Iraq and Gulf Analysis

What Does It Take To Be a Kutla?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 15 April 2010 11:03

It is a fascinating replay of July 2009. Back then, during the course of a single day, three different Shiite politicians announced three different days for the launch of the new Iraqi National Alliance (INA) – all of them ultimately proved to be wrong. Yesterday was no different. Different INA leaders offered different timelines and different explanations for the delay in the much-anticipated merger of INA and the State of Law alliance (SLA) headed by Nuri al-Maliki, with some saying the formal launch was “imminent” and only subject to clarification of “banal technicalities” and others talking about several days and negotiations being at “a very early stage”. One wonders how this broad range of opinions will play out when the anticipated monster alliance will start negotiations outside the Shiite Islamist bloc with the aim of forming a government!

Obviously, the chief obstacle concerns the question of premiership. Maliki probably knows that the whole objective of the merger scheme is for the resultant INA/SLA bloc to claim the right to premiership and then to give it to a bloc member other than himself. This is the reason why Maliki keeps seeking for other solutions, though sadly they appear to involve rather futile attempts at challenging the results instead of exploring possible alternatives with Iraqiyya and Ayad Allawi (who just like him risks marginalisation in a Shiite–Kurdish dominated government project where the votes of Iraqiyya aren’t strictly speaking needed).

The other item that may postpone any successful merger has to do with the criteria for achieving kutla-hood, i.e. satisfying the requirements for being identified as the “biggest bloc with in the parliament in numerical terms”. The much-cited federal supreme court ruling on this subject is disconcertingly short on detail, and only speaks more broadly of the need to have a “single-entity” form (kiyan wahid). However, Iraqi parliamentary tradition as it has developed since 2005 offers more specifics. In particular it is clear that every kutla needs to have a leader or ra’is. Such leaders are mentioned in the parliamentary bylaws of 2006, and, more importantly, in practice they have become quite significant because of a number of decisive meetings that have been held at the level of bloc leaders. In these meetings, the norm has been one leader per bloc, for example Fuad Masum for the Kurdistan Alliance, the late Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim for the United Iraqi Alliance (succeeded in 2009 by Jalal al-Din al-Saghir), Hassan al-Shammari for Fadila once they broke away from UIA, and so on.

Presumably, the need to agree on a bloc leader forms another complicating factor for the INA/SLA merger, since they will have to agree on a single person. Also it is interesting that Iraqiyya still seem to believe that they may have a degree of leverage in the PM question through the Sadrists, with some reports even hinting that the delay of the SLA/INA merger was caused by a decision by Muqtada al-Sadr to hear a last-minute appeal from the Iraqiyya delegation currently visiting Iran! But most of all, the next steps may depend on the decisions of Nuri al-Maliki, who is right to ask himself why he should be forced into a political suicide so soon after having received more votes than any other Iraqi politician.

48 Responses to “What Does It Take To Be a Kutla?”

  1. Kermanshahi said

    There are other prominent positions than PM, the INA leaders should agree to give this position to Maliki and in return Maliki allows them to take other important positions like the Bloc leader, the Deputy PM, the Vice President (for Adil Abd’ al-Mahdi), Speaker of Parliament (if ISCI doesn’t demand that this is given to Tawafuq again), give one of these positions to a Sadrist (possibly Baha al-Aaraji or Qusay al-Suhail), another to ISCI (VP for al-Mahdi maybe another position for al-Zubeidi), give one position to Ibrahim al-Jaafari or Challabi and maybe deupty PM for Jaafar al-Sadr who also seems a good candidate for compromise PM, he’s Sadr’s cousin, he came second in Sadr’s referendum but he’s a member of Maliki’s list (and was the only one other than Maliki to get significant votes in Baghdad), the other prominents from both SLC and NIA can become ministers.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Note that not all of these positions are equally attractive (or indeed extant) today. For example, since the presidency loses all its power with the abolishment of the presidency council and now commands few prerogatives except a big office, posh cars and a generous travel allowance, I very much doubt the offer of a deputy job would make a difference. So far few others than Talabani and Hashemi have signalled any interest in the presidency itself.

    Similarly, the two deputy PMs are only mentioned in the constitution as part of the transitional arrangements that come to an end when the next government assumes power. As far as I can remember, no “ordinary” deputy PM is even mentioned in the constitution.

    But there is also the deeper problem concerning the antagonisms against Maliki in various ISCI, Sadrist and Iranian cirles. All of these will probably want to think twice before offering him a second premiership.

  3. Kermanshahi said

    The only reason Talabani wants to be president of Iraq is because Barzani is president of Kurdistan, if Talabani loses that job Barzani will have to face him in an election and neither of them want that. Since the VP has lost importance than I don’t think al-Mahdi will feel much for resuming that job, maybe they can give it to a Sunni leader from one of the two lists (SLC-INA), since you don’t need to be elected as MP to become Vice President, do you? Deputy PM can in that case better be given to someone from al-Maliki’s list (maybe Jaafar al-Sadr, maybe an independent or party leader from SLC) and than the INA can get Speaker of Parliament and representative of their parliamentary bloc, which cuold then be divided between ISCI and the Sadrists.

