Iraq and Gulf Analysis

The Intra-List Power Balance in Iraqiyya and State of Law

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 9 April 2010 16:31

It is quite natural that discussions of internal stability within the big coalitions that won the 7 March parliamentary elections should focus on the Shiite-led Iraqi National Alliance (INA). Not only does the internal fragmentation in INA seem most dramatic in terms of strong centrifugal forces; there is also a marked contradiction between a leadership heavily dominated by the weaker blocs (ISCI/Badr; Jaafari) and a numerically strong element that is poorly represented at the top (the Sadrists). Nonetheless, it may be worth taking a look at the internal politics of the two other big alliances, Iraqiyya and State of Law, which despite a stronger degree of internal coherence (or a greater lack of obvious foci for large-scale defections) both exhibit certain interesting trends as far as the use of the open-list system is concerned, at least in some of the governorates.

First though, one theoretical note on the Iraqi implementation of the open-list system. It cannot be stressed too much that the Iraqi electoral system is a hybrid of a closed list system and an open-list system. The method for counting the votes was left unspecified in the amended electoral law last autumn, and in its regulation on the subject, the election commission (IHEC) opted for a quite radical approach as far as the weight of open-list (tick an individual on the list) versus closed-list usage (no preference expressed) of the ballot was concerned: The final ordering of the candidates is decided only by the number of personal votes obtained, with no regard to original position on the list. In democratic theory, this could be said to be somewhat problematic, since one might well argue that a list vote with no candidate preferences indicated is not only a vote for the political entity in question, but also for the particular ordering of candidates on the list, as per the preset ranking decided by the leadership. (If the order on the list counted for nothing, the candidates might as well have been listed alphabetically, or according to age, or whatever.) Arguably, then, a more balanced approach to the hybrid of open and closed list would be to count each unmarked ballot as a vote for the top candidate on the list, transferring the vote to the next highest when the first has achieved the number required to win a seat and so on. This is of course all utterly academic as long as IHEC has ruled the way it has, but it does explain why well-organised radical challenges from below are quite easy under the Iraqi system (as seen first and foremost in the case of the Sadrists), and also why minor differences can have an enormous impact when the general number of personal votes is low, not least with respect to the women’s quota (where the struggle is often between candidates with votes in the 3-digit range).

Back to Iraqiyya and State of Law and their internal dynamics, a document from Iraqiyya provides an overview of the affiliations of the various winning candidates that can be summarised in the following table:

INM(Wifaq) INM(Hiwar) Nujayfi Karbuli Hashemi Eisawi Yawer TF Abtan
Basra 3
Dhi Qar 1
Qadisiyya 2
Babel 3
Karbala 1
Wasit 2
Baghdad 8 4 1 5 3 3
Anbar 3 3 2 3
Diyala 1 4 1 1 1
Salahaddin 4 1 1 1 1
Nineveh 2 2 7 1 1 6 1
Kirkuk 2 1 2 1
TOTAL (89) 27 16 9 12 7 8 6 3 1

***TF=Turkmen Front

Several points are noteworthy here. The first concerns terminology: Wifaq (the Ayyad Allawi group) and Hiwar (the Salih al-Mutlak group) have been listed separately in the party document because that reflects their status at the time of the registration of political entities for the elections in the summer of 2009. However, the two merged to form an integrated political movement, the Iraqi National Movement, later in the autumn. In that sense, they are now formally more closely integrated than, say, the two Daawa branches or even ISCI and Badr (somewhat confusingly, Iraqiyya also sometimes uses INM as an acronym for the entire Iraqiyya coalition). With 43 seats altogether, the Iraqi National Movement will probably be the biggest coherent entity in the new parliament, slightly bigger than the Sadrist bloc. It will be the only group in parliament with representation from Basra in the south to Nineveh in the north.

