Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Maliki vs Lami, Maliki/Lami vs Allawi (Updated)

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:48

The prominent role of Tariq Harb, a legal counsel to Nuri al-Maliki, in communicating the decision of the electoral judicial panel to exclude 52 candidates and annul their votes retroactively has now been explained: A leaked letter from the panel indicates that the call for exclusion came from two different sides – the accountability and justice board headed by Ali al-Lami of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) and, in a separate complaint, the State of Law alliance (SLA) led by Nuri al-Maliki.

Equally important is the essential three-way character of the struggle, with Lami and Maliki still attacking the secularists in Iraqiyya from two different sides, and sometimes striking against each other instead. This is best illustrated in the legal reasoning behind the complaint from SLA. Their argument is that since their own candidate in Najaf, Abbud al-Eisawi, was de-Baathified shortly before the election and deprived of his votes at one point during the counting process, the same logic should apply to the 52 recently banned, i.e. the entity should lose their votes entirely. Equally important, though, is the fact that towards the end of March – one assumes by way of Iraqi magic – Eisawi was cleared by the special appeals court for de-Baathification and his votes were therefore counted in the normal fashion (he is a seat winner in Najaf and is recognised as such by IHEC). In other words, Maliki was first attacked by Lami who sought to exclude Eisawi; Maliki then got Eisawi reinstated by the appeals court but is using the Eisawi precedent (his votes do not appear on the early returns from Najaf) to exclude others who were not so lucky (and who happen to be mostly from Iraqiyya). In other words, one senses that one arm of the Iraqi system, the de-Baathification board, is still largely an INA preserve, but that Maliki is increasingly able to get the decisions he wants from the de-Baathification appeals board and the electoral judicial panel. Tragically, of course, by choosing this approach Maliki is in practice perpetuating the de-Baathification issue whose revival in 2009 was designed by Iran as a two-pronged attack against himself and  Ayad Allawi, the two most popular politicians in Iraq.

It is of course particularly ironic that this should all come at a time when for the first time there seems to be consistent calls in the Iraqi press for the most logical of all the potential alliances – Maliki and Allawi joining together. Even some Daawa politicians have referred to their merger as a “popular demand”. Perhaps what we are seeing is that once more, ploys that were devised several weeks ago catch up with their authors and create problems in the ever-changing political landscape of Iraq.

PS Meanwhile, late Thursday Iraqiyya revealed the identity of the eight additional candidates that are being chased by Lami (i.e. distinct from the 52 others, who were singled out by both Lami and Maliki). This is a bombshell in two respects. Firstly, there is news that IHEC has asked these candidates to submit their appeals, meaning the electoral judicial panel has probably sustained the demand by Lami to exclude them and their votes (this had not been expected until next week). And that is the second point: The prominence of these people, and the number of votes they represent. They are as follows:

Candidate Governorate Entity Personal vote
Falah Hasan Zaydan Nineveh Hiwar 18,954
Iskandar Witwit Babel Wifaq 11,644
Attab Jasim Nusayf Baghdad Karbuli 6,179 (female)
Jamal Batikh Wasit Wifaq 9,163
Adnan al-Jannabi Baghdad Wifaq 6,280
Muhammad al-Karbuli Anbar Karbuli 16,122
Qays Shadhar Baghdad Karbuli 3,451


Witwit and Jannabi were de-Baathified, un-Baathified and then re-Baathified in a farcical process prior to the 7 March vote. Zaydan, Witwit and Karbuli seem significant in terms of high numbers of personal votes: Updated, readjusted governorate forecast for these will follow here shortly, possibly along with Wasit.

PPS Very rough calculation indicates SLA/Maliki might be the actual loser in Babel if Witwit is excluded: The electoral divider changes from 36,642 to 35,948 and INA therefore gets 5 seats in the first allocation instead of its original four! INM loses votes but not seats; the new distribution would apparently be INA 6 (+1), INM 3 (no change), SLA 7 (-1). Of course, it is impossible to say for sure until all 50, non-winning excluded candidates have been identified by governorate and added to the equation but precisely because they are non-winning they will tend to have low personal scores and are therefore less likely to affect the seat distribution. More governorates to follow soon.

