Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Parliament Closed until Sunday; Deadline for Forming Coalitions Extended

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 12:01

Ayad al-Samarraie has issued a statement to the effect that the search for consensus solutions to the crisis over what to do with Kirkuk in the elections law has not yielded any results and that parliament will not meet again until Sunday. Some press reports indicate an agreement to involve the so-called “political assembly for national security”, which is basically another closed-door gathering of the leaders of the biggest political parties that dates back to the sectarian atmosphere of June 2006, and whose constitutional status is unclear. Attempts by UNAMI to intervene have so far failed to produce any results, and if stories about a proposed 51/49 per cent Kurdish/non-Kurdish quota-sharing agreement for Kirkuk are indeed correct (as reported by Sharqiyya television, among others) then they are also headed in the wrong direction: this would enshrine ethnic divisions instead of exploiting the considerable potential for inter-ethnic dialogue that exists at the grassroots level in Kirkuk, where many Kurds are fed up with their political leaderships.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi elections commission has reportedly extended the deadline for forming coalitions (which originally expired today) also until Sunday 25 October. There is now major pressure on the “third way” forces of Iraqi politics to come up with something material in this respect. Last week’s re-launch of the Tawafuq bloc seemed unimpressive, sectarian and rather confirmed its isolation, and the long list of small parties added to Iraqiyya contained mostly the usual suspects whose prospects as standalone entities are highly limited. There is much talk of the imminent establishment of some kind of front involving those “in the middle” but so far few concrete results except the Bulani–Abu Risha alliance which has already existed for some weeks (and which today reportedly had a string of new members, including Abd al-Ghaffur al-Samarraie, a prominent Sunni cleric, added as part of a formal launch under the name Unity of Iraq Alliance).

2 Responses to “Parliament Closed until Sunday; Deadline for Forming Coalitions Extended”

  1. Ali said

    I am not sure if you caught Dr.Allawi’s interview on “Inside Iraq”, but he quite frankly blamed the delay in the elections law on “sectarian factions”. What do you make of this?

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, I think there could be something in this, at least with respect to some of the parties in the new Shiite-led Iraqi National Alliance. But it has to be said that the Sadrists at least have seemed quite sincere in trying to move towards a vote – and a transparent one. On the other hand, ISCI and some of its allies have in practice been leaning more in the direction of prolonging talks forever, with constant calls from their leaders for the political leaderships to get together. They are of course supported in this by the Kurds.

    To some extent you can understand their detractors who claim that the current focus on “primaries” in the ISCI camp (copied from the Sadrists) is a publicity stunt that removes attention from what is going on in parliament. I was watching ISCI television on Tuesday and it was quite remarkable how they refrained from broadcasting the parliamentary session and instead focused on talks between Hakim and Talabani and endless reports about the rather hastily convened primaries in the governorates.

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