Iraq and Gulf Analysis

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.

53 Responses to “Dabbagh Confirms that Iraqiyya Remains the Biggest Bloc in Parliament”

  1. Ali Rashid said

    I completely agree with you Reidar, but it seems that Maliki just doesn’t want to imagine that he will be playing second fiddle to anyone. It really is a pity, it just feels as though this sort of an alliance will cement real progress in the Iraqi political experiment.

  2. I agree; if Iraqiyya and State of Law could reach an accommodation – with the Kurdish bloc buying in – and form a government, Iraq’s future would brighten considerably. But do you see any real possibility that Messrs. Allawi and Maliki could work together? Could one – or both – of them be persuaded to step back (or down) and, as it were, “take one for team Iraq”?

  3. Reidar Visser said

    I just think that if they both sat down and analysed the pros and the cons and compared this very realistically with the strategies they are currently pursuing (Maliki trying to find his way back as leader of the new UIA; Allawi seeking premiership with support from the Kurds and INA), they would see that at the personal level, too, they would both gain from joining forces.

  4. Jason said

    I have read several pieces suggesting that a major stumbling block to forming an INM/SLA alliance is INM’s insistence on not excluding either the Kurds or the Sadrists from the new govt. This sounds non-sensical to me. Is there anything to it?

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, that’s right, those are the unfortunate side effects of their current – in my view suicidal – strategies. Actually, I think it is Maliki more than Allawi that talks about not sidelining the Kurds (last autumn Talabani emerged as one of his strongest partners when most other relationships seemed to fail) whereas Iraqiyya seem to think that it will do them good to play the Sadrist card (Maliki is reportedly not too keen on having them in government.)

    The big question is, will being kind with Talabani and the Sadrists ultimately deliver a premiership to either of them? I think not.

  6. Ali W said

    Reidar, Faisal posted a link that suggests what you are talking about could happen. It says that Maliki is prepared to ally himself with INM if he keeps the PM job and he will reverse the debaathification process.

    How true is that, is it just rumours?

  7. I see this admission as a move to kill the debate about the legality of the supreme court’s interpretation, it sets the barrier to accepting the SOL-INA merger so low and achievable, and everybody seems to fall into thinking this as a positive development. It is another grab of initiative. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’s back..

  8. Julien said

    Reidar, you have repeatedly mentioned that you think a government of national unity is a bad idea, and I understand why. But is there not an argument to be made that right now fostering a sense of inclusion is frankly more important than strong/effective/united political leadership? So far as I can see the exclusion of major groups (whether it be the INM/Sadrists or Kurds) is a recipe for resentment and renewed violence; a government of national unity on the other hand, while promising ineffective governance, could still foster a greater sense of shared citizenship. Actually, more than anything, a further period of ineffective rule (but without the backdrop of sectarian violence polarizing the political debate) may be the most effective way of pushing voters towards issue-based support for political parties. While an INM/SLA alliance may be the most ideologically coherent government, do you not think this could have devastating consequences in terms of how the likes of the Kurds and Sadrists might react? I’m still trying to work out my own thoughts on the matter, but I’m almost of the view that right now is too early/risky to be discounting the sectarian/group identities that have been implanted on the Iraqi political map over recent years. I’d be very interested to hear how you’d reconcile your desire for an effective government with the risks that could ensue in the context of ongoing fragility. Many thanks.

  9. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, note that the report contained no named sources. But there are no doubt people in SLA that are other than enthusiastic about the new Shiite alliance. Back in August 2009 it wsa reported that Sami al-Askari, Sadiq al-Rikabi and Haydar al-Abbadi resisted merger with INA (alongside Maliki himself obviously).

    Faisal, I find it interesting that the initiative came from Kilidar of Iraqiyya. I personally don’t think the new UIA can agree on a single leader any time soon.

  10. Reidar,
    Yesterday Al Hassany from SOL declared: Any objection to the alliance of the two coalitions is illegal. Kilidar’s question created an opening, SOL grabbed the opportunity.
    Re new UIA agreeing on a single leader, as I mentioned before, I am convinced that the initial choice has to be Maliki otherwise the alliance will soon break down. I think the Alliance strategists know that and it will be quick.