Wasit: If Batikh is excluded, Allawi could lose one seat and Maliki could gain one, although it would be very close with some 6,000 votes setting them apart. The initial allocation remains the same but the exclusion of the votes of Batikh kicks in in the second allocation, where the INM share goes down from 15 to 13% and that of SLA goes up from 45 to 47%, enabling it to catch one seat in the first round and another on the basis of the largest remainder.

Anbar: Apparently unchanged; Iraqiyya has a solid lead.

Nineveh: Apparently also unchanged but the northern governorates appear to be prone to de-Baathification and there could be retroactively-de-Baathified non-winning candidates way down on the lists that might change the numbers a little.

In sum: With every possible caveat about a very rough calculation with no time for double-checking, if these candidates are confirmed as excluded and nothing changes in the Baghdad recount, the whole process might leave INA with one additional seat, SLA unchanged and Iraqiyya could lose one (but still one seat ahead of SLA). Whereas the initial 52 exclusions sought by both Maliki and Lami seemed to be of little consequence as far as seat distribution is concerned, these 8 additional ones pursued by Lami could produce changes – that is perhaps also why they were filed after the results were made public? Note also that Lami has talked about 8 exclusions whereas only 7 individuals have been named by Iraqiyya as subject to the latest decision.

48 Responses to “Maliki vs Lami, Maliki/Lami vs Allawi (Updated)”

  1. Salah said

    The problem with these acts by Iranian”Iraqi” man with Chalabi moves to alter Iraq election results. By mucking the results of election by any way that muddling the politics in Iraq to bring the Iranian lovers to the bed again.

    The move to make looks like Iraqiya list candidates is more forming from one sect. going back to get sectarian divisions state again.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    By striking against prominent Shiite Iraqiyya figures like Batikh and Witwit, Lami certainly contributes to the “Sunnification” of the INM.

  3. mostafa said

    Hi Reidar,
    I think that Iraqiyya is sunnified already and Lami doesn’t need to sunnify it any more:
    – all its leaders axcept for Allawi are strong sunni leaders (Hashimy, Mutlaq, Nujaify, Karbuli….).
    – they got a very strong political and financial and logistic support from the Sunni Arabic governments like Saudi Arabia.
    – Iraqiyya got about 70% of the sunni votes and 10% of the shiite votes (a statistically significant difference)

    and what about Najm alharbi candidate number 1 in INM list in Diyala (28000 votes) who is imprisoned and accused of supporting terrorism?
    thank you

  4. bb said

    One thing clear from these machinations is how the proportional representative electoral system operates to minimise the effects of various actors trying to change an election result they didn’t like.

    Instead of simply ripping the seats away the electoral divider works to preserve the proportions.

    Try as they might to post-facto de baathify, Lami and co are still having great difficulty pulling Iraqiyya’s/SOL’s majorities back.

    Remind me again, who is Lami? Is he Sadrist?

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, I don’t know the details of the case of Harbi but you probably know this is a separate criminal investigation apart from the de-Baathification lists (unless he is the eighth, unnamed Iraqiyya candidate in the latest batch of exclusions; I did see Lami mention him once in an interview to al-Hayat as a possible candidate for de-Baathification). Iraqiyya has loudly complained his arrest, characterising it as politically motivated.

    If both Harbi and Bayati are excluded this could conceivably change the recalculation of seats, but I’d prefer to have any exclusion/verdict against Harbi confirmed by the courts before doing that!

    Bb, Lami is INC/Chalabi.

  6. bb said

    Thanks. As I think I have commented before, if Iraq ever abandons PR that’s when I’ll start getting woried about the future of its democracy. Might be a Chalabi/Sadrists future move.

    It should also not be forgotten that the shia parties between them almost have a absolute majority of the COR.

  7. JWing said

    Here’s an article I wrote on the Harbi case and other Allawi candidates in Diyala that the government was after.

  8. Ali W said

    To state that that the Iraqis who wish the Baathist to be banned are Iranian stooges is just not true. I dont like Iran but I fully support the barring of all those who are connected to the Old regime, particularly those who are anti shia baathist, rahter than shia baathist who have accepted the new reality in iraq.