Another notable feature is that the potential challenges from competing centres of power are less pronounced than in the case of INA. This is so partly because of size (the biggest such bloc is that affiliated with Jamal Nasir al-Karbuli, president of the Iraqi Red Crescent, with 12 seats; Rafi al-Eisawi, sometimes referred to as an emerging player, has only got eight) and partly because of regional concentration/limitation (the Nujayfi and Yawer blocs limited to Nineveh where they have almost all their seats). Moreover, since it is the Mutlak and Karbuli groups that have been targeted most intensely by the de-Baathification committee (including an attempt at banning them as entities), any post-election de-Baathification that promotes other candidates of the list is only likely to strengthen the position of Allawi. With respect to the use of the open-list system, Iraqiyya voters south of Baghdad have largely followed the preferences of the party leadership, but in the capital and areas north there are certain interesting promotions, including Hasan Khudayr (a sahwa figure affiliated with Wifaq who jumped from 83rd to third position), Hamid Jassam (from the Karbuli camp, from 107th to eighth) and Talal Hussein al-Zawbai (Nujayfi group, from 129th to ninth). Some of these tendencies can also be seen in Nineveh, but on the whole the usage of the open-list system has a less dramatic and systematic impact on intra-list dynamics than in the case of Sadrists within INA. With the possible exceptions of the Karbuli bloc in Baghdad and the Yawer bloc in Mosul (Shammar tribe), the challenges “from below” are not particularly strong or concerted when it comes to Iraqiyya.

Many of the same tendencies can be seen with regard to State of Law, although the source material is less comprehensive here – limited to complete breakdowns for Basra and Wasit, a list of 40 candidates of the Tanzim al-Iraq branch of the Daawa (for all of Iraq), a list of the much smaller independent bloc affiliated with oil minister Hussein al-Shahristani (ditto), as well as complete lists from Baghdad and Najaf without entity affiliations but with some tribal names that make identification of individuals somewhat easier. The following table has around 20 unconfirmed seats and as such probably puts the main branch of the Daawa somewhat lower than what it should be:

Daawa (Maliki) Daawa (Tanzim) Harakat al-Daawa Shahristani Other independent Unconfirmed
Basra 5 3 1 2 3
Maysan 3 1
Dhi Qar 2 4 1 1
Muthanna 1 1 2
Qadisiyya 1 1 2
Babel 2 1 2 3
Najaf 1 3 3
Karbala 1 1 2 2
Wasit 3 2
Baghdad 6 2 1 10 7
Diyala 1
TOTAL (87) 22+ 13 1 6 25 20

***”Unconfirmed” candidates are likely to include additional Daawa deputies

SLA voting in Baghdad offers perhaps the best example of voters taking a passive (or, some would say, futile) approach to the open-list. On the one hand, there is the big “presidential” (or more correctly, “prime ministerial”) vote for Maliki the person (622,000). Then, with the exception of Jaafar al-Sadr (29,000), there is a huge gap to the next vote-getters, with many winners in the 3,000 range. Moreover, these candidates tend to be from the Daawa or they are independents, and as such unlikely to pose a big challenge to Maliki’s leadership.

That same tendency applies across the governorates where SLA won seats. The only systematic exception is the performance of Tanzim al-Iraq, which is particularly strong in the far south. In Basra, this is counterbalanced by a healthy score for Daawa candidates, but in Maysan and Dhi Qar the ascendancy of this SLA element – often thought to be somewhat closer to Iran than the rest of the Daawa – seems significant. Elsewhere, though, the bloc of Shahristani has gained only a modest number of seats. Additionally, many of the “independent” candidates seem to reflect the successful recruitment by SLA of government officials, who may be particularly loyal to Maliki for that reason. Typically, they are director-generals or high-ranking officials in the service sector, including a high number of medical doctors. Notable “climbers”  within the SLA include Adnan Rumayyid al-Shahmani (an ex-Sadrist who advanced from 93 to 10 in Baghdad) and Ibrahim al-Rikabi (a tribal shaykh of the Bani Rikab, from 76 to 19 also in Baghdad). Given the overall picture, though, these seem to represent successful cases of co-option rather than zones of insecurity for Maliki.

What are we to make of these numbers? Rather than atomizing, should we not be looking for bigger combinations right now? The point is that these dynamics are well known by party leaders and will shape negotiations over coming months. Already, the Sadrists are making use of their strong position within INA to signal their own preferences for the choice of prime minister. In this respect, both Iraqiyya and SLA still seem to be in reasonably good shape internally, with Allawi and Maliki not facing any systematic challenges to their own positions. One thing to think about for Maliki, though, is that if he merges with INA in a pan-Shiite bloc, the main branch of the Daawa will seem comparatively small, with independents being neutralised and the Tanzim al-Iraq branch potentially leaning more towards Iran and ISCI/Badr.