    And yes, the INA and the Iranians initially wanted to get rid of Nouri al-Maliki but he’s become more secterian since then and with the Allawi threat they’d be happy enough to accept him as new Prime Minister. After all, the only way to get the INA in the government at all is through an alliance with either al-Iraqiyya or State of Law and in that case for them, State of Law is the better option.

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Membership of parliament is not a requirement for the deputy president I think.

    But the bigger issue here has to do with what kind of government you would get. Almost regardless of outcome it would look very sectarian. For example, the new Shiite bloc – let’s just call it the UIA for simplicity – could achieve a parliamentary majority together with the Kurds or, in theory, without the Kurds but with Tawafuq instead. The first scenario would look very much like a repetition of the much-criticised, closed constitutional negotiations of August 2005 – back to the golden days of Peter Galbraith, in other words – whereas the second would probably require a separate government ministry just to handle the personal security of the Tawafuq ministers, who would be deeply unpopular in their own constituencies.

    That security consideration also applies in the bigger scenario of KA/UIA/Tawafuq. More likely perhaps is the prospect that KA/UIA may want to try to add parts of Iraqiyya to the mix as a “Sunni cover”. But given that they would not really depend on the votes of Iraqiyya, Allawi or anyone else negotiating with them would have a lot less leverage under that kind of scenario and would likely experience considerable defections if they tried to go along with it. They would become a “second Tawafuq” in many ways.

  5. Reidar,
    To follow up from your comment in the previous post, I think it will not be easy for Iraqyya to be part of parliament after the INA-SLA merger. This will mean that Iraqyya accepts the principle of changing the rules on the fly, which also means that Iraqyya is willing to do the same if and when it is in power. I don’t like to use big words here but this looks to me like a betrayal of the voters trust.

  6. Ali W said

    Reidar, you stated before that there are no two parties so close ideologically as INM and SLA within the Iraqi politcal seen. However of Maliki is prepared to lose the PM position to join INA, and Allawi is also going to lose the chance, would’nt that mean that there is an ideological split that cannot be healed. Could personal differences really get in the way of both Allawi and Maliki having two years each as PM, like Khalizad suggested. Surely the chance to be PM would overcome any past differences?

    I would assume, that Maliki fears the return of Baath or Sunni domination more than he wants the PM job?

  7. Kermanshahi said

    A SLC-NIA-Kurds, alliance would alienate the Sunnis, but a Iraqiyya-SLC coalition would alienate the Kurds, it would basicly result in the current Ninawa crisis happening on national scale and possibly escalation civil war. On the other hand if they leave Sunnis out of the government a new insurgency might arise (since the old one isn’t even over yet), but a national unity government would be ineffective and unable to decide about anything.

    The problem remains that you cannot have a non-secterian/ethnic government when Iraqis vote by these lines and no matter what these blocs might claim about being non-secterian and representing all Iraq, the pattern is very clear. Sunni areas went 80% for al-Iraqiyya, Shi’a areas went 80% for SLC and NIA, Kurdish areas went 80% for the Kurdistan Alliance. Hardly a single Kurdish Iraqi voted for a non-Kurdish list, hardly any non-Kurdish Iraqi voted for a Kurdish list, very few Sunnis voted for Maliki or the NIA and very the support which Allawi had among Shi’a (~15%) is pretty minor, he doesn’t represent their population.

    Though the election results might seem less secterian than in 2005 they haven’t actually changed much, Sunnis shifted from Sunni Islamist to (mostly) Sunni Arab Nationalists, Shi’a split their vote among two lists which were previously one and Kurds gave a small amounth of votes to the newly born Kurdish opposition. Other than that it’s still a bit of a population census, KA+Gorran+KIU+IGK= % of Kurds, SLC+NIA+20%of INM= % of Shi’a, Tawafuq+Unity+80% of INM=% of Sunnis. Basicly it points towards ~24-24-52, which taking in consideration lower turnout in Shi’a regions and the fact most Iraqis outside Iraq are Sunni and Kurd would be ~20-20-60, which is the more or less commonly accepted figure.

  8. Reidar Visser said

    If Maliki thinks carefully through it, he will realise that the whole idea of the “return of the Baath” is ISCI/Iranian propaganda. I mean, just looking at the list of SLA winners in Basra, I can see at least three of his winning candidates there have themselves been subjected to much worse accusations of past Baathist connections than Mutlak. Unless he jumps off that de-Baathification bandwagon and proves himself as the pragmatic leader that we have sometimes seen over the last years he will probably end up being marginalised within a new sectarian alliance.

  9. Ali W said

    But Reidar, what other reason is there for Maliki not wanting to join up with INM, I mean surely personal differences would b overcome when the position of PM is in stake?

