Iraq and Gulf Analysis

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

For Sale: Al-Iraq (Market Update)

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 29 October 2010 12:28

This week has seen some interesting comments to the press by the Kurdish politician Mahmud Uthman on the progress of the discussion of the Kurdish demands, plus a meeting last night of the all-Shiite National Alliance. Both items put us in a better understanding to understand supply and demand mechanisms related to the auctioning-off of a country called Iraq, expected to take place over the coming weeks.

Venue: The souk in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government. It is interesting that some limited reactions to all this Kurdish king-making business are beginning to materialise in the rest of Iraq, with some calling for the event to take place in Baghdad instead. However, most Iraqi politicians don’t seem to care. A preparatory meeting is scheduled for Sunday.

Condition: Some wear and tear but still an incredible potential. Iraq is be auctioned off in pieces: Most buyers totally adore the piecemeal approach. The sellers have a lot in common but hate each other too much to establish a cartel; accordingly it’s a buyer’s market.

Time: TBD, but interested buyers are expected to hang around all next week and probably longer.

Main international participants: Iran, Turkey. The US delegation has been delayed due to the 2 November midterm elections but has expressed a strong interest; it is expected to show up some time next week.

Sellers:

1. ISCI. “We sell everything”. Has agreed to all 19 demands presented by the buyers and would readily give more. Ideas to consider if there is competition from other sellers:

20. The principle of balance should be adopted with regard to the issuing of postage stamps and coins, with due representation of all the components of the Iraqi people.

21. The foreign ministry should be abolished and be replaced by the Supreme Federal Commission of Foreign Policy, with sub-committees consisting of representatives of the regions and governorates affected by foreign policy questions.

22. The government is automatically considered resigned if the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government one morning wakes up and feels a preference for a change in government. In keeping with the principle of democracy and the inviolable basic tenets of Islam, this option applies to weekdays only. If the president wakes up with this feeling on a Friday or Saturday, he must either stay awake until the next weekday, or, if he elects to go to sleep again, must wait until the feeling resumes on a weekday.

Whereas ISCI has specialised in customer satisfaction – “the customer is always right” – a problem relates to its real share of the market. At yesterday’s meeting of the National Alliance, both Fadila and Badr representatives were present, meaning that the rump of ISCI may be no more than 10 deputies. That means the potential combination of ISCI, Iraqiyya and the Kurds could be less than the 163 deputies needed to clinch a deal.

2. The National Alliance. According to Mahmud Uthman, the NA agrees to 18 out of 19 of the buyer’s conditions, excepting the Kurdish demand that the government be considered automatically resigned if the Kurds detect a violation of the constitution (this they do quite often). The main problem relates to trust. The NA politicians have said these things in the past and have failed to deliver. For that reason, the Kurds are still interested in maintaining links with a group of suppliers. It is noteworthy that Iran is interested as a  “single buyer” for Iraq if NA is the supplier; if this does not work it would prefer something involving as much decentralisation and administrative weakness as possible.

3. Iraqiyya. So far, the only group to present certain limited objections to the buyer’s conditions. According to Uthman, these relate to the Kurdish demand that Baghdad finance the Peshmerga militia; article 140 on disputed territories and the Kurdish demands for keeping the presidency. The two first of these are eminently understandable, but the third is not. Iraqiyya is committing a major mistake by insisting on the presidency since it will be a powerless office until a change of its constitutional prerogatives has been confirmed by a referendum, by mid-2011 at the earliest. If the Kurds want it for symbolic power, Iraqiyya should give it to them and instead focus on real issues. One glaring lacuna, of course, is opposition by Iraqiyya to the draft oil and gas law, which in its current shape, if adopted, might signify the death of Iraq as a recognisable state entity. Still, they may of course opt to rely on parliamentary opposition to the bill, which will probably be massive once a debate on its contents gets going.

