Iraq and Gulf Analysis

More Article 76 Confusion

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 3 June 2010 15:26

The latest developments and public statements in Iraq have occasioned new confusion about the process to be followed when the new parliament convenes for the first time and the subsequent process of identifying a prime ministerial candidate .

Particularly interesting are statements by Bahaa al-Aaraji, the Sadrist politician. He recently told media that in the case the two Shiite-led blocs, the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) and State of Law (SLA), failed to agree on a single candidate, there would be a run-off between multiple candidates by way of a secret ballot in parliament!

نحن نسعى الى ان يكون هناك مرشح واحد للائتلافين قبل انعقاد مجلس النواب، وفي حال عدم توصلنا لهذا الامر فاننا سوف نطبق اليات الدستور المنصوص عليها بان يكون هناك اكثر من مرشح ويكون هناك تصويت سري ومن يأتي باغلبية الاصوات هو الذي يحصل على منصب رئاسة الوزراء

This is in fact pure fantasy on the part of Aaraji. Or he may be mixing it up with the procedures for electing the president, which are similar to what he described (except that there is no requirement for secrecy). If INA and SLA have no single candidate then by definition they are unable to supply “the candidate of the biggest bloc” called for under the constitution (in the singular!) and no matter how one interprets the concept of “biggest bloc”, Iraqiyya should be charged with forming the government since they at least have a candidate.

One would have thought this could all come down to the wishful thinking of Aaraji (and not for the first time). But it does not stop there. Also Izzat Shabandar of SLA (a defector from Iraqiyya) has suggested that if INA and SLA cannot agree on a single candidate, the other blocs will get involved in deciding who the prime minister candidate should be:

قال القيادي في ائتلاف دولة القانون عزت الشابندر :” اذا دخل كل من الائتلافين /دولة القانون والوطني العراقي/ الى البرلمان باكثر من مرشح لرئاسة الحكومة فان ذلك سيؤدي الى اشراك الكتل السياسية داخل البرلمان في التصويت عليهم . ان هذا الامر يتنافى مع مفهوم الكتلة الاكبر الذي اقرته المحكمة الاتحادية ، وسيفتح الباب مشرعا للمساومات السياسية

Again, this would violate the constitution, which clearly specifies a procedure in which the matter is settled between the president and one specific candidate put forward by the biggest bloc.

Yet another unconstitutional proposal that is being bandied about by ISCI – apparently to the enthusiastic cheers of the Obama administration and UNAMI – is the idea of a “roundtable” to settle the government formation process. It should send a strong signal to Maliki and Allawi about the true intentions of ISCI and their supporters: They want neither of them (but maybe Adel Abd al-Mahdi…), and prefer to circumvent the entire article 76 of the constitution if possible. The latest article of faith from ISCI is that the prime minister must be very, very weak; this seems to be supported by ideas presented by UNAMI about “checks and balances” inside the government such as delegating power to a deputy prime minister, again entirely without reference to the constitution.

This all comes on top of the existing confusion concerning article 76 on government formation. It has emerged that as late as on 18 March, just a week before the provisional election results were released, Abd al-Hadi al-Hassani of SLA told the Khabar news agency that the constitution was perfectly clear with respect to the naming of the premier candidate, saying it was the “biggest winning entity” that was to be charged with this task – in other words the exact interpretation that Iraqiyya is supporting today. The date of the interview would seem to lend credence to the idea that the original intention of the SLA demand for a clarification of the relevant article 76 of the constitution (dated just three days later, on 21 March) may have been to protect what was still expected to be a State of Law win.

وقال الحساني في تصريح خص به وكالة خبر للانباء((واخ)) ان الدستور واضح بان الكتلة التي تأتي باعلى الاصوات هي التي يرشح منها رئيس الوزراء , مؤكدا ان ائتلاف دولة القانون اختار المالكي بالاجماع قبل الانتخابات وانه المرشح الوحيد , موضحا اننا اختلفنا مع كثير من الكتل الاخرى ولكن لم نختلف في تسمية مرشحنا السيد المالكي والدستور ايضا يؤكد على ذلك ومن يفسر الدستور غير ذلك فهو تفسير خاطئ لان الدستور يقول ان الكتلة الكبيرة الفائزة هي التي تسمي رئيس الوزراء وفي انتخابات 2005 الكتلة الكبيرة هي التي كلفت بتسميته واي تفسير غير ذلك فهو خاطئ , داعيا الى ان يصار الى تحقيق الديمقراطية والانتقال من حكومة وحدة وطنية الى حكومة اغلبية برلمانية التي تعطي استحقاق الشعب على كافة الابعاد ويصار الى ابعادها الايجابية

It should be added that Hassani is directly mistaken when he talks about “the biggest winning bloc” which is an expression that does not appear in the constitution; it is however interesting that he used exactly the same language that has later been adopted by Iraqiyya.