  10. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, I am probably not the right person to ask, since I am among those who consider this situation as paradoxical and irrational. Others will tell you that Maliki will always be sectarian but I think they are wrong. After all, he did turn against the militias in 2008 and he did try to reach out to Saleh al-Mutlak in March 2009. I am sure his vision of himself is that of an Iraqi nationalist and not an Iranian stooge.

    The problem seems to be that based on personal issues, the two sides have developed unhelpful and inaccurate images of each other as mutual enemies (Maliki is “too authoritarian” according to some in Iraqiyya, or Allawi is “too close to Saudi Arabia” in the eyes of some in Daawa), thereby overlooking what they have got in common. I just hope they can sit down and do a careful calculation of the consequences if they pursue their current strategies of complaining the result (SLA) and continuing to give priority to discussions with INA and KA (Iraqiyya). I cannot see how either of those strategies could end up actually giving one of them the premiership.

  11. Kermanshahi said

    I don’t think Maliki is really frightened of the Ba’athists at all, he was just using it to get more support in the elections.

  12. JWing said

    I don’t think ideology will have any real role in forming the next government. It’s all about power politics. The number one priority of SOL, INA, and the Kurds is to stay in power. Right now the SOL and INA can’t agree because Sadr and others want Maliki out, but he won’t step out of the way. As soon as that problem is resolved, which could take months, they will merge because they want they want to hold onto the premiership. Allawi could be let into the coalition as well, and probably will, but he won’t be prime minister either.

  13. Ali W said

    Kermanshahi i enjoyed your analysis, but your point about if the kurds get sidelined there will be a civil, i disagree with that, i think the kurds do punch above their weight, and they would never use violence if they dont get Kirkuk, i think they have too much to lose.

  14. Mohammed said


    As usual, you have started a very fascinating discussion.

    In comparing ideological similarities between the two groups, I think there needs to be a more nuanced comparison at the philosophical and operational level. I very much agree that a coalition of Maliki and Allawi would give Iraq the best chance of moving forward. Philosophically, they have both stated that they want an Iraq with a strong central government, an oil law passed that gives control to the central government over provinces, are not willing to cede Kirkuk to the Kurds, and would like to fill the ministries with qualified technocrats, and finally, would like to base their relations with their neighbors on non-interference in Iraqi affairs (Iran is the biggest actor here, followed by Saudi and Syria).

    However, the operational strategy that would follow such a merger is what would cause me the greatest concern. I cannot address all the operational differences, but let me talk about the difference that causes me the greatest concern. First, the prime minister is the commander in chief of the armed forces. Allawi has already stated that he would make wholesale changes if he were to assume the prime mininister’s role. That is a non-starter (if I were to argue from the SOL, Kurdish, INA fears). My fear is that pro-baathist military would once again dominate Iraq. It would threaten Iraq’s democracy because the Baathists have proven that they were committed to a military dictatorship to maintain power in the past. As an Iraqi, I cannot take the risk of supporting a government that would allow a military to take shape that would threaten Iraq’s precious liberty and freedom. Any agreement would require a way to put a big check on the role of the prime minister to change the nature of the military. I give credit to Allawi for peacefully ceding power after he lost last time, and Maliki for not using the military to hold on to power now but rather using lawful methods. However, the Nujaify and Mutleg powers behind Allawi are just not trustworthy in my mind (and in the mind of over 70% of Iraqis). They cannot be given the power to change the military, security, and intelligence services to reshape Iraq back into a military dictatorship for them to maintain their grip on power. If Iraq’s generals and colonels are from Mosul, Tikrit, Ramadi, Fallujah, or ex-baathist shiites from Basra, we would back to square one. It was a mistake to make some drastic changes during the days of Paul Bremer, but I would prefer that small changes be made to Iraq’s military of today, than just replace it with the military from 2002.

    Reidar, if you can allay these fears based on your knowledge of Iraq’s laws, or propose a way such that such a situation does not transpire, I would be most grateful for your insight. There is a need for almost a co-prime minstership so that Allawi cannot make appointments without Maliki’s approval and vice-versa (but then you will say that this would be a recipe for a do-nothing government). I am sure that they could work out similar agreements to make sure that no one party dominates the vital ministries (defense, interior, oil, foreign, etc)..but in my mind, who controls the interior ministry security services, army, few tanks, helicopters, and air force is the ultimate guardian of Iraq.

  15. Ali W said

    Mohammed I have those fears as well. But i doubt anyone can do what we fear these days. Allawi wont be able to appoint interior or defence ministers unacceptable to shias i dont think, just like i dont think Maliki or anyone else can make hadi al ameri or Zubaidi the Interior/defence minister.

  16. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, thanks, I was thinking maybe they could find a way to assign the various portfolios so that some of the sensitivities you mention will be addressed. Back in 2006, it took a lot of time just to agree on Bulani. I am sure they could try to find someone for these posts without clear party affiliations but with strong professional backgrounds. Iraq has got many senior police commanders and army officers that are popular with both Shiites and Sunnis for their non-sectarian outlook (I mean, of the calibre of the late Qays al-Mamuri in Hilla), and I am sure such compromise candidates could be found today. I think Iraqiyya would see the obvious problem of bringing in controversial ministerial candidates in the security ministries and would strive to avoid any kind of hard landing in that respect. What a government like this would be able to do would be to focus on getting an oil law passed (something which they could actually agree on and push through successfully in parliament with the numbers they have), thereby creating breathing space for tackling other issues step by step.

