Iraq and Gulf Analysis

A Dead Heat: The 95 Percent Count

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 22 March 2010 10:53

It seems is will take another week before we will have the final uncertified results (Friday is mentioned as a possible release date), so in the meanwhile, here is a prognosis based on the 95% count, this time with compensation seats added:

Percentage counted INA SLA INM Unity of Iraq Tawafuq Kurdistan Alliance Other Kurdish
Basra 97 7 14 3
Maysan 98 6 4
Dhi Qar 97 9 8 1
Muthanna 98 3 4
Qadisiyya 97 5 5 1
Babel 96 5 8 3
Najaf 98 5 7
Karbala 97 3 6 1
Wasit 99 4 6 1
Baghdad 95 16 27 24 1
Anbar 94 12 1 1
Salahaddin 95 10 1 1
Diyala 94 3 1 8 1
Nineveh 94 1 21 1 1 7
Kirkuk 90 6 6
Arbil 95 10 2+1+1
Dahuk 96 8 2
Sulimaniya 93 7 6+3+1
Total + compensation (C) 67+2C 90+2C 91+2C 3 4 39+1C 8+6+2

***Excluding 8 minority seats. 1 seat in Babel corrected from INA to INM.

The picture is more or less identical to that presented previously for the 66% count. State of Law (SLA) and Iraqiyya (INM) are still neck and neck, but with INM’s lead now reduced to one seat.

For unclear reasons, the international media keeps reporting the race as if the total number of votes nationwide or the act of “winning” particular governorates (i.e. by coming first) were of immense importance. For example, a recent AFP report reads, “The latest partial results, released Saturday, showed al-Maliki’s secular Shiite challenger, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, leading by a slim margin over the prime minister’s coalition in the overall tally. However, al-Maliki is winning in seven of Iraq’s 18 provinces, which is significant because parliament seats are allotted based on the outcome of voting in each province.” The truth is that none of this has any significance whatsoever. Under Iraq’s system of proportional representation, the sole relevance of the national total is to compute the 7 compensatory seats, and it is the proportion of seats in each governorate that counts, not the question of who comes first (for example, in Qadisiyya, INA looks set to “beat” SLA with a few hundred votes and yet they will both get 5 seats each). Maybe this strange reporting is a result of Anglo-Saxon and Westminster ideals of majoritarian democracy still exercising a certain influence!

The only plausible explanation for diverging predictions at this stage lies in the question of how to compute the second allocation of seats in each governorate, the so-called “vacant” seats that remain after each entity has been given a number of seats based on the initial calculation in which its votes are divided by the electoral divider (all valid votes divided by available seats). Now, the fourth part of article three in the amendments to the electoral law that were passed last autumn says these remaining seats are for “winning entities that received a number of seats (‘adad min al-maqa‘id) in the initial allocation”. Several Iraqi legal experts say this means you need to have won more than one seat (rather than “any number of seats”) to take part in the second allocation, reflecting the bias towards larger parties in Iraq’s variant of PR. However, this aspect is not spelt out in detail in IHEC regulation 21 on the distribution of seats! It does make a difference, since Tawafuq would “steal” around 3 seats from Iraqiyya under a more proportional method of distribution in which 1-seat entities are allowed to take part in the second allocation (Iraqiyya would in turn win one seat in Wasit, though, at the expense of SLA, creating a tie). Failure to take into account this aspect may explain the fact that some Western estimates tend to put Tawafuq higher and Iraqiyya lower, whereas the IHEC numbers fed to the Iraqi political entities so far seem to be more in accordance with the numbers presented above and hence a more majoritarian reading of the relevant legislation.

Alternative allocation:

Percentage counted INA SLA INM Unity of Iraq Tawafuq Kurdistan Alliance Other Kurdish
Basra 97 7 14 3
Maysan 98 6 4
Dhi Qar 97 9 8 1
Muthanna 98 3 4
Qadisiyya 97 5 5 1
Babel 96 5 8 3
Najaf 98 5 7
Karbala 97 3 6 1
Wasit 99 4 5 2
Baghdad 95 16 27 24 1
Anbar 94 11 1 2
Salahaddin 95 9 1 2
Diyala 94 3 1 8 1
Nineveh 94 1 20 1 2 7
Kirkuk 90 6 6
Arbil 95 10 2+1+1
Dahuk 96 8 2
Sulimaniya 93 7 6+3+1
Total + compensation (C) 67+2C 89+2C 89+2C 3 7 39+1C 8+6+2

***Excluding 8 minority seats.

96 Responses to “A Dead Heat: The 95 Percent Count”

  1. Ali Wasati said

    Hi Reidar, what would happen when all the results are in, and both Maliki and Allawi have the exact number of seats allocated? Who would lead the next government? Would it depend on who the rest of the parties choose to align with, or would the IHEC choose the party which has the most votes?


  2. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, one thing is certain: IHEC would *not* make the decision. The total number of votes (as opposed to seats) has zero implications for the parliamentary dynamics, period. Under this scenario, what would likely ensue would be a semantical battle about who has the largest bloc or “kutla” (the definition of which changes all the time as parliamentary blocs are formed and re-formed) and therefore the right to nominate the PM – a battle which in practice is likely to be won by those parties that can agree on a presidential candidate.

  3. Ali Wasati said

    I see, so the Kurds once again with the INA will most likely be the kingmakers in this situation, which then most likely would mean that Maliki would come to power.
    Thanks Reidar

  4. haider said

    hi reidar,

    Maliki is accusing the iraqiya list of fraud, do you think there is any truth to that accusation, is it possible that someone can manipulate the IHEC system from the inside?


  5. Reidar Visser said

    Haider, I must say I find the idea that Iraqiyya should be able to manipulate IHEC to be somewhat unrealistic. IHEC is dominated by Shiite Islamists, Kurds and Tawafuq. The Kurds and Tawafuq would surely have protested if there had been suspicion related to Kirkuk or the Sunni-majority governorates.

  6. Ali Wasati said

    I personally dont think so Haider, although I’m a Maliki supporter, i beleive that all Iraqi politicians are not mature enough to accept defeat. All of them are claiming fraud whilst the international monitors state that there has not been any evidence to show that systamatic fraud on a large scale has occured.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, regarding your point about government formation above and the idea of SLA/INA/Kurdistan getting back together again, which is being talked about a lot. I’m just unsure whether the Kurds are truly comfortable with Maliki. Look at this recent (yesterday) picture of Barzani and Allawi; when was the last time we saw this kind of dialogue between Barzani and Maliki?

  8. Ali Wasati said

    Reidar, surely the INA would have some influence with the Kurds. Would INA really want to be apart of a government lead by Allawi when they can have Maliki. An Alliance between Kurds and Allawi would still leave them without enough seats to rule, the next government would still either require INA or SLA. And also the arabs of Tamim voted for allawi in order so he does not give kirkuk to the kurds.

  9. Gösta Grönroos said

    Noticeable that INA and SLA would get 162 seats according to the above prognosis. The Sadrists will no doubt play a key role in shaping the future government. By the way, thanks Reidar for an excellent blog. A lot of confusion in the main stream Western election reports.

