves…The Kurds are not gonna go with Maliki period….even if he signs off on the 19 points,they know why he’s doing it and they know he will not honor anything once his objectives are met of becoming PM (which I think is a diminishing prospect day by day) Allawi is gonna meet Barzani in a day or two and agree on how Kirkuk will be dealt with and also discuss the Presidency issue. The Kurds know that Iraqiya is more sincere than Maliki ever will be… the U.S is also in VERY close contact with the Kurds and telling them they no longer favor Maliki (now that he went the Sadrist way)cuz it proved to them how flakey and unreliable he is and if the Kurds help him become PM of a government that Iran will control then they can kiss their future and relations with the west goodbye. Maliki’s trip to Syria was a flop, his emmissaries that went to the Gulf recently were met with a cold shoulder by all because Iraq’s neighbors know that all this close and sudden affection that SoL is showing is a bunch of cow dung.The USG by the way feels the dilution of PM powers will NOT require any constitutional reform nor referendums at all according to some reliable sources I talked to recently…I have no idea how they came to this conclusion??? but what is crazy is that the Turks totally agree with that as well !!….

  28. Reidar Visser said

    Santana, I agree regarding the significance of Maliki’s sudden regional diplomacy: It is the first time he engages in it in a determined way, suggesting he is feeling more insecure than before. Presumably this relates to the Kurdish position, where, as you say, Washington may have some leverage, particularly with respect to Barzani.

    However, when it comes to the dilution of the powers of the premier, we don’t need the Americans or the Turks to read the Iraqi constitution for us. It is true that Maliki has overreached to some extent, and a little of this can be reversed within the bounds of the existing system (parliamentary confirmation of top officials etc.) But if the aim is to strengthen the presidency, then there is a problem. According to article 138 of the constitution, the current three-person presidency council terminates with the expiry of the 2005-2010 parliamentary term. The presidential powers revert to the president proper and are enumerated in article 73 and consist of absolutely nothing except pomp and ceremony. There is nothing significant the president can do independently of the other powers in Iraqi politics; once he has identified the “candidate of the biggest bloc” he has only symbolic powers. Changing any of this would require special majorities in parliament and/or confirmation in a referendum as per articles 126 and/or 142 and this is why I think it is a risky and time-consuming path to government formation.

  29. Santana said

    Thanks Reidar…but we both know this is what the USG is saying and that they are adamant about it !!….surely, since this is so clear as you pointed out then there IS something missing somewhere ??…the U.S helped write the constitution so they KNOW what it says… so again …why are they insisting that it doesn’t need any constitutional amendments??…they say the powers go back to where they belong before Maliki hijacked everything….and everything is hunky-dory…?/ I can’t figure it out.

  30. Reidar Visser said

    Well, I don’t get it. Even the Bush administration tried to abide by the constitution – sort of. If Obama intends to install a president with enhanced powers without following the constitution he might as well do a proper military coup. I just don’t see them going down that lane.

  31. I don’t get the feeling that the US is about to grab the intiative, even after the US November elections. But Maliki’s behavior is so unpredictable that he may create an opening, unintentionally.

  32. JWing said

    Santana wrote:
    “The Kurds know that Iraqiya is more sincere than Maliki ever will be…”

    As in they know that the Sunni elements that voted for it will never agree to following through with Article 140?

    If you haven’t noticed, the negotiations between al-Hadbaa and the Kurds in Ninewa that were pushed by Allawi and the U.S. to resolve problems there have deadlocked over the presence of the peshmerga in the province. In fact, it was one reason why the census got canceled, along with the dispute over Kirkuk. That’s not going to change now, just to get Allawi into contention for the premiership.

  33. Jason said

    1) I don’t think being a strong leader, accumulating power, or installing people loyal to you is contrary to nationalism. Strongmen and nationalism go together. Absence of a strong leader can leave a nation more susceptible to breaking apart. As long as Maliki holds fair elections, and remains subject to a vote of no confidence in parliament, then I am OK with letting him do what is necessary to at least hold the country together.