54 Responses to “The Intra-List Power Balance in Iraqiyya and State of Law”

  1. Justin said

    Excellent analysis Reidar, I’ve been waiting for two weeks for any indication of the trends within INM and SLA. Have you got any sense of the distribution of elected MPs in SLA who are Islamist Shia, more secular Shia and non-Shias?

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Justin, thanks. Non-Shiite representation within SLA is extremely weak, to the point where SLA leaders talk about it as a problem. I think almost all their “Sunni” faces in Baghdad lost their positions at the top of the list and failed to win seats. A few SLA winning members may be non-Arab Shiites (like Abbas al-Bayati). As for secularists, many of those listed as “independents” typically provide electoral manifestos without much in the way of religious rhetoric, so that’s perhaps where the potential for dialogue with INM etc is at its greatest.

  3. Kermanshahi said

    That would mean currently the largest parties in parliament are
    1. INM: 43
    2.Sadr: 39
    3.Dawa: 36
    4. KDP: 26
    5.ISCI: 17

    I don’t know about last time, but I think it looked a bit like this:
    1.ISCI: 36
    2.Sadr: 29
    3.Dawa: 25
    4. KDP:~25
    5. IIP:~20
    Though I’m not very sure about the order of Da’awa, KDP, PUK and the IIP.

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Yeah, those UIA numbers seem to be from a Wikipedia article that misinterpreted an article I wrote myself back in 2005. The original is here: and it should be 30 seats for ISCI if I remember correctly, Daawa around 15+15.

  5. The question is: Will Maliki behave rationally or psychologically (emotionally?) Any precedents?

  6. bb said

    Is Tanzim the branch of Dawa that was led by Jaafari?

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Bb, no, Jaafari is a totally separate movement (Islah) affiliated with INA. Tanzim al-Iraq was created shortly before 2002 apparently in an attempt by Iran to regain control of the main branch of Daawa. Last summer, one of its leaders, Abd al-Karim al-Anizi, tried to take the whole faction into INA but failed and the others remained with SLA, for now at least. Anizi named his new branch Tanzim al-Dakhil, i.e. the “domestic organisation”, again trying to create the impression of native roots although Anizi himeself was in exile pre-2003.

  8. Ali Wasati said

    Reidar, Roughly, would you know the shia/sunni composition of INM, i know you dont like this type of discussion, however view is that the INM is a sunni party with a shia figure head, in fact this was asked to him directly in a Hurra interview.

  9. bb said

    Is Tanzim the ” Islamic Daawa- Iraq Organisation” that had 12 UIA seats in the last COR?

    It’s good to start getting some detail on SOL. Am interested to see the professional public service class signing for Maliki.

  10. Reidar Visser said

    Bb, that’s right, it is sometimes called “Iraq organization” in English. It had 13 MPs last time I checked.

    Ali, yeah, beyond establishing the general trends, out of respect for these politicians I think we should avoid trying to systematically pin down the sectarian genetics at the individual level. Typically, Iraqiyya is full of people of mixed origins etc – typical Iraqi, in other words! But just to reassure you about a few prominent Shiites other than Allawi: Hussein al-Shaalan, Iskandar Witwit, Jamal al-Batikh and Hassan al-Allawi are all Shiites as far as I know, and in very prominent positions. Although he did not stand as a candidate, Abd al-Karim al-Muhammadawi has also joined Iraqiyya as part of the coalition. Also it is worth noting that the attempt to dismiss Ayad Allawi as a Shiite working for Sunni interests just doesn’t make much sense. He is of a long-standing, well-to-do Baghdad familiy of Shiites which has produced prominent politicians and ministers in the past and is intermarried to many of the leading Shiite families in Baghdad and Najaf.

  11. Kermanshahi said

    Can you tell me, how are the parties of Shahristani and al-Issawi called and who is this Abtan which won, one seat in Kerkuk.