  10. Iris said

    Reidar, do you have any idea why it takes so long to count those votes? Especially because it seems there are computers involved in the counting. I’m puzzled…

  11. Jason said

    The Western reporting is just extremely lazy, and controlled by Lefty journalists who really don’t care about Iraq. They’re too busy shilling for ObamaCare.

    Does your prior breakdown of the INA seats still hold?

  12. JWing said


    The election results are entered into a computer two separate times. They are then checked against a margin of error. If they are beyond that they need to be re-entered. The results are then manually checked. According to the BBC their computers have crashed several times.

  13. Ali Wasati said

    Reidar, any news about whether Mithal Alusi and Iyad Jamal Al-Din have won any seats?

  14. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, pretty sure neither of them will get anything. Some of their best results were in Baghdad where they got 17,000 and 12,000 respectively, which is less than half way towards the electoral divider of around 35,000. Jamal al-Din did not even do well in his home province of Dhi Qar (less than 6,000 votes).

  15. Rachel Schneller said

    Hi Reidar,

    Thank you for your excellent analysis. I agree that number of governorates won and total number of votes is scarcely as significant as our media is making it out to be. However, it is significant that Allawi could become the next PM, while having done fairly abysmally in the southern Shia south. An Allawi government would have the mirror of Maliki’s problems: Maliki does well domestically but has alienated Iraq from a number of its neighbors. Allawi would be well-received internationally but would have a hard time appealing to Shia in the south.

  16. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, I haven’t had time to redo the INA analysis (and probably won’t until the uncertified results are released in full), but just to give an example from Bagdhad, the Sadrists there are continuing to do well and in fact have improved their position somewhat so that they now occupy 12 of 16 INA seats.

    Rachel, many thanks for that, I would still emphasize that Allawi is doing better south of Bagdhad than Maliki is doing in the north + also I think many Allawi supporters in the south may have been too intimidated by the de-Baathification campaign to engage politically in the weeks leading up to the vote. In many places a raw witch hunt dominated the final weeks of “campaigning” and thousands were under the threat of losing their jobs in impromptu de-Baathification rampages. This is the “silent” impact of the Lami/Chalabi plan.

  17. John Measor said

    “Maybe this strange reporting is a result of Anglo-Saxon and Westminster ideals of majoritarian democracy still exercising a certain influence!”

    Absolutely!! The media domination by American and Anglo- reporters is evident in the inability to grasp the idea of PR let alone the fluid Iraqi variant. This was evident in campaigns to adopt PR electoral laws in Canada just this past year. Reporters couldn’t explain it so people ebbed in their support for the concept.

    One aspect I am unclear upon is the ability of candidates to shift their seat following the final announced results. If a candidate received substantial (i.e. ~ 35,000) declared votes personally shifting seems well within reason. However, a number of candidates appear about to be elected due to their affiliation with a particular party or list rather than their personal standing – on what authority are they allowed to shift in government-forming deals? Are they only limited by party discipline at that point (which clearly is not mature itself)?


  18. Reidar Visser said

    John, there is nothing in the legal framework that ties a candidate to a particular entity. Defections were frequent in the previous parliament. The only limiting factor would be any pacts made between the prospective deputies and their entities.

  19. Wayne White said

    This data and accompanying analysis are invaluable, Reidar.

    In fact, the question many people are mulling over now is why Maliki would embark on an extraordinarily threatening challenge to the vote when the combination of SLA, KA & INA seats, in various combinations, still could be cobbled into an anti-INM coalition of considerable clout.

    Yet, clearly Maliki has become so wedded to power exercised more unilaterally and without the need to consult closely with rival Shi’a elements that this course apparently was viewed as anathema by him. More practically, one might speculate that preliminary post-election consultations with, say, INA leaders–who themselves attempted to shove Maliki out of the picture prior to the vote–revealed sufficient hostility as to make such an alliance rather unpleasant for all concerned.

    Sadly, after much doubt from various quarters, it would appear that IHEC conducted as dispassionate a count as could be expected under the circumstances, with INM scoring well–despite efforts on the part of Maliki especially to harrass & intimidate potential INM voters, reduce the potentially more significant INM vote from abroad, and perhaps some out and out fraud here and there.

  20. Reidar Visser said

    Wayne, many thanks, that’s an interesting point. I sense that it was difficult for Maliki to give up his dream of the “strong majority government” he talked so much about prior to the elections (and which I increasingly suspect was conceptualised as consisting of an imaginary 140-strong SLA bloc in happy symbiosis with a coterie of harmless micro-minority representatives). Maybe what we are hearing today in the way of complaints are the last gasps of that project. At the same, time, though, it seems clear that the SLA/INA/Kurdish process is talked about a lot more today than only a few weeks ago, and Iran apparently supports it.

    It is interesting that INA cannot quite seem to make up its (or rather “their”) mind(s) about which camp to join, including in the IHEC question, where INA representatives have so far been less outspoken (they are reportedly quite influential inside the commission – some say more so than Maliki).

  21. Rachel Schneller said

    Whoa nelly! Neither Maliki nor Allawi are doing well at all in the Kurdish regions. So Allawi is doing better in the south than Maliki in the north because Allawi, a Shia, is getting some support from some Shia in the south, while neither one is getting anything in the north. And in the south, the Kurds are doing as well as the Shia in the north- that is to say, not well at all.

    I am surprised that Maliki’s State of Law did not do better in Diyala.

  22. Reidar Visser said

    Rachel, this does not relate to Kurdistan at all. Few Iraqi politicians believe non-Kurdish parties have any chance there. The comment relates to the difference between Allawi who is able to get more than 10% in most governorates south of Baghdad and at the same time more than 50% to the north of it (excepting Kurdistan), whereas Maliki gets 1% in Anbar, Mosul and Kirkuk. Is that a good basis for a second premiership?

  23. Jason said

    Just an observation, but either an INA/INM or INA/SLA combination would be within 1 or 2 seats of being able to completely shut out the Kurds.

  24. Rachel Schneller said

    Reidar, you are right that Maliki would face much difficulty in a second premiership. However, I think it is a little misleading to talk in terms of percentages of governorates. This creates the impression that all governorates are equal. Maliki gets 1% in Anbar, but demographically, Anbar represents about 5% of Iraq’s population. What happens in Anbar is unlikely to ever decide the future nature of the Iraqi government, anymore than Alaska voters will determine the outcome of a US election. Allawi got about 70,000 votes in Basra, but 700,000 Basrawis rejected Allawi’s secular unity platform and voted for SoL or INA, solid Shia religious parties. Even if Allawi wins by a fraction, there are going to be a large population of disgruntled Shia in the south. This is also not a good basis for starting a premiership.

  25. Reidar Visser said

    But can a US president survive with zero support in both Florida (Mosul) and Iowa (Kirkuk)?