    The vast majority of Iraqis support the baathist purge, and if there is no law, unfortunately we have no choice but to make one up as we go along, because sticking to the law could mean the return of the shia being put in mass graves!!

  9. Zahra said

    Dear Reider,

    What is apparent from the passage you’ve cited, and important to point out, is that the SLA pursued this course because IHEC had already used this approach against their barred candidate (from no uproar from the international community ofcourse). What they complained about is the DOUBLE STANDARDS applied by IHEC – remember the 17,000 votes they were only too happy to disqualify before Wahid before it was pointed out to them that Wahid had won his appeal? I didn’t read any news pieces screaming and shouting about 17,000 being disenfranchised, or is it any less problematic for democracy when SLA votes are lost??

    I agree with you that the debaathification process is hugely problematic, but I think it is fair for SLA to force IHEC to apply the same standards across the board.

    On the other hand, the difficulty of excluding popular candidates sheds light on how much worse the situation would have been if the UN/Biden proposal of delaying Mutlaq and Ani’s debaathification until after the elections!

  10. Reidar Visser said

    Zahra, yeah, but the other point that I am mking is that Eisawi got all his votes back so it seems a bit strange to evoke this precedent since it never resulted in a final ruling. The Eisawi numbers simply were absent in some of the early counts but returned in time for the final result after Maliki had managed to get him reinstated.

    Ali, so you are calling for “The State of the Improvised Law”, then.

  11. Kermanshahi said

    I don’t understand how the INA can win 7 seats in Babil and the SLC 6, when the SLC has more votes. No change in electoral divider should change the basic principle that the more votes you get, the more seats you get.

  12. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, please read the text carefully. INA adds one seat and moves from 5 to 6. SLA has its share reduced from 8 to 7. It’s just the gap that diminishes due to the change in the electoral divider.

  13. “if Iraq ever abandons PR that’s when I’ll start getting woried”
    Gosh Bb you mean you are Not worried about democracy in Iraq right now? I got nothing against PR but the political process in Iraq will not be able to produce peaceful exchange of power. PR run by the GOI is not enough, The UN needs to supervise the process directly.

  14. Salah said

    the law could mean the return of the shia being put in mass graves!!

    These are acquisitions and allegations to scare people. For 7 years there were mass grave more than those in 35 years of tyrant regime.

    Any mindful person the losses with Iraqis in matter of human losses, orphans, widows and in all aspects of life in the past 7 years compared with 35 years of tyrant regime if not consider far for old regime its equal to it, but in 7 years frame.

    هذه اللطمية معروفة ومجة من قبل اغلب العراقيين

  15. bb said

    Faisal Kadri:

    Look, the reality is that the UN can’t supervise this directly, nor can it dictate to the Iraqis.

    The Iraqis will insist on working through the issues themselves, with UN guidance. That’s the best the UN can, or will be able to do in the future.

  16. Salah said

    According to Iraqi constitution which says:
    Article 135:

    First: The High Commission for De-Ba’athification shall continue its functions as an independent commission, in coordination with the judicial authority and the executive institutions within the framework of the laws regulating its functions.The Commission shall be attached to the Council of Representatives.

    Second: The Council of Representatives shall have the right to dissolve this Commission by an absolute majority after the completion of its function.

    So the “The Council of Representatives” has the right to dissolve this Commission! Were this right from all this fuss of the accountability and justice?

    Firstly talking about the “standards” it’s clearly the accountability and justice Commission was biased in her orders and decisions no one can argue that.
    Secondly, Iraqi constitution clearly says in article 135 the following:

    Fifth: Mere membership in the dissolved Ba’ath party shall not be considered a sufficient basis for referral to court, and a member shall enjoy equality before the law and protection unless covered by the provisions of De-Ba’athification and the directives issued according to it.

    Now Lami coming with new order by himself told RFI on April 3 that “the commission “will now take measures against the ministers who did not apply [de-Ba’athification] measures” to its employees, adding that these officials will be referred to the Integrity Commission.

    According to Iraqi industrial ministry 46,000 employee threaten by Lamis order will be fired from their jobs also there are more around 4000-6000 others will threatened to lose their jobs accordingly.