The conundrum for the Kurdish buyers: Abd al-Mahdi/ISCI/Iraqiyya may be more prepared to stick to the letter of any deal, but there are problems relating to the ability to deliver (i.e. number of deputies in the parliament) and technical and logistical issues (the false premise of the legality of enhancing the powers of the presidency without a referendum, which is constitutionally impossible.) On the other hand, Maliki and the National Alliance may be in a better position to deliver, but to what extent they will provide the desired quality and live up to buyer expectations is a different matter.

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35 Responses to “For Sale: Al-Iraq (Market Update)”

  1. After factoring in the sloppiness of the US position, I hope Allawi will take a decision for Iraq, not the US.

  2. Thaqalain said

    I didn’t knew you are an economist, a financial adviser. I like the way you presented the present scenario, but being a journalist you must honestly expose who are real brokers , who really broke Iraqi integrity, Whose powerful Engine is gearing Iraq? Who are really on the ground and gaining profits? Who are spectators and they are waiting to see a clear sky? Who is going to take , provide Guarantee, Warrantee, Liability in this big booming business bonanza of Burning Baghdad, Basrah, Babul?
    Do you think Americans will leave Iraq for Iraqis after investing trillions of dollars in war& warfare industry?

  3. Jason said

    Reidar, smart post.

    Faisal, I have no idea what you are talking about. The U.S. is totally preoccupied with who is going to be running the U.S., not Iraq.

  4. Jason said

    It is positively astounding how these negotiations for ruling power seem totally divorced from their purpose of representation of the will of the Iraqi people, and the very concept of “government by the people.” Is this an inherent weakness of the parliamentary system, or will the peoples’ interest reassert itself when parliament finally convenes?

    Thaqalain, yes, if Obama didn’t fear the political consequences of a total collapse in Iraq he would already be long gone.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, I wouldn’t fault parliamentarism as a genre of democracy. Rather this has to do with the particular way the Iraqi parliamentary elections played out this year. De-Baathification instead of issues prior to 7 March; post-election bloc formation in disregard of messages sent to the voters; and now contempt for the electorate by so-called nationalist parties who bluntly compromise their own principles.

  6. bb said

    Clever souk analogy on the surface but the premise of this post perplexed me, now I realise why: I am not comfortable with the ethno-racist inference that the arab parties are “selling” Iraq to the Iraqi Kurds and that the Iraqi Kurds are “buying” Iraq.

    It is the other way around, of course: ie the arab parties are bidding to buy Kurdish votes in order to put themselves in government and the Kurds are negotiating the best price for the sale. That’s what happens in all democracies when a coalition is being formed.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Bb, ostensibly both Maliki and Allawi are seeking to uphold the idea of centralised government in Iraq (that’s what they promised their voters anyway) and yet they are giving up their centralism to win the Kurdish vote with the confederalist agenda that comes with it (instead of talking to each other). Hence the “selling”.

  8. observer said

    reidar,
    I think you off mark when you state that Allawi is FOR centralized Iraq. Allawi, as far as I know, is a believer in decentralizing services but centralizing defense, oil, water, and power. He is a free market guy through and through and is for privatization of state owned industries and companies.

  9. Reidar Visser said

    Yeah, I suspected that but it is good to have it confirmed in writing. Still, I think a lot of Iraqiyya voters (and quite a few of the non-Wifaq politicians) would have felt deluded if the above policy statement had been read out in public as representing the essence of Iraqiyya’s policy.

    Secondly, if he is for centralising oil, water, power (?) and defence, why is he signing up for the oil and gas law and the national security council scheme?

  10. Zaid said

    Something that’s probably relevant to this discussion is the latest news that Goran has apparently withdrawn from the Kurdistan Alliance, which would bring the Alliance’s total number of MPs to under 50 MPs.

  11. observer said

    reidar,
    My words should not be taken as an official rendition of Allawi’s position. It is just my understanding. As any politician will tell you, nothing is set in stone and the exact position on any given matter can be changed within a certain range or can be changed entirely to fit coalition building.

    As to why he is signing on this or that scheme, well he will have to state his position, but i suspect that creating coalitions requires some flexibility which can be done if there is an over arching agreement that makes the dispute over this or that part of the law moot..

    Power is electric supply, which has to be controlled/managed centrally for efficiency’s sake.