  26. Joel Wing said

    What provinces Maliki did good or bad in doesn’t really have any bearingon whether he should be prime minister again. With the fragmentation of iraq’s parties there was never going to be a popular mandate to rule by any candidate. Who rules will be determined by who puts together a coalition. I mean did Jaafari and Maliki have any widespread support when they came into power? There’s a possibility that the major parties will be deadlocked again and a third contender will have to be picked for prime minister, Is how they did in Anbar or Ninewa really going to matter in that decision?

  27. Zahra said

    I agree with Rachel on this point, but also with Reider to a certain extent. I think Maliki would have to go to drastic measures to bring in some of INM’s winning candidates in Anbar, Diyala, Salahuddin and Ninevah. That would probably be extremely difficult in reality, especially given these are the very same personalities that are causing the INM difficulties with the Kurds.

    Wayne, with respect, I disagree with your analysis. The reason why winning is so important to the SLA is because they have interpreted the Iraqi constitution as stipulating that the bloc with the highest number of seats (before the formation of the post-election blocs) would be assignmed with forming the government. They therefore would see it as INM’s right to nominate the prime minister, and only if he fails to gain a majority vote in parliament would another bloc be assigned with this task. So in case INM win, a SLA/INA/KA bloc would be the secondary bloc which is only tasked with the formation of the government after a month passes on INM’s failure to secure a majority vote in parliament. That process would be very messy indeed.

    Also, you say “clearly Maliki has become so wedded to power exercised more unilaterally and without the need to consult closely with rival Shi’a elements that this course apparently was viewed as anathema by him.” Do you really believe Maliki exercised that much unilateral power, when he was heading a national unity government in which he had no say over the choice of ministers, and where he has to rely on a hostile parliament to pass laws essential for the government to carry out its tasks? I do believe he resorted to ‘temporary’ orders passed to get things done while parliament did everything it could to lead the government to fail.

  28. Ali said

    jason your right, i dont see why the INA + SLA + Tawafuq/INM cant just create an alliance without the kurds.

    Reidar in regards to Rachel’s comments, as a shia i’m extremely worried that if Allawi forms the government then we will see the re-emergence of the baath party.

    When Allawi was prime minister, the worlds biggest theft occurred, Shalaan the ex defence minister stole £1 billion, yes billion. And the non-baathist shias were easily assasinated, especially those who worked in the interior ministry during his time, because many baathist who were working within the ministries still kept their links with the baathist insurgency.

    IT would be a black day for the shia arabs who have been repressed for 1400 years to once again give back our hard earned empowerment due to lack of unity by our politicians. Allawi would concentrate on reconstructing the suunni areas who are richer already than the shia areas as a reward for voting for him, whilst the south that produces all the oil will still go on living in poverty.

  29. Rachel Schneller said

    It’s more like Allawi won New York and California but lost Texas.

  30. Bruno Mota said

    Would it be feasible for Maliki to lure back Jaafari’s Dawa dissidents (how many seats did the get, btw?), thereby pushing SLA ahead of INM?

  31. Reidar Visser said

    Bruno, interesting point, the problem is, Jaafari’s list has perfromed poorly so there really isn’t that much to fish for.

    Ali, as a historian I just object to this “1,400 years of repression” business which is a myth fabricated by exiles. Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis have a record of peaceful coexistence in which Shiite culture managed to develop through the centuries. Similarly, you contrast “Sunni areas” without oil and “Shiite areas” that have oil, which again is misleading. There is almost no oil in Najaf, Karbala, Babel and Qadisiyya. In the real world more or less all the oil is in Basra and Shiite Najafis are pretty envious of their “co-religionists” in Basra for this reason. To me, an argument about the next government that is draped in this kind of fiction immediately loses some of its relevance.

  32. Ali Wasati said

    Reidar, I too have studied the history of Iraq. We the shia of Iraq have only had a few years of power in the last 1400 years, mainly under Iranian shias. We have been marginalised politically and economically under the Ottomans and after the official creation of Iraq in the 20s.

    True we peacefully coexisted, my family are half a sunnis like most Baghdadis. However we still never had sensitive jobs in government and generally we have been poorer due to lack of infastructure.

    As for Najaf and Karbala since the war they are one of the most affluent cities in the south due to religious tourism.

    You have to understand Reidar that our wounds from Saddam have not yet healed. We still fear the baathist and Sunni domination. To have someone who will be Prime minister that represents the Sunnis only is very scary. We have a complex, and rightfully so.

  33. Reidar Visser said

    But that distinction between “repression” and “marginalisation” is quite important I think. Marginalisation can be reversed and that should enable Iraq to function as a multi-sectarian democracy.

    At any rate, there is news this morning that Abbas al-Bayati talks about a joint SLA/INA committee to unify the two Shiite blocs, so maybe that’s where things are heading…

  34. Gösta Grönroos said

    I’m not surprised by the news of attempts to unify SLA and INA. We may suspect strong Iranian leverage. But here’s a query: what are the main concessions the Sadrists would demand from Allawi in order to join a INM/Kurdistani government?

  35. Ali Wasati said

    I guess you are right, oppression was only in the last 35 years not 1400, before that there was marginlisation.

    I hope this will happen. Thankd Reidar, i have nothing but respect for your views.

  36. Ali Wasati said

    There seems to be a talk about Allawi not being able to put himself as a Prime Minister due to his mother being Lebanese, which in the Iraqi constitution states the the parents have to be Iraqi.

    The biggest joke is that Hashemi wants the premiership.

  37. Reidar Visser said

    Gösta, difficult question because the Sadrists exhibit the whole spectrum from pro-Iranian to anti-Iranian and the former will do their utmost to hold on to a pan-Shiite alliance. The others I assume would be interested in assurances and clarity re the process of US withdrawal plus perhaps some major concessions that affect large groups of disaffected people, such as victims of the Iran-Iraq war, teachers and homeless people, as well as targeted improvements of infrastructure in the poorest areas of Baghdad and Basra.

    Ali, thanks, I do think it is particularly important to keep the long-term perspective in mind when we discuss the future of Iraq!

  38. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, sources familiar with the Allawi family history say his mother, despite her Lebanese origins, held Iraqi nationality papers. It is my impression that historically, members of the upper class in Baghdad have very often chosen wives from Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, and I think a large number of the premiers of the monarchy era had non-Iraqi mothers.

  39. Zahra said

    I know that debaathification is probably the single most controversial policy in post-war Iraq, and I know that this is partly due to the very difficult procedural issues that it entails (who should carry it out, how etc.). This has of course given the pro-Baathist lobby a lot to work with, but doesn’t change the call for justice through prevention, and the compelling reality that staunch Baathists should not be trusted in public office.

    I think Western commentators trivialise the prospect of Baathist distortion of democracy or the prospect of Baathists highjacking the process and reverting to authoritarian rule. Iraqis who fear this and work actively against it are presented as paranoid conspiracy theorists. But why wouldn’t the thuggish elites of the Baath party seek to re-establish their rule in any way possible? they have realised that the insurgency and terrorism will not work, so why not use the democratic process? Al-Mutlak openly praised the Baath party and its leadership just weeks before his removal, and Zafir Al-Ani even went as far as describing genocide in Anfal and the blooding quelling of the uprising as achievements. These are the secular nationalist figures that Allawi decided to run with, so what are we supposed to make of him?