  12. Salah said

    someone is not sure why this is a new man of Iraqi politics. Born in 1944, belongs to a family with a major Shiite political past: his grandfather had participated in the negotiations Iraq’s independence from Britain, the father, a doctor, was a member of parliament.

    The Manifesto 28/03/2010

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, briefly, Shahristani’s bloc is simply called “the independents” and Eissawi’s party is the National Future Gathering. Abd al-Karim Abtan al-Jibburi is head of a nationalist party called Al-Tajammu al-Arabi al-Iraqi; I think it is the bloc from which Abbad Mutlak al-Jibburi was sacked after joining Maliki last autumn.

  14. Anon said

    You will be interested to know that all but 6 of the “others” in SLA are Dawa.

  15. Reidar Visser said

    Anon, as already indicated in the post, the assumption is that a good portion of the “unconfirmed” ones (I presume that is what you are referring to) are Daawa and that the figure of 22 for Maliki is probably too low. Any pointers to a complete breakdown would of course be greatly appreciated.

  16. Mohammed said


    In your answer to Ali W’s question, you said Iraqiya is “typical” Iraqi. You did not give the mix though. As far as I have seen, it is likely that Iraqiya is about 80% sunnis. I would not call that representative of Iraq. Maliki’s outgoing cabinet is probably far more “typical” and representative of Iraq.

    I am not scared so much by Allawi, but more by the people he would bring to power. He may have a few token shiites, but Iraqiya is known for its leader (who is an ex-baathist who still maintained strong ties to fellow baathists), and its powerful sunni leaders like Nujaifi, Mutlag, and Hashemi. It was a blessing for Allawi to get the sunni vote because of his 80% sunnis in the Iraqiya list, but now it is proving to be a curse because no other party wants to work with Allawi because of precisely who those other 80% of his MPs are. That is the elephant in the room that cannot be ignored. I know you are turned off by “sectarianism” but that is precisely what is preventing Iraq’s political process from moving forward. To deny this, and say that Iraqiya is “typical” Iraqi, would only lead to frustration. It would be better to recognize this reality and try to rationally and creatively develop solutions to deal with fears that people have about a government being formed under Allawi that would concentrate power in 80% sunni hands.

  17. Kermanshahi said

    Mohammed, I don’t think the problem is that Allawi’s list is mostly Sunni, but what kind of Sunnis are in their list. People like al-Mutalq and al-Nujayfi are not the kind of people where with Shi’a and Kurdish parties would like to cooperate with, al-Hashemi has been a pain for the current government for 5 years, I don’t think they like him that much either and now with his racist comments about Kurds (they cannot be president because this is an “Arab country”) he seems to be just as bad as Nujayfi & co. Allawi himself, despite being an ex-Ba’athist, is more moderate, though.

  18. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, a number of questions here. First, is the relevance of the percentage of Sunnis “in” (or “behind”?) Iraqiyya of any relevance to the question of coalitions? Or are you still primarily interested in de-Baathification? If it is the latter, hasn’t there already been a de-Baathification process? (I specifically remember the idea of Hashemi as a “Baathist” being derided by most of the Shiite leaders with the exception of Baha al-Aaraji.) In that case, would it also apply to those candidates within State of Law that are still being accused of Baathism by pro-ISCI websites? To be honest, I am slightly disturbed that both you and Kermanshahi seem to indicate that you think Ali al-Lami did not do his job thoroughly enough. My fear is that if you do a systematic de-Baathification according to your standards there would be precious little left of Iraq after you finished, save perhaps from a few village mullahs here and there. Please do remember to incarcerate all the Shiite tribes in the south that cooperated with the regime in the 1990s!

    As for the idea that no-one wants to be in government with Allawi, I really think that is a misrepresentation of the current situation. In fact, right now it seems to be the other way around, to the point where some of the offers he is presented with come across as rather suspect and unviable. Yesterday, the Iranian ambassador reproduced almost verbatim the ISCI position previously articulated by Ammar al-Hakim, i.e. “Iraqiyya represents the Sunnis” and has to be part of a supersized government of national unity for that reason. Several Western observers have already misinterpreted this as a “change in the Iranian position” – which it isn’t, since the basic Iranian strategy has always been to support formulas that enshrine ethno-sectarian divisions instead of transcending them. Apparently the Iranians believe that they can retain the upper hand through a “Sunnification” of Iraqiyya, perhaps thinking that some significant chunks of it will defect if it decides to join an Iranian-sponsored government of national unity (which in turn would solidify the Kurdish/Shiite axis), that this approach will also generate goodwill from the Obama administration, and, most importantly, that the resultant coalition will remain weak and divided and therefore dependent on foreign (Iranian) support.