  12. alexno said

    Reidar

    I only know Iraqi politics in general, and not in detail. I was wondering about the consequences of an agreement with the Kurds on all or most of the 19 points. It is clear that Maliki, or others, if they reach power by agreement with the Kurds, would want to walk back on the agreement later, in order to conform to traditional Baghdadian centralism.

    How much would they be forced to conform to? How much could could they put off to the parliament, which might eventually vote no?

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Since many of the Kurdish demands relate to action by parliament rather than by government (law on Kirkuk referendum, passage of oil and gas law etc.) it should be fairly easy for Maliki to rely on parliamentary opposition to some items and then just shrug his shoulders as far as the Kurds are concerned. It would be some kind of echo from early 2008 when his centralist agenda on the provincial powers law was basically pushed through parliament with the help of the opposition.

    It all just serves to underline the essentially unrealistic nature of the Kurdish demands.

  14. alexno said

    Are there in fact any of the Kurdish demands, that Maliki, if it were he that is elected Prime Minister, or others in the same situation, could not circumvent, by referring the question to the parliament?

  15. Xenophon said

    Reidar,

    “Since many of the Kurdish demands relate to action by parliament rather than by government (law on Kirkuk referendum, passage of oil and gas law etc.) it should be fairly easy for Maliki to rely on parliamentary opposition to some items and then just shrug his shoulders as far as the Kurds are concerned.”

    But a government implies a parliamentary majority (unless these items require more than a simple majority.) Presumably, the current delay in negotiations represents a Kurdish demand for a public up-front guarantee by each member of the prospective governing coalition that, on the issue of Kerkuk at least, they will vote for the census, etc per the Kurdish demands? As Kermanshahi has repeatedly suggested, if there is a concession on the Kerkuk question, the other issues could probably be finessed.

    This may be “unrealistic” but regardless, it consistutes a Gordian knot. Without an ironclad concession by NA or Iraqiya on this point, don’t we need to start examining the following questions:

    1. What does the Constitution say about the holding of a new election to resolve the situation wherein an election does not result in a viable governing coalition?

    2. What would the results of a new election held in, say, the Jan-Mar 2011 timeframe look like in comparison to those of 2010?

  16. Reidar Visser said

    Alexno, Maliki’s responsbility would be to introduce the relevant bills to parliament. The peshmerga demand would be part of the budget etc.

    Xenophon, yes it is true that the Kurds would like the bloc of the premier to guarantee adherence to the programme, but it is unclear how that kind of “pubblic guarantee” would work legally. I don’t think any deputies that changed their mind could be dragged to Arbil for prosecution to put it that way.

    Parliament can dissolve itself based on an absolute majority with fresh elections after 60 days. A smart politician would make them into a referendum on the 19 Kurdish points.

  17. Reidar,

    Where in the constitution is that supported? (the dissolving of parliament based on absolute majority). Just curious.

  18. Reidar Visser said

    Mahmoud, that’s in article 64 below. This is also the only way of transforming the current government to a true caretaker government unless the government is voted out by a regular vote of no confidence in parliament.

    لمادة (64):
    اولاً :ـ يُحل مجلس النواب، بالاغلبية المطلقة لعدد اعضائه، بناءً على طلبٍ من ثلث اعضائه، او طلبٍ من رئيس مجلس الوزراء وبموافقة رئيس الجمهورية، ولا يجوز حل المجلس في اثناء مدة استجواب رئيس مجلس الوزراء.
    ثانياً :ـ يدعو رئيس الجمهورية، عند حل مجلس النواب، الى انتخاباتٍ عامة في البلاد خلال مدةٍ اقصاها ستون يوماً من تاريخ الحل، ويعد مجلس الوزراء في هذه الحالة مُستقيلاً، ويواصل تصريف الامور اليومية.

  19. Xenophon said

    Reidar: “…it is unclear how that kind of “pubblic guarantee” would work legally. I don’t think any deputies that changed their mind could be dragged to Arbil for prosecution to put it that way.”

    Yes, no doubt you’re right, and the “19th point” is the more likely insurance policy for the Kurds.

