Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Askari Repeats Accusations of a Plot to Unseat Maliki

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 29 December 2008 23:59

It seems significant that Sami al-Askari, a close confidant of Nuri al-Maliki, today repeated accusations to the effect that the ethno-sectarian federalists of the Baghdad parliament (KDP, PUK, ISCI, and a reluctant IIP) had plans to try to vote the Iraqi premier out of office. This conspiracy theory was first articulated by ousted parliamentary speaker Mahmud al-Mashhadani some days ago, when he suggested that he was forced out because he stood in the way of a vote of no confidence in Maliki.

Askari made his comments during a meeting in Nasiriyya. They are important because they highlight the ideological convergence on some issues between the nationalist 22 July forces and Maliki, who increasingly speaks a centralist language. However, so far this convergence has not been reflected in any political realignment in Baghdad, and Maliki’s electoral coalition for the provincial elections remains quite narrow and sectarian in its composition, with the Daawa as the dominating force. It seems likely that Maliki prefers to wait for the local elections results before contemplating any new political alliances at the national level. For their part, many of the components of the 22 July forces, including Shiite parties like Fadila, continue to express concern about the relatively close relationship between several of the Daawa factions and Iran.

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