  11. Reidar Visser said

    Julien, I understand those concerns but think they are much exaggerated. At present, the Kurds get almost all their money from Basra oil. So what could they really do if they don’t get the portfolios they are interested in? There seems to be a very basic misunderstanding to the effect that letting anyone out of government in Iraq means “exclusion”. That is so misleading, since so much power is already decentralised, not least to the KRG. Precisely because there is territorial decentralisation in Iraq, there is also space to form an issue-based coalition at the central level instead of having power-sharing.

    Right now it seems that both the Kurds and the Sadrists are planning to make more trouble inside government than outside it, i.e. by being obstructionist on oil contracts and oil legislation etc. Some generous development schemes for Sadr City and Hayaniya in Basra should go some way to meet the demands of the Sadrist electorate. The basic problem so far is that too much attention has been paid to satisfying all the Iraqi politicians, at the expense of the Iraqi citizenry more generally.

  12. Jason said

    Roggio still links vague posts like this on a regular basis. I don’t see how Maliki and Sadr will ever agree on anything if they are continuously fighting a low-grade war.

    It is not just about Maliki either. WHOEVER they select will have to take stand to either (a) continue to keep Sadr’s rogue forces subordinated to the govt or (b) allow them to run wild with abuse and criminal acts. That is the real issue at stake.

  13. Julien said

    Many thanks for your thoughts Reidar, much appreciated. But if I can press a bit further… it seems you’re implying that so long as everyone is happy with their rewards (either through decentralization or being bought off) then they won’t make trouble. But is that not effectively the same self-defeating mechanism as a government of national unity? Majority interests (or rather the interests of Iraq as a whole) won’t be served/prioritized and instead you end up with an equally inefficient system where the only way to make government work is to make everyone happy (by not threatening them). And do you really think a government would be able to pass legislation (say an oil law/resolution to kirkuk) if the sadrists/kurds are in the streets opposing it? For my part I do think the only way to give real legitimacy to the state development process may be to get them all inside the tent. After all, it’s a lot easier to piss on the parade from outside.
    Also, on the Sadrists I’m just not convinced they will be satisfied with social works in Basra. They’ve done very well in the election, Sadr has been fixated on his religious credentials (to the extent that he’s been out of the loop at one of the most crucial moments in the country’s history) and now al-hayat tells us that he’s about to return to the country to shake things up in Najaf. It does suggest ambition of sorts no?

  14. Gösta Grönroos said

    Reidar, what does the current constitution stipulate as far as the division of labour between the PM and the president goes? Is the latter a mere decoration, or an acceptable second best option for al-Maliki?

  15. Reidar Visser said

    Julien, “Kurds in the street” would mean trouble to KRG, not to anyone else I guess. You could always get Sadrists in the street, but a coherent government would be in a better position to deal with that kind of challenge in a measured way.

    I honestly think an Iraqiyya/SLA government could get an oil law passed within months, thereby facilitating economic growth and an atmosphere more conducive to dealing with thornier issues later on. The national unity government would just be an ineffective, stale kind of truce.

  16. Reidar Visser said

    Gösta, the presidency has only limited value since it is now mostly symbolic and has no effective veto power. Apparently, Iraqi politicians are only gradually beginning to wake up to this. The far more important position is the speakership of the house, which could be a real deal-maker.

  17. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, Kurds are not only in the streets of the Kurdistan region, but also in Kerkuk, in Mosul and many other Northern regions and their forces are active throughout these regions and would go to war before withdrawing. If you think the Kurds will allow an anti-Kurdish Allawi-Mutlaq-Nujayfi-Hashemi-Maliki-Shahristani coalition to politically sideline them and than pass anti-Kurdish laws without any negotiation through their parliamentary majority, and just sit idle than you are mistaken.