It has also been reported that the minutes of the constitutional committee supposedly reveal that the drafters in 2005 were at odds about how to interpret article 76: The Kurds, unsurprisingly, supported the idea of post-election coalition-forming (since they were always unlikely to emerge with a plurality of the votes), whereas the United Iraqi Alliance, including both Nuri al-Maiki and Ali al-Adib, allegedly emphasised an interpretation in which the “biggest bloc” would mean the biggest electoral bloc – in other words 100 per cent as per the Iraqiyya interpretation today. It has to be remembered that this was 2005 and a time when alternatives to sectarian politics were far more unimaginable than they are today. Even more curious, of course, is the turnabout of the Kurds in this respect, since they now apparently take the opposite view of what they said back in 2005 and support Iraqiyya.

In this confused setting, if Iraqiyya wants to achieve their aim of being charged with forming the government, maybe their best bet is to encourage President Jalal Talabani and the presidential council to adhere to the constitutional timetable and get parliament seated before a sectarian alliance of INA and SLA manages to agree on a single prime ministerial candidate. A promise of a second term for Talabani as well as a candidate for speaker from their own list that is acceptable to most others (Rafi al-Eisawi perhaps?) might be their best option to get the process going. If  Iraqiyya reaches the stage of nomination, maybe individual trends within SLA and INA, in turn, will also rethink the prospect of joining an Iraqiyya-based government instead of pursuing a sectarian project that already seems to founder due to its own contradictions (in another sign of troubled relations in the new Shiite marriage, the Buratha news agency has published criticism of Maliki for “defending the Baathist Abbud al-Eisawi [SLA seat winner in Najaf] and attacking the Islamist Furat al-Sharaa [INA seat winner in Basra, accused by SLA of being a member of the armed forces]”. Under that kind of scenario, the numbers of potential allies may also look better from the point of view of Ayad Allawi than they currently do.

27 Responses to “More Article 76 Confusion”

  1. Ali W said

    Reidar, from your post, it clearly shows that no party has any principles, not even INM, if they had lost, then they would be doing what Maliki is trying to do, and they would still be talking about fraud.

    From what you suggested in your last paragraph, i beleive it would be a disaster, you are practically saying that the top three positions should go to non-shia parties, (Allawi not been considered a shia).

    So the sunnis who are over represented in parliament when comparing the seats they have with thier poplulation, would rule over us again.

    Sorry Reidar, i would go as far as supporting a partition if that happens. We must never allow them to put us in mass graves again, or bomb our shrines.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, with all respect, there are millions of Iraqi Shiites who just like Ayad Allawi are secular in orientation and I just don’t see why Shiite Islamists should have a monopoly on forming the government. Surely, that is not in the constitution?

  3. Zaid said

    Reidar, in your post you refer to the “minutes of the constitutional committee”. What minutes are those? Can you clarify?

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Zaid, just the written record of the proceedings or mahadir. The minutes themselves are not in the public domain, but various paraphrases of the relevant meeting appeared in the Iraqi press recently. Such as for instance:

    همام حمودي قام بتزويد العراقية بمحاضر خاصة بالمادة 76 من الدستور أثناء صياغتها والتي كان رئيس الوزراء نوري المالكي عضوا في لجنة صياغة الدستور” لافتا إلى أن”المحاضر حملت تفسيرين وهما وجهة نظر الكرد بان الكتلة الأكبر هي التي تتشكل داخل قبة مجلس النواب، فيما كانت وجهة نظر الائتلاف الوطني بما فيهم المالكي بان الكتلة الأكبر هي التي تحصل على أعلى الأصوات في الانتخابات

    There has been some dispute about the veracity of the story that Hamudi shared the notes with Iraqiyya.