    2) I understand that Maliki is unpopular with other politicians – because he hasn’t given them what they want. But look at what they are angry about: The Kurds want to break away; ISCI wants an Iranian theocracy in Basra; the Sadrists want to loot the country; and Allawi wants the PM job for himself. If Maliki (or Allawi either for that matter) gave in to all these demands, then the country could collapse.

    3) Who is MORE POPULAR than Maliki? Isn’t it true that Maliki is by far the most popular politician in Iraq when it comes to personal votes? Even in parliament, I’ll wager you that if a fair vote were held tomorrow, with a runoff between the top two, Maliki would win another term.

  34. Kermanshahi said

    Santana, it’s true that Allawi is more trustworthy than al-Maliki, but for an alliance with the Kurds to take place, his bloc has to first be willing to offer them something, at all, otherwise it will be just as bad as an alliance with al-Maliki (who’s willing to accept all demands, but won’t honor any of them), infact an alliance with al-Maliki would be slightly preferable since he’s atleast willing to give Talabani the position of President, a position Allawi wants for himself.

  35. Santana said

    Jason-

    Sorry bud- but this “Popular vote” argument does not hold water any longer…this was pre-de-baathification and pre- all the other games Maliki played in March and April. I am willing to wager that his 600,000 “popular vote” has been decimated by his actions….just like Obama’s popularity in the U.S that has plummeted like a lead balloon since 2008.

    kermanshahi….the Kurds in my opinion will accept a partial approval by Iraqiya of the 19 points VS the complete approval of all 19 by Maliki….and the biggest reason (in addition to credibility) is that the government Maliki is looking to put together is a sectarian one that hands Iraq over to Iran and even if Talabani is OK with that the U.S won’t let him….not in a million years.

    One more thing- Faisal touched on it when he wrote that “Maliki’s behavious may open up an opportunity thru his unpredictable behavior that would get the U.S to jump in”……I see that already…he is going to Iran on Monday ! The U.S isn’t exactly jumping with Joy right now !

  36. Mohammed said

    Hi Reidar and all:

    It is interesting that on CNN today, Allawi said:
    “We know Iran is trying to wreak havoc on the region and trying to destabilize the region by destabilizing Iraq and destabilizing Lebanon and destabilizing the Palestinian issue,” Allawi said.

    I cannot see how Adel Abdul Mehdi or al-Hakim can remain aligned with Allawi with a statement like that from him. Allawi may make himself look like an anti-iran Hawk in front of the americans, but he risks alienating any INA support he was banking on. Furthermore, if SOL does not join Iraqiya, it is pointless to make adel abdul mahdi the PM of an Iraqiya dominated government…he will just be seen as a puppet of Allawi (especially if they make the presidency more powerful).

    The only really two powerful players in Iraq are Iran and the USA. The saudis power merely rests on being able to influence the americans. The question is: who has more influence in Iraq? America or Iran…if it is the latter, a statement like Allawi’s is far more foolish than al-Maliki’s statements against Syria last year. When it boils all down to it, it will be catastrophic for Iran to allow Allawi to win… we will now see Iran’s real influence in Iraq…if ISCI stays with Allawi, then it means there has been a seismic shift in political alignments and power..otherwise, ISCI may just go back to square one and insist on nominating somebody else from INA other than al-maliki.

  37. Observer said

    muhammad – This is not the first time Allawi says this (and in fact it happens to be true and not just demagoguery). And do you think Hakim and company are not getting pressure and somehow this statement is going to suddenly remind the Iranians that they have a problem with Allawi? Come on man. Allawi was not the one “drawing blood” in this. the red line veto on Allawi was put on by Iran even before 2003 (december 2002 in fact is when it became obvious in the london meeting in december 2002). Further, you are implying that Allawi states this as an off the cuff statement as opposed to a straight attempt to remind the policy makers in the US (i.e. those who listen GPS’s Fred Zakaria) that there is a real problem with just acquiescing to Iran on the issue of influence not only in Iraq, but the region is not without danger (i.e. a regional confrontation with Iran is coming up and it may even include Israel!)