    If the Kurds merely controlled 3 governorates it would lead to a 1990s scenario (or the similar Ninawa scenario) and diplomatic ties between the KRG and the Iraqi Government could compltely break down. But Peshmerga are active throughout the North specially and even control enclaves in Kerkuk, Mosul and other mixed cities and regions, this could directly lead to a civil war, a conventional war between the Iraqi Army and the Peshmerga, which is a much more formidable enemy than the Sunni Insurgents or the Mahdi Army. Kurds have (literally) fought for their rights before and are not afraid to do so again and with an Arab Nationalist government in Baghdad, who do you think Iran will support?

  18. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, I appreciate your view and I know it is shared by many think-tankers in the United States who made 2009 the big year for predicting how all Hell will break out in Kurdistan. An alternative approach would point to the fact that Nineveh is already pretty much territorially divided (so there are limits to how much worse it could get) and the fact that many Kurds in Kirkuk are reportedly not terribly enthusiastic about the great nationalist vision of their supposed patrons in the KDP and the PUK and may perhaps not be as eager to engage in prolonged guerilla-style warfare on their behalf.

    But again, it is first and foremost the economic perspective that makes me think your scenario is unrealistic. To stop the flow of oil money from Basra that finances the KRG and start a war because they were not included in a government-formation process that after all takes place according to the 2005 constitution (which the Kurds themselves supported) will be seen as a disproportionate, extremist response. Also it will not exactly generate goodwill in the international community.

  19. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, Nineveh is territorially divided already, yes but I was referring to the political situation there: al-Hadba an anti-Kurdish party controls the council and completely excludes Kurds from power and tried to take anti-Kurdish measures in response Kurds boycot the local council and don’t allow Nujayfis local government control over Kurdish areas, this could happen on a national scale if a Allawi-Mutlaq-Nujayfi-Hashemi-Maliki-Shahristani axis is formed. The only difference is, the Iraqi central government holds military power the Ninawa local government doesn’t hold and so it could escalate to a war.

    Now the Kurds of Kerkuk are pretty nationalistic infact due to the ongoing crisis both communities have become much more radicalised, nationalisticly pitching Arab and Turkish nationalists against Kurdish nationalists. But regardless of the mood there, the KRG has Peshmerga forces in the city and the province, any withdrawl would be political suicide for any Kurdish leader and it would also mean Barzani’s father’s efforts and the entire 1974-1991 War where in 280,000 Kurds died were in vain and Saddam’s Arabization campaign ultimately succeeded and the city will be in Arab hands forever. Barzani aswell as the Peshmerga and the Kurdish population would rather go to war.

    Now the counterweight is as you say, the money the KRG recieves, but than for most Kurds the political issues are more important and by sitting idle and loosing all of Kurdistan outside of 3 Saddam-drawn artificial provinces (which were made smaller by him several times) aswell as much of the political rights of the KRG would basicly proove that Barzani and Talabani are corrupt sell-outs who ultimately value power and money more than their principles, Kurdistan, the Kurdish people and all they have ever fougth for. As I said: political suicide.

    For Maliki it’s clear that he values staying in power over his principles, he’d rather join with people he doesn’t agree with (like ISCI, Sadr, Kurds) and apply some of their policies which he’s always been opposed to, than join people does agree with (like Allawi) if it means he can stay PM. For Allawi this might be the case to, but it’s clearly not the case for his allies such as Hiaw, al-Hadba and the Turkmen Front, which makes him incapable of making the deals Maliki can make, even if he wanted to. Barzani and Talabani on the other hand do not want to become the Kurdish Mahmoud Abbas, neither would I, if I were in their shoes.

  20. Reidar Visser said

    I get your points Kermanshahi, but once more want to stress we are talking about sidelining the Kurdish bloc through a democratic process where the Kurds themselves have defined the rules. Again, powersharing was a transitional arrangement for 2005-2010. We have seen transitions from consociational to majority-style governments in many European countries too, and it is not accepted democratic behaviour for the losers to go to war just because they drop out of government for periods.