    The exception to this pattern appears to be Maliki himself and some of his closest allies. They still seem to believe that they can improve their number of seats through a process of complaints – a position almost everyone else now seems to consider rather futile. This just shows how Maliki has ended up as a victim of the whole de-Baathification drive: The concomitant “Sunnification” of Iraqiyya prevents him from seeing all the two have in common ideologically, and leaves him searching for ways of improving his own share of seats in ways that seem highly unrealistic. Unless he realises the potential of an alliance between SLA and Iraqiyya, he is likely to end up being marginalised, maybe with some kind of compromise candidate from SLA acceptable to Iran (Haydar al-Abbadi?) capturing the PM job. It is all very reminiscent of the dynamics of April 2009, when Ayad al-Samarraie was imposed on Maliki as speaker by ISCI, the Sadrists, the Kurds and at least parts of Iraqiyya, again with jubilant Iranian and Western diplomats on the sidelines (the former thinking Maliki was becoming too “autonomous”, the latter having concerns about “autocracy”). Maliki and the remnants of the 22 July front opposed Samarraie, but were unable to unify against the challenge: the Daawa voted blank instead of supporting the opposition challenger to Samarraie.

  19. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, I did not call for any further de-Ba’athification, although I do believe those involved in Saddam’s regime shouldn’t be allowed to join the politican process and I am dissapointed in the Iraqis who are now coming out with “the Ba’athists weren’t (that) bad at all, back with Saddam Iraq was so “nice” and non-secterian and centralised,” or those who outright deny any of his crimes. From your articles it’s clearly evident you don’t like ISCI, KDP, PUK, IIP, but you don’t call for them to be banned, my views towards groups like Hiwar, al-Habda, ITF, are similar. What I was expressing was my disagreement with their views and that I believe the others shouldn’t bring such groups into the government but I am opposed to excluding them from the political process.

    Lack of democracy in the Middle East is not due to lack of elections, most countries do hold elections, but elections where people who’s views vary to much are not allowed to run but who is to decide which views are good and which views are not? Even those with extreme views should be allowed into political process but one man, one vote should count everywhere and that’s IMO the worst point in the entire Iraqi system.

  20. Ali Wasati said

    Reidar, there is a difference between many of the shia baathists and Sunnis baathist. For example, most shia baathists accpeted the new democracy and denounced Saddam, but that has not been the same for the sunni baathists. For example, the baath party still has an office in Damascus, and its entirely sunni, not a single shia.

    Number two, the shia baathists who have been involved in crimes against Iraq have either been killed or fled aborad, but many of the sunni killers still remain in Iraqi sunni areas and are still active in killing the Iraqi shia and kurds.

    Thirdly, i have not seen many ex shia baathists, glorifying Saddam and Baath, but some sunni politicians have, and thats why they have been justifiably been banned.

    However I do agree the the best solution is the INM and SLA government, that way, both parties would be forced to moderate and help rebuild Iraq.

    I o not fear as Moahmmed Allawi forming a government as I did two weeks ago, as long as SLA or INA are involved to ensure the baathist dont return to government.

  21. Reidar,
    Your analysis is illuminating as usual, I appreciate your analysis of sunnification of Iraqyya, and observation of common policy between ISCI and Iran.
    Iraq has become an open market of ideas, some of us are scared and some will always be. Ideas should be fought with ideas, not with banning and exclusivity. The sentiments expressed by Kermanshahi, Ali W. and Mohammed amount to exclusivity, pre-approval of candidates and denial of freedoms, all these practices belong to the past. If you don’t like Baathism tell the voters what you offer in its place and let them choose, you can’t “ensure the baathist dont return to government”, its up to the voters. Democracy IS one-man-one-vote.
    The Iranian policy strategists are worthy of praise, they are taking the initiative and offering the idea of sunnification of Iraqyya, while Maliki is digging his own grave and Allawi is on the defensive.