  5. Zaid said

    Ok thanks. I doubt very much that there is a real record of the discussions as the process was very disorganised. I will inquire however and will see what I can get my hands on.

  6. Reidar,
    As you observed, the interpretation of article 76 came well after the vote and just before declaring the initial results, and of course the interpretation refers to the result of an election in progress, this makes the interpretation ex post facto and should not apply even if SLA/INA found their candidate and named their kutla. Is there any strong argument to invalidate the retroactive description?

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Faisal, as said earlier, I feel uncomfortable about pushing for a restrictive interpretation of article 76 for a number of reasons.

    Some of my arguments are perhaps cancelled out because there are inconsistencies on both sides. For example, some of Iraqiyya’s own maneuvers before the election – and especially their flirtation with INA, which I always criticised – seemed predicated on a vision of post-election kutla-forming. One could however say that SLA demonstrated exactly the same inconsistency (viz the Hassani quote above) so that this does not really matter. Similarly, same thing with the new information from the constitutional committee and the “intentions of the framers”, with UIA reportedly having previously taken the position now adopted by Iraqiyya.

    However, I find it really difficult to argue for a strict interpretation based on the relevant legal texts alone. The constitution clearly talks about “kutla niyabiyya”; conversely the word “kutla” does not even appear in the election law. This supports the view that kutlas only come into existence when parliament convenes. On top of this, remember that the president is not selected at the first meeting. In order to prevent changes to the kutla-lineup from meeting 1 to meeting 2, there would have to be a legal injunction against such changes. But again, nothing of the kind exists, since the bylaws for the parliament adopted in 2006 only discuss kutlas indirectly and offer very few guidelines. All we have to go by is parliamentary practice in the 2005-2010 period, according to which kutlas freely coalesced and fragmented with no particular regard for rules, timelines or regulations.

    As I said before, I do see the moral (democratic and anti-sectarian) arguments against SLA and INA joining after the elections and without telling the voters beforehand. But in the current climate, I think the most constructive thing Iraqiyya can do is focusing on the timetable and what limited criteria for kutla-formation there is (having a “rais” and a name – and a single premier candidate if they want to be considered under article 76), and getting the relevant majorities for a president and a speaker in place asap while SLA/INA are dithering. Everything else is likely to prove blind alleys.

  8. Ali W said

    Reidar, I’m one of the millions of secular shia. I dont believe religion should play a major role in government. You are probably shocked to hear that, I just dont want sunni domination. All shia i know are secular in Baghad, maybe less in areas like Sadr city/Shula etc, but we all voted for parties that are against the Baath.

    I had hoped that new stronger, shia secular and anti baathist parties would arise, but so far they have not.

  9. Reidar,
    The issue is not whether kutla can change between meetings 1 and 2, anyway I think an injunction is impossible; members can change sides, resign or die. The issue is whether the supreme court’s interpretation is ex post facto and if it is possible to issue laws and judicial interpretations with retroactive validity. I understand your political preference but I think this issue is much more serious. If it is possible then it kills the political process.

  10. observer said

    There are not “millions of secular She3a”. There are those who think that they are secular, but in reality they are not. For if they are, then there is no sectarian color to the PM. I will say that your attitude is not an aberration, rather it is representative of the vast majority of what I will call “educated she3a” who equate Baath with Sunnis and “feel” the burden of “victimhood”. However, these same “educated she3a” have seen, close quarters, that the Islamic She3a parties are not deserving of having a “monopoly” on their votes. I would hazard to say that the Marje3ia (i.e. Sistani) sees this and that is one of the reasons he is putting a distance between his position and those who would want to proclaim such a monopoly. After all, the Marje3ia gets its power by being wise in how they issue Fetwas.

    I am one who is She3a, but who also believes that 4 more years of sectarianism spells the end of a strong Iraq. A confederated Iraq is not a place I would want my children to grow in. The more of those who are like me leave, the more it is true that the Islamic parties will have a monopoly on the votes of the She3a, for those who remain are, by definition, ignorant and truly believe that the Mahdi’s return is just around the corner.