  17. Reidar Visser said

    Or, to be more specific, I am pretty sure Iraqiyya would not try to impose Mutlak or Nujayfi as interior minister. Instead, they might want to nominate professionals for many positions. As for the truly sensitive positions, I am sure they could be split in a way that would allay many fears. It would be logical to give Iraqiyya responsonsibilities in those areas where there is a minimum of suspicion and much agreement and trust in a common, centralist vision. So what about letting Iraqiyya nominate oil, foreign and finance, and letting SLA nominate defence and interior, for example? Could that perhaps create the balance you are hoping for?

  18. Mohammed said


    Your suggestion would make a great deal of sense in more functional parliamentary systems like those found in Europe, but the facts on the ground in Iraq seem to be quite different from my point of view.

    For example, the current minister of defense is a sunni. However, Allawi has already complained that many appointments in the military are “sectarian” and he has promised dramatic changes. When SOL or INA shiites hear the word “sectarian,” they interpret this term to really mean, “too pro-shiite.” Thus, the facts on the ground in Iraq today show that even with a sunni defense minister, it is in reality the prime minister who has much of an unchecked power to shape the military towards his vision.

    Thus, if you look at Maliki, why is it that ISCI and Sadr don’t like him? When they agreed to appoint Maliki, ISCI and SADR had plenty of ministries between them. But Maliki saw that they were quite corrupt and cracked down on them, and imposed his will in an “authoritarian” way. It’s not so much who is the defense minister that makes the greatest difference, but who is the army chief of staff, who the generals and armored division commanders are, and who are the “real movers and shakers” of interior and intelligence. It seems that the powers of the prime minister allow him or her to shape government and military policy irrespective of the wishes of ministers and parliment. Maliki used this quite effectively, and that is why he is hated by Hakim and Sadr and Iran and many Sunnis.

    I would like to see a coalition emerge where no one party can really run an entire ministry. I think it would be most fair if a system can be put in place where there is a system or policy to ensure that each ministry and its various employees are “typical” of iraq. That means that there should not be a ministry where 80% are sunnis, 100% are shia or kurds. In America, you will not see a department run by 100% white males. The equal opportunity commission would come down on them so quickly.

    Furthermore, I don’t think that the prime minister should have an unchecked ability to shape the military as commander in chief. All major military appointments should require the consent of the majority of parliament. If Maliki and Allawi agreed on major military appointments and ministers, I would have a great deal of trust in those appointments, otherwise with one party calling the shots, all bets are off.

  19. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, just to clarify, the suggestion was not to put a Daawa guy in as defence minister (or filling the ministry with Daawa appointees) but rather to let SLA have the last word in selecting a professional to fill the job. This could prevent fears of the Baath rising again, whilst the technocratic allies of Iraqiyya could make a contribution in those important ministries where there already is greater trust. As I understand it, Iraqiyya’s concerns about the Iraqi army are not so much about the defence ministry but about the prime minister circumventing the ministry altogether in security affairs, which sounds like a bad thing regardless of who is the premier.

    The whole idea behind this suggestion is to have a very small and effective cabinet. It would be able to decide policies in Baghdad, instead of having to rely on the whims of Arbil and Tehran for making even basic decisions. We could go on forever pontificating about possible concerns, but the bottom line is that this kind of essentially Iraqi government would have a greater chance of delivering something to the general population than any of the mega-coalitions that are being talked about in Riyadh, Tehran and Washington these days.

  20. Ali W said

    Reidar, I think the idea of a majority government is now futile,;_ylt=AvZW5GJHULdXwndfCrrKRtn5SpZ4

    I think everyone except Allawi have agreed to form a national unity government.

    I think with the backing of all the national and international players, it has become impossible to hope for anything else

  21. Reidar Visser said

    Yeah, that is a pretty explicit juxtaposition of the two alternatives, on the one hand, an effective, strong Iraqi government, and on the other the nonsensical, contradictive hotchpotch favoured by the neighbours and considered by the US as the least cumbersome alternative.

    I wonder whether Maliki also realises that this scenario likely means the end of his own central role in Iraqi politics?

  22. Kermanshahi said

    Ali Wasati, at the moment both Kurdish and Iraqi forces are inside Kerkuk, if they have a government which includes Arabs and Kurds they have a bigger chance of deciding the city’s faith peacefully, but if one side tries to seize the area with force, war will break out. This doesn’t just meant he (at this moment unlikely) possibility of Kurds seizing Kerkuk by force but also the possibility of the Iraqi Government, led by Arab nationalist hardliners like al-Hadba and Hiwar to try seize control. The Peshmerga are not going to just leave voluntarily, so this would escelate into a civil war.