    So is this what democratic and Institution state ruling or this just selfnecessities behaviour by some one rhetoric like lami.

    Thirdly the Iraqi constitution stated the following:

    First: Any entity or program that adopts, incites, facilitates, glorifies, promotes, or justifies racism or terrorism or accusations of being an infidel (takfir) or ethnic cleansing, especially the Saddamist Ba’ath in Iraq and its symbols, under any name whatsoever, shall be prohibited. Such entities may not be part of political pluralism in Iraq. This shall be regulated by law.

    Second: The State shall undertake to combat terrorism in all its forms, and shall work to protect its territories from being a base, pathway, or field for terrorist activities.

    So its clearly said “ANY ENTITY” then why the state undertake to combat JUST Ba’ath parties not others who involved in “terrorism or accusations of being an infidel (takfir) or ethnic cleansing” acts for the last seven years?

    So were is the stranded here in all of Lami –Galabi commission

  17. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, the government has tried to replace it but could not agree internally on who should sit on the next committee, mainly due to a Sadrist-Daawa dispute about leadership of the committee. I don’t think there is any will or courage in the existing parliament to get rid of the commission altogether since this would imply the end of the de-Baathification process.

  18. Kermanshahi said

    Bb, the PR system Iraq used for this election is itself more undemocratic than the de-Ba’athification and everything around it. I know you like the system because it gave benefit for the parties you support but you should really thinka bout how undemocratic it is to let the government beforehand chose how much your vote is worth. Everyone’s vote should count equally, with the shamefull seat division of this election that was definetly not the case!

    Ali W, there is no problem in de-Ba’athifying those who belong to the old regime, the problem really is the way they are doing it. First of all they should have banned all the Ba’athists prior to the elections, secondly Iraqiya won 91 setas, if they want to disqualify 2-3 of those MPs because of Ba’ath links, they should atleast allow them to be replaced with members from the same list. What they have however done is disqualify loads of candidates most of which didn’t make it to parliament as to disqualify their votes, so basicly they’re not banning Ba’ath party members, they’re stealing peoples’ votes to shift the outcome in Maliki’s favour.

    Actually guys, both the PR system and the post-election de-Ba’athification have stolen peoples’ votes.

  19. Wladimir said

    “If upheld, these decisions would give Maliki’s bloc more seats than Allawi’s. If Maliki’s list gained four seats, it could potentially form a government with the other major Shiite bloc, the Iraqi National Alliance, excluding both the Kurds and Sunnis. That result — surely disastrous for U.S. interests ”

    I have no doubts that you disagree with this analysis Visser.

  20. Reidar Visser said

    Wladimir, I don’t think the Kagan article is based on any analysis of specific candidates and the potential vote numbers they represent. It was printed on 29 April and the names of the 7 more significant Iraqiyya seat-winners to be targeted weren’t even in the public domain by that time. I think the number four is entirely conjectural.

    There are more serious flaws in the article as well. At one point it speaks about the virtues of non-sectarianism but it concludes by a suggestion for power-sharing in which Iraqiyya supposedly represents Sunnis and ISCI the Shiites! And in what appears to be an endemic defect of American think tank circles, it posits that “Shiite interests” in Iraq, whatever that may be, can be satisfied through the medium of ISCI and Ammar al-Hakim, and that both Maliki and the Sadrists can safely be pushed aside. In the first place, this approach fails to recognise that INA (where Chalabi is a close ally of Hakim) authored the very de-Baathification revival which the op-ed sets out to criticise. Also it disregards that to the extent there is interest in INM for an alliance with INA, the hopes are placed on the Sadrists, not on ISCI. It is noteworthy that the Sadrists appeared to be the main obstacle in the previous attempt at merging INA and SLA.

    ISCI, as ever, is playing the game very cleverly. First they lead Maliki into the de-Baathification trap and let him join them in the demand to bar 52 candidates with negligible personal scores, then they change their position once the ruling has been made and start criticising the concept of post-election de-Baathification (nevermind that their own Ali al-Lami has silently proceeded with his own private attack, separate from Maliki, on 7 top Iraqiyya vote-getters). It is pretty much the same dynamic as in the case of the ministry bombings last August, when ISCI had been making noise against the Arab neighbours for months but then suddenly stood back when Maliki finally went out on a limb and attacked Syria. That kind of opportunistic posture may endear ISCI to the likes of the Kagans, but none of this, of course, changes the fact that it is by now a small party in parliament, with no more than 18 seats (half of which are Badr).

