Iraq and Gulf Analysis

One Shiite Aliance, Two Shiite Alliances, or a Real Inter-Sectarian Alliance?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Sunday, 9 August 2009 18:35

The amazing range of divergent public statements about the revival of the UIA between May and today seems to suggest that no one is completely in control of the situation. For several weeks, Daawa (Tanzim al-Iraq) members have been circulating rumours to the effect that the 2005 line-up minus Fadila would come together again and that a new political programme had already been agreed upon. Last week, two different Sadrist statements emerged, one suggesting that the re-establishment of the UIA under a new name (the National Iraqi Alliance) was imminent, another saying more negotiations were needed. Predictions about the exact timing of the process have also varied: Some participants in the process have been adamant that a joint declaration would emerge during last week’s Shaabaniyya pilgrimage; others maintain that nothing will be made public until November or at least will have to wait until there is an election law.

Meanwhile, intra-Shiite relations have been disturbed by the $7 million bank robbery in Baghdad’s Karrada district last month. Initially the affair was blamed on “insurgents” but it has since emerged that people rather closer to the centres of power were involved as offenders, including a member of the security detail of Vice-President Adil Abd al-Mahdi. This has once more caused tensions in the Daawa-ISCI relationship, with opponents of ISCI even suggesting that the robbery was part of a scheme to boost the party’s finances ahead of the next parliamentary elections. ISCI, for their part, are reportedly furious with the interior ministry (headed by independent Jawad al-Bulani and considered closer to Maliki) for having “exaggerated” the role of Adil Abd al-Mahdi’s people in the plot, by blaming it “exclusively” on his guards instead of admitting that “only one” of them was involved… While the incident has not received a lot of attention in the Western press, it was certainly a serious one, with seven Iraqi security guards killed.

Today, a previously unknown political movement fronted by one Khalid al-Yawir and claiming support in the Sunni-dominated governorates says it has formally allied itself with Maliki. At the same time an ISCI statement suggests that the “new” UIA coalition will be announced on Thursday and will include “some Turkmens and Kurds”. In their current configurations, neither of these two schemes seems particularly promising in terms of real inter-sectarian rapprochement between established political heavyweights, although the Maliki-Yawir alliance could be interesting if it should translate into more widespread cooperation with the awakening forces.

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