  23. Reidar Visser said

    Who says they’ll have to fight though? That would mean the end of the regular oil paycheck from Basra/Baghdad to Arbil obviously and major economic problems in Kurdistan.

  24. Jason said

    I’m guessing, but it looks like Maliki’s call for a grand coalition is designed to bring on board Sunnis that will support him for PM to keep it out of the hands of a Sadrist candidate. Such an attempt to stack the vote tells us that he has completely failed to reach any agreement with the INA. It could also be pure showmanship designed to apply pressure on the INA to accept him. If this ploy fails, then all bets are off. Hang onto your seats, there is still a long and bumpy ride ahead. I wouldn’t place a bet on anything yet.

  25. Kermanshahi said

    Not everything is about the money Reidar, for Kurds it’s not even a question what is more important Kerkuk or oil paychecks. Besides, there is a chance a Arab Nationalist government would try to isolate Kurdistan regardless of Kerkuk, just like Saddam did in the 1990s. Reconciliation betwen the Kurdish authorities and Iraqi authorities only happened when secterian Shi’as, led by al-Hakim came to power, if Arab Nationalists take over again relations can deteriorate so badly that it becomes like under Saddam again (politically, since militarily, Iraq no longer has the power it had back then).

    The problem I see with these “non-secterian” politicians you support is that people like al-Hashemi, under the banner of “non-secterianism” believe that Sunnis can be president cause there is no difference between Iraqis, but Kurds cannot because it is an “Arab country,” forgetting that Sunnis are a minority too. These people are in my eyes as much ethnic nationalists as the Kurdish leadership, only the Kurdish nationalists are not trying to force their rule over whole Iraq, these people are.

  26. Reidar Visser said

    The problem with a strategy based on Hakim is that he commands exactly 9 SCIRI seats in parliament on a good day, and perhaps may influence an additional 9 Badr seats to some extent if he is lucky. That just isn’t a realistic strategy. If the Kurds couldn’t get Kirkuk from the UIA during the heyday of Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim in 2007, long before the centralism of Maliki, Shahristani and Hassani had really come into play, why should they hope to get it from the next government?

    I totally agree that the suggestion of limiting the presidency to an Arab is unhelpful and futile, but note that Hashemi has been criticised internally in Iraqiyya for putting forward this idea.

  27. Salah said

    I totally agree that the suggestion of limiting the presidency to an Arab is unhelpful and futile

    Wow…all the talks saying Sunni ….Shiites and Kurds, all of you divides Iraq as you like on three sectarianism parts or more with your long discussions.

    But all of you forgot very simple fact that Kurds an ethnics part of Iraq not religious sectarianism division and the Kurd were also Sunni and Shiites in religions sectarianism, Sunnis were majority between Kurds.

    So the presidency should limited for any Iraqi who works for Iraq as one country and works for all Iraqis without your rhetoric division.

  28. Salah said

    there is a chance a Arab Nationalist government would try to isolate Kurdistan regardless of Kerkuk, just like Saddam did in the 1990s

    I there was no separation in all history of Iraq only after The Iraqi no-fly zones were a set of two separate no-fly zones (NFZs), and were proclaimed by the United States, United Kingdom and France after the Gulf War of 1991.

    It was not because of Iraqi nationalist and all these fake claims here and there, Kermanshahi your name Iranian (correct me if I am wrong) you should look further to other places like Iran to tell the real isolation of ethnics in South-western Iran also in East Iran include Kurds also you can talk about it what Turkey did and do or Syria

  29. Kermanshahi said

    Salah, I know exactly how the Kurdish uprising in 1991 happened (and see that you’re conveniently forgetting some facts), also you’re claims of “isolation of ethnic groups in Iran,” is not based on very much fact, or it’s meant in a completely different way. What I was talking about is after Kurds won control over most of their own region in Iraq, Saddam completely boycotted the region and it was isolated, by him, from the rest of Iraq, only after the invasion the KRG and central government (in which Kurds were now for the first time also represented) started working together. A new Arab nationalist governmentr could try declare the Kurdish autononmy illegal or at least partially, like demanding disbanding of Peshmerga, or more control, ect. and KRG naturally refuses to listen in return the Iraq’s Arab Natioanlist central government closes all the roads, banns all trade, cuts electicity, ect. with the North: Isolation.

    In Iran there are no authonous regions, no regional armies, no (significant) militias and insurgents and with lack of free elections or multi-party system, the same guys control all levels of power in the country (government, parliament, military, local councils, juridacy, provincial councils, ect.), so what isolation? Now no-one would deny that Kurds have more social, cultural and political freedom in Iraq than in Syria, Turkey or even Iran and Masoud Barzani, Jalal Talabani and even Nouri al-Maliki, though far from angels, have much better human rights records than the Islamic regime in Iran, the Ba’athist regime in Syria and the Military junta in Turkey. However the Iraqi state didn’t give them anything out of free will, they fought for every right they had, went to war for 30 years and it cost nearly 300 thousand lives and prior to 1991 Kurds in Iraq were treated the worst in the world, even Kenan Evren showed more respect for human rights while confronting the Kurdish uprising than Saddam Hussein and Ali Majid did.