    So it seems as though it might be possible that, depending on how the incentives for the various parties develop, going forward, the Iraqi political system might be unable to muster a governing majority on the one hand and a majority in favor of dissolution on the other and, consequently, be unable–for a further extended period of time–to move either forward (to a government) or backward (to a redo of the election).

  20. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, I think you are being very synical about a positive development in which is a minority who’s lands were invaded and occupied and who were discriminated, opressed and massacred by hundreds of thousands are finally recieving their rights in Iraq, through democratic process (well, somewhat democratic, since the elections were not completely free and since the way of seat-division was extremely undemocratic).

    Also the different attitudes of the different groups have to do with different things and cannot be viewed in the same way. ISCI as anti-Saddam group fought the dictator (Saddam), alongside the Kurds for decades and now he is gone are willing to share the power with them where in both sides get what they want, no hostility.
    Al-Maliki, wants to be the new Saddam and for him to achieve this objective he is willing to do anything for anyone, or at least lie to them in order to get their backing while he still needs them. (BTW, he does have the power to pass Kerkuk referendum law, all he needs to do is order his own coalition’s deputies to vote yes and they’ll easily have a majority)
    The Iraqiyya are ex-Ba’athists, they are Sunnis which were in the regime with the old Saddam while he was cleansing Kerkuk (and they’re doing their best to stop this from being reverted), most of them still have the old Ba’athist hostility against Kurds, however moderate elements are willing to put the old grudge aside to save everybody from al-Maliki.

  21. Jason,
    I hope the US will always be “totally preoccupied with who is going to be running the U.S., not Iraq.” It is events when the US starts talking when it ought to shud up that makes me think: With friends like that who needs enemies? I discussed an instant recently on this blog when the US put a red line over the participation of the Sadrists and effectively pushed their votes away to Iran.
    Another aspect of policy I don’t like is the lack of change regarding Iraq; Obama was elected on a platform of change, his position was Multilaterlalism yet the US is still alone in Iraq. I believe the US should have the UN “moral shield” and should involve Security Council nations to oversee the political process (census and the elections), otherwise it will be easy for Iran to squeeze the will of Iraq against the US.

  22. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, a couple of problems for your scenario. Losing Goran right now, isn’t good, is it, since the Kurds turning to Allawi involves a greater need of extra seats than the Kurds turning to Maliki, right? And then you need to subtract those Iraqiyya “extremists” that you refer to who are not prepared to give up Kirkuk and northern oil.

    It all goes back to the point that decentralisation did not win this election. If the Kurds turn to the genuine decentralisers then they won’t have enough seats; if they turn elsewhere they will not get what they want in terms of decentralisation.

  23. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, Gorran lost the election and they lost badly with 8 seats to the KA’s 43 seats (while this move will lose them even more votes). Without Gorran the CKL has 50 seats, Iraqiyya has 88 setas without the ITF and ISCI’s bloc of the INA has 26, so a total of 164 – so it really doesn’t matter. They’ll be able to get the 5 Christian MPs to join anyway (which makes 169), which can compensate for Gorran and when this government is formed, the rest of the INA will probably defect back (+ extra Maliki elements), which can compensate for Iraqiyya defectors.

    To the point of decentralisation losing. Decentralisation lost among Arabs, it won among Kurds. Does this give the Arabs the right to impose their views on the Kurds? Because that is not democracy, it is racism. But at least the Iraqi law and constitution allows the people of the regions in question, to decide for themselfes (if they want decentralisation), through referendums, rather than letting people from other regions force their will upon them. Infact there is even an article 140 in the constitution for it. Problem is that al-Maliki for the past few years thought he could ignore the constitution, violate whatever laws he wanted and the Kurdish parties are therefore trying to now form/join a government which is not like that.

  24. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, there are some problems with your “ISCI’s bloc of the INA” at 26 seats. 6 of those are Fadila which recently declared themselves in favour of Maliki. 11 are Badr, whose leader Hadi al-Amiri participated in the recent NA meeting. That leaves ISCI with 9 seats, so your numbers don’t add up.