    It is easy to read Allawi’s ability to bring together Sunnis and Shiites as a great achievement in over-coming the Sunni/Shia divide in Iraq. But that fails to see that this is not the only, nor the most important, fault line in Iraqi politics. In my opinion, there is the more important pro-Baathist and anti-Baathist divide (with all the different disagreements about speicific policy vis-a-vis debaathification). I am not at all suggesting that all those who voted for the INM are pro-Baathist, because the INM also had a very powerful media campaign to present itself as nationalist and its main rival, the SOL as sectarian. Mutlak accused Maliki of being sectarian in the same interview in which he praised the Baath party. Once he was banned, he presented himself as the voice of the Sunni people and blamed Maliki for his removal, despite the fact that those responsible were actually running in the elections with the INA. Allawi too constantly accuses Maliki of being sectarian.

    There is also the separate but related issue of Allawi being represented in the western and arab media as advancing the secular nationalist cause (and this in the mind of many uncritically equates to being liberal and democratic), with Shiite Islamists being accused of being all the opposite things: iliberal, undemocratic and inherently more susceptible of turning into Iranian puppets, despite the length of the struggle of some of them against Iranian influence. Wasn’t Saddam Hussain a secular nationalist? It proves absolutely nothing.

    I don’t think that Allawi has done anything to this date to prove his democratic credentials. He has always spent much more time and money persuading the western and arab world that they should put their faith in him than has the Iraqi electorate. This is perhaps because people in Najaf threw shoes at him when he tried to address them in the last election?? I find his history very worrying in terms of his commitment to democracy. For example, how do you view his attempts in the 90s to affect a coup against Saddam, with western and arab backing, in which he gets to become the replacement? Not exactly inspired by democratic principles, is it? And what of Ali Allawi’s claims that he tried to persuade the US administration in 2004 that Iraq was not ready for democracy and that they should therefore settle for him as a fair and pro-western dictator? The only think that Allawi has, which Maliki doesn’t have, is a very powerful lobby in the West and an excellent PR company!

    All in all, the west may trivialise Iraqi fears that the Baath party may attempt to highjack the democratic process, but they can’t present us with a shred of evidence that staunch Baathists, familiar with coups and assassinations are not doing their very best to regain power in Iraq. No a single leading Baathist has offered any kind of apology for the harrowing oppression that they put Iraqis through, not a shred of remorse for their own involvement, nor have they displayed their commitment to democracy. And people in the west question are right to be scared??

  40. Reidar Visser said

    Zahra, I am not sure whether I am able to follow your logic correctly here. Are you suggesting that measures should be taken against Iraqiyya because the remaining leaders (after de-Baathifications) were friends with people who were themselves de-Baathified, i.e. collective guilt? Is “being friendly with ex-Baathists” really a sound basis for political exclusion?

    Also, does a candidate really need to “prove his democratic credentials” as per your suggestion above? What has Bayan Solagh done to pass this exam? Should it not be the other way around, that everyone has the right to be a candidate unless proven guilty in a specific crime that can be defined according to an existing piece of legislation?

    I think the reason that the stance of Iraqiyya in the 1990s is not so much debated is simply the fact that most forces in Iraqi politics at that point were engaged in subversive activities against the regime one way or another, and the Kurds and ISCI/Badr would come in for far more criticism because of the Iran/Iraq war and the much higher number of Iraqi casualties related to their activities.

  41. Ali Wasati said

    Reidar, you have to try to see it from Zahra’s view and mine. I have family taken by the secret police and they have never been found. without a doubt there bodies remain decomposing in the hundreds of mass graves that have been found. They dont have a grave for their children and family to vist.

    How can you ask me, someone who as a child was woken up in the middle of the night by my mum’s crying saying good bye to my dad whilst she is putting food in his bag so to escape the secret police, that i should respect/accept Iraqia whos leaders have openly praised the Baath party.

    How many baathists have apologised, how many have condemned saddam, how many still participate in the killing of Iraqis.

    I have said this before, try democracy can only emerge when the baathis and wahabist terrorists are crushed, and therfore we would no longer fear them.

    Please Reidar, see it from our point of view.

  42. Reidar Visser said

    I try, and I conclude you need to put in place a legal framework for handling the transition from authoritarian regime to democracy in Iraq instead of pointing the gun at any person you suspect of being a Baathist, in which case you would be no better than the previous regime. The de-Baathification process so far has been farcical and has made a mockery of the idea of due process.

  43. Jason said

    Reidar is right about the need for due process. It is the difference between sound government and mob rule. In the US it carries many components: right to notice of the charges against you, right to a trial before an unbiased tribunal, right to confront and cross examine one’s accusers, etc, etc. And the same rules should apply to Baathists and to the Badr death squads and Sadr thugs.

    But the point is also taken that the energy and resources allotted to enforcement will depend on who is in power.

    Reconciliation will not occur without tremendous pain, but not so great as the pain of returning to civil war. It has been close to 150 years since the end of the American Civil War, and there are still people who get emotional about it.

  44. Mike Knights said


    you’re the go-to guy as ever. Thanks for the analysis.

    I have been operating under the assumption that INM had a structural flaw that made it less capable of forming a government; namely that one large segment of its seats (al-Hadba, somewhere around 17-20 seats perhaps) would probably not accept an alliance with the Kurdish parties.

    First, do you think this is true? Is al-Hadba inimically opposed to an alliance with the Kurdistan Alliance?

    Second, do you think this does represent a significant structural flaw, preventing INM from drawing on the full range of potential combinations if it is called to take the first shot at forming a government?

    In a recent Washington Institute event, my colleague Scott Carpenter mused that a coalition without a Kurdish component was distant but unsettling prospect. I feel the same way, espeically now that it may be a less distant prospect. Not only does Kurdish involvement in a government cement the diversity of a coalition – perhaps keeping a lid on the extent of ethnic tensions – but it saves us from the horrible prospect of seeing directly competing Shia politicians trying to climb over their egos to form a stable government, which would probably take twice as long as a deal that had forty Kurds at its centre. Would you agree? Does “Kurds in” make for faster government formation than “Kurds out”?

    Of course, if al-Hadba and the Kurds could share in the same coalition, that might be a very good thing in Nineveh, and indeed Kirkuk considering the INM-Kurdish split there.


    Mike Knights

  45. Reidar Visser said

    Mike, thanks for the input. I am not sure if I see any fundamental problem with regard to the role of Nujayfi inside Iraqiyya. I think we need to remember that ever since the 1960s the former regime was prepared to strike a deal with the Kurds and it is just a question of finding the right formula. Any disadvantages from having Nujayfi aboard I think are cancelled out by the personal relationship between Allawi and Barzani, which is good, and superior to anything Maliki has been able to establish.

    The big difference this time is that the Kurds will understand that if the negotiations fail they may end up getting excluded altogether (which was unrealistic in 2005) and hopefully this may lead them to present more moderate demands.