  21. Kermanshahi said

    But this is not Europe we’re talking about Reidar this is the Middle East just have a look at the only other countries in the Middle East were elections are actually held, in Iran Mousavi ordered his supporters into the street to try seize power through violence, refusing to accept the results, they were unarmed and not very succesfull but if they were armed things would have got much more ugly, in Lebanon were an undemocratic system ensured minority rule the majority took up arms we saw the siege of parliament and the 2008 Battle of Beirut, the majority forced the minority into the same kind of unity government Iraq has and it won’t change anytime soon, look at Palestine were Mahmoud Abbas instead of accepting defeat sent his security forces to assault a Hamas rally and kill Ismail Haniyah (which failed) and the 6 mont war that followed and killed 500 people which led to establishment of 2 seperate dictatorships instead of 1 democracy, look at Kurdistan itself in 1992 a civil war between the PUK and KDP which led to dividing of Kurdistan and democracy is only possible through their unity government, look at Turkey were the nationalists through the military topple any government they don’t like and were the Kurds, excluded from the government have been fighting it for 30 over years.

    In this region anyone who has arms (Hamas, Fatah, KDP, PUK, Turkish military junta, Muqtada al-Sadr, Hezbollah, ISCI, ect.) uses it for political gains when they’re marginalised by a parliamentary majority which does things they don’t want and in Iraq everyone has arms. The fact that the population is split among ethnic and secterian lines and all groups, particulary the Kurds will pick up arms if they are excluded from power further complicates the issue. Majority rule is only good when it’s a political majority (backing of most people) which can change per election ruling and not an ethnic majority ruling over a large minority by default and forever. For Kurds there is no way to vote themselfes out of this domination, except all converting to Shi’ism and joining the NIA, which seems far fetched so the only other path is arms.

    Now Kurds using arms against political elected majority may be undemocratic but than they don’t want to be part of Iraq in the first place and there are only certain situations in which they find being part of Iraq tolerable. If Arabs use their majority to elect anti-Kurdish politicians and form an anti-Kurdish government were from Kurds are excluded than it merely proves why Kurds shouldn’t be part of the country and why they should pick up arms against it. Personally I am dissapointed by the Iraqi Arabs and their choices, specially after being against anti-Arabism in Iran for all my life.

  22. Gregory said

    Assuming that the SLA/INM coalition could form, what would that mean for Article 140? Do you see the referendum getting sidelined and the Kirkuk question remaining unanswered?

  23. Ali W said

    Kermanshahi, firstly i would like to state that my dad is working in Erbil, and my mum and wo brothers are moving there in two months. They love it and the people.

    The Kurds have been oppressed harshly in Iraq and Turkey. They have freedom, and they paid with blood for that freedom. I respect the Kurds a lot as a people and what they have acheived so far. Many non kurds would not understand their suffering which is the same for the Shia.

    But you have to agree that they ask too much, and they have far too much power for their size. Nothing happens unless they agree first. The Kurds only make up roughly 17-19% but they weild too much power and it is causing resentment.

    I mean, they are practically independent with all the benefits of being a part of Iraq, ie the oil revenue they get.

    Kermanshahi, many parts of the areas in Mosul the Kurds are claiming, used to be populated by mainly Assyrians!!

  24. mostafa said

    Kermanshahi, I agree with you that Kurds mustn’t be sidelined.
    But about Maliki I think that his alliance with INA and the Kurds is the only reasonable option (the matter of shared history in fighting all the previous dictatorships). He absolutely can’t ally with Mutlaq, Nujaifi or Hashimi who think in the same Baathist way.

    Reidar, I think that building up a crumpled country and a nation should need more than 7 years (practically 5 since the first election) as a transitional period (I think in some western countries it took decades)

  25. Reidar Visser said

    Gregory, I think what we would be looking at would be non-implementation of 140, i.e. no active steps by the government to implement it. Iraqiyya members make this position publicly; at least some in State of Law make it privately. At any rate, the Kurdish demand for implementation as a basis for government-formation talks seems a little misplaced since the matter is more likely to be settled during the constitutional review process (where it will also most likely be scrapped). What the next government can do, however, is to refrain from introducing legislation and other practical steps leading up to a referendum.