    Furthermore, your analysis is not giving the Kurds enough credit for their weight. Do you think that Allawi is a “cow boy”? He is not. What he is – is that he is consistent and what he says in private is exactly what he says publicly – in that sense, he is not a politician (at least not a weak politician). He is ready to take the heat that comes with his declared positions.

  38. Mohammed said

    Observer:

    I have always said that I agree that Iranians are trouble makers. I am by no means pro-iranian. I want Iran’s regime to fail and fall! But I also recognize that they have a great deal of influence in Iraq. I know you think that Allawi is a great statesman and all, but my only point that by needlessly antagonizing a powerful neighbor, he better be sure that the americans are going to back him up..if ISCI pulls out of his coalition, we are going to go round and round in circles.

    I do not agree that Allawi is consistent when it comes for calling a spade a spade. He is vocal when it comes to Iran, but he keeps his lips shut when it comes to Saudi Arabia. You know it, and I know it. Saudi Arabia is contributing to the sectarianism that plagues our part of the world. When I see how they treat shia and hold their own shia citizens with such contempt, how can you expect me to believe that they would show one ounce of mercy for shia in Iraq? Allawi will never criticize the saudis. Those saudi terrorists who kill our civilians are a product of saudi arabia’s diseased culture (just as diseased as corrupt mullahs that you despise)..

    You asked me before would I want to live in Iran. Hell no! I despise the mullahs there…they are wolves in abayas. But, if I had to pick between Iran and Saudi Arabia, I would take Iran. At least in Iran there is a debate about freedom and democracy, and there were people holding demonstrations critical of their government…in saudi arabia, people dare not even point one finger at the king, or they will be beheaded.

    in my view both the saudis and iranians see iraq as a means to an end…neither give a damn about our well-being..they are simply interested in being masters of their geopolitical region, and that will be obtained by installing a government either friendly to saudi arabia (allawi), or friendly to iran. You have not made the case that being a puppet to one is any better than the other.

  39. Santana said

    Mohammed-

    There is NO comparison between Iran and Saudi Arabia….Saudi Arabia wishes no ill towards Iraq whatsoever !!! (infact the AlQ terrorists target Saudi and the Royal family more than any other targets worldwide !)…and Saudi Shias are not discriminated against at all !!- not sure where you got that?….I have been to Abqaiq and other Shia areas….the only difference as far as discrimination goes is that they cannot get jobs in the Military or Security services. They LOVE King Abdullah – he treats them royally compared to previous kings and he is very sensitive to their demands. Saudi Arabia’s leadership and people truly care about Iraq !! and yes- the Saudis want Sunni domination in the Gulf and they definitly are worried about Iran and the expanding of the Khomeini revolution. The whole region is worried for that matter.I find it AMAZING that you would even compare Saudi to Iran …!!!!!

  40. Reidar Visser said

    Let’s not turn this into a thread about the conditions of the Shiites in Al-Ahsa or elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, but I have to disagree with the idea of non-discrimination there. Santana, even the item you refer to – jobs in the security services – qualifies as a form of major discrimination. And many of the positive signs in the early 2000s seem to have been reversed and extremist Wahhabi clerics are allowed to make the most outrageous claims about Shiites with impunity. Better than the previous kings, yes; up to the standards of a modern civilised society, certainly not. But then again, Saudi Arabia is one of the most autocratic regime in the region, arguably with less competition in its politics than, for example, Iran. Of course, none of this exonerates Iran for what it is doing in Iraq, and to my mind it is making itself more felt there than Saudi Arabia is.

  41. Kermanshahi said

    Santana, you underestimate the US influence in Iraq, which is politicly far less than Iran. There are parties that closely follow Iran and where Iran has great influence over, meanwhile the US is merely on friendly terms with a few parties, which all put their own interests first. They are in no position what so ever to “not let” any kind of Iraqi government, happen. And as for the Kurds in particular we’ve seen taht since the beginning of the year, the Americans have appealed to them dozens of times (about issues regarding election & gov’t formation) and they’ve been ignoring all of these requests. In the end the Kurds will do what benefits them no matter what any foreign country sais and in the same way all parties will infact do what they themselfes want, the Americans cannot form a government, they cannot prevent Iraq from falling into Iran’s hands, all they can do is hope for a government formation which is least painfull for them (cause the kind of government they would really want, is impossible) and that it says relatively quiet during their withdraw so the war is slightly less embaressing for them.