  21. Kermanshahi said

    Well I wouldn’t call ISCI that small Reidar, sure 18 out of 325 doesn’t seem that much but than there are like 40 parties in parliament. From your own figures ISCI is the 5th biggest party in the parliament (well, if you don’t differentiate between ISCI & Badr, and we never used to in the past and I still don’t see any difference between the two), OK they had a large fall since last time but nr.5 out of ~40 parties is still significant.

    This is according to what you published here:
    1. Sadr Movement: 40 seats
    2. Iraqi National Accord: 27 seats
    3. Kurdistan Democratic Party: 26 seats
    4. Islamic Da’awa Party – Maliki: 22 seats
    5. Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq & Badr Organisation: 18 seats
    6. Patriotic Union of Kurdistan: 17 seats
    7. Iraqi National Dialouge Front: 16 seats
    8. Islamic Da’awa Party – Tanzim al-Iraq: 13 seats
    10.Karbuli (I assume refering to al-Hal): 12 seats

  22. Reidar Visser said

    A couple of points to your list:
    -I stressed many times that Wifaq has merged with Hiwar to form the Iraqi National Movement (the party, not the alliance) which is the biggest entity.
    -I mentioned several times that the Daawa estimate is at the low end due to a considerable number of unidentified candidates.

    More importantly, I still think ISCI are too small to single-handedly represent the Shiites of Iraq in a sectarian model of government. On the other hand SLA + INM would ensure better representation both for Shiites who think sectarian and Shiites who think secular.

  23. Reidar Visser said

    Wladimir, PS I found the likely source of the Kagans, from the Institute of Study of War.

    Click to access CandidateDisqualification.pdf

    I think they could be getting the math for Babel wrong and end up with taking away an Iraqiyya seat there that I think is likely to stay as it is. Possibly they may have forgotten to lower the electoral divider??

    Otherwise the conclusions are in line with those posted above, except that they do not discuss the Iraqiyya candidate in Diyala that was among the initial 52 excluded (though this did not lead to seat changes).

  24. Bb,
    I think the UN Can supervise Iraqi census and the elections but you don’t know how, and if the Security Council mandates it then the UN will have to comply and find out how. I am not for UN dictating or loss of sovereignty but even this should be possible with a Security Council mandate. And Bb, if only the loss of PR will make you worry about Iraq’s political process then I question your sense of reality.
    Also, if the Iraqis call for UN supervision then I believe the UN will comply. I think there are plausible circumstances for this to happen: The international community and Iraqyya could offer temporary legitimacy and recognition to Maliki in exchange for official request to the UN to supervise census and the elections within say two years, this could work like Khalilzadeh’s proposal for split leadership.

  25. Xenophon said

    So Reidar,

    What is ISCI’s game then? They are working covertly to undermine Maliki to what end? To compel SLA to force him out and pave the way for an INA-SLA alliance?

  26. Reidar Visser said

    Xenophon, I assume they want to get rid of Maliki and that a merger of INA and SLA or a big coalition (or both) are the instruments they work with. My guess is they would like to have any weak prime minister (including even a new “unknown” Daawa figure) that would allow them to take a few ministries and consolidate their alliance with the Kurds.

  27. Kermanshahi said

    I think actually it would be better for ISCI to go into the opposition now, it’s difficult to relinquish power, but it won’t do them that much good. In no country the political sentiment will stay the same for ever, if ISCI pushes itself into the government they can grow even more unpopulair, if they go into the opposition, over 4 or maybe 8 years, when people are unhappy with the parties which rule at that time (Maliki, Allawi) than they will move back to parties as ISCI and the IIP than several terms later more nationalist parties will win again. Than Iraq will be a real democracy.

    If the same people try to cling on to power for ever like ISCI but actually Maliki is even more guilty in this area and use undemocratic means like de-Ba’athification, unfair division of votes per governorates and vote rigging to stay in power for ever, than Iraq will become a dictatorship again. They say in a democracy the second election is even more important than the first and that’s because this will show if the leaders are prepared to hand over power when the people want it. So far al-Maliki and al-Hakim have definetly failed the test.