    Kermanshahi, let’s not continue repeating the same points forever, but I must say I am somewhat shocked by your suggestion of “Kurds using arms against political elected majority”. Here the Kurds have been making claims about being “democratic” and “constitutionalist” for so many years, and now you indicate that if they lose in the democratic process (that they themselves designed) they will go to war instead. Peacefully giving up power after losing in democratic politics is after all the litmus test that distinguishes real democrats from fake ones.

  26. Salah said

    The Kurds have been oppressed harshly in Iraq and Turkey

    The Kurds:?
    1- Turkey, visited Turkey in 1977, if Kurds caught speaks Kurdish they face death penalty. No scaools no book in thier own language.

    2- Syria, They have no ID card no paspported as I read somewhere.

    3- Iran:??? latest the, 5 young Kurds were executed on the charges of terrorism, In last 7 years Iran shelling Kurdish villages inside Iran and across the borders in Iraq. before 2003 need soem one from Iran tell us the truth.

    4- Iraq: at some stage Schools allowed to teach in Kurdish language for the kids, they speaks Kurdish no law banded them, they had Iraqi ID card and they had the right to get Iraqi Passport.
    Yes they have faced very harsh treatments by tyrant regime but not form oral Iraqis.

  27. Ali W said

    Reidar, any news when this meeting will take place between Maliki and Allawi?

    I guess we will find out whether the dream team can or cannot be formed afterwards.

  28. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, only thing I know is on the cards is a meeting between all the major party leaders at Talabani’s house today. I guess it will be pretty much a futile replay of the old governing council.

    By the way, what truly amazes me is that the Americans seem to have greater faith in these Sisyphean “big tent” undertakings than in coherent, issue-based coalitions. After all, with their concern about sticking to deadlines, why are they pursuing the most difficult track that can be envisioned, i.e. getting everyone to agree before the government is formed? The bottom line is that the Kurds and the Shiites could not agree on key issues like Kirkuk and the oil law at the height of their power in 2007 and are unlikely to be able to agree in 2010 as well. But with the quest for the “national unity” government we will first get several weeks (months?) of the Shiites trying to agree on a PM nominee, and then weeks and weeks of negotiations with the Kurds who will present impossible demands. Come autumn and the US drawdown, everything will be back to square one.

  29. Julien said

    Reidar, do you really think the SLA is still a viable issues based party? Could it really recover its legitimacy after the fiasco of the last few months? There’s not much credibility or trust remaining and its difficult seeing maliki being able to successful present himself as a true cross-sectarian figure once again, no? When push has come to shove he has shown himself as sectarian as the rest of them and a lot of INM figures are pretty bitter at his post-election posturing. I remember senior SLA people saying pre-election that maliki would never reverse course and link up with the INA again and that it was a strong non-sectarian governemnt or a seat in the opposition for him. And yet now it seems his only aim is a new term of office and that he’ll do whatever it takes to acheive that. You seem to think he can still reverse course and revert to more positive 2009 language and policies?

  30. Reidar Visser said

    Julien, I guess I am trying to be optimistic about Maliki. Some of the things he has done in the past suggests that he has taken considerable risks by opting for nationalist instead of sectarian solutions. He was the first Shiite politician who dared criticise the 2005 constitution in a serious way; he was the first to speak out against ethno-sectarian power-sharing and instead put emphasis on an issue-based approach; and he resisted considerable pressure towards joining the INA last autumn. True, his subsequent maneuvers have been less successful and he has been pushed back towards sectarianism. But at one point, I hope, maybe he will ask himself why he got more personal votes than any other Iraqi politician. I don’t think that was a mandate to reconstitute the UIA and recreate the kind of weak government Iraq had in 2006. Prior to the elections INA had been the pro-merger party and they got less votes than Maliki.

  31. Julien said

    I hope your optimism prevails. Personally I don’t see how he can survive any longer as a credible leader able to draw in cross-sectarian national support. He’s emereged as the true political cameleon, and you can understand why no one trusts him any longer. Perhaps there’s hope in the SLA itself: rather than a coup to dump Maliki and hook up with the INA, you could see the opposite with party cadres mounting a pro-issues coup? And then the INM could do the same against Allawi (lets be honest, not that credible or trust-worthy either), and suddenly there’s hope. But then that’s being very, very optimistic!

