Iraq and Gulf Analysis

More Alternatives for Kirkuk Emerge

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 26 October 2009 10:44

The outcome of yesterday’s meeting in the political council for national security devoted to the stalemate on the elections law appears surprisingly positive, at least if statements by the Hiwar parliamentarian Muhammad Tamim to the Sumaria television station can be taken at face value.

According to Tamim, three alternatives for Kirkuk were discussed. The first involves a reversion to the electoral registers of 2004, which predate controversial increases in the numbers of voters that took place in 2005. The second alternative would reportedly divide Kirkuk into two electoral districts; crucially, however, this would not be on the basis of ethnic or sectarian identity. Rather, a distinction would be made apparently between voters who actually live in Kirkuk and those that are just registered there – and the results from the second constituency would count towards the so-called “national” (compensatory) seats that account for 10 to 20% of the seats in the Iraqi parliament and are awarded during the counting process to provide greater proportionality at the national level (Tamim in this case simply distinguishes between min sukan Kirkuk and min ghayr sukan Kirkuk). Finally, the third alternative would postpone elections in Kirkuk until the elections registers have been carefully scrutinised.

In sum, here are three compromise alternatives for Kirkuk that all eminently mediate between the original bargaining positions. None of the proposed options would in any way enshrine ethnic divisions in the city. The main worry now relates to the conflicting stories about what should happen next. According to Tamim, the Iraqi presidency, on the basis of yesterday’s deliberations, will have the job of presenting a consensus package to parliament for a vote. However, Ayman al-Asadi, another parliamentarian, talked about sub-committees and more meetings in the political council for national security, something that could easily drag on for a long time.

Yesterday’s terror attacks in the heart of Baghdad mean that there is increasing tension in Iraqi politics and a greater need than ever to agree on an electoral law. With the emergence of three sound alternatives for Kirkuk there really is no excuse for Iraqi politicians to postpone this process any further.

3 Responses to “More Alternatives for Kirkuk Emerge”

  1. Alexno said

    It is interesting that a critical point in the discussions on Kirkuk is taking place at a moment when a major bombing event occurs. I always thought there was likely to be a connection.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Could be purely accidental of course, and it is difficult to speculate about this from a distance. But one cannot help notice how the two latest major bomb attacks have also coincided with crucial junctures in the Maliki–Hakim relationship. The previous one in August took place only days before the declaration of the Iraqi National Alliance; this one follows shortly after Hakim in numerous media interviews reiterated his invitation to Maliki to join the Shiite-led list – according to the Buratha news agency the two men also had a meeting in the evening on 24 October, on the eve of the explosions. Regardless of who may be behind the bombs, it seems clear that one effect of all of this is that Maliki gets reminded about the sectarian alternative favoured by Iran.

    Another remarkable coincidence is that Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, the ISCI preacher, a few days before the explosions very publicly criticised the government for letting Baathists have a role in the security services. Now those same accusations are being repeated by Sadrists like Baha al-Aaraji as well as by Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress.

  3. bb said

    According to the IMIE reports on the voting registers for the constituional referendum, there were 81,297 registrations in Tamim that were excluded for irregularities. This parcel of registrations had come in suspiciously (my word) in the last 2 days before the lists closed.

    For the Dec 05 elections these votes were restored in what the IMIE called a “complentary list” so that eligible voters who were able to prove their bona fides were able to vote.

    So I am wondering if this is similar to the second alternative that is apparently being proposed?

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