    I guess what I am arguing FOR is that it is the duty of intellectuals and educated to think about the consequences of their choices as the ignorant can not be blamed for voting the way their Imam (or Shiekh) tells them. The question that is in my mind is: When is iraq going to be lead by Statesmen as opposed to the run of the mill politicians. Statesmen build nations. Politicians build small areas of influence.

    In my book, Allawi is such a statesman….

    Please do recall that this writer is a She3a.

  11. observer said

    latest development is:
    A trip back to the federal court for clarification of the meaning “largest block”. Iraqia is saying that if the court wants to yield to defining the largest bloc as the largest parliamentary block, then that block is the one that forms 163 seats, and not short of it, otherwise, it should be largest parliamentary block.

  12. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, interesting, who in Iraqiyya is making this demand? Please do post a link or reference if possible, I haven’t seen it in the news yet.

    Although I must say Iraqiyya is playing a dangerous game if they opt for this. Their previous charge was that the court had no jurisdiction in the matter. Also, in relation to what the constitution says it seems like a concoction taken out of the air. I have actually seen something previously by an Iraqi academic called Amir Hassan Fayadh. Whilst I agree with the first point he makes below about the distinction between lists and parliamentary blocs, the number 163 (i.e. an absolute majority of the new parliament) is just something he makes up.

    من جانبه رأى عميد كلية العلوم السياسية في جامعة بغداد د.عامر حسن فياض أن “لا وجود حتى الساعة لشيء يسمى كتلة نيابية طالما أن التصديق على نتائج الانتخابات لم يتم بعد”، مبينا أن الموجود حاليا “هو قوائم انتخابية”.
    وأوضح أن الكتل النيابية “الأكبر أو الأصغر ومهما اختلفت التسميات تعلن عن نفسها عند بدء الجلسة الأولى لمجلس النواب”، منوها إلى أن الكتلة النيابية الأكبر بحسب ما جاء في الفقرة أولا من المادة 76 من الدستور هي “الكتلة الأكثر عددا من المقاعد وهذا لا ينطبق على ائتلاف العراقية ولا ائتلاف دولة القانون ولا أي ائتلاف من الأربعة الكبار الذين فازوا في انتخابات يوم السابع من آذار مارس الماضي إلا بعد أن تتحالف أكثر من قائمة بكتلة نيابية تستطيع أن تضمن الـ 163 مقعدا لتسمية مرشح لرئاسة الوزراء أو الكتلة التي تستطيع أن تضمن 216 مقعدا لتسمية مرشحها لرئاسة الجمهورية”.

    Clearly, that term (absolute majority) is used in the constitution many times and so if the drafters had wished to use it they would have done so. Again, I think the best thing Iraqiyya can do is keep calling for parliament to convene (and kindly refrain from wasting their opportunity by constantly pledging to accept Adel Abd al-Mahdi if Ayyad Allawi fails!)

    PS By the way I am also somewhat uneasy about the constant, lame repetition of the number 216 (2/3 of 325) in the Iraqi press (and above), supposedly because the president requires a two-thirds majority. As said a million times earlier, if one reads the next paragraph of the constitution it becomes evident that a plurality of votes is all that is really needed to elect the president.

  13. Ali W said

    Observer i dont really know were to begin, but please read up on what secularism means, as far as i’m aware, it means believing in the separation of religion and state. It does not make u colour blind, or not caring on who rules you, a sunni or a shia. So please, if I believe in that, you cant say i’m not secular in my political ideology.

    And I dont equate sunnis with baath, please refrain from accusing me so rudely of such stupidity.

    And what do you mean if you leave Iraq?? Are you saying that you are a permanent resident in Iraq?? And do you mean Iraq will be left by people like me who are ignorant, you really should re-word your word a bit more carefully.

    And to be honest, its what baathist say or sunnis say that the shia have not been oppressed or marginalized. We have been victimized, and if you dont think so, please let refrain from debating with each other. I also know a grandson of an Ayatollah, who is pro israel, and calls Bush his hero, so it means nothing to be that you are one.

    You put me in the bracket of “educated shia” but then imply from your view that we are not educated or at least dont know what is write for Iraq.

    Please remember, I’m shia with sunnis family.