  22. Ali Wasati said

    Faisal I respect your view, however some one else’s vote should not bring about a harm to another. Democracy should not bring in oppression.

  23. Reidar Visser said

    Alas, as feared, it has become clear that the Obama administration supports the Iranian-sponsored idea of an oversized cannot-achieve-anything government – and Biden/Ignatius have the audacity to spin it as an Iranian defeat!

    In this case I think Zalmay Khalilzad’s vision of SLA/INM agreeing with the Kurds is more viable:

  24. Ali Wasati said

    Reidar, watching some news today, it seems to be 80% likely that there will be a national government that includes the big four.

    The only ones holding out are Allawi and Maliki, but they have just traded accusations and dont seem to be coming closer at all.

  25. Reidar Visser said

    Faisal and Ali, Maliki at least seems to realise such a 4-party government would mean no second premiership for him. I wonder, though, what Allawi thinks of the danger that the “neither Maliki nor Allawi” policy, as expressed by the Sadrists, may prevail under that kind of scenario?

  26. Kermanshahi said

    I hope such “unity” government isn’t formed but as it is, another 4 years of the same is likely…

  27. Ali Wasati said

    If a national unity government is formed, then i hope at least it wont involve the smaller parties such as the Unity or Tawafiq, and it cant be worse than the previous one, surely with better security it will be able to achieve more.
    Even still, iam only trying to say it cant get any worse than this one, not the ideal though

  28. Reidar Visser said

    Oh, they won’t need those, after all, they have already got some 290 deputies. Which is a wonderful parliamentary majority, except that the government will never be able to agree on anything among themselves, so they will not be able to use that majority for anything useful.

  29. Salah said

    ايران تؤيد تشكيل حكومة وحدة في العراق مع السنة

    Reider, do you think this is green light from Iran to Maliki and others to come down from there horses?

    Reidar, if let me add one thing to those who freeze on Ba’athisim and ask instaed of generalization of this matter on Iraqis why not brings those you thing they had blood in thier hand to justice and leave this matter for ever? What stoping the Iraqi governments for that last seven ayers to trial those?

    But there is mentality here sponsored by Mullah and those who are short minded to keep this matter of a grievance to fulfillment’s their complete incompetent to give or lead Iraqis for better future.

  30. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, the link is broken but the headline is the same Reuters story that has been going around the last day based on what Qommi said in Baghdad. It is somewhat pathetic that the main elements of the coalition-forming process consist of meetings between Iraqi leaders and foreign diplomats where they solemnly swear that this is an internal Iraqi process. And no, as said above, I think Tehran sees Maliki as a problem and wants “new Shiite forces” to direct the process.

  31. bb said

    You’d think Zalamy Khalizad would be on the money as far as insider knowledge of both US and internal Iraqi positions are concerned.

    “To this end the US needs to adopt a more hands-on approach and encourage the Maliki coalition, the Allawi coalition and the Kurdish alliance to form a grand coalition and avoid steps that would drive Mr Maliki into accepting Iran’s proposals. Iran’s desire to avoid either Mr Maliki or Mr Allawi being prime minister should be used to urge an agreement between them – perhaps with each becoming prime minister for two years, with the other as deputy. ”

    Reidar a few days ago you reacted (humourously) when a poster drew comparison with an Israeli precedent, but of course dual prime ministership occurred in Israel in the 1980s in very similar circumstances!

    Khalizad’s solution is by far the best, imo. Sure it would mean a continuation of consensus democracy but that is how the Iraq democracy will mature. And rhe opportunity to marginilise the religious parties of both sides should not be missed. Give the rump ISCI a couple of ministries but keep the Sadrists out.

  32. Reidar Visser said

    Bb, just to make clear, I do not endorse the specifics of the Khalilzad proposals (and not the heavy-handed US moves to bring them about that I am sure he has in mind).

    But at least, in contrast to Biden/Ignatius, he seems to have some understanding of what outcome will serve US interests and what will only strengthen the Iranian regime.

  33. bb said

    US would be having a big input. And actually I couldn’t see that much difference between what Biden said and Khalizad. Both are saying Maliki/Allawi/Kurds and ISCI? Neither is saying Sadrists!