  28. Salah said

    Hamdiya alhassani siad:
    قالت الحسيني إن المنظمة تقدم فقط المشورة الفنية للمفوضية مشيرة إلى أن القضاء أكد أن المفوضية جهة تنفيذية ينبغي عليها أن تنفذ كل ما تطلبه منها هيئة المساءلة والعدالة.
    What your take in this matter while we understand that she is right in some aspect but the environment that IHEC working fluid?

  29. Reidar Visser said

    I find what she’s saying really strange, because I am almost certain that “the judges” she refers to as having designated IHEC as an “executive body” in fact did so last December, when there was a query about constitutional interpretation before the federal supreme court in which the de-Baathification committee sought to impose its own interpretation in a case on IHEC (about excluding entities in their entirety if their leaders were de-Baathified). The FSC refused to give an interpretation but identified IHEC – not the de-Baathification committee – as the natural decision-maker:

    من الأمور الإجرائية القانونية التطبيقية التي تختص الهيأة العليا للانتخابات باتخاذها

    Of course the big scandal in all of this is the pro-active role taken by the AJ board. The legislation merely provides a role for it in providing IHEC with the information it needs, but in actual fact it has been driving the process in a highly aggressive manner – to the point, apparently, where Mrs. Husayni fails (or is unwilling) to remember a FSC decision that at least says IHEC should be in the lead.

  30. Salah said

    In today Iraq the main problem is people came out of the blue and put in power without any merriest that promote them to lead a nation that suffered a lot.

    Maliki’s main is no better neither the Iraqi National Alliance includes the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and elements of the Sadrists, both of which have strong Islamic roots. After seven yers were these parties and groups using Ashura as a platform for their support. After the 2005 elections much has transpired in the last five years, and the government that gets elected will be facing tremendous pressures to deliver. That unveiled Iraqis got sick and tired of finding most notable characteristic is their dissatisfaction with political status quo. Extensive corruption—a major problem in Iraq these folk has corrupted the faith this have nothing to do with democracy.

    People who are in power make the system works not words on paper make people to follow unless they believe from inside in those word on paper. But these guys they don’t understand and reads those words.

  31. Good thinking, Kermanshahi. The problem with exercising power is that the powerful often commit so many mistakes and make so many enemies that they can’t bow out and exit gracefully. They have to have the protection of power in order to cover their mistakes and stay alive.

  32. bb said

    Kermanshahi – I most certainly don’t support the PR system because it benefits (you seem to think) the parties I support!!!

    I support the PR system because it is the one system that virtually ensures that NO party can ever get an absolute majority over the others and therefore has to govern in coalition, sharing power with the losers. In PR the parties are each represented strictly according to the % of the votes it polls in the given election.

    You don’t seem to understand that because the shia parties constituency have such a huge demographic advantage over the others, then any other voting system would give it a perpetual majoritiy in the COR, and perhaps even the 66% majority that would enable it to amend the constitution to its own advantage.

    I presume you are thinking that I support the shia parties? You could not be more wrong. If I were an arab Iraqi voting in the election, I would have voted for Unity of Iraq.

    And let me put it another way, Kermanshahi. If I DID support the shia parties I would certainly want to change the electoral system to first past the post so that my party would be the government in perpetuity!

    btw you say “how undemocratic it is let the government beforehand chose how much your vote is worth.”

    This is not true! The proportions are determined by a neutral mathematical formula, NOT by the government!

    You say: “Everyone’s vote should count equally”

    Exactly. That’s what PR ensures.

  33. Salah said


    The Kutla aliraqia asking for holding urgent parliament meeting to discuss the resent problem.

    Does this call have legal sound? If yes so what prevent Iraqi parliament to make urgent members meeting discussing the problem in more open way were all the voices of elected candidates (supposedly” speaking for their voters NOT for their party leaders) discussed what Iraqi voters want

    ان الحكومة العراقية المنتهية ولايتها لا تتمتع بغطاء قانوني ودستوري، وتمارس مهامها بلا رقابة برلمانية، ومن هنا تجدد الكتلة العراقية مطالبتها باجتماع طارئ لمجلس النواب العراقي، والذي اكد على ضرورته رئيس اللجنة القانونية في المجلس

  34. bb said

    Faisal – indeed, if the Iraqis call for UN supervision then UN supervision would be acceptable.

