Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for September 11th, 2008

Hakim’s Insincerity on the Local Elections

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 11 September 2008 0:00

In a strange series of comments given to the Iraqi news agency Aswat al-Iraq, Ammar al-Hakim highlights the importance of holding early provincial elections and seems to forget that his own party, ISCI, has been at the forefront of attempts to derail those elections. First, back in February, ISCI along with the Kurds fiercely resisted the insertion of a timeline for elections into the provincial powers law. Subsequently, after having been defeated by a parliamentary majority on the issue, ISCI tried to use the presidential veto to avoid elections. More recently, ISCI has continued to complicate the parliamentary deliberations on the elections law itself through continuing to demand the right to use religious symbols for campaigning purposes. In a remarkable statement in the most recent interview, Hakim refers to the “timeline for elections laid down by the Iraqi constitution” – surely he must know that there is no timeline for local elections in the constitution.

Perhaps sensing a degree of pressure from the higher Shiite clergy, Hakim now tries to present ISCI as an advocate of early elections – unsurprisingly, he now blames the very parties that demanded elections in the first place for trying to obstruct them! This refers to the demand by a majority of Iraqi parliamentarians that pending elections in Kirkuk, and as part of the elections law, there should be some kind of shake-up in the local administration there in the direction of greater power-sharing between the various communities. This demand reflects a widespread desire among Iraqi parliamentarians to challenge the hegemony of ISCI, the Kurds and Maliki in dominating Iraq’s politics – a hegemony which came under threat when the provincial powers law with the timeline for elections was adopted back in February, but which has since been restored through heavy-handed action (often with US support) against political enemies of all shades, in many cases on the pretext of vaguely defined “security” concerns that have yet to result in formal charges against those targeted in the operations.

In the interview, Hakim is less bullish than ever before on the idea of forming a big Shiite region. This time, he merely refers to the constitutional provisions on the subject, which leave the issue to popular grassroots initiatives.

Posted in Iraqi constitutional issues, Shiite sectarian federalism, UIA dynamics | Comments Off on Hakim’s Insincerity on the Local Elections