Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Is This the PM Committee of the New Shiite Bloc?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 6 May 2010 21:26

Not sure about the authenticity of this news item that has circulated in Iraqi media outlets for the past day, but it has now also been reproduced by the Iranian news agency IRIB (which is supposed to be in the know about what is going on at the top level in Tehran and among its friends in Iraq). Basically, the report says that a 10-person committee has been tasked with selecting the premier candidate for the new all-Shiite alliance that was formed earlier. It will do so with a consensus among 8 of the 10 leaders, and supposedly they will choose between Nuri al-Maliki, Bayan Jabar Solagh, Adel Abd al-Mahdi and Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Perhaps the more interesting part of the story, if it is true, is the composition of the committee appointed to choose the PM. It consists of the following:

1.Tareq Najm (Daawa)

2. Ali al-Adib (Daawa)

3. Abd al-Halim al-Zuhayri (Daawa)

4. Hasan al-Sunayd (Daawa)

5. Khudayr al-Khuzai, (Daawa/Tanzim al-Iraq)

6. Ahmad Chalabi (INC)

7. Humam Hamudi (ISCI)

8. Falah al-Fayyad (Islah/Jaafari)

9. Qusay al-Suhayl (Sadrist)

10. Hasan al-Shammari (Fadila)

It is noteworthy that the Sadrists, who make up 25% of the new Shiite alliance, are grossly underrepresented, whereas Chalabi and Jaafari are over-represented. Daawa has a good share, but almost everyone listed here are those who called for Daawa to join INA much earlier and were angry when Maliki refused to do so in August 2009.

It should also be added that so far the above item has not been carried by the main ISCI news media (Buratha, Forat etc.), which in other respects have lost no time in expressing jubilation over the new alliance. The list of PM candidates on offer also seems a little dated, and it would be slightly strange if ISCI should still try to promote both Solagh and Abd al-Mahdi after they were both given low ratings in the Sadrist “referendum”. More generally, Iraq seems to be teeming with rumours today that in various way challenge the credibility of the new Shiite alliance, including rumours of Unity of Iraq still seeking alliances with State of Law and Iraqiyya and pro-INA commentators demanding answers from Maliki about rumoured negotiations with Iraqiyya in Amman!

50 Responses to “Is This the PM Committee of the New Shiite Bloc?”

  1. Perhaps relevant, if accurate.

    From Roads to Iraq:

    Rudimentary translation using Google

    “The newspaper “Sunrise” Egyptian sources as saying: “The wording of the merger agreement, which was declared yesterday was a US-sponsored by the presence of former U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad for a long time in the Kurdistan Region and the blessing of Iran by the presence of the commander of Qods Force Qassem Soleimani, or on behalf of , where it was stressed during the announcement of the coalition that the program of the Iraqi government is a program designed by the National Coalition although third-largest group winners and not the first or even second, a program written by Sheikh Hamam Hammoudi, who heads the House Foreign Relations outgoing and failed to get a seat in the next assembly, as well as a prominent Shiite leader close to the United States and Iran together Ahmad Chalabi ”

    Will the US get their PM al Mahdi after all?

    Or is it all just gossip and rumours?

  2. bb said

    I am reminded of when Dick Cheney was tasked with considering all the candidates and choose who would be best qualified to be prime minister – and came up with Dick Cheney.

    Looking at that committee list, R, which member do you think would consider himself to be the best qualified PM?

  3. Reidar Visser said

    Steve, the Arab press outside Iraq is full of that kind of stories, preferably with both Sulaymani and the USG in one big conspiracy. I agree that the US and Iranian agendas often converge in surprising ways in Iraq, but I think there may be an element of exaggeration here… I find it highly unlikely if Abd al-Mahdi is the new PM. He is quite popular where he comes from (Dhi Qar) but apparently not so in INA more broadly and I suspect they keep him in the mix simply because his presence will keep the USG interested in the process.

    Bb. Well, as said already in the post, the existence of this committee has yet to be confirmed by more trustworthy sources but I found the list of names irresistible… Of those above, Adib and Suhayl have at various times been considered PM candidates themselves. Adib was a favourite in 2006 for a while but I think he is half Iranian and it was concluded that would be used against him.

  4. Jason said

    To help me out, Reidar, would you re-post that list of potential nominees, including alongside the number of votes that each one received in the election?