    Like the idea of the pm/deputy pm solution, and it c-o-u-l-d work because Maliki, Allawi and Kurds seem to have similar positions on national security both internal and external. By contrast, the Sadrists can play around with being a 40 person opposition. Good place for them.

  34. Reidar Visser said

    The big difference is that Khalilzad highlights the ideological points of convergence between INM and SLA as a basis for sound government. Biden apparently just wants to pack as many people as possible into the same government, preusmably to prevent having anyone significant on the outside as potential trouble-makers. To be honest, I think it may well be the case that the mention of ISCI instead of INA is simply misspeak by Biden and/or Ignatius. The article also says, “Everything we are getting back from all the parties acknowledges that it should include all four”. Unless this is already three weeks out of date (when “the four” could conceivably have referred to the “old four” of ISCI, Daawa, the Kurds and IIP), it must refer to the INA/SLA/INM/KA combination, which is what Iraqis speak about today. ISCI on its own is so small these days that it is hardly worth more trouble than Unity of Iraq, Goran or Tawafuq.

  35. Ali Wasati said

    Reidar, do you reckon the SLA will soon turn on Maliki in order to keep the PM position for themselves? If so, who in your view commands enough respect within SLA and other parties to take his place?

  36. Salah said

    Reidar, apologies here is the link to the story:

    I agree with your view which exactly my standing in regards for so longto Iran stirring in Iraqi politics inside Iraq and still some in denial of the that.

    However I make myself clear here to add what said, I think Iran changed their tone abacuses they found too hard to press their proxy-Iranian parties to the top job in Iraq as they lost their confidences with most mainstream Iraqis, so now they move in a low profile just to accommodate themselves with the winner even they lose or sacrifices Maliki

  37. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, lots of names keep floating around in leak from “unnamed” SLA sources, and some of these could of course be the speculation of the journalists themselves.

    One name that refuses to go away is that of Ali al-Adib. I find this a bit strange since he is as far as I know half-Iranian and that ultimately tipped the balance against him back in 2006, when he was part of the game as well.

    The other name that is confirmed also beyond the press reports is Haydar al-Abbadi, whose personal vote in Baghdad was not impressive. But maybe that is precisely the characteristic that some are seeking in a compromise candidate.

    Shahristani is another name that keeps coming up, but wouldn’t the Kurds object to that after all their quarrels about the KRG oil deals?

  38. Ali Wasati said

    These two individuals would be the people I had in mind. Ali Adeeb is very educated, and very composed as a person.

    I have also heard of Hussein Shahristani, however I would have thought that he would not get it because he is not apart of the Dawa party. allso the Kurdish issue as you have mentioned.

  39. Reidar Visser said

    I guess Adib is problematic in an additional way this time around since SLA earlier made an attempt at disqualifying Allawi with respect to the Lebanese origins of his mother. In the case of Adib, I think he at one point actually held an Iranian passport himself (or may even still have one), which probably would give extra ammunition to his detractors regardless of personal qualities.

  40. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, I wouldn’t be so sure the smaller blocks are not going to be included in a unity government, Maliki’s people have indicated they would like to have the Unity Coalition in the government and the Kurds say they want Tawafuq in the government (I think ISCI would support this aswell), further all Kurdish coalitions have joined into one parliamentary bloc of 58 MPs (so a 4 bloc unity government would have 308 MPs) and they’ve asked the Yezidi to join aswell + Aghajan has said if they ask him to he will join the Kurdish bloc and as you said, Kurds have good relations with the other Christian bloc to and as you said the West seems to promote this idea of “the more the merrier,” a 325-seat unity government is still a possibility.

  41. Ali Wasati said

    That would be the biggest disaster in history, and if that happens i would be forced to take back what i said about it cant get any worse. This means the smaller parties would divert some of the funds for their ministries in order to bolster their positions for the next election and their pockets in case they lose out.

  42. Salah said

    So now the gam playing from de-Baathification to Lebanese origins of his mother now Malik have come with new game :

    Maliki’s party questions 750,000 votes

    So is these guys a democracy blivers?

    Let not forgot that Malik in one his gethring with soem tribes they they slogan

    “Dont Give it Back” the ment the power or goverement, he replay to them we have it and who told you we give it back.??