  32. Reidar,
    Whose decision will it be to interpret and charge the biggest block of forming the government? What’s the mechanism and the role of the president?
    I think this, rather than the big tent meeting, will form the next watershed.

  33. Reidar Visser said

    Faisal, following certification of the results – which now cannot reasonably be postponed any longer than next week – it is the duty of the sitting president to summon the new parliament to hold its first meeting within 15 days. They then elect the speaker. They then have 30 days to approve a new president. The president then within 15 days points to the nominee of the largest bloc to form the government.

    Bottom line is you need to have 163 votes for a speaker nominee and 163 votes for a presidential nominee (the two-third requirement is just aspirational and doesn’t apply in a run-off) to secure PM nomination + that the process stays on track.

    By the way, the meeting chaired by Talabani is going ahead without Allawi today – he is out of the country.

  34. Ali W said

    Reidar, would INM be able to stage a coup against Allawi and ally themselves with SLA, keep Maliki as PM in order to form a strong coherent government where by they have important ministries and a say over major decisions especially in regards to the Kurds etc. Do they have the courage, political clout etc

    And it has been noticed that Allawi is out of Iraq a lot, rather spending most of his time with oppressive Arab regimes or London, wouldn’t that play against him?

  35. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, there seems to be a lot of coups in the making in this thread, but I am not sure that is really needed… Both Maliki and Allawi got impressive personal scores and it would be advantageous to somehow keep them both in the mix I think.

  36. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, a system were all parties are ethnic or secterian and the elections are a sort of population census, is not a democracy. If there were truly cross-ethnic/secterian parties, all main parties having support among all three major communities, then, yes the political majority should be respected but if the Iraqi Arabs use their majority to vote for racist parties which then use their political majority to opress the Kurds, than the Kurds have no other possibility than to go to war, for they will always be outvoted.

    And Kurds would respect the deals they signed in 2005 if Arabs would do the same. Arabs agreed to hold a Kerkuk referendum in 2 years, it’s been 5 years but they’ve still not held it and refuse to hold it.

    Ali W, Kurds use their representation only to ensure their own rights, they don’t want to be involved in inter-Arab politics or enforece their rule over Iraq’s Arabs. On the other hand many Iraqi Arbs, in particular the Ba’ath sympathisers, believe their majority gives them the right to completely exclude Kurds from power and enforce their will over the Kurds.

    >>The problems shoudl be solved through dialoge and negotiation, not as Reidar and several members here suggest, through a purely Arab government using their political majority to do whatever they want in regard to Kurds, without any agreement between the two communities. Such act will definetly lead to war.

    Salah, Kurds are treated badly in Syria and Turkey and in Iran they have been treated harshly along with the rest of the Iranian population, those 5 captured militants who were executed were 4 Kurds and a Presian, in total around 20-30 Kurds are executed every year, which is about 5-10%, which quite coincides with the size of their population. But nowhere have they ever suffered as badly as in Saddam Hossein’s Iraq, 280,000 civilians killed, 4,500 villages destroyed, mass-killings and chemical gass attacks, it surpassed anything the Syrian Ba’athists, the Islamic Regime in Iran or even the Turkish military junta has done. The rights Kurds in Iraq enjoy today were also not given to them by Saddam out of free will.

  37. Reidar Visser said

    If a KRG annexation of Kirkuk isn’t racist then nothing is. But let’s get back to the original subject of the definition of kutla-hood.

  38. Ali W said

    Reidar, the coup could be necessary to form a small, effective and ideologically coherent government. Allawi nor Maliki will backdown on the PM job. However Maliki will more likely allow a merger between INA and SLA and give up the PM job rather than to the same to INM. Therefore INM should in theory consider losing Allawi and joing with SLA? But obviously there are other reasons why it cant happen.

  39. Kermanshahi said

    Ali W, I don’t think Allawi is the only one in the INM who has problems with al-Maliki.