    No one is suggesting to reverse decentralisation for Kurdistan (but, as Goran points out, the KRG itself is pretty centralised!) Anyway, it is the imposition of decentralisation on the rest of Iraq by ISCI and the Kurds that is losing popular support.

  25. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, even if Fadhila did withdraw they can still easily get a majority with the Christian seats (and that’s without the ITF) and than Tawafuq would much rather join the Kurds and ISCI + a bloc filled mainly with fellow Sunnis than al-Maliki and al-Sadr. The loss of those 8 seats really doesn’t change that much except harming Gorran’s position inside Kurdistan.

    Now although there is no Arab Iraqi politician or party which is directly calling for the abolishing of the Kurdistan region, yet, some of these parties are however trying to reduce the power of the KRG over it’s own territory and are opposing Kurdish autonomy as a whole, wanting this only to count for 3 provinces, which were created by Saddam and citing Saddam’s provincial borders as a reason why certain Kurdish areas which were added to Arab provinces by Saddam should not get autonomy (as if the provinces are holy or something and have more value than the people themselfes, while in reality they were just just drawn by some dictator and changed loads of times), while on top of that trying to stop a democratic referendum on the status of the 4th Kurdish majority province which they have every legal right to hold because they do not want the population of Kerkuk to chose for itself, instead they want to enforce their will on the population of Kerkuk and all disputed territories (basicly all Kurdish territories outside those 3 provinces), not allowing them to chose for themselfes.

    Now the Kurds have militarily the upper hand and can seize Kerkuk and all of it’s oil whenver they want but they are infact giving the Arabs a chance to choose the peacefull solutions they are offering. If elections are however going to be used to isolated Kurds and violate their rights than this is a recipe for war.

  26. Reidar, Kermanshahi,

    First, Fadhila has not yet joined Maliki, are are still against the process (or lack of one) that led to Maliki being nominated by acclamation. Though Fadhila may rejoin Maliki, as reports indicate the Kurds are likely to choose Maliki over Iraqiya and ISCI.

    Second, Badr has 8 seats, ISCI has 10 seats, Fadhila has 6 seats. Can we agree with those figures?

    Third, though Gorran’s withdrawal certainly weakens the Kurdish position, it really doesn’t take away the “kingmaker” status away from Arbil.

    Iraqiya (91) + KBC (49) = 140 seats

    * The difference can be made up from ISCI, Fadhila, Badr, Tawafuq, Unity of Iraq.

    SoL (89) + Ahrar (40) + Jaafari + Chalabi + KBC (49) = 180 seats

    In the end it all doesn’t matter, whomever the Kurds choose, you should see defections from all kinds of places bandwagoning to the nominee.

  27. Mohammed said

    Reidar:

    Do you seriously believe that ISCI will really join up with Iraqiya? This is all a ploy to try to get State of Law to sack al-Maliki.

    Ammar al-Hakim was raised in Iran, and all of his connections are there (he has far more connections to Iran than al-Maliki). I agree with Kermanshahi that Iran doesnt particularly like al-Maliki. But their dislike of al-Maliki is neglible in comparison to having a neo-baathist Iraqiya taking over Iraq. There is no way Iran will allow ISCI to really join up with Allawi.

    If Allawi wins, then Saudi Arabia wins, and Iran loses. Not going to happen. And the idea of Adel Abdul Mahdi being the premier of a joint group where ISCI has about 10 seats and Iraqiya is the dominant faction will mean that he is just a puppet. Iran would not stand for that.

    People may cringe about the idea of Iran’s meddling, but it is cold hard reality. And as Observer said, the Saudis are just as engaged as the al-Quds brigades. The only difference is that the Saudis only wished that they had the level of influence Iran has. In the end, this is going to be about Iran and the USA settling on a government that they can both tolerate (Allawi as head does not satisfy that equation). Maliki (who has to pledge to the Americans that he will not be too dependent on Iran probably does satisfy that equation).

    The Kurds/Barzani should just throw their support to whoever the USA supports since both Iraqiya and State of Law seem to be stumbling over themselves to please the Kurds.