    That being said, I think we can both agree the Kurds would prefer joining an ISCI-Iraqiyya government that accepts half of their demands, than joining a Maliki+meaningless other parties who’s demands will be ignored as soon as al-Maliki get’s the crown he’s chasing, government, which accepts all their demands (but will most likely, honor none). But for nonetheless Allawi still needs to accept a fair share of the Kurdish demands and it’s going to be very difficult for him, specially with the likes of al-Mutlaq, al-Nujayfi and Ergeç in his bloc, to accept any of the Kurdish demands. It’s also very difficult to see the Kurdish leaders accepting a deal without Kerkuk, though maybe if some compromise is made regarding disputed territories and most of their other major demands are accepted, they will join. One thing is for sure though, No Kerkuk referendum + No Talabani presidency = No Alliance with the Kurds.

    As for Saudi Arabia, yes it’s true, the ruling regime has a political conflict with al-Qaeda (because Saudi Kings decided to allow US troops to be based in holy Islamic grounds, which outraged Bin Laden), but ideologicaly they are exactly the same (sure, one is alligned with the US and one isn’t). Speak of Shi’a discrimination, there is no country with less religious freedom or with more religious discrimination, on earth, than Saudi Arabia, which is likely the least free, least democratic and most authoritarian state on earth with the most barbaric and opressive regime (only possibly behind North Korea – while by far overshadowing all other regimes in the Middle East, most of which, you can find enough complaints about) and yes, I’m sure the Shi’a there loove King Abdullah. They probably Love him has much as all Iraq’s Shi’a used to love Saddam Hussein (while he was still. in power).

  42. Observer said

    Muhammad,
    I want to respect Reidar’s wish, but i have to answer you…

    First: Who accused you of being pro Iranian? WHy do you feel compelled to establish your credentials as anti iranian before you launched into you post? And even if you were pro Iranian – why would you fell defensive about it. Frankly, there are a lot of people that I meet in southern Iraq that feel (or at least used to feel) that the best way to prevent the resurrection of the Baath (a double pun in Arabic) is to ally with Iran (especially back in the early days after liberation). Is it not their right to have that opinion. Why is it ok for me (or you) to be pro west/secular and it is not alright for them to be pro Islamic, williat al Faqeeh? There are people whose mind has been made up about this issue, but the hast majority is in fact silent and is open to us to “educate them about the dangers of Islamic state, etc… Furthermore, let us call a spade a spade. There has ALWAYS been mutual interference in the affairs of the states in the region. The interference of SA in Iraq’s monarchy was weak (as SA was weak) but to claim that SA did not fear a Hashimite axis is to be naive!! There are files back to 1953 in Iraq’s security that have reports of the Shah sponsoring a “farsi political party” in Iraq (i have not seen the file, but I have heard about it from two different sources).

    Anyway, the point is – do not be defensive about your beliefs, and let us not be naive. People use whatever help they can find. Islamic She3a party use help from Iran, Seculars, who should be supported by the west and the US (and ARE NOT) will try to get hep from whatever and wherever they can get especially when they are targeted inside Iraq for physical elimination. Now, let me turn the tables on you. Why do you demand that Allawi condemn SA, Jordan, etc., and not demand same from Maliki, Hakim, Talabni (i.e those who get their support from Iran?)…

    As far as Allawi’s constancy – I was talking about taking positions. Unlike Maliki (and others, like Chalabi), he does not change his position on given subjects just to get a momentary tactical advantage (i.e. look at maliki ripping Assad/Baath a new behind last year and kissing Assad’s/Baath behind this year).