    Inside Iraq there is news that maliki siad he will not give the PM evenit cost bloodshed.

  43. Jason said

    Biden is an idiot and an embarrassment, and Ignatius is his cheerleader. They probably don’t know the difference between ISCI and INA. I think this was for domestic (American) consumption, to affirm Obama’s commitment to abandoning Iraq, moreso than having any connection to political events in Iraq.

  44. Ali Rashid said

    Salah, calling for a manual recount is perfectly compatible with the tenets of democracy. Notice, SoL said that 750,000 votes may have been affected by these irregularities (that they have presented in quite a convincing manner in my humble opinion) not that they were robbed of 750,000 votes.

  45. Reidar Visser said

    But if we hypothesize that Maliki is successful with his complaints and obtains another five seats, how would that change the coalition-forming dynamics? What new options could he then get that would justify not exploring other alliances right now? I get the sense that we are in a viscious circle in which IHEC and the courts are witholding certification pending the crystallisation of political clarity and political clarity fails to emerge pending certification of the results…

  46. Ali Wasati said

    I honestly think that Maliki actually beleives he has been robbed.

    He has stated that there has been a bloodless coup against him, and I can easily see the Saudis and many of their puppets in INM penetrating the IHEC in order to decrease Maliki’s vote, however i speak with no evidence, its just I would’nt be suprised if that did happen.

  47. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, seriously, if anyone at IHEC robbed Maliki of his votes it would have been INA which controls at least 3 commissioners, or possibly the Kurds who have 2. INM has close to zero influence in IHEC.

  48. Ali Wasati said

    Reidar, from what the SLA have said, those who input the information into the system are involved. The commissioners do not do that. Now that sounds quite reasonable, I could easily see someone inputting the wrong information for money.

    I watched the press conference by Hachim Hassani and Hussein Shahristani yesterday, and some of their evidence does look strong. However like I said I dont have much evidence, its just i would’nt be suprised if that happened.

  49. Kermanshahi said

    Well Reidar, the Kurds say al-Iraqiyya cheated in Kerkuk, if a recount or investiagtion there proves that this is true than it might cost Allawi seats there which could also benefit Maliki.

  50. Ali Wasati said

    Reidar, it would be appreciated if you can quickly analyse the SLA and KA claims about fraud, I have no doubt that you would be right. I might just be ignorant of the checks and security steps that would ensure that there would be no fraud.

  51. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, I don’t have much more to go by than the commissioner structure (which in terms of the political loyalties of the commissioners is leaning heavily towards INA/KA/Tawafuq) and the general information about the voting system, which seems reassuring in terms of the high numbers of polling stations (meaning it should be relatively easy to detect fraud). I really think it would be a major mistake for SLA to bury itself in conspiracy theories about Saudi influences inside IHEC or that sort of thing.

  52. Salah said

    I don’t think “Biden is an idiot and an embarrassment” he is the guy who support the partitioning of Iraq.

    His moves all looks toward “soft” partitioning for Iraq.

    Now this dynamic start aging with statues of stateless, governessless and hopeless its all be perfect each party/group call for his own land/region.

    Read this link please.

  53. Ryan Patrick said

    As always, enjoy your work. Quick question: how many Turkoman, regardless of affiliation (SLA, ITF, etc.) picked up seats? I am hearing between 6-8. Names would be great, too. Confirmed are A. Bayati, A. Salihi, J. Nefitchi. Any more? Cheers.

  54. Reidar Visser said

    Ryan, I am away from my office right now and can only provide a very partial answer based on what I recollect and files that I have access to on my laptop. In addition to the two you mention in Kirkuk, Iraqiyya has a winning Turkmen Front candidate in Nineveh called Nabil Muhammad Jamil Hamza. For the Shiite lists I need to check lists in my office, but in addition to those two mentioned in the post on compensation seats I am almost positive I remember at least one more SLA winning candidate in addition to Abbas al-Bayati, and I also have seen the INA candidate from Nineveh, Muhammad Taqi al-Mawla, listed as a Turkmen, though I may need to verify that.

    So the figure you quote seems reasonable, though there may be others that are ethnically Turkmen but who choose not to make a point of it.

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