  28. Kermanshahi said

    Mahmoud Abassi, I thought ISCI had 9 seats, Badr had 9 and Hezbollah 1 which gave the ISCI-bloc 19 seats and with support of Fadhila and the Shaykhi MP the ISCI led part of the INA would number 26 seats, meanwhile the KBC without Gorran numbers 50 seats because of 1 of the minority seats being a Kurd (+ a Yezidi Kurd, but he didn’t want to join) and they have support of the 2 Christian parties which together have 5 seats in parliament, so together with Iraqiyya this is 169 seats, 166 if the ITF leaves Iraqiyya (which they said they will, if an alliance is formed with the Kurds)

    Mohammed, 5 years ago when the 130 seat INA, where ISCI and the Sadrists were the dominant factions (togetherabout 65 seats) elected Maliki (who’s faction of Da’awa had only 13) as Primeier everyone thought he would just be a puppet – which was a big mistake from the Iranians, al-Sadr, al-Hakim and al-Jaafari. Today they won’t make that kind of mistakes, the PM is very important, even if his bloc is not as large. The Iranians can tolerate Iraqiyya in a government with the Kurds and the INA if Adil Mahdi is PM. They can however not tolerate a government run almost completely by al-Maliki. He’s been bad enough as it is, if they choose him again he’ll not only be PM but would have by far the biggest bloc in the government. The Iranians favour the Kurds joining the Iraqiyya-ISCI alliance, meanwhile the Americans, which a multi-ethnic/secterian government, which, if possible, doesn’t include the Sadrists. They would by far prefer an Iraqiyya – ISCI-INA – Kurdish government which would have 45 Shi’a, 69 Sunnis (if the ITF leaves) and 50 Kurds, rather than an al-Maliki – Sadr-INA – Kurdish government which would have 132 Shi’a (excluding US-friendly ISCI and including US-unfriendly Sadr which they would rather have excluded), 1 Sunni and 50 Kurds, besides they wanted Adil Mahdi as PM in 2005/6 in the first place, when Sadr was trying to re-appoint Jaafari and then both sides eventually settled for al-Maliki.

  29. Jason said

    The only thing that keeps Iraqi politics from being so horribly depressing as to be completely intolerable is to assume that all this protracted bickering is a substitute for what otherwise would be a ghastly, bloody civil war. How’s that for seeing the glass as half-full?

    What impact will a Republican takeover of Congress have on Iraq policy? It’s very hard to say since Iraq concerns have totally dropped off the map in the U.S. If Obama follows a “Clinton Strategy” of triangulating to the political center, it’s possible that might entail staying engaged to ensure that Iraq succeeds. If so, he could expect greater support (even pressure) from a Republican Congress.

    On the other hand, I don’t believe that foreign interventionism is part of Obama’s philosophical profile. His pacifist base may desert him if he does not give them some red meat, which could come in the form of dropping Iraq like a hot potato, especially if he remains stuck in Afghanistan. Then there is the matter of the Secretary of Defense. The only reason Robert Gates was kept on is because Obama was seen as weak on national defense. Gates has held Obama up to the task, but there are growing cracks in the relationship and rumors that Gates may resign, which could lead to a precipitous collapse of Iraq and Afghanistan policy. My best guess is that Obama will further increase pressure for a quick and convenient “armistice government” to justify a total withdrawal from Iraq before campaigning gets under way for the 2012 Presidential election. He will support whichever candidate appears to have the best chance of success, even if that means selling out to Iran.

  30. Here is a prime example of the speed of developments now. The following news just came out almost simultaneously:
    Talbani agrees to step down for Allawi to take over presidency. and Iraqiya informs Kurdish leadership of its acceptance of Talbani’s presidency.
    Come to think of it, both could be right, and positive.

  31. Reidar Visser said

    I think the one with Blinken asking Talabani to give up the presidency to Allawi is the more credible one. However, the articles fail to address the key question: What will they do with the presidency? It would be madness for Iraqiyya to accept it in its current shape, and there is nothing Blinken can do to change the powers of the presidency – only a special majority in the Iraqi parliament with the consent of the people in a referendum can do that.