  46. Ali Wasati said

    Jason, when Mutlaq spoke well of the Baath, that es enough for him to be banned. Please keep in mind the 300 mass graves so far discovered, and that human beings are in them. Members of my family and other families.

    No one would have been allowed to be a part pf the West or East German administrations if they praised the Nazi party. Thats it. I really dont see what the fuss is all about.

  47. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, I think I am repeating myself too much here, but the fuss is due to the fact that there is no law implementing article 7 of the constitution – which outlaws glorification of the Baath but which also disallows political mobilisation based on racism and ideas of sectarian cleansing. If implemented it would make hundreds of Shiite and Kurdish politicians eligible for exclusion.

    Can we please revert to the original subject of coalition formation? Or do you want to do another round of additional de-Baathification without any reference to existing laws?

  48. Reidar,
    Reverting back to the subject of coalition forming I don’t see any alliance or formula as long lasting, what will happen if a vote of no confidence succeeds after a short time?

  49. Reidar Visser said

    Faisal, my guess is that all the various coalition schemes that are floating around are aimed at the 170 mark so that they have a little bit of margin and can prevent your scenario from happening…

  50. Ali said

    Going back to the subject, I cant see a formation of a new government without allawi, I mean that would essentially mean no representation for 95% of sunnis that votes. At the same time, I cant see SLA or INA forming the next government with allawi with his rhetoric. I really think all bets are off, no one knows whats going to happen.

  51. Jason said

    Reidar, you seem optimistic about a settlement on Kirkuk that will prevent that issue from interfering with coalition-building or governing with the Kurds. I’m curious what brings you to this conclusion. I have heard a great deal of animosity from other Iraqis about Kurdish annexation plans. Some Iraqis seem to have such strong feelings that it seems possible even to unite Sunni and Shia arabs in opposition. Have I misread that sentiment?

  52. Jason said

    Ali, what makes your observation interesting to me as an American is that under our system half of all Americans have zero representation whatsoever in the executive branch. The whole idea of shared executive function is foreign to us.

  53. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, I don’t think “optimistic” is the word. It is just that, precisely as you say, sidestepping the Kurds altogether is possible this time, which in turn means Kurdish leaders need to moderate their demands somewhat if they wish to stay relevant in the political process.

  54. JWing said

    As of now I would agree with Mike. Al-Hadbaa will object to any concessions to the Kurds. Najafi just made a statement about that today or yesterday.

    Right now State of Law, the SIIC, and the Kurdish Alliance look to be a lock to be a coalition. Sadr said he won’t accept Maliki so that’s a big problem. There are rumors that State of Law is trying to get some members of Allawi’s coalition to break away and join them as well.

  55. Mosa Yasser said

    Dear Reidar,

    I have calculated the seat allocations and I think you may have made a mistake. There are a few parties who are competing for the minority-compensatory seats, like the Christian lists, etc. When calculating the total number of votes in each province, I believe the votes for these lists is excluded. They are only included when calculating the minority seats (the national ones and the provincial specific ones). Please correct me if I am wrong, but on that basis I get the following results:

    المحافظة دولة القانون الوطني العراقية التوافق
    بغداد 27 16 24 1
    البصرة 14 7 3 0
    ذي قار 8 9 1 0
    ميسان 4 6 0 0
    المثتى 4 3 0 0
    القادسية 4 5 2 0
    واسط 5 4 2 0
    النجف 7 5 0 0
    كربلاء 6 3 1 0
    بابل 8 5 3 0
    صلاح الدين 0 0 8 2
    ديالى 2 3 7 0
    كركوك 0 0 6 0
    الانبار 0 0 11 2
    نينوى 0 1 20 2
    21-Mar 89 67 88 7

  56. Ali said

    Jason, in Iraq unfortunately its different. If one community is not represented, there is a likely chance of them being ignored.

    I hope in the future ethnic and religious divided matter less.

  57. bb said

    “Al-Hadbaa will object to any concessions to the Kurds. Najafi just made a statement about that today or yesterday.”

    Allawi is in reach of the plurality because Ninewa was allocated 12 extra
    seats (plus 2 minorities) and the Al-hadbaa alliance won them for Iraqiyya. So one could say al-Hadbaa is to Allawi what the Sadrists are to INA – will see themselves as kingmakers.

    The Kurdish attitude to Allawi is an interesting one, in that of all the K leaders Barzani is the one with the least committment to “united” Iraq, cut deals with the Baath in the past and perhaps would be quite happy to leave the Arabs to cut each others throats?

  58. Reidar Visser said

    Mosa, thanks, no I excluded the minorities like you did, and it wouldn’t matter in this case, because it is not the governorates with many minority votes (Baghdad, Nineveh) that are different in our calculations. If you look at my second tabulation (using IHEC regulation 21 for distributing the seats), the only difference between our tables is that you have one extra seat for INM in Qadisiyya and one less in Salahaddin and Diyala. On double-checking I think the one in Qadisiyya is going to be close. I assume the one extra in Salahaddin is for Unity of Iraq and that it does not show in your list since it covers the four big ones only. In Diyala, with its 55% share of the remaining votes in the second allocation I still think INM gets the integer of 1 on top of the 6 seats they already have plus another seat for the largest remainder and hence 8 in total. Anyway, in 72 hours we will know the exact answer!

  59. Zahra said

    Dear Reider,

    Sorry to go back to the side issue – I just wanted to close by clarifying: I wasn’t asking that Iraqiyya be banned or anything of the sort – just trying to explain why an Allawi premiership would be very difficult for many people to accept, and also to lament the unthinking support for him in the western and (less surprisingly) in the Arab media.

    I completely agree with you that it’s fundamental for the new iraq that the transition is done through the formation of fair and transparent laws dealing with the past. Although, just as a side point, the previous regime used to cut people’s tounges off when they criticised it, so I wouldn’t go as far as saying debaathification makes the current system as bad as the old one. But again, I agree it has to be fair.

    I agree with Jason, I don’t think we can achieve true justice for the Baath’s victims and their will be a lot of necessary pain to allow for reconciliation.

  60. This discussion is pretty well developed to be jumping in at this point, but with a lot of the arguments well developed, this is where I come out on the key points:

    1) On the horse race, I’ve done my own province-by-province count and my count is identical to Reidar’s except I give Maliki and INA two each in Diyala and Allawi only two in Basra, with Maliki getting the other one. So Maliki ahead by two, but this was before some recent expat vote came in, and it leans Allawi. Also, al-Sumaria News, which I view as very objective, reported its own analysis yesterday which simultaneously gave Allawi a plurality of the raw votes and Maliki a 91-90 seat advantage.

    2) Few seem to note how badly Allawi has done in Shia areas. My calculation is that he won 20 of the roughly 180 seats elected from Shia areas. Compared to January 2009 results for secular Shia, he overperformed in Baghdad but underperformed in Babil, Karbala and Basra.