  14. observer said

    The decision to go to court has not been made. But the option exists if the political forces (other than Iraqia) want to continue along the path they are being forced onto by Da3wa’s preferred interpretation of the court previous “malleable interpretation”. This will force the different blocks to unite under one leader if they want to use the interpretation of Da3wa as the largest block.

    I can see Bolani, INA and SLA uniting under one leader, but not with the Kurds. So essentially, it is a strategic move of Iraqia to force the logic of Da3wa’s interpretation to it logical end and make people realize that the largest block should be the largest electoral block. In my view, it is a smart maneuver, but like all maneuvers, it can backfire if Da3wa backs off and thus allow INA to put in Adel as the PM…

    My info is rather from private sources, but not very dependable – so I give it to you with that caveat.

  15. observer said

    ali, i have no idea who you are. I can only infer from your writing that you are residing outside Iraq. So do not go into reading my writing as against you in person. Rather I specifically said that your attitude is representative of many she3a friends of mine who are educated and live inside Iraq, but cary with them the scars of a special She3a sense of victimhood.

    Having said that I mean no insult in what I wrote, I will state that I remain of the attitude that if you are truly secular, you can not write:

    “So the sunnis who are over represented in parliament when comparing the seats they have with thier poplulation, would rule over us again.

    Sorry Reidar, i would go as far as supporting a partition if that happens. We must never allow them to put us in mass graves again, or bomb our shrines.”

    Tell me if I am mistaken in interpreting your words as blaming Sunnis for the mass graves (as if there were no she3a Baathis who have more blood on their hands than sunnis) and you would rather see Iraq divided than be governed by a PM who is a She3a but voted in by Sunnis. I see little resemblance to a truly secular attitude in your words. Furthermore, convicting a whole sect with the crimes of individuals is reminiscent of mass punishments. Do you want to blame the entire population of Germany with the crimes of Hitler and the Nazis?

    Anyway, this blog is probably the wrong place for this kind of exchange. I should not have responded to your post directly, but I responded in the heat of the moment. I apologize to Rieder and the rest of the readership for taking away from their time and energy to follow the minutia of this exchange.

    I have lived outside Iraq for 25 years but have come back since 2003. Because of my active profile in iraq, I can not tell you who I am but believe me when I say, I have the courage of my convictions and do say things in public that are similar to what I have said here.

  16. Reidar Visser said

    Thanks for the added information, Observer. I must admit I don’t get the logic behind the alleged proposal (though I am extremely grateful to you for reporting about it). It seems to me to have very little correlation to the constitutional text which simply talks about “the candidate of the biggest parliamentary bloc in numerical terms”:

    مرشح الكتلة النيابية الاكثر عدداً

    There is no language about any kind of majorities whatsoever, so to introduce the concept of an absolute majority (163) really comes across as no more plausible than any other random number of representatives.

    The relevant part of article 76 is designed to govern the start of the coalition-forming process; not the vote of confidence which is a separate matter entirely. I thought Ayad Allawi seemed very much attuned to that distinction in his recent BBC appearance.

    To my mind, Iraqiyya should instead focus their energy now on pushing the presidency council towards adhering to the timeline for seating the parliament. Recently, Talabani announced he would conduct dialogue with the winning parties concerning the timeline, and the Sadrists spoke of having a “consultative” session only, presumably without any speaker election. To me, both of these smell like departures from the constitutionally agreed timeline and procrastination of the kind that would favour the INA/SLA merger and the Iranian interests that are behind it.

  17. observer said

    The strategy that I described is a “back up” option, or Plan B, of sorts. The main strategy remains as you described it. But it is good to have back up plans, given that SLA and INA may “do what they have to do” to get the PM position.

    Back to the “logic”. We have to agree that there is no logic to the “malleable interpretation” in the first place other than political pressure on the judicial authorities. So we can agree that the interpretation of the constitutional court is already “stretching” of the letter of the law. The idea here is to have the court make the point that the ‘largest bloc” is the one that can garner 163 seats, not simply blocks that decide to “merge” after the election, which is ridiculous especially in view of the way SLA was arguing for punishing the entire list for a debathified candidate.

    If it become clear that the largest block interpretation is the one that garners 163 votes, then the dynamics will change. Anyway, the entire argument is a Plan B that i used in “inside talks” between blocks.