  30. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, I leave it to you and Salah to slug it out, verbally I mean, but just one observation if I may: The reason you disagree is probably that you’re looking at different periods. Obviously, parts of the Baath era saw horrible relations between Baghdad and the Kurds. On the other hand, during Qasem and the monarchy there were many attempts at integration, many of them reasonably successful. There were plenty of Kurdish ministers during the monarchy for example. On the whole, Iraqi was far ahead of its neighbours in recognising the Kurdish desire for autonomy.

    I don’t think any influential Iraqi politician today has any intention of reversing federalism in Kurdistan. However, for the past few years the Kurds have been engaged in an attempt to impose a stronger degree of decentralisation on the rest of Iraq (i.e. outside Kurdistan) than the population there seems to be comfortable with, and this is a reason behind much of the current ill-feeling against the Kurds.

  31. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, Kurds have generally been supportive of attempts by Shi’as to create autonomous republics (such as the 9-governorate state proposed by ISCI, or the Basra autonomous governorate possibly including Maysan and Dhi Qar) because it wouldn’t leave them as only one but they have never tried to actually impose it. What they have tried to do is create a Kurdistan Autonomous Republic on the whole soil of Kurdistan (the part of Kurdistan that fell in Iraq after WWI) and not just within the borders of 3 governorates which Saddam Hussein’s regime drew. Some Arabs act as if these governorates are 10,000 years old and their borders are sacred, while infact they are just over 30 years old and they’re borders have been altered loads of times since then. The areas claimed by the KRG are all Kurdish inhabited areas, that’s why Kurds want referendums held there (because they know the local population wants to join Kurdistan) and Arab nationalists oppose it because they know they will loose. It’s not the people in these areas which have ill-feelings against the Kurds, but the people living outside of these regions which have nothing to do with these areas but believe that Arabs have the right to rule these areas because of either racist beliefs or distorted historical claims.

    If the people of Basra, Karbala, Najaf, Dhi Qar, Maysan, Wasit, Babel, Muthanna and al-Qadissiyah don’t want any autonomy, than they shouldn’t have any and no-one should impose it on them. But if the people of Aqra, Shekhan, Kerkuk, Darbandikhan and Khanaqin want federalism no-one should be allowed to deprive them of it.

  32. Reidar Visser said

    The Kurdish claims to Kirkuk are after all themselves relatively recent. We had a long discussion about this earlier, at
    Another issue is whether the people of Kirkuk really want federalism, and if so, whether they want to be part of the KRG. With a slim majority of votes for non-Kurdish parties on 7 March, that question seems entirely open.

    Also, note that we are straying fairly far away from the original topic now!

  33. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, even if it is true that Turks formed a majority in Kerkuk city during their occupation while it was in the middle of a Kurdish region, it’s not relevant now, there have been so many population movements over the centuries, you might aswell sent all the Arabs to Saudi Arabia and sent all the Turkmens to Mongolia.

    As far as I know Kurdish parties recieved majority of the votes only the KA recieved slightly less votes than Iraqiyya, but if they did only manage to get a minority of the vote it is a direct result of the ethnic cleansing campaigns of the 70s and 80s. that is if the election wasn’t rigged, and after hearing about 93% turnout in the Arab districts of Kerkuk and in one of them even a 130% turnout, I have serious doubts about how fair the elections there, were…

  34. Salah said

    a reason behind much of the current ill-feeling against the Kurds.

    Reidar, If you excuse me here I think the ill-feeling is directed to both Kurds people who hold the power not main stream Kurds. As for Saddam area there were also Kurds ministers and members of المجلس الوطني who are selected and represent the Kurds during that time. One of them Jalal Talabani was on of Ba’ath government official early 1970

    As for replaying on the claims for isolation I strain myself as this will be out of top I don’t let myself go further, but there are few points here in brief:

    1- The ruling inside Iraq its internal matter not Iranian matter and Iraqi nationalism nothing wrong with it as Iranian nationalism that smears by Kermanshahi. So far Iran showed complete interference and dictating the Iraqi politic which completely un acceptable and against UN resolutions and lows.

    2- If Kurd in Iraq upraised today what mullah’s government leaded by Ahmadinejad will do for them? Refresh your mind the resent west Iran ethnic uprising?

    3- Arab in southern Iran “Al-Ahwaz” arabstan ” المحمرة region fully isolated and contemned by many Shah before and by Mullah from 1979 till now I am sure your nationalism will offended with this as most Persian do.

    4- The election in Iran not can not be democratic as we saw a lot of talk by Iran apposition parties accusing Mullah and so on and so forth, what you think if Bahrain support Iranian opposition parties and send Militia and money? What your steak here?