    3) I side with those skeptical of an Allawi-Kurd alliance. True, they get along fine personally, but Allawi’s overwhelmingly Sunni Arab nationalist base is practically at war with the Kurds. Before (to Reidar’s argument) the Kurds had no alternative in Baghdad, now they have the Shia, and Maliki is going all out right now to make amends for past offenses. Hashemi’s “Arab president” comment didn’t help, either.

    Kirk Sowell

  61. One more point – ISCI is now talking about “merging” with Maliki’s coalition, not just allying with them. If that happens, then Maliki will be the PM designate without regard to the final count, assuming post-election bloc mergers are allowed to count for this purpose. I suppose it will depend on who the president is, and makes clear why Maliki has been smart to jump on the Talabani reelection bandwagon hard and early.

  62. Jason said,0,947484.story

    I pray that this is sensational journalism. If not, it is pretty scary to have Maliki’s inner circle threatening violence to undermine the election. What utterly ridiculous claims that the US has manipulated the election results – if we had, we sure as hell wouldn’t have allowed so many votes for the INA and Sadr!

  63. Lucius said

    Ali Wasati, a great many people with very strong Nazi party connections (far stronger than Mutlaq’s connections to the Baath) DID take part in both the East and West German governments. The Baathist party ruled Iraq for a very long time, removing those connected to them from running the country completely in the short to medium term is unrealistic.

  64. Joel Wing said

    Re: Allawi and the Kurds

    It’s also important to remember that the Kurds are none to happy that Allawi might beat them in Tamim, and are accusing the National Movement of fraud there. Rather than leading the Kurdish Alliance towards compromise, that may make them frustrated and embolden them.

  65. Salah said

    the previous regime used to cut people’s tounges off when they criticised it,

    Some come here and put shortcut stories of tyrant regime to inflame today politics environments.

    First tyrant regime not cutting tongues of Iraqis, but the regime used to cut people’s cut heads at that time.

    The Tongue and Ears cuts was introduced during and after Kuwaiti invasion, the master behind that Abid-hummud” “عبــد حمــود the tyrant’s personal guard applied to those not obeys the military orders and enlisted to their military units during that time or to those who flee their military duties. He still there none of you or any Iraqi official and judges or Iraqis raised his crimes to be sued under the new legal system in Iraq.

    Enough this sort of stories, be accurate in reporting, you are not alone in this world of communications, lies can not be passed as if 35 years ago.

    Seven years passed let show the Iraqis your good well not old bad horror stores they knew them better than you with your selective short cuts stories.

  66. Reidar Visser said

    Kirk, I don’t think there is any basis in the constitution to distinguish between pre-election and post-election formation of “kutla” blocs, but one potential problem for the prospect of INA/SLA successfully exploiting this route is the fact that SLA recently has invested quite a lot in an interpretation that rules out precisely that sort of post-election remaking (at the time aimed at resisting any INA/INM moves along those lines) – another constitutional invention of theirs.

    As for Allawi south of Baghdad, I compared the Jan 2009 percentages with the new figures at the 96% counting level and still found some results that I would consider decent, i.e. Basra up from 3% to 10%, Dhi Qar up from 3% to 7%, Qadisiyya up from 8% to 14%, Babel up from 3% to 19% and Wasit up from 5% to 14%.

  67. Ali Wasati said

    Hi Reidar, I just read the link from Jason, its very scary, can you see this happening? If Allawi is chosen to be the Prime Minister, I know many of the shias would refuse to accept it.

    This is very scary

  68. Gösta Grönroos said

    I wonder, Reidar, if you have any clues as to what results al-Maliki expected from the polls. Hardly a majority for the SOL. A majority for the SOL and the SIIC elements of the INA? Or a majority for SOL, SIIC and Kurdistani? I’m just trying to understand the panicking of al-Maliki. My take is that he is unhappy about the prospect of being dependent on the Sadrists. Indeed, the Sadrists may even force him from office. Or what?

  69. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, I think those comments by Askari reflect his own view rather than those of the people in whose name he is trying to speak. Askari is one among the several advisers that are responsible for the deterioration of Maliki’s relations with everyone outside the Daawa simply because of their habit of discovering new, fantastic conspiracies on every street corner. He has received some 1,700 personal votes in Baghdad so far; Maliki has 572,000.

    I am more worried about what you say about Shiites refusing Allawi as PM. Because of what, exactly? Wasn’t the de-Baathification prior to the election sufficiently thorough? Were the elections legitimate only if Shiite Islamist parties won?? They should remember that if they want to de-Baathify Iraqiyya they also need to de-Baathify most of the Iraqi army and half of the existing bureaucracy and Iraq would stop working.

    Gösta, I think Maliki may have aimed at something like 110-120 SLA seats plus improved relations with the Kurds and maybe Tawafuq. His flirtation with the Kurds last autumn plus the consistent attempt to avoid talk of rejoining INA prior to the vote suggests this may have been the original plan. With his stance on the de-Baathification issue he lost many potential voters north of Baghdad (i.e., if they hadn’t already been alienated by the Daawa stance on the electoral law).

  70. Ayman said

    I really appreciate your meticulous reporting and analysis, and thorough knowledge of the matter. I think I owe you this, as I benefit a lot from it, and there is now way I can return the favor.

    A quick question about a detail, and anybody here with this info is welcome to answer. Is there a way to measure the results of the Hiwar Blok of Mutlaq within Iraqiya. The point I am after is finding out how much did this block contribute to the Iraqiya results, and to what extend did the debaathification measures, and Mutlaq’s departure from Iraq impact the results.

  71. jc said

    I think that it’s fair to assume that the Kurds will be in whichever government is formed, but won’t determine what government that is. Even if a narrow coalition could be formed to elect a premier w/o their votes, Kurdish votes will be necessary to elect a president first – and to give any coalition a certain margin of error on future votes of confidence. After that the Kurds primary goal will be a seat at the table and a share of the spoils – unless actively excluded they will join what ever agreement two (or three) of the major Arab parties develop. A governing coalition doesn’t need to agree on policy, just on the division of Ministries. Until there is evidence otherwise, the starting assumption may be that the next government will be as cohesive on policy issues as the last one.

  72. Ali Wasati said

    Reidar, there is a view that Allawi represents the Baathist resurgance. Whether thats true or not, thats how they feel. The fear is that he will forget about the south when it comes to reconstruction, and that the Baathis will be back in all major positions and even stage a coup.

    I perosnally dont beleive the coup would be possible. But I can identify with the fear. I worry that the issue of federalism might be back on the table if Allawi becomes prime minsiter and that this could be used as a threat by maliki.

  73. Reidar Visser said

    Ayman, many thanks, I haven’t had time to do any Hiwar breakdown yet but maybe later. Looking at Baghdad it certainly seems Iraqiyya voters have largely eschewed Mutlak’s replacement, Ibrahim al-Mutlak (whom I suspect is his brother), giving him only some 5,000 votes compared to 400,000 for Allawi. Whether this is tactical (given Ali al-Lami’s threat to de-Baathify him as well) or a reflection of a lack of popularity is of course open to dispute.