    However you need to accept that the “Iraqis” you talk about are not confined to Iraqiyya but also include SOL, INA and the Kurdish Iraqis who happen to comprise the majority.

    So I agree with you: greater UN supervision would be good, but can only happen if an Iraqi consensus emerges.

    “And Bb, if only the loss of PR will make you worry about Iraq’s political process then I question your sense of reality.”

    I have no current worries about the democratic political process in Iraq. It has been strikingly robust in the last 2 years, notwithstanding the ferocious attempts of the insurgency and the shia jihadis to overturn it, and indeed is now providing Reidar with limitless material for this blog.

    Sometimes one casts ones mind back to the pre-invasion situation and tries to imagine how much attention Reidar and you all would be paying Iraq today if there were no democratic process?

  35. Xenophon said

    It’s strange–of all the major political leaders in Iraq, I find Maliki–even though he has been PM for four years–the most mysterious and least readily comprehensible. By that, I mean that I don’t really understand Maliki’s fundamental motivations and goals–which is counterintuitive, since he’s been in the limelight for so long. Yet, Sadr, Hakim, even Allawi seem much more obvious in terms of objectives and ideologies. Maliki has been called a stooge of the US, a stooge of Iran, a Shia sectarian, a moderate Islamist, a dictator in waiting, a shrewd bargainer and political operator, an incompetent bumbler, and almost every other term–good and bad–that you can come up with. Analysts have forecast–so far wrongly–his political demise countless times. I have oscillated between all of these views. Sometimes he seems like an incredibly canny politician and sometimes–as with his crazy allegations against Syria and perhaps this current attempt to change the election results–like some flailing amateur. Who and what is Maliki? What drives him?

  36. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, the problem is just that the constitution stipulates an end of parliament after four years but it does not really change the status of the government after the expiry of the parliamentary term and all the talk of a “caretaker” government and so on, while easy to sympathise with perhaps, really appears to have no firm constitutional basis. Of course you cannot call Iraq a democracy if for a prolonged period there is no parliamentary supervision, but the problem is a constitution where everything is predicated on a belief that the various players will conform to the prescribed route for forming a new government. Alas, they don’t.

    In general to my mind it would be better to encourage a reversion to the established rules of the game, if needed by way of international pressure, instead of trying to invent new ones along the way.

  37. Salah said

    you cannot call Iraq a democracy if for a prolonged period there is no parliamentary supervision,

    But this is what Iraq had now… so how long will this ” prolonged period” you think?

  38. Wladimir said

    Not to forget that the American Enterprise Institute promoted Chalabi in the past and some even suggest that they promoted the idea of debaathification, which is abused now for political gains. But I doubt anyone could predict that. Thanks for the extensive comment.

  39. Bb,
    If you read my comment #24 carefully then you will understand that I also suggested the UN supervision proposal as a consensus between Iraqyya and Maliki.
    It is common to compare the present Iraqi situation with Saddam’s dictatorship but there is a fundamental flaw in this comparison: Saddam had no pretense, he was a dictator based on fear and he flaunted it. Now, we pretend of democracy. We Do have freedom of expression which provides the material for researchers like Reidar but this is not democracy. It seems that you believe the mask of democracy, that’s why I question your sense of reality. And in your comment #32 you built your argument on the assumption that the Shia constitute a single political entity. This is a superficial argument which adds more reason to question your sense, only hardcore Neocons and a small minority Iraqi voters still believe it.

  40. bb said

    “Saddam had no pretense, he was a dictator based on fear and he flaunted it. ”

    Of course, not so bad then.

  41. Kermanshahi said

    Faisal, in a real democracy the government doesn’t have the absolute power to commit so many violations or to imprison their political opponents after they win, the problem is that Iraq isn’t quite there yet. But I think that anyhow the ISCI is to powerfull for Allawi to try imprison their members or ban their party.