    5- Kurds militias, Badir militias Quads militias and all others that appeared in Iraq after 2003 were crated and founded by Iran you can not play with the facts and history and try to rewrite to suite your flavours, remember Saddam’s agreement with your Shah in mid 1970s that was stopped the Iran support for the Kurds militia and long time criminal smugglers

  35. Ali W said

    Kermanshahi, the Kurdish people are very decent and tolerant people. If any other european country was bombed, 3000 villages destroyed, chemicals weapons used against them by a government of a different ethnicity, they would kill members of that ethnicity if they walk the streets. However Arabs walk safely, treated respectfully in Kurdish towns, including my family, they are sophisticated enough to differentiate between a people and government. In UK, after the bombing by wahabis, Muslims started to get beaten up and mosques vandalised. This in a country with a free media, high literacy, easy internet access and high levels of liberty and stable social and economic environment.

    Whilst the Kurds have been killed in Iraq by sunni insurgents even though no suffering has been inflicted on the sunni community by the kurds, no mass graves containing sunni arab bodies, shot and buried by Kurdish soldiers.

    The individual you are debating with earlier said that the shia never got repressed by Baath!!!!!!!!! and that Saddam oppressed the people equally lol. So dont bother

    However, I do believe that certain demands made by Kurdish politicians are too much, for example, the Iraqi army is not allowed to enter Kurdish areas without permission, or that the peshmerga get funded by the central government, or that the Iraqi flag is not flown outside the Kurdish parliament, and particularly the issue of giving oil contracts without the agreement of the central government. I understand that the Kurds suffered, but they have to moderate their demands

  36. Kermanshahi said

    Salah, to reply to your points

    1- Iraqi Nationalism is one thing and so is Iranian Nationalism, Arab Nationalism and Persian Nationalism are another and I am against these ideologies because I believe they are racist.

    2- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not the leader of the Islamic (Ayatollah Khamenei is) and there has been no “west Iran ethnic uprising.”

    3- Khuzestan has never been isolated, it’s fully connected to the rest of the country, anyone can go in and out and infact business there is thriving. The Shah was a racist but he never banned Arabic, infact Arabic has been thought at Iranian schools for many decades and today ejoys a special status in the country. Mullahs are infact very pro-Arab, in the same way some Arab Nationalists in Iraq complain of ISCI, Sadr, being puppets of the Iranians, many Persian and Iranian Nationalists claim Mullahs are puppets of the Arabs.

    4- The opposition’s “proof” of election fraud was limited to unverified claims by people who cannot be identified and is mainly based on that this time conservatives won a higher percentage of votes in some provinces than they did last time, which is actually quite natural since people vote differently every election. The elections were fair, but not free.

    5- The Peshmerga were not created after 2003, nor were they created by Iran. They were created by the Kurdish people, from the Kurdish people, to fight opression and at times they recieved funding from different foreign powers, sometimes Iran, sometimes Syria, sometimes Russia, sometimes America.

  37. Kermanshahi said

    Ali Wasati, it is quit evident that Salah is a Ba’ath sympathiser, in the current non-secterian mood in Iraq some are coming out saying Saddam wasn’t that bad afterall, personally I don’t agree but I can understand it since after the invasion Iraqis have suffered much more. But some people are going to far claiming Saddam was actually good, denying his crimes, these are Saddam’s true followers showing their true face while earlier it had been taboo to support Ba’athist. Most of these people know what Saddam did and they like it but can’t publicly admit that part.

    As for Kurdish claims, with all respects Ali, but look at what Iraqi security forces have been doing in the rest of the country, they’ve been full of death squads and militias and still the area they control is unstable with Peshmerga doing a very good job for security, also there is a clear history here, in the past Kurds have not been treated to kindly by the Iraqi Army, who can assure them it doesn’t happen again? Who can asure them the rights they have won since 1991 and recognition they got since 2005 won’t be taken away, Arabs have a majority in the country they can vote to deprive Kurds of their rights and the current voting trend seems to go very much in that direction. also take a look at neighbouring countries, recent example of in Turkey the DTP being banned, followed by raids on local government councils everywhere in Kurdistan, 1483 Kurdish politicians (MPs, governors, mayors, members of provincial and city councils) are being trialed now, the ITF, which is part of the Iraqiyya bloc would eagerly see this happen in Iraq. The only guarantee Kurds have for safety, souvereignity and human rights is the fact that Peshmerga are defending the Kurdistan region now and Arab soldiers are not allowed to enter. Their demands might seem unreasonable for them it’s absolutely nececery. BTW, the post-2009 flag isn’t banned, only the Saddam flag of Iraq was banned.

  38. Salah said

    Here now coming from the Kurds, Mohammed Ottoman محمود عثمان القيادي في التحالف الكردستاني telling newspaper that Aliraqiya have constitution right to form government, so let see the democracy believer from Da’awa will handover the power, or they keep it as they stated the got it will never give it back…

    Iraq the second democracy state in ME after Israel isn’t?

  39. I have an observation to make. It seems to me that the political dichotomy now is between the rising and falling parties. It does not bode well to see all the parties that are on the decline, even those with solid voter base such as the PUK/KDP and ISCI, so willing and eager to sacrifice democratic principles in order to gain short term continuity in exercising power, it shows how pessimistic are the parties in power. Mahmoud Othman seems to be the exception, Salah.