    Jc, I’m sure the Kurds will try to hang in there, but it is worth mentioning that their votes are not needed for the president this time since a failure to get a two/thirds majority simply leads to a first-past-the-post run-off. Also, given past experiences, I have the feeling they will be more focused on specific issues (oil and Kirkuk) and less on posts. Maybe Talabani could be mollified with the presidency, but the real weight in the Kurdish alliance seems to be the KDP which also seems more focused on hard politics than on ceremonial roles. Of course, that is also potentially a weakness, i.e. if they forget that we are in 2010 and not in 2005 and they can be circumvented altogether if the others get fed up with their demands.

  74. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, so the separatism threat re-emerges again. I wrote about this five years ago at and largely stand by what I said back then: This scheme is mainly promoted by exiled elites and will struggle to win approval by the Shiite marjaiyya and the popular masses. The demise of the 9-governorate Shiite region seemed to confirm this tendency, and Maliki has invested a lot of political capital in rejecting it, so a sudden turnaround would be somwehat embarrassing.

    To my mind, Basra (the governorate), is the only area within the Shiite-majority zone with a certain regionalist tradition, and a weak one at that. The leaders of the provincial council there may conceivably make some separatist noise in the future, but I think others within the Shiite community will remain highly sceptical.

  75. Gösta Grönroos said

    Thanks, Reidar, point taken. From the point of view of (religious) Shia, and Iranian, influence, the results so far aren’t that bleak. If I recollect correctly, the unified, Sistani endorsed, Shia slate obtained 41% of the votes in December 2005. The joint result of SOL and INA seems to exceed that figure. So if it weren’t for the internal feuding, they should be content. It is perhaps telling that Tehran has held a very low profile publically during the vote count, which a take as a sign of confidence on their part. One really wonders what kind of deal there is between Moqtada al-Sadr and the rulers in Tehran, given that he is often portrayed as a staunch Iraqi nationalist.

  76. Ali Wasati said


    The shia are not Iranian puppets. Soem ofcourse have good relations with iran, and the vast majority of shia look kindly to Iran who accpeted them when they had to flee when their arab ethnic brothers refused. But NO shia would want to benefit Iran on the expense of Iraq. And I think thats the case with 90% of Islamist Shia politicians.

    The Sunni Arab parties and Allawi could also be seen as heavily influenced by the sunni Arab countries.

    I find this talk of shia beeing loyal to Iran as 35 years of Baathist propaganda, and it makes traitors of 50% of Iraq who voted for those parties.

  77. Gösta Grönroos said

    Dear Ali, I have no reason (or competence) to question your estimation of Shia sentiments. But don’t you think that the SIIC in particular has more than pragmatic ties with Tehran (where it was founded in the first place)? Of cource, I’m not suggesting that Iran attempts to conquer Iraq, but don’t you think it would be in Tehran’s interest to have decisive leverage through proxies in the manner familiar from Lebanon or Palestine? What you should worry about is that the Iranian regime is not keen on success for democracy and secularism around the corner. Please note that I’m not saying that there is a conflict between Iraqis and Iranians. I hope the people in both nations will take control of their own fate.

  78. Jason said

    If SIIC is the weathervane for pro-Iranian sentiments, then it is being dealt a loss. The mystery is the Sadrists who performed well – are they more nationalist or another variety of Iranian proxies?

  79. Jason said

    Gosta, let’s not gloss over Iranian intentions. Khamenei and the IRG would like nothing less than to annex Basra and its oil wealth, whether directly or by stealth through political proxies.

    But what did they actually get with the Sadrists? Another Hezbollah? Or someone that would just as soon bite the hand that fed them?

  80. Ali Wasati said

    Hi Gosta

    Ofcourse there is Iranian interference, however there is also Syrian, Saudi, Egyptian and ofcourse American.
    SIIC does have more ties wth Iran than the most, but this party represents now a small portion of the Iraqi shia. The Sadrists have always been known to be against Iranian interference, and Dawa’s base moved from Iran to Syria and London in order to stop Iranian meddling.
    The fact is that Iranian interference is not the most dangerious, but its the Arab interference that is most dangerious. Iranina interfernce will gradually slow down then end when Iraqis get stronger and more united. The point is they do not call all the shots.

  81. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, you will find the whole spectrum among the Sadrists. Muqtada himself is doubtless getting influenced by the place where he is staying (Qum). Some of the parliamentarians speak a very nationalist language but are sectarian in practice, as seen for example with the way Baha al-Aaraji behaved after the Hashemi veto last autumn and during the de-Baathification process. Then there are some who are credited with a more centrist and genuinely nationalist position.

  82. Jason said

    I’m not in favor of either one, but the deadly but idiotic suicide bombers funded by Sunni neighbors will be no comparison to the IRG’s armed and trained spies and mercenaries that will flood Basra when the Americans leave. A significant block voted for the INA. What was it that they were actually voting for?

  83. JWing said

    My take on the coalition negotiations going on:

    1) Maliki wants the current coalition behind him to remain in place. Before the election State of Law the SIIC were talking about re-uniting and Hakim and Jaafari have said the same thing afterward. Hakim was also courting the Kurds beforehand, and the head of the Kurdish Alliance said that they have a similar plan to State of Law and the National Alliance. Both State of Law and the SIIC have supported Talabani to be president, and before the vote Baghdad said that it would allow Kurdistan to export oil again.

    2) State of Law is also talking with the Accordance Front, Change List, and trying to get some members of the Allawi’s bloc to defect.

    3) Sadr is the main barrier to Maliki’s plans. He’s come out against him returning to power, and Allawi has been courting them.

    4) Allawi faces a tougher road than Maliki. Many of his Sunni Arab partners are anti-Kurdish, don’t want any concessions on disputed territories and have come out against Talabani returning as president.

    5) Because the number of seats are so close a dark horse candidate may have to be named to be prime minister since Maliki and Allawi have so many detractors.


    Don’t believe the hype on Maliki’s threats of violence. It’s just rhetoric to pressure the Election Commission.

  84. Ali Wasati said

    It seems the integration of SLA and INA is going to go ahead

  85. Mohammed said

    Dear Reidar Visser:

    I would very much appreciate it if you could define the concept of “sectarianism.” I have seen this word used frequently on your website and many others. I am curious about how sectarianism is playing a role in politics in Iraq now as compared to different political scenes. In particular, I would like your view in how you view sectarian politics in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As far as I understand, Saudi Arabia is a country controlled by Wahabbi supported, Sunni Monarchy. From all reports, one constantly reads about how the Saudi Government (and Saudi press such as Sharq al Awsat) would condemn the emergence of a governing coalition in Iraq that is sectarian in nature. Does this mean that Saudi Arabia believes that people of all sects should have equal representation? How does this apply to their own Shia minority (10% of their country). The Sunni Arabs of Iraq (about 20% of the country) have far more voice in today’s Iraq than any minority sect does in any regional arab country. Under Saddam, Shia were forbidden from importing their religious books into the country, or practicing their ritual customs, even beards were frowned upon. Was that not sectarianism? Toke Shi’ites were part of Saddam’s government, but they were secular Baathists loyal to Saddam. Maliki’s government currently has Sunni Arabs in ministry positions, leadership roles in the military, and includes a Sunni speaker of the house. The sunni arab VP (Hashemi) can openly call Maliki a corrupt ruler without fear of retribution. In what other Arab country can a minority of 20% criticize the prime minister without threat of summary execution? Thus, I am really left puzzled as to what people mean when they cry “sectarianism!” I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this.