    Bb, so you support the current system because you think it will ensure Sunnis a disproportionate advantage over Shi’a? To give Sunni votes more value that Shi’a votes is as undemocratic as the vote stealing being done by Maliki & co. right now (mostly aimed at stealing Sunni votes) by post-election de-Ba’athification.

    If you want democracy that means majority rule, so if you support a system that makes minority rule possible, it’s the same as being against democracy. I also notice that somewhat hypocricly Sunnis believe that in Shi’a countries like Iraq and Lebanon there needs to be some kind of equal dividing of seats between Shi’a majority and Sunni minority to ensure Shi’a vote can’t create Shi’a rule. But when it comes to Sunni countries no-one will even hear the suggestion of splitting power evenly with Shi’a. And specially since you say to believe on nonsecterianism, than why give people less seats than their votes are worth based on their sect?

    BTW, your notion that the current systems gives Sunnis more benefit than Shi’a is also not completely correct. By current system the 4 Sunni governorates have 70 seats and the 9 Shi’a governorates have 119, with 1 man 1 vote it would have been 70 Sunni and 106 Shi’a. The real benefit would be for the 4 Kurdish governorates which would go from 53 to 69, but it’s undemocratic nonetheless.

  42. Salah said


    Let not go further in your comment that Sheikh Paul Bremer he is the US man who band Bath Party and start debaathification firstly by dismantled Iraqi Army and Police on ground that they Saddam’s guys which not.

    he was a dictator based on fear and he flaunted it.
    Iraq before had republic of fear now republic of orphins, widows and proverty.

    We Do have freedom of expression
    This to early to say if we looking deep to the number of assassinations especially of journalist who spoke against political figures and other killing that done against some family members for some just a sign to shut up.


    Your democracy have ugly test where your selfcreated democracy build on religion divisions. what about your favourite Iran Mullah democraticly elected government was it set on same what you talking about?

    Democracy were all the people feel the freedom no matter what colour religion ethnic which not in case of Iraq existed.

  43. Reidar Visser said

    OK any follow-ups please try to revert to the original topic i.e. Maliki vs Lami, Maliki/Lami vs Allawi. Many readers subscribe to the comments feed and deserve a little bit more focus than this.

  44. bb said

    Fair enough Reidar, but it would help if you would help correct Kermanshahi’s misapprehensions that proportional representation is giving the sunni vote disproportionate value?

  45. Reidar,
    This is regarding Lami, I am concerned about his claims of US “plans” to kill him, this will make him a martyr. How much credence do you give to his claims?

  46. JWing said

    “Who and what is Maliki? What drives him?”

    Power, pure and simple. He and his Dawa party still act like an exile group, very secretive, acts sort of like the Communist Party. Wants to place his members throughout the government bureaucracy. He’s more of a centralist rather than a nationalist. He wants to centralize power in the prime minister’s office, with of course, him at the head. Although lots of people like to call him a strongman, the Iraqi system is too divided and dysfunctional for anyone to have that type of autocratic power. I think a strong executive that doesn’t have to worry about the legislature would be more appropriate.

  47. Reidar Visser said

    Faisal, I don’t think those rumours have any credibility at all. I hope not. Let’s face it, Lami is not some kind of crazy loner inside INA. He is the lieutenant of Ahmad Chalabi who pretty much was the brain behind the creation of INA in 2009. Killing Lami would be futile because the problems of his policies would persist in the shape of INA. If the US wants to address this problem it should stop fraternising with the rest of the leaders of INA instead, but, alas, these happen to include some of Washington’s most trusted darlings like Ammar al-Hakim and Adel Abd al-Mahdi.

  48. Kermanshahi said

    Salah, no-one is claiming Iran is a democracy, but we’re talking about Iraq. The invasion brought a lot of bad things to Iraq but one good thing was Saddam is now gone and there is a chance for Iraq to become democratic. Sadly we are witnessing the country slide back into dictatorship.

    Bb, you said it gives Sunnis and advantage, I didn’t. But I said that if you support a system because it gives Sunnis an unfair advantage, you don’t support democracy. No, in real the system gives Arabs in general an unfair advantage but I believe any system were some peoples votes are worth more than others is undemocratic.

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