    Mahmoud and Kermanhahi:

    الفضيلة يعلن تأييده للمالكي والأخير يؤكد عقد جلسة البرلمان خلال ايام

    الشمري: نحن جزء من التحالف الوطني وسندعم المالكي لتشكيل الحكومة

    Fadila just confirming its support for Maliki in two separate reports tonight. Meanwhile Iraqiyya keeps talking mainly about an alliance with ISCI:

    انتصار علاوي ترجح إعلان التحالف بين العراقية والمجلس الأعلى قريبا

  32. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, Fadhila has been reduced to an insignificant party, their few seats won’t make such big difference, any government can still be formed with or without them.

    As for Talabani giving up Presidency in favour of Allawi, if true, it means 2 things. First of all it means Iraqiyya has compromised elsewhere to such extend that Talabani would be willing to give up this position, the only thing that comes to mind which is that important is the referendum, so it comes down to Allawi trading Kerkuk for the Presidency. It also means now the PUK loses the Presidency of Iraq, not just Faud Masum becoming Parliamentary Speaker but some concessions by the KDP within’ Kurdistan. I expect Talabani to still get an important position, possibly he’ll succeed Barzani after his term expires.

  33. I agree that Fadhila is an insignificant party, especially at this point. As for the numbers, Kermanshahi, I believe ISCI/BADR is 18 total, and I am sure Badr is 8 seats. And I think Reidar agrees that Hizbullah in Iraq is 1 seat. I agree with you on the number of Christian MPs. But why is the Kurdish bloc 50, and not 49? If Gorran has 8 seats out of the 57 total in the Kurdish bloc, their withdrawal should result in 49.

    As for the new development, Reidar, is there any other way to make a constitutional amendment other than 216 votes in parliament and a public referendum? What I mean, is there any loophole you can see around changing the powers of the presidency? If this is the case, Allawi needs Sadr’s support, which I don’t think will be a problem. Some concessions will have to be made, though.

  34. Reidar Visser said

    Mahmoud, I don’t have access to my lists of INA right now but am pretty sure the total i 18, roughly half and half, plus one compensation (Hammudi), plus Hizbollah in Iraq. At any rate, what we are talking about is the fate of the *roughly* ten Badr deputies in all of this.

    The more important issue is the one you bring up to an end. No, there is no other way. Except article 142, but that would mean a full batch of consitutional revisions (only a partial report available so far), which could be adopted by 163 deputies; however there would once more have to be a referendum, and any 3 governorates rejecting the changes with a two-thirds majority No vote could torpedo everything.

  35. Kermanshahi said

    Mahmoud Abbasi, as Reidar said, it’s roughly half on half and personally I don’t believe there is a major difference between ISCI and Badr (cause the whole creation of the Badr political party was just a trick to make the Badr Brigades legal), and they won’t split. As for the Kurds, the Kurds, Listi Kurdistan won 43 seats, Listi Gorran 8, the KIU won 4, the IGK 2, so 57, but there are a total of 59 Kurds in parliament. Two of the minority seats were won by Kurdish candidates, I am talking about the Shabak and the Yezidi seats. Both were asked to join the new large Kurdistan Alliance and the Shabak joined, the Yezidi refused unless certain demands would be met, at least, this was reported on Kurdish news when they announced the alliance, so this gives the new Kurdish bloc 58 seats, 50 now Gorran left. Now as we know the Kurds have long been alligned with both the Assyrian/Chaldean parties which together have 5 seats in Iraq’s parliament (and note how both are also represented in the KRG) and one of their leaders even announced that he would join the Kurdistan Alliance if they were invited to and that he would join a government if the Kurds do. 91+19+50+5=165

    As for constitutional change, the 216 seats and the Sadrist support. I believe that if al-Iraqiyya, ISCI and the Kurds manage to form a government, the NA will collapse. Most (if not all) of the INA would join, giving them 165+51=216 seats and I think it’s likely that some SLC elements would also join, giving them about 230-250 seats, and Tawafuq will join too.

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