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, I have added a hyperlink for the Sadrist referendum hoping that is what you’re asking for. Or you can find earlier posts via the sidebar or in the archives.

  6. Jason said

    This is absurd and makes me extremely angry. The Iranians are obviously trying to override the will of the Iraqi people. You have members of the selection committee as well as candidates for PM that have negligible popular support. The only conclusion is Iranian money and manipulation.

  7. Jason said

    Surely Iraqis will not allow their government and their country to be subverted in this manner. I am even more suspicious of a division within the SLA. Part of it is obviously bent on joining the INA, but I suspect another part is still quietly exploring other options. It will be a major test of leadership to see whether SLA breaks apart and who goes where, and in what numbers.

    Also, when the new COR is finally seated, it will be interesting to watch whether they submit to the back-room deals and dictates of party bosses with no popular support (but obviously flush with Iranian money and support), or whether they stand up for themselves and create a new order. There is still much drama to go.

  8. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, if this is the case I think the chance of Jaafari becoming PM again is more likely than ever. Ofcourse I still think Maliki has more chance of becoming PM because he has a bigger and more united list while the most apparent reason he did this is that it will help him cling on to power but this situation is best for Jaafari, his alliance (NIA) has half the seats, the Maliki representatives are pro-Iranian (thus probably sympathetic towards Jaafari) and he won the Sadrist referendum and Sadr has a lot of power here, he has infact more power than last time and even then, both in 2005 and 2006 Sadr picked the PM.

    Jason, Iran hasn’t changed where the Iraqi people voted for, they only helped bring people people who the Iraqi people elected into parliament, together. And if it was about the money, the Saudis would have bought everybody off by now, it isn’t about the money.

  9. Jason said

    No, Reidar, I want to see, how many personal votes each of the above PM nominees received in the parliamentary election, to highlight the fact that Jaafari, Al Mahdi, and Solagh have almost no popular base, while Maliki has a huge popular base. But I can’t find those numbers. IMO, the Sadrist referendum is complete manufactured garbage.

    K, Show me where the Iraqi people voted for Jaafari, or Al Mahdi, or Solagh?! How many personal votes did each of them receive? Jaafari’s support exists only in the back-room party offices of Sadr and Khamenei’s agents, who are stacking the deck in his favor. This system sucks if the will of the people can be so completely subverted. It is all about money and power. With a pliable PM like Jaafari, Sadr will maximize his portfolios and access to govt spoils to further increase his power.

  10. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, it is not quite as bad as you say, Jaafari got 101,000, Solagh 68,000 and Abd al-Mahdi 30,000 (the latter in Dhi Qar, which is far smaller than Baghdad obviously). Of course Maliki got a lot more (620,000), as did Allawi (400,000) which is why I find their post-election strategies so ironic since these two most popular politicians in Iraq end up marginalising themselves by refusing to talk to each other.

  11. Jason said

    Thanks, Reidar. How in the world does Chalabi always seem to land on his feet, like a cat, and with nine lives like a cat as well?

  12. Ali W said

    Reidar, iam still up watching the UK elections results unfold.

    Reidar, looking at it, could it still be possible that Maliki gets the PM job?

    There is 5 dawa, i can see maybe Jafari backing him, Hamam Mahudi, Chalabi? I dont know, Jafari could possibly be a contender as well.

  13. bb said

    I had in mind Mr A Chalabi myself.

  14. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, haha, I hear shouts about manual recounts, a hung parliament and change in the electoral system. Maybe the UK should hire IHEC next.

    But no, the point I was trying to make about those Daawa guys is that they are not the ones that have been most loyal to Maliki in the debate about whether to join INA or not. People like Sadiq al-Rikabi and Sami al-Askari have been more pro-Maliki and reluctant to talk about any kind of merger and they are not represented.

    Jason, I suppose some of Chalabi’s prominence is a result of the fact that he is able to liaise between the Sadrists and ISCI (or at least he was so in 2009 when INA came into existence). And presumably he is still supported by Iran.

  15. Ali W said

    Reidar, yea thats true, the Conservatives are in the same place as INM, the Liberals and Labour might go behind their back and form a majority even thought they both done badly! There are a lot of similiaries (-:

    Reidar, in regards to what you mentioned above, therefore it seems very likely that Jafari would then be elected as PM, am I right, who would the non loyal Dawa members vote for or agree on?