  40. Salah said

    1-لخارجية الامريكية : امريكا تدعم تشكيل حكومة عراقية تضم جميع الاطراف
    ولا تتدخل بتشكيلها

    2-وائل عبد اللطيف : الكردستاني سيحصل على وزارات بعدد ما حصل عليه من مقاعد وليس بما يعتقده من عدد سكان الاقليم

    There are so amusing people they keep shifting their mind and changing their colour here by commenting in regards to Iraq democracy.

    For so long they write they discuss Iraq democracy but the funny things now they came saying” ”systems were all parties are ethnic or sectarian and the elections are a sort of population census, is not a democracy.”

    So what changed from 2004 until now? Is it as same as started by Sheikh Bremer with Bremer kingdom house CPA?

  41. Kermanshahi said

    Salah, you yourself have been calling Iraq a dictatorship in quite a few reactions, when complaining how the members of your beloved Ba’ath regime were banned from the elections.

  42. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, I’ll leave it to Salah to respond for himself but I think you need to take a little more nuanced view of the Iraqis south of Kurdistan – I don’t remember Salah being terribly enthusiastic about the late Baathist regime.

  43. Ali W said

    But he claims the crimes committed post war are worse than during Saddam.

    And he also said that the kurds had it best in Iraq during Saddam, forgetting the anfal and halabja.

    Kermanshahi, dont worry, Iraq is ours, not in the hands of the baathist anymore,

    Rediar, I m actually really surprised by your comment.

  44. Salah said

    قادة «العراقية» اعتذروا عن غداء الطالباني ولم يحضروا المأدبة

  45. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, Hashemi did attend; Allawi, Eisawi and Nujayfi were absent. There is an interesting picture of the meeting here:
    Apart from Maliki and Hashemi, these are all the big losers in the election: Samarraie, Talabani, Hakim (and reportedly also Bulani, probably to the left). Little wonder they want to have a big government of “national unity”.

  46. Salah said

    حسين الشعلان:علاوي لم يهرب من لقاء المالكي

    بغداد(الإخبارية)..رفض القيادي في القائمة العراقية حسين الشعلان اعتبار سفر رئيس قائمته اياد علاوي الى الخارج هروبا من مواجهة رئيس ائتلاف دولة القانون نوري المالكي خلال اجتماع الرئيس جلال الطالباني , وقال الشعلان في تصريح (للوكالة الاخبارية للانباء) اليوم الخميس:أن لقاء علاوي بعض الزعماء العرب كان ضرورة أجبرته على السفر ولم يكن في نيته الهروب من مواجهة المالكي خلال الاجتماع الكتل السياسية الذي دعا اليه الطالباني في منزله , واشار الشعلان الى ان القياديين طارق الهاشمي ورافع العيساوي سينوبان عن علاوي خلال هذه القمة الطالبانية, واستبعد القيادي في القائمة العراقية اجراء مفاوضات خلال هذا الاجتماع ولن تطرح مسألة رئاسة الوزراء وذلك لان اللقاء عبارة عن دعوة ودية للحديث ولترطيب الاجواء لا أكثر, وكان مصدر مقرب من القائمة العراقية قد اكد (للاخبارية) ان رئيس قائمته اياد علاوي الفائزة في الانتخابات لن يحضر اجتماع الكتل السياسية الذي دعا اليه رئيس الجمهورية جلال الطالباني في منزله, واوضح المصدر : ان دعوة الطالباني للاجتماع جاءت متاخرة فقد توجه علاوي الى عمان الليلة الماضية ومنها سيغادر اليوم الخميس الى الكويت في زيارة رسمية لاجراء مباحثات مع قادتها حول علاقات البلدين واخر التطورات على الساحة السياسية العراقية انتهى (12.ر.م ).

    Many times reported in the news Maliki and others saying the new government will be next Sep. looks Maliki not in hurry to handover the power and they will hold the power in last day if they did.

    let waite and see what the last day surprises.

  47. Brian said

    Reidar, I have a question about the next triumvirate executive council. You’ve written that the next executive council will not be formally governed by the transitional ethno-sectarian quota requirements, although that formulation might continue anyway. What about the veto power of the three members? Will legislation still require consensus among the three members of the executive council?