  86. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, that big subject requires a lot more time than I currently have available, but briefly, I don’t think anyone disputes the fact that Saudi Arabia is a highly sectarian system and that the same goes for certain periods of the Baathist regime in Iraq. But we should expect Iraq to develop away from sectarianism, and its failure to do so worries me. Just to give an example from the post-2003 situation: Why are the accountability and justice laws used in different ways for Sunnis and Shiites? Why are so many ex-Baathist Shiite commanders in the army allowed to continue in their jobs while Sunnis are marginalised? What was Abbud Qanbar doing in the 1990s? And so on. I totally agree it is for the Iraqis to decide on the rules for de-Baathification, but I just want to make the point that a consistent application of a strict form of de-Baathification would involve throwing thousands of tribal Shiite leaders in the south in jail for their collaboration with the regime in the 1990s: They were in fact far more active in repressing Islamist groups than Salih al-Mutlak ever was. Sectarianism is to ignore this fact.

  87. Ali Wasati said

    Mohammed I agree with most of what you said. Iraq is definately far more democratic than any other Arab country. And I do feel that the Sunnis do want more than what is due to their size within Iraq.

    However Reidar is right to state that secterian politics exist. I assume he means that secterian politicians both Sunni, Shia and ethnic politics when it comes to the kurds, only care about their respective faction.

    This is a problem in Iraq. I have stated that this will fade in the future when Iraq becomes more stable and we defeat the wahabi and baathi terrorists.

    I also think that Allawi’s block is secterian as it only represents Sunnis, and has very secterian politicians such as Hashemi, and lets not forget the others who were banned such as Mutlaq and Ani, both who supported the insurgency that targeted the shia.

  88. Jason said

    Mohammed, Sectarianism is fueled by Socialist, centrally planned (especially oil-dependent) economies. The nations of the Middle East are not culturally united towards increasing commercial, industrial, and agricultural production to create new wealth and grow the entire pie. Instead, they have a common view of national wealth as a zero-sum game, and of competing, not through productive market competition, but by raw political power (or outright oppression), for the national spoils. They band together along sectarian or geographical lines like neighborhood gangs fighting each other over the right to sell their drugs on a particular street corner, rather than go get a legitimate job and actually produce something useful. In my opinion, one way to weaken sectarianism is conversion to a more market based economy. That means investing the oil money to create more favorable conditions for PRIVATE business and weaning people off of the government tit. It will not be easy.

  89. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, FYI, we have a centrally-planned oil-dependent economy here in Norway and are doing just fine. I suspect the culprit may be something else and that the cure is more complex. At any rate, this is not a “sectarianism, general” thread.

  90. Jason said

    That is why Republicans are fighting so hard against Obama’s efforts to change our national culture to one where it is more acceptable to rely on ever greater government welfare by people with no vested interest in generating greater national wealth.

  91. Michel said

    Hello Reidar,

    Tnx for your great posts

    There is just one thing that is still quite unclear to me.

    I don’t understand how the expat vote is counted, do they have spefically allocated seats or is their vote registered at their governorate of origin ? Besides, have all the votes come in already ?

  92. Reidar Visser said

    Michel, it is the latter – governorate of origin, no quota or separate allocation. The exiled vote is supposed to have filtered into the governorate counts gradually from around the 90 per cent mark as far as I know.

  93. Salah said

    The shia are not Iranian puppets…..And I think thats the case with 90% of Islamist Shia politicians.

    What the reality on the ground in Iraq during the past seven years and most Iraqis have witnessed the apposite what stated above by Ali. Its hard just coming here is making this blunt statement as if no one knows the reality inside Iraq.

    Although the minority of those Iranians / Iraqi ethnics who are very favourable to Iran and doing their wish in Iraq. Yes the majorly driven by that minority using Sistani as old days when people believe in Mullah which southern Iraq traditionally have relay on them.

    But thanks to US that the only positive side that this minority and Mullah are exposed under the sun light shown their ugly and true faces to the majority of Iraqis.

    The election results reflects that wakeup call although heavily lobbing from all Mullah with sweeping south and north lobbing people, seduced them even some money/ gifts handed just like Ahmadinejad drama with Potatoes to poor Iranians to get their votes.

  94. Ikenna said


    I have a question concerning the 8 seats allocated for minority representation (5 being set aside for the Assyrian/Chaldeans). How are votes tallied for these seats and how were they campaigned for (who are their candidates? parties?) Are only members of the minority populations able to have votes applied towards these seats? Are these seats then allotted nationally or by province (in the case of Christians I assume their numbers are strongest in Baghdad and Ninevah)? 8 seats are not many but in the current situation even a 5 person block might be influential and equal to the strength of smaller parties such as the Accord Front.

    When the results for the minority seats be released?

  95. Reidar – I should clarify the basis for my conclusion that Allawi has performed poorly in Shia areas. For this judgment, I include not only Allawi’s January 2009 vote but that of other key secular candidates (Bolani, Wutut and Habubi) because it is only by uniting the secular Shia vote that he had a chance anyway. So I calculated that if he so unified the secular Shia vote, he would get only 20 seats, and therefore needed to outpeform. And right now I am projecting him to get right at 20 of the 175-180 seats Shia elect. So, yes, his personal take is better, but the real standard for a challenger is what he needs to do to win. Allawi ran a pretty bad campaign, and this result is well short of what he needed.

    As for Allawi south of Baghdad, I compared the Jan 2009 percentages with the new figures at the 96% counting level and still found some results that I would consider decent, i.e. Basra up from 3% to 10%, Dhi Qar up from 3% to 7%, Qadisiyya up from 8% to 14%, Babel up from 3% to 19% and Wasit up from 5% to 14%.

    As for the new head of Mutlak’s Dialogue Front, yes, that is his brother. I saw an interview with him on al-Sharqiya and he did nothing but meekly say that he was chosen for no merits of his own. Unless you give points for humility, that may have played a role in his limited vote result.

  96. Reidar Visser said

    Thanks for the clarification, Kirk. I would still be a little reluctant to include Bulani and his Constitutional Party since he after all is running separately with Unity of Iraq this time (and since they performed poorly across the south except Wasit in Jan 2009). As for the Shaykhis in Basra, they aligned with INA prior to the election, so that solid chunk of the electorate (which was always going to vote communitarian anyway) was more or less decided before the elections. As far as I can see, in Qadisiyya, the only non-INA/SLA entity to win seats in January 2009 was aligned with Mahmud al-Hasani al-Surkhi, the renegade Sadrist “marja”.

    Ikenna, please see today’s post on the minority vote, which hopefully addresses at least some of the issues that you ask about.

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