  16. Ali Rashid said

    I find it interesting that it seems the internal dynamics of this new alliance ignores the fact that the SLA got 19 seats more than the INA. There seems to be parity in the decision-making processes. The SLA would never have accepted this sort of a relationship if it weren’t so ridiculously paranoid of Allawi creeping into the political equation.

  17. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, I guess the assets of Jaafari are that he is a compromise candidate, neither ISCI nor Sadrist, and he is from INA. INA clearly seems to have dominated the process of amalgamation.

    As far as I can remember, the initial rupture between Maliki and Jaafari was quite acrimonious. But the Daawa movement has always had tension between pro-Iranian elements and those who are more sceptical to Tehran, ever since the current Daawa main branch became a breakaway from SCIRI when SCIRI was a coalition rather than a party in the early 1980s. And then more recently you got Tanzim al-Iraq and Tanzim al-Dakhil which both to some extent relate to the Iran factor. At one point, those in the Daawa who were most sceptical to Iran called INA “al-khatt al-irani”, the “Iranian line”! I am sure they were not the ones that were at the forefront of this latest move.

  18. Kermanshahi said

    Jason, as Reidar said, these candidates didn’t do that badly, Jaafari with 101,053 votes is 5th place nation wide (after Maliki, Allawi, Nujayfi and Hashemi) and 4th place in Baghdad, Solagh with 68,822 iss 8th place nationwide (after the top 5, al-Issawi and Nawshirwan Mustafa) and 5th place in Baghdad, Adel Abd al-Mahdi with 30,473 is in the top 30, which since he is a candidate from Dhi Qar (where he came second), is not bad at all.
    But I was more referring to the fact that all these MPs which decided to come together in an NIA-SLC alliance were elected into office by the people. If the people had elected only anti-Iranian and Arab Nationalist candidates, Iran would have never been able to broker such an alliance and if these elected MPs didn’t agree themselfes, they can leave like in the last government so many factions left.

    Ali W, I agree, I also think this council makes it very likely for Jaafari to become the new MP, but we should also not underestimate Maliki’s power within the alliance.

  19. Ali W said

    This article is quite interesting, I never knew that Barazani made this outragous statement, stating its a dream to have a unified Iraq, but rather wishes a federation of three regions.

  20. Reidar Visser said

    Indeed, it was discussed briefly in an earlier post this week:

  21. mostafa said

    Hi Reidar,
    Today I took a look at the UK election result and it was shocking:
    The Conservatives: took 36.1% of the popular vote but 47% of the seats (306)
    Labour: 29% of the votes but 40% of the seats (258)
    Liberal Democrats: 23% of the votes but 9% of the seats (57)
    and here is the source:

    In the Iraqi election the results were as follows:
    INM: 24% of votes, 28% of seats
    SLA: 23% of votes, 27% of seats
    INA: 18% of votes, 22% of seats

    Don’t you think that Iraqi electoral system is way better than the British one?

    Sorry for drifting off the subject but I didn’t find another way to send my comment.

  22. Reidar Visser said

    Mostafa, many thanks, I agree that there are many comparisons to be made between the UK and Iraq these days. For a humorous take, see

    Back to the PR versus Westminster question, I personally agree with you. Those who defend first-past-the-post point to the closer links between voters and representatives in the small districts, as well as the greater likelihood of avoiding backroom politics in the government-formation process under a majoritarian system. Looking at Iraq, in a way they are right, for what did voters really know about the INA-SLA merger in advance? And also the other parties were extremely vague during the campaign about who they were going to seek cooperation with after the elections.

    But of course, now the Westminster model has degenerated into the dreaded anomaly of a hung parliament and so the argument about avoiding the backroom deals loses its relevance. But in contrast to Iraq, at least, no one is jumping to the easy-way-out solution of an oversized three-party government of national unity! Or not yet, at least…

  23. mostafa said

    thank you Reidar, but i think that INA-SLA merger was inevitable (not only expected) and many leaders of the two coalitions talked about that.
    I remember that speech of Ammar Alhakim when the negotiations of merger before the election were about to fail. He said that even if SLA went to the election alone they would remain our allies.
    Back to the Iraqi election results: the numbers I gave you were the result of my own calculations. Do you think that they are precise enough? And do you have other calculations which could be politically significant?