  40. Joel Wing said

    You’re forgetting Lebanon

  41. Kermanshahi said

    Faisal, the KDP is not in decline and they never have been, still one of the biggest parties in parliament, they got slightly more seats this time than last time. Now the exact number of votes they got is almost impossible to determine however 26/42 = 61% of over 1.5 milion = ~1 milion, that’s more votes than last time. The PUK was in decline but now seems to be on the rise again, in 2009 they dropped from half to almost a quarter of the KA and they were outvoted by Gorran everywhere, this time they are ~40% of the KA (which is quite good considering circumstances), they won 17 seats which is more than 2x as much as Gorran (8 seats) and last time Gorran won Silemani with 51%, this time the PUK and Gorran both got 6 seats but in total the KA had 8. Naturally compared to 2005 the KA lost seats, but than there was no opposition then, compared to 2009 the KA has scored a massive victory over their opposition, they went from 59% to 75%, this is because the KDP’s support stayed rock solid, the PUK’s support declined but is growing again.
    Also you shouldn’t mistake undemocratic system with loosing support, vote wise Kurds deserved some ~75 seats, the KDP would have had ~32, but seat allocations meant ~50 thousand votes were needed for a seat in Silemani, ~25 thousand for a seat in Maysan. On national average 36 thousand votes are needed for 1 seat, in Kurdistan this was 46 thousand, for an Arab governorate this is like 33 thousand. Therefore Kurds seat wise were in decline (59/275 -> 59/325) but that’s purely because the system was against them this time. If next time the seats are allocated fairly, there will be no such decline. Silemani should have had 23 seats, Arbil 19, Dahuk 12 and Kerkuk 15.

    ISCI, Fadhila, the Islamic Party, these parties are really in decline. Everyone knew the Islamic Party was going to loose votes and seats this time to al-Iraqiyya and that this was going to be a lot more drastic than the KA losing seats to Gorran but personally I’d never expected the loss to be this drastic, in 2009 Tawafuq did relatively well, they still won in Diyala and Salah ad-Din and with 32 seats were the biggest Sunni party, seat wise they were 4th, vote wise they were 3rd in the country, but this time they were completely decimated. The NIA did also particulary bad, their parties were the biggest in 2005 and 2009. Ofcourse they were going to loose seats as compared to 2005, since there were now two Shi’a coalitions but the way they lost to State of Law proves these parties are all finished except for the Sadr Movement.

  42. Salah said

    Faisal Kadri
    agreed, for long time all these parties crying from dictatorship or one party control of Iraq, they came to dance democracy dance, sure they fall in their dance as they have had never been a fans of democracy rather than power hungry to control a wealthy country just as the past dead one.

    Joel Wing,

    I think Lebanon still in chaos as Hezbollah control southern Lebanon and Lebanon’s army can not interfere or be on the ground in southern Lebanon due to Hezbollah objections, this is what Iranian proxy doing a state inside state status,. However the calms of the only democracy in ME originated by Israelis for western audiences, but turkey also can be considered as democracy for long time isn’t?

  43. Ali W said

    Hi Rediar, hope you had a nice weekend, does the link above in regards to Othman’s statement, in regards to what Kutla means, mean that there is a shift in KA thinking?

  44. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, in general I’m reluctant to say much about internal Kurdish politics since I cannot read Kurdish. But I suspect Barzani will have the last word on that, but it is interesting that some Kurds tend to get a little worried when the Shiite alliance gets *too* strong. We saw this during the de-Baathification campaign as well. I think Uthman were among the Kurdish critics at one point.

  45. Reidar Visser said

    BTW, Uthman’s jurisprudence as such is worthless in this case. Kutla/kutal is precisely the terminology that has been employed in parliament for the past four years irrespective of whether an alliance is an electoral or a post-electoral one.

    In general, the argument against the SLA/INA combination as a basis for the next government is more moral and practical than technical/judicial. It will bring back Iraq to square one in terms of reinvigorating sectarian alliances, and it is an affront to voters who were not told in clear terms about these potential alliances during the very short campaign. To some extent Iraqiyya has brought it on themselves since this kind of interpretation was at least implicit in all their discussions with INA in the autumn of 2009 and beyond, when even Iraqiyya optimists had no faith in the idea that they would come first. Maliki apparently at first thought this kind of interpretation would be used as a conspiracy against SLA. On the other hand, of course, the contradictive dialogue that Iraqiyya conducted with INA may have protected them from electoral fraud to some extent, since INA is probably the most influential party in IHEC.

  46. Ali W said

    Reidar have you heard of this, this is big news if its true.

  47. Reidar Visser said

    Yeah, there is a brief reference to it in today’s post. Probably just means more delays in certifying the results, and, I assume, that the SLA/INA merger may be put on hold for some longer. At least, I assume that’s what Maliki may want.

  48. Ali W said

    I think its offical, I think if the results would change to favour SLA, then Iraqia would cry out foul. I think it will complicate matters more and will prolong the whole situation even further

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: