Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for May 19th, 2010

Dabbagh Confirms that Iraqiyya Remains the Biggest Bloc in Parliament

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 19 May 2010 16:45

An interesting development in the Iraqi government-formation saga is that Iraqiyya has successfully managed to highlight certain weaknesses in the newly formed Shiite alliance, especially regarding its formal status as a “parliamentary bloc” (kutla niyabiyya). This began last week when Radwan al-Kilidar questioned the status of the newly formed entity because of its lack of a name and a parliamentary leader. Interestingly, various members of the newly formed entity responded by saying they would select one: Both Karim al-Yaqubi (Fadila) and Falih al-Fayyad (Jaafari branch) recently made such pledges, implicitly accepting Kilidar’s charge.

Today, Ali al-Dabbagh, who is close to Nuri al-Maliki, went further in an interview with Al-Sumaria. He explicitly said that Iraqiyya is the biggest bloc at the moment because the new Shiite bloc has yet to find a leader and a name.

So, Iraqiyya is indeed largest, for now. As of today, it has the right to form the government, even according to its opponents. But what can it do? So far, its negotiation attempts have not taken it far, since the Kurds seem to think they can get a better deal from a Shiite alliance, and since endless sweet talking with ISCI or the Sadrists does not seem to produce what Iraqiyya wants in terms of an Allawi premiership.

What Iraqiyya could do, however, is to make a last-minute serious offer to State of Law. As has been pointed out so many times before, these two alliances could form a government together and thereby save themselves the trouble of sharing posts (including the president and the parliamentary speaker), power and ideological platform with all the others. For strange reasons, the Iraqi press still talks about a two-thirds requirement for selecting the president: There is no longer such a requirement in the constitution since the subsequent paragraph of the relevant article provides for a run-off with no special majorities. Power-sharing was an exceptional, transitional regime for 2005–2010; there is now no constitutional requirement for power-sharing in a system where considerable autonomy has already been granted on a territorial basis, most notably to the KRG. The real winners in the election need neither the futile “roundtable” which Ammar al-Hakim has demanded repeatedly (and which Talabani apparently will go ahead with tomorrow) nor the oversized government of national unity called for by nervous voices in the international community that care more for their own short-sighted agendas and timetables than for Iraq’s long-term development.

Over the past few days there have been interesting signs that certain Iraqiyya members are thinking in this direction. Taha al-Luhaybi (Hiwar) has highlighted political points of convergence with State of Law. Both Arshad Zibari and Fattah al-Shaykh have emphasised the importance of not giving any concessions to the Kurds concerning implementation of article 140. If they pursue this argument a little longer, maybe Iraqiyya could see that a parliamentary majority of 180 is just the right size for giving Iraq the strong and effective government it needs?

A generous and specific offer from Iraqiyya to State of Law could realistically clinch such a deal before the newly-created Shiite alliance has finished pondering what to call itself and who should lead it.  “Win–win” is the term that comes to mind.

Posted in Iraqi constitutional issues, Iraqi nationalism | 53 Comments »