  24. Reidar Visser said

    Mostafa, I don’t have time to check that particular calculation right now but the numbers look plausible enough to me. If confirmed, this would mean less “wasted votes” to small parties without any chance of getting reprsented than in January 2009, where the SLA win in Basra of 37% gave them 50% of the council seats (for comparable tables, see ) partly because the rest of the landscape was more fragmented.

  25. Mohammed said

    Hi Reidar:

    In your post, you talk about rumored negotiations with Iraqiya—do you think such negotiations can be fruitful?

    Let me pose a scenario: can it be possible for Iraqiya and SOL to form a coalition without Allawi being the PM? I very much doubt that Maliki or SOL will accept anybody from Iraqiya to have the PM job. There is so little trust and bad blood between these parties (despite having similar nationalist, strong central government philosophies) that I just cannot see Iraqiya getting the PM post. State of Law would probably prefer to join INA, have somebody else from SOL take the post of PM (instead of Maliki) than join Iraqiya with Allawi as PM (on the other hand, joining Iraqiya with Maliki as PM may be the most appealing of all options for SOL).

    What could SOL offer Iraqiya besides PM post that would make them want to work with SOL?

    This recent INA merger could all be a clever negotiating tactic by SOL. By SOL announcing the merger, they are sort of telling Iraqiya that “either you work with us and allow us to take the PM job, and we can talk about how to distribute the ministries between SOL and Iraqiya, or you can go walk, and we will work with INA, and you will lose out.”

    In practice, there is very little Iraqiya can do to stop this. For all those who cry foul-play, in the end, the constitution stipulates that a majority is needed to form the government, and right now, Iraqiya is not capable of garnering a majority.

    Are you to starting to see an end game yet?


  26. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, one of the big attractions of a minimum-winning coalition of SLA and INM would be that it would have just the right size to dominate parliament (180+ seats) and at the same time form a reasonably small government. Accordingly, internal negotiations should be easier because there are only the aspirations of these two blocs that need to be taken care of.

    So, let’s say Maliki continues as PM, then SLA could in return offer Iraqiyya both the presidency and the speakership of the parliament. Similarly, you could have a kind of division of labour in which SLA nominates candidates for the security ministries (to allay fears of any Baathist revivalism) whereas INM nominates candidates for the economic and diplomatic sectors (where there seems to be greater trust and where many of the top professionals have ties to or are sympathetic to Iraqiyya). In practice, even if nominations were done at the party level, hopefully the candidates would be professionals (for example, Thamir Ghadban would probably be acceptable as oil minister to both INM and SLA).

    Obviously, for Allawi this would be a small climbdown from his PM ambitions, but it could be argued that he would have a far greater likelihood of succeeding as, say, foreign minister in a strong and effective SLA-INM government than having a post at the mercy of the Hakims, the Sadrists and the Barzanis in a sprawling cabinet with 40 ministers that cannot agree on anything.

  27. Mohammed,
    You argument is awfully similar to Ammar Al Hakim: To save Allawi the trouble of failure lets make sure he’s out of the game. But there is procedure and there are rules which should not be broken before the new government is in place.

  28. Mohammed said


    How do you define “failure” for Allawi? As I have stated in my post, if Iraqiya wanted to join forces with Maliki and SOL, they could probably do so under certain conditions and Hakim could not stop that. As Reidar points out, such a coalition would make much more sense for Iraq than a useless unity government. Allawi would have to be willing to give up the PM job though…with such a coalition, Hakim and Sadr would be reduced to two-bit nobodies, and probably would have to re-invent themselves as an opposition (and probably label Maliki as just another pro-baathist too)….

    My point is: nobody has a gun to Allawi’s head and preventing him to make a coalition. There really are no rules or laws that govern this except for the constitution that states that the biggest party will get the first shot at forming the government. But if the other groups are determined not to join Iraqiya with Allawi as PM, there is nothing unconstitutional about that.

    State of Law seems to be in the middle road (they can form a coalition with Iraqiya or INA). However, Iraqiya or INA have no other party that they can realistically form a coalition with…

    I think Reidar’s suggestion would be the best for Iraq…However, either Iraqiya or SOL (or perhaps both) don’t seem to want to agree to such a solution…

  29. Mohammed,
    Failure for Allawi is to be asked to form the government then to fail within the given time. The choice now is whether Allawi or somebody else will be asked to form the government first, your argument sidesteps the procedure or comes after the choice and assumes that somebody else (Maliki) is somehow selected by negotiations between Iraqiya and SOL. You say “right now, Iraqiya is not capable of garnering a majority.” This may be true “right now” but if we don’t find out by following procedure then we are accepting the merger as fait accompli and your scenario is impossible.