    Now to the real meat of what we are about. What are we trying to do? SOme people in Iraq have given up and basically beleive that the US and the west are trying to create a she3a/sunna divide (and that can be an entirely long thread as to why and what evidence is being used). Others, like my naive self, think that there is no such plan and the west is just being “short sighted” as they have always been.

    If you believe in the former, then you would not be reading this blog as the “game is over” – right. So you belong to the same group of those who still see a possibility of having democracy in Iraq succeed and have it as a base to spread enlightenment, both against despotic monarchies and Islamic extremism (iranian style or Saudi style) – at least that is what the like of me are trying to do. Let me tell you that democracy is not going to succeed if the like of Da3wa and Maliki stay in power. They do not believe in democracy (it is not in the core of their political mission). They believe in Taqia and they believe in tactical changes, but not strategic. Note they were against the invasion in 02, but did not mind taking a seat at the table once it was done !!!

    Seculars also believe in Taqia !!! You mentioned that some of Allawi’s “allies” are despicable. I told you that a lot of people in the political system are despicable, but in Iraq it appears that an ex baathi who becomes part of the Islamic parties is considered repentant, but not those who stay secular (Call me to the floor if I am misspeaking)… Allawi has the like of salih Mutlag, but what of it? Allawi has more support in the south than Maliki ever will ever have outside the south.

    Anyway, in the end, I believe that this is “a last chance” (at least for this generation). Maybe the sanctions on Iran will bust the Iranian mulla’s – but I do not have high hope for that. I think the world is destined to have to deal with a nuclear Iran and maybe that is a good thing in the long term as it will force the US to keep permanent presence in Iraq as a counter weight (ala south korea).

    Sorry for this long post…. I bid you fare well for a while.

  43. Kermanshahi said

    BTW, this myth of Iran making Sadr back Maliki and Maliki being Iran’s guy, with ISCI breaking off from Iranian influence to join the “enemy” (Allawi), is completely not true. Maliki is infact the biggest threat to Iranian influence and the whole creation of the INA was an Iranian attempt to get rid of him, the entire ISCI-led post-election INA policy was a Shi’a Islamist attempt to get rid of al-Maliki, with Iranian backing. Sadr backed out of ISCI’s plan, which is also the plan Iran prefered: the plan of an INA dominated government with the Kurds and Iraqiyya (an alliance which could lead to the dissulution of the SLC) and with Adil Abd al-Mahdi as Prime Minister. ISCI has however still continued on this path. The problem is, though, that with the split of the INA, Iraqiyya is now completely dominant in the government, ISCI being a minor element (though providing the Premier) and therefore Iraqiyya has more power, which is from Iranain perspective unpreferable and it’s going to be problem to get an alliance with the Kurds now. In the old scenario they would have backing of at least 219 seats (which could be increased with 6 Tawafuq and 6 minority seats if needed + possibility of dozens of SLC MPs joining), so basicly all Sunnis in Iraqiyya (or even the whole Iraqiyya, if they gained enough SLC deserters) could leave and it wouldn’t be a problem. Now that is not the case and the views of parties such as Hiwar and al-Hadba, which are completely the opposite of what the Kurds stand for, will be very important. Even if the government is formed, conflict is bound to happen between Ba’athist and Kurdish elements.

  44. Reidar Visser said

    I agree with much of that, but it disregards the fact that there was a point in September when Adib or Abbadi, can’t remember who of them, said openly Maliki had acquired the support of Iran on top of that of the US. Around the same time, if I remember correctly, Barzani made a very public switch from uncommitted or even pro-Allawi to pro-Maliki and Iraqiyya got offended by it, quoting Iranian and/or US influences I think.

  45. IMARK said

    Reidar
    You deserve a credit for initiating such a lively debate which I am sure is being followed by many people and governments concerned.
    However, I feel what is missing is the voice of ordinary Iraqis (of any ethnicity, religion or sect).
    Frankly, I do not like Maliki or Allawi and have many question marks about both of them. I am also very sure that the ordinary citizens share my opinion.
    But what other better choices did the citizen have apart from abstaining from voting all together?
    Both Maliki and Allawi won their votes based on their perceived Iraqi nationalistic credits, specially their promise to protect the citizen from the atrocities of local or provincial clan and mafia.
    I think they both failed the Iraqi voters by not having the decency of putting aside their personal interests and cooperating in the service of the country.

  46. Kermanshahi said

    There were a lot of rumours and false claims which were made, Reidar. Remember, Ayad al-Samarra’i was saying that Allawi had gone to Iran and got their approval as Prime Minister around election time. As for Barzani, I don’t the Iranians have much influence over him (they have a bit over Talabani and Nawshirwan – but even there, they put their own interests first), he was never really pro-Allawi (because he is Kurdish Nationalist, Allawi is Arab Nationalist and they don’t go to well together) and he isn’t very pro-Maliki right now either, he’s pretty much uncommited and waiting for acceptance of Kurdish demands.

    As for Iraqiyya quoting Iranian influences, this is nothing abnormal. Most Ba’athists still use the old policy of Saddam Hussein of using Iran as scapegoat for all Iraq’s problems (al-Maliki uses his coalition partners for that) and try to rally people around them with anti-Iranianism. So Maliki get’s backing of more Iraqi parties than they do, what do they say? They blame Iran, as always. But despite the hostility from certain elements of Iraqiyya, al-Maliki is still a far greate threat to Iran and to Iranian influence in Iraq.

  47. Does anyone here think the Kurds could hold off on announcing their position until after Dec. 5th – the new deadline for conducting a census?

  48. Kermanshahi,
    You repeated your assertion that Maliki is great threat to Iran, I don’t know what brand of cigarettes you smoke but Iraqi politics change, he may have been a threat to Iran at one stage but I don’t think many people will agree with your assessment now. Maliki is not a reliable threat or friend to anybody, I think you will agree.

  49. Kermanshahi said

    Faisal Kadri,
    You say al-Maliki was at one point a threat to Iran, now he is not anymore, this is true, but what you forget is al-Maliki has no ideology, he has no allegiance, he just does what is needed to get power. Right now he feels he needs to be more secterian and that he needs to be more friendly with Iran because the secular, (somewhat) anti-Iranian bloc: al-Iraqiyya has established itself as his main opponent, so he needs support of secterian, Iranian alligned parties. So what happens after al-Maliki has got the crown he’s chasing? Iranian interests, Kurdish interests, Sadrist interests, go out of the window and he does whatever he himself feels like. It was a great mistake from the Iranians, the Sadrists and the Kurds to back him as Prime Minister the first time and particulary Iran has lost a lot of it’s influence due to him, now is the only time to undo this.
    The Iranian leadership is smart, they have learned very well from their lessons from the past, it’s not easy to fool them, credit to al-Maliki for outsmarting them once but I do not think it’s a coincidence that Iraq’s most pro-Iranian party is still opposing his Prime Ministership.

  50. Reidar Visser said

    “Iranian interests, Kurdish interests, Sadrist interests, go out of the window”

    That doesn’t sound too bad, eh?

  51. Kermanshahi, Reidar,
    Guys, you got it all wrong, Iran’s interests are not in danger. You forgot one little thing: Maliki is only an individual, HE is in danger!

  52. Kermanshahi said

    It might not sound to bad Reidar, but this is why the Iranians want him out of power at (almost) all costs (only to prevent a Maliki-Allawi alliance would they have been prepared to accept his second term). Meanwhile you seem to forget the Sadrists and the Kurds are also Iraqis, and together they represent a larger portion of the Iraqi people than al-Maliki does.

    Also this idea the Arab Nationalists have, that you should always hate Iran and be enemies with Iran, just for the sake of it, it not going to be in the best of Iraq’s interests.

  53. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, we are just arguing for different visions for Iraq so it’s natural that we disagree: You prefer a decentralised Iraq organised according to ethno-religious criteria; I prefer a federation of two parts (KRG and the rest) with a non-sectarian governing formula in Baghdad. The big irony is that while parties paying lip service to my vision won the election and those favouring your ideas lost (regardless of your special counting rules!); your parties (the Kurds and ISCI) are dominating the government-formation process because my favourites hate each other. Well done!

  54. Santana said

    Kermanshahi-

    The hatred of Iran is for a reason- it’s not like myself or others like me woke up one day and said- “let’s hate Iran” ! Their actions and evil meddling (and I emphasize evil vs other meddling) is just too much…they are doing their best to export the wilayet al-faqih and control the region. How can we be “nice” about that? How do we convince them to stay the hell out?? They even raise hell about small crap like video screens on Arab Airlines like Emirates and Gulf Air and Kuwaiti Airways and warn them NOT to show “Arabian Gulf” on the screen maps and change it to Persian Gulf….ok…it”s a small point but shows their audacity.
    I wish them the best and they are welcome to come to Iraq and whip themselves to death on Ashura…this is not the problem…it’s their support for terror groups like JAM, Assaeb Al-Haq, Hezbollah Iraq, Al-Qaeda (YES !! believe it or not)…and trying to control Iraq just like their pervasive presence in Lebanon is BS….next after Iraq is Bahrain, then Kuwait…I just wanna scream into Ahmedenejadi’s face to leave us all the F alone !!!!!!!!!!!!

  55. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, I am secular but as I said before I only sympathise more with Islamic parties becuase the secular movements, in all Middle Eastern countries are so extremely racist. Those who you see as Iraqi nationalists, are infact Arab nationalists, working for Arab interests, it’s no coincidence that they are all Arabs and so is their entire support base, the only difference between people like them and people like Barzani and Talabani (Kurdish nationalists) is that they want all of Iraq under Arab rule while opressing others, while the Kurdish nationalists, say you do whatever you want in your own area, we want control over our own area and people.
    I also supprot a federation of two areas, it’s clear enough by now the Sunnis and Shi’as don’t want to divide and since the Kurds do, these opinions should be respectd. The difference is, you seemingly believe the border of the KRG and the rest should be based on artificial governorate borders which were drawn by Saddam Hussein and which he has modified many times when it suited him, and on their population 50 years ago. While I believe it should be based on the current population and which areas are Arab majority and which areas are Kurdish majority.

    Santana, you have insulted the Shi’a faith many times before and as a Sunni you seem to completely agree with Shi’a opression where ever, not caring for the Shi’a as human beings and even going as far as lying through your teeth that there is no Shi’a opression in Saudi Arabia. If Iran sends support to fellow Shi’as being opressed by Sunni dictatorships in Iraq (1919-2003), in Bahrain, in Saudi Arabia, in Yemen you see it as a negative thing because it threatens Sunni dominance (which has always been with a lot more intolerance than Sunnis in countries led by Shi’a), but it is infact not a negative thing. You have also already previously said you love the Americans and want Iraq to be an American puppet state, you think that Iranian support to Iraqi and Lebanese resistance groups fighting American and Israeli occupiers is a negative thing, but most people in the Middle East don’t share those views.
    Now the war is long ago, Iran’s racist Pahlavi regime is long gone, Iraq’s racist Ba’thist regime is gone, what we have seen since positive moves towards friendhip and brotherhood by the Iranian Islamic Regime and certain Iraqi Islamic Parties, which can lead to a cooperation and alliance in benefit of both nations. But there are still certain Sunni extremists which want to make unnececary enemies due to their bent religious views and certain Ba’athists which still want to continue animosity, based on their racism and would like to continue that failed war of theirs whenever they’re capable of doing so. Sadly, some Iraqi Shi’a have also been influenced by this.

  56. Santana said

    Kermanshahi-

    Everything you said about Iran and their good intentions is baloney…..the only truth you told is that I want good relations with the U.S…..actually..I want more !!….here’s the bomb..ready??..(drum roll….) I would love for Iraq to be the 51st State !!!!! It will never happen but my God the Iraqi people would live in absolute bliss !!!!! and here’s where you and I differ…I care more about Iraq and it’s people than you ever will…time to move on to the next posting.

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