Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Claiming Nothing Has Really Changed, Fadila Rejects the Offer to Rejoin a “Reformed” UIA

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 17 July 2009 23:59

After weeks of speculation that their party was headed for reunification with the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) in a supposedly new and nationalist incarnation of the Shiite bloc, Fadila leaders have now publicly said they have no such intentions. Both Hasan al-Shammari and Basim al-Sharif have said that the political programme and the overall orientation of the UIA remains the same as it always was, and that Fadila is continuing to seek other partners on a nationalist and non-sectarian basis.

At the same time, however, the driving force behind the reunification, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), seems to be making headway on two other tracks that could prove more consequential in the long run. First, its campaign to terminate dialogue between Nuri al-Maliki and secularists of various calibres (including supporters of the former regime) seems to have produced results. Whereas Maliki only months ago talked about “alliances” (in the plural), these days he, too, seems more focused on the issue of how to revamp “the alliance” (in the definite singular form, meaning the UIA). Second, reports out of Tehran suggest that Muqtada al-Sadr has met with Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, also for the purposes of revitalising the Shiite alliance. If confirmed, this would be another partial victory for ISCI, even if local Sadrist leaders in Iraq keep talking about “preconditions” and “reservations” regarding the sectarian orientation of the UIA.

In an attempt to clear up the confusion between real cross-sectarian alliances and sectarian alliances with quasi-nationalist appearances, Rashid al-Azzawi, a member of the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), in an interview with Al-Sabah al-Jadid has made the point that any new credible national coalition should include established parties from both sides of the sectarian divides (instead of being a mere collection of parties from one side with some added figureheads of the opposite sect). For his part, fellow party member (now ex-member) Nur al-Din al-Hiyali is apparently trying to take a page out of the Mosul-based al-Hadba’s playbook by launching a locally focused nationalist movement, the United National Association for Nineveh Governorate, which will work to preserve the governorate’s territorial integrity in the context of challenges from the Kurds. This approach proved to be a vote-winner for al-Hadba in the January local elections, and it might turn out to be a safe bet for a cluster of seats in the upcoming parliamentary elections too.

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