  30. Kermanshahi said

    Mostafa, the way you show the Iraqi system, yes, it looks quite good and fair, but let’s just look at it this way. Kurdish parties: 23% of the vote, 18% of the (governorate) seats, Arab parties 77%, 82% of the seats. 2.5 milion Kurds, 57 seats, 2.5 milion Sunnis, 81 seats. Citizen of Silemani, 49,037.1 votes per seat, citizen of Maysan 27,281.8 votes per seat. Dhi Qar: 572,177 = 18 seats, Arbil: 680,408 = 14 seats.

    Aside from racism, I can’t see any point in having a system like Iraq has, I can see the point of having a system like Britain has. In Britain the country is split up in more or less equally large voting districts each of which choses their own candidates. This is what a district system means and this way every district is represented in the parliament. In Iraq on the other hand they hold mini elections in every governorate, who’se amounth of seats does not reflect it’s population at all and thus all what basicly happened is that they slightly alter the results which would have emerged in a truely fair system of 1 man, 1 vote, by giving governorates to much or to little seats depending on if it suits the parliamentary majority which makes it up (in this case the SLC and NIA and conveniently all their strongholds are overrepresented).

  31. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, much of this simply reflects different rates of participation (higher in Kurdistan) rather than any defect of the PR system or the seat allocation key as such. The Arab-speaking parts would have had pricier seats if more people had turned out to vote, it is as simple as that.

    Just to give an example based on a quick calculation. If Dahuk, Arbil and Sulaymaniyya had had 60% participation they would have had electoral dividers of 31,800, 38,345 and 40,299 respectively. That is not abnormal compared to other areas.

  32. Mohammed said


    The INA-SOL merger, however distasteful you might find it, is not illegal or unconstitutional. Do you seriously think that Allawi is waiting for the new president of the country to ask him to form a government before he starts serious negotiations with other parties? Obviously, Allawi has already had extensive discussions with different groups. Had he been able to form a majority, he would not wait to make such an announcement out of respect for “procedural” matters.

    You cannot seriously expect Iraq’s political parties from not talking to one another until the parliament is seated. People need to discuss things now, and come to certain agreements as soon as possible, instead of waiting forever. Just look at the UK..groups are chatting away as I type this.

    Even if the results dont change much (I dont expect them to), Allawi getting the most seats out of any block does NOT entitle him to be the PM. Iraqiya did well because they have people on that list that pretty much all the sunnis in the country would vote for (thus Allawi did not split the sunni vote), whereas the shiite vote was split between SOL and INA. However, Allawi’s partners are polarizing figures that the other political groups would be hard-pressed to join. So he may have succeeded in getter the most seats, but it looks to me like he is failing to form a majority coalition by virtue of who his partners are. He started to try to form a coalition on day 1, and has been unable to.

    That’s politics and the reality of Iraq. We may call it sectarianism, etc, but I do not find it suprising in the least. I seriously wish it was not like that, and wish Reidar’s idea was implemented, but reality shows that emotions, egos, distrust, and the lust for power are moving people in different directions.

  33. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, it’s true that some of it was down to the turnout (although even based on the pre-election government figures given of the governorates’ populations all 3 Kurdish governorates are underrepresented, Silemani for instance has less seats than Dhi Qar although more people live there and in the end almost 2x as many people voted there) but the whole purpose of a democracy is to get as many people as you can to vote for you, in the current system it doesn’t matter how many people vote for you since there are limits imposed by the system, which reminds me of Lebanon were the system ensures a minority rule for ever due to the secterian quotas (25% Christians=64 seats, 20% Sunnis=27 seats, 45% Shi’as=27 seats), the Kurds might have aswell not voted at all, if just Barzani himself had cast a vote and no-one else they’d have as many seats from Hawler as they have now.

    And I still don’t understand what’s the point of the Iraqi system, if you want a district system, have a district system, if you want a national representation system than have that (which is the better option) by why some half-half option of having a national election but dividing the seats before hand per governorate so that the total end result is slightly altered in favour of some. Compensation seats are meant to compensate for the way a district system can benefit some like for instance in the Palestinian elections where Hamas with 44% won 45 district seats and Fatah with 41% took only 17 (similar to how Liberals lost out in Britain) but than they both recieved almost equal amounth of compensation seats (Hamas getting 29, Fatah getting 28) so the total result of 74 V 45 (with is 1.6x more) rather than 45 V 17 (which is 2.6x more), but having only 7 compenstaion seats, like they had in this Iraqi election makes them totally useless since they did nothing, because they are so little the lists got 2 each and so it affected nothing and also the national vote didn’t matter that much at all, the INM for instance, with a vote difference of 800,000 got exactly as many seats as the INA. Last time there were more compensation seats, but than they were misused to bring un-populair but powerfull politicians into parliament without being voted for and they were misused that same way, this time.

  34. mostafa said

    Kermanshahi, I strongly agree with you that the Arab Sunnis are overrepresented and the Kurds are realy underrepresented. But the problem is not the electoral system itself. It is the lack of a dependable census for every governorate (I think that should be the first objective of the upcoming government).
    Some data about governorates like Mosul were being manipulated so they had overrepresentation at the expense of the Kurds’ share.
    there is also the turnout problem (I agree with Reidar here) which cannot be solved even in the most civilised countries because you need to have representatives for every district.
    as for the british electoral system (single member plurality system or First Past the Post). It is not like you said. In this link you will find a simple definition for it

    Additionally, when you have 4 kurdish lists facing one sunni list (Iraqiya) it is expected that they would take less number of seats compared with the status of being united (similar to INA & SLA who could have got 4 or 5 more seats if they had merged before the election).

    At least, about lebanon i think the voters’ lists say that the sunnis are slightly more than the shias and the Christians are about 40%. But this is also a result of manipulation (demographic changes which were done since the civil war then the nationalization operations) very much like Saddam’s demographic crimes in Kirkuk, Mosul, Diyala, Salahaddin……etc.

  35. mostafa said

    Hi Reidar,
    I read this news at
    اكد مصدر مطلع على الاتفاق بين الوطني ودولة القانون ان المرجعية الدينية العليا لم تتدخل بذلك الاتفاق ورفضت ان كون ضامنه له .

    قال مصدر مطلع على سير المفاوضات بين الائتلاف الوطني وائتلاف دولة القانون لمراسل موقع نون في النجف الاشرف قال ” ان الطرفين طلبوا من المرجعية الدينية في النجف ان تضمن الاتفاق بينهما فلم تقبل بذلك، كما انهم اقترحوا ان يرجعوا الى المرجعية لو تعذر الاتفاق بينهما على من يكون رئيس الوزراء القادم لتشير الى الآلية التي يتم من خلالها تعيين رئيس الوزراء فلم توافق المرجعية على القيام بهذا الدور أيضاً، ومن هنا فإن نص الاتفاق النهائي الموقع بين الطرفين لا يتضمن الاشارة الى دور للمرجعية في ذلك، خلافاً لما روجّته بعض وسائل الاعلام”

    موقع نون

    What do you think does that mean?

  36. Reidar Visser said

    Mostafa, effectively the report is saying that AP was wrong when they said they had obtained a copy of the final agreement. None of the sources involved on either side appears to be extremely trustworthy so I guess we’d better wait and see. In the past INA and ISCI have frequently made rhetorical points about “relying on the marjaiyya”, thereby creating the impression of a two-way relationship, whereas in reality no reciprocal agreement existed.

  37. Mohammed,
    I don’t find the merger by itself distasteful and I do expect the parties to negotiate at all times. What I find distasteful is the change of rules before the end of the elections.
    Having more seats does not entitle Allawi to be PM but he should have first shot at it. You are suggesting that a new president, who does not exist, make a decision based on ongoing negotiation which may not end. I say follow procedure and wait for success or failure.
    Iraqiya did well in the elections because they had more votes than the incumbent who put so many of its supporters in jail, would you have felt better if the sunnis had voted for the Islamic Party?