  48. Reidar Visser said

    Brian, I suppose that relates to the presidency council, which expires once the new parliament is summoned, see

    In the next parliamentary cycle there is no presidential council and no presidential veto power. It is for that reason it is perfectly legitimate (i.e. constitutional) to argue for a majoritarian government-formation process in which some forces are pushed to the opposition.

    The demand for power-sharing heard so often has no constitutional basis anymore since this was a transitional feature limited to the 2005-2010 period.

  49. Salah said

    What’s your take on Talabani statement?
    وحسب الدستور فإن الكتلة النيابية هي الكتلة التي تتألف في البرلمان، والكتلة النيابية تختلف عن الكتلة الانتخابية، لماذا؟ لأن هؤلاء الذين فازوا في الانتخابات لن يتم تسميتهم نوابا أو أعضاء برلمان إلا بعد مصادقة المحكمة الاتحادية عليهم وبعد أن يؤدوا اليمين الدستورية في البرلمان، عند ذاك يصبحون نوابا كاملي الصلاحية، وعند ذاك يمكن تشكيل الكتل النيابية المختلفة.

  50. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, as so often with Talabani, it is hard to make sense of what he is saying. On the one hand he clearly says Iraqiyya is the biggest bloc so it should form the government if parliament convenes right now. But then he goes on to make a theoretical distinction between “electoral blocs” and “deputy blocs” based on his own private ijtihad of the constitution: The deputy blocs cannot exist until the second when the deputies have been properly sworn in – at which point they can rightfully start forming blocs! That would imply the opposite view, i.e. advocating the permissibility of post-election coalition forming which is the opposite of what Iraqiyya argues.

    By the way, it was interesting to see some sentimentality for the monarchy period by a Kurdish leader, when Iraq in his words had proper national parties with support “from Basra to Zakho”.

  51. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, there is nothing preventing Allawi from trying to form a government right now, except for the fact that no-one (except a few ultra-nationalist, Sunni leaders he has in his coalition) wants to be part of an Allawi-led government. He did not win a majority of the vote, infact 75% of the Iraqi people voted against him and those elected by this majority should have just as much right to come together without him as he has the right to invite them to join him.

    Why should Allawi be the only one with the right to form a government? What has Maliki got which he hasn’t, that makes that Allawi needs to be given an unfair advantage (that he should be the only one with the right to form a government)? The INA and the Kurds want to join Maliki because he is closer to them ideologicly and is willing to negotiate and make concessions, so basicly he appeals to more Iraqis than Ayad Allawi does, which counts for much more than 0.5% more votes.

  52. Reidar Visser said

    Not quite true, if you look at the comments above and by Talabani in the press, right now Barzani and Talabani appear ready to negotiate with him. But I agree he’s got to do something, and that is his own responsibility. If he cannot talk to Maliki and is unable to get anywhere with the Sadrists, he must talk to the Kurds.

    The claim to the right to form the next government is based on his interpretation of the constitution and again this is something where he appears to enjoy a degree of Kurdish support. Additionally, many (if not all) in the Shiite alliance realise they need to do more than just declare an alliance to qualify as a kutla.

    More generally I would suggest that this discussion would be a lot more interesting if we compared what Iraqi players are doing with the existing Iraqi constitutional framework instead of with our own made-up theories of democracy.

  53. Kermanshahi said

    There are different interpretations of the contutition as politicians try to twist rules and find loopholes when it suits them, in the end it democracy means rule by majority and if parties can come together and form a government which recieved support of the majority than there is nothing wrong with it even if the largest bloc (which had 24.8% of the votes, 0.5% more than the second largest bloc – it’s not as if they had 45% and led the rest by a large margin) is not included.

    And there is no way in hell the Shi’a would ever allow a the (Sunni dominated) INM, Kurds (who are Sunni), several minority candidates and the two minor Sunni lists: Unity and Tawafuq, to form a 166 seat government together, excluding all major Shi’a parties. But such alliance being formed in the first place is unrealistic, since I cannot see the Kurds and Allawis coalition partners ever come together.

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