  38. Mohammed said


    I want each iraqi, regardless of sect or ethnicity, to be able to vote for any law-abiding candidate of their choice. I think it is great that sunnis voted with one voice (or close to one voice) for Iraqiya. Having some level of sunni unity will help to promote their rights and force INA and SOL to make concessions and be more pragmatic. Iraq can only prosper when sunnis and shia recognize each others as equals, and our leaders should be those who have the best ideas and pure intentions to serve the people regardless of their background (rather than have the people serve them).

    Regarding your point about procedure, I am at a loss for trying to understand the practicality of it. Before even designating a PM to form a cabinet, parliament must first agree on a president. Surely, the decision of who is chosen to be the president will be the outcome of negotiations regarding the likely composition of the next government. Thus, if people agree that Allawi is going to be asked to be the PM designate, then part of the deal-making that is happening NOW is who will be asked to serve as president (Hashemi, Talabani, Maliki, etc)…If Maliki is going to be the PM designate, then maybe Allawi will be nominated to be the president…My point is: the real negotiations are now, and when the parliament is actually seated, matters will have probably been decided before hand.

    The recent supreme court definition of “largest block” seems to be more practical, and I don’t think it robs any voter of their rights.

  39. Kermanshahi said

    Mostafa, not only the Arab Sunnis were overrepresented, the lowest electoral dividers were in Maysan (27 thousand), Dhi Qar (31 thousand) and Muthanna (32 thousand) and yes there is a problem with the lack of consensus, however it can be easily solved by allowing 1 man 1 vote. It’s also true that the additional Kurdish lists cost Kurds some seats (they would have had 62 if they had run as 1 list) but than it was not expected that the Sunnis would vote so uniformly. In Sunni areas you had the Iraqi Unity List, al-Tafawuq and even al-Maliki’s supposedly non-secterian list, which was supposed to get Sunni support. Nawshirwan Mustafa himself as counter to the critisism he lost the Kurds 1 extra Kirkuk-seat they would have got if he didn’t run, sais there were 18 Arab lists to compete with Allawi, so Arabs were faced with the same unity problems as Kurds.

  40. Jason said

  41. Ali Al-Mawlawi said

    Reider, the SLA’s Ali Al-Adeeb today said that the committee responsible for selecting the PM has yet to be formed, but that it would be composed of 14 members – 7 from each side.

  42. Mohammed,
    So you are at a loss to understand the “practicality” of procedure? Procedure is followed because it works, creating rules on the fly doesn’t. The recent supreme court interpretation of largest block was not about practicality, it came on the fly, after the voting and two days before declaring the initial results.
    I will explain the importance of first shot at forming the government in a nutshell. Coalitions in Iraq are so fragile that they can fall apart after the first attempt at breaking them, the defending coalitions have to poison their own pools by threats to their members in order to keep the block together. Allawi has a real chance of success at forming the government otherwise you would not see Talbani, Hakim and others going to neighboring countries trying to offer Allawi alternate positions. Disgraceful.

  43. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, thanks for that, competing stories about the PM committee continue to crop up. There is another one from Fadila talking about an already-formed committee, also of 14 members, which supposedly will make “consensus” decisions at the level of “80 percent” agreement! (That would be exactly 11.2 persons…) No doubt there remains a degree of confusion here.

    واوضح الهاشمي لوكالة (أصوات العراق) ان “اللجنة المشكلة بين ائتلافي دولة القانون والوطني العراقي تتالف من 14 شخصا، سبعة من كل ائتلاف ومهامها وضع الاليات لاختيار رئيس الوزراء المقبل

  44. bb said


    1. There is one man, one vote in Iraq.

    2. The seat allocations for the governorates were questionable soley because they were not made on basis of proper census.

    However the allocations were approved in the COR by a consensus of all parties, so they only have themselves to blame.

    3 In Lebanon there are PRE SET sectarian allocations of christian seats and muslim seats. Muslims can only vote between christian candidates in the christian seats, and conversely christians can only vote between muslim candidates in muslim seats.

    4. On top of this, the electoral districts are gerrymandered to favour the christian and sunnis at the expense of the shia voters.

    5. Iraq’s electoral system bears no resemblance to Lebanon.

  45. Salah said

    Keep talking about the who should be PM or which Kutla form the government this should be passed by now after the election result which clearly telling all lost there are no winner from the election result.

    Malik he tried his game while he knew according to constitution that he could make a majority and select his government. Same thing with Alawi he have the opportunity to make his join venture with other small groups/parties to make the new government.

    Basic here there are no wines in at all with Iraqi election.

    Comparing UK election or their system with Iraq is just far from reality here and just odd to say so. This for many reason the main reasons is the weight for each seat is equal with UK system but in Iraq as we saw there are variation God new why, also there are Compensation Seats which not existed with UK system just in Iraq what it called democracy.

    Let not been naive and make any assessments and comparisons between two very different un matched UK democratic system with self-serving democracy in Iraq

  46. Hasan said

    Kermanshahi, I think that the Arab sunni’s behavior was more than expected, Its the same way they acted in lebanon (I think it is an important comparision).
    The exact successful Saudis experiance in lebanon (supporting alhariri and his allies and forcing them to gather in one list in every lebanese province) was imploid in iraq but with a relatively less success.

  47. Kermanshahi said


    1. Then how come, on average 1 Arab vote is worth 1.5 Kurdish votes?.

    2. And they proved to conveniently give the Kurds far less seats than they deserved, proportionally to their votes.

    Yes, it was approved by all the parties, however Kurdish leaders only accepted because in the original deal Arabs wanted to give them even less seats (if that had happened it would have been 1 Arab vote = 2 Kurdish votes), they were also heavily critisized for approving it. Also I disagree with the whole notion of allowing political parties to chose how many seats go where

    3/4/5. It’s true there are significant differences in the Iraqi and Lebanese systems, in the Lebanese elections there are secterian quotas which divide the entire parliament and there is no room for any democracy. However that they in Iraq divided the seats per governorate and the Arab majority gave their own governorates much higher numbers of seats than the Kurdish governorates does bare some resemblance. Now, no matter how many Kurds there are and how many vote, their votes just won’t count cause their bound to the low number of seats the Arabs allocated to their provinces. This is similar as in Lebanon, where the ~65% Muslim vote will always be stuck with the 44% seats the Christians allocated to them.

    Hasan, in Lebanon it’s different, all major Sunni parties and politicians are together in one bloc, the minor Sunni allies of Hezbollah were never expected to win more than a few seats. In Iraq however there were 4 major lists in the Sunni area and (at least for me) surprisingly one of those 4 swept the polls decimating the other blocs. We all knew al-Iraqiya was gonna win, but that the biggest Sunni party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, which in 2009 came first in Diyala and Salah ad-Din, second in Baghdad (biggest Sunni party) and third in Anbar and Ninawa (in Anbar it was a relatively close third place) and was the largest Sunni party in Basra, would now just win a few percent per province and wouldn’t even pick up seats for each Sunni governorate, gaining only 2% of the national vote. For Unity, I knew Jawad Bolani wouldn’t win many seats, but I’d expected him to take atleast a few and they expected so themselfes too and I’m not the only one who was surprised about how badly the Anbar Awakening preformed in al-Anbar.

    I have to admit though, my pre-election predictions were pretty far off (with how much I was off):
    National Iraqi Alliance: 85 (-15)
    State of Law Coalition: 76 (+23)
    al-Iraqiyya: 59 (+32)
    Kurdistani Alliance: 45 (-2)
    Tawafuq: 21 (-15)
    Gorran List: 13 (-5)
    Iraq’s Unity: 8 (-4)
    KIU & IGK: 7 (-1 and they didn’t run together)
    IMK: 1 (-1)
    Other: 10 (-2)

    Now bascly I very much over estimated Tawafuq and to some extent Unity at expense of Iraqiyya, I’d miscalculated the Kurdish seats at 65 rather than 57, I thought the NIA was gonna beat Maliki and I thought the IMK and smaller Arab lists would win atleast something (like last time) and it was just to much based on 2009 results. So I accept that probably some of you had a much better idea of what was gonna happen than I did.

  48. Kermanshahi said

    BTW Reidar, getting back completely on topic: Has this commitee been confirmed yet?

  49. Reidar Visser said

    Some say it has been formed, others, including Sadrists, say there are still disagreements about its compositions. What seems clear is that it is a contested body.

  50. Hasan said

    Kermanshahi, I feel that you don’t catch me on what I said what unifies the two situations in Lebanon and Iraq is the Saudis influance and the way Sunni arabs react with it and its enough… If the saudis wouldn’t interfere in Lebanon the results of alhariri would go back to the 2000 elections with a 21 deputies not a 38 now. sorry for my insistence.

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