  18. Ali W said

    “Al-Iraqiya is ready to form the new government as soon as it is assigned to do so, since it has a semi-agreement with the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) and Kurdistan Alliance,” Shakir Kutab told Aswat al-Iraq news agency on Sunday.

    He noted that the three blocs have mutual visions regarding the national project in Iraq.

    I like the last paragraph (-: Reidar, I beginning to warm to or at least not hate the idea of INM leading the formation of government as long as the shia parties could be included, which would act as a buffer from letting the baathist creeping back in to the security or civil service.

  19. Reidar Visser said

    And what exactly constitutes that “mutual vision of the national project in Iraq”?

    Last time I checked, ISCI wanted a weak goverment in Baghdad and the Kurds would have preferred no government at all and just a mechanism for transferring oil money from Basra to the KRG. Also INA have pledged to conform to whatever instructions are issued by the “marjaiyya”.

    I don’t understand how Iraqiyya, which supposedly favours centralised, secular rule, sees the goals of these groups as more compatible in terms of a “national project” than those of Maliki.

  20. Ali W said

    I completely agree, for me I think its all about power. The INM are prepared to go with anyone as long as Allawi becomes the PM, and tha goes for SLA.

    The Iraqi “shia” circles i know, whether in the UK or Iraq, really dislike everyone, when ever we get together, all we do is speak about the mess ups and corrution, but carry on voting for the shia parties out of fear of the past, (in my view justified fear).

    I have said this before, real democracy will only arise once the insurgency is eliminated and Sunnis expect no more political influence except for what their population size allows. That way, the fear will go away and people will start voting with their brains.

  21. observer said

    “I don’t understand how Iraqiyya, which supposedly favours centralised, secular rule, sees the goals of these groups as more compatible in terms of a “national project” than those of Maliki.”

    Here is what brings them together on the National Project. The belief in federalism is a federation between Kurds and Arabs, not She3a Sunna & Kurds (failies, and regular sunnis). The belief is also based on a centralized policy for oil, water, foreign policy, army, police, and DECENTRALIZING services, such as water, sewerage, school districts (but not curricula), streets, and other such services. Free Market and Privatization is also a central part of the belief. If you look at the minutia of INA positions, you will see that Adel Abd Al Mahdi has been focusing on the decentralization aspects over {she3a region}.

    THe biggest problems will be Kirkuk and Oil. There are solutions that can be applied that are outside the box. Now is not the time to be talking about these in public. If you want to have a private discussion, then we can exchange a few pointers about these issues, when time permits.

  22. Reidar Visser said

    Well, it would be helpful if INA could make its position on this crystal clear, i.e. that they now consider the idea of a Shiite region a misstep.

    But I think there is more the INA needs to do before there is any basis for that kind of alliance. Consider the point in their programme about “adherence” (iltizam) to the directions of the marjaiyya:

    الالتزام بالتوجهات الرشيدة المرجعية العليا

    Also, it would be helpful if they could expel Chalabi and Lami and admit that the de-Baathification revival was conducted in a politicised and uneven manner!

    But are they really prepared to do that? Just a week ago, Hakim said he considered the SLA/INA merger a marriage “with no divorce”:

    هل تتوقعون استمرار تحالفكم مع دولة القانون لا سيما أن بهاء الأعرجي (القيادي في التيار الصدري) أكد بأن هذا اتفاق أولي وأن هناك مفاجآت في الساحة السياسية، فهل هو زواج كاثوليكي أم زواج مؤقت؟

    – أعتقد أنه زواج المسلمين الدائم.

    * لكن هناك طلاق في زواج المسلمين؟

    – الحمد لله، لا نرى أن هناك أفقا للطلاق والانفصال في هذا التحالف

    Could there be different, long-term motives behind their flirtation with Iraqiyya?

  23. observer said

    In (iraqi) politics, there is not necessarily a relation between public and private pronouncements. I am not going to claim to you that I know what happens inside INA. I have contacts that are close enough that give me information and latest information appear to be positive towards an agreement with Iraqia. Whether that agreement also includes SLA minus Maliki – I do not know. On Marji3ia – Allawi is not strictly secular on that (after all he is a smart politician). Recall that Allawi went to meet Sistani a couple of times already. And on INA’s adherence to the opinion of Marji3ia – don’t you think that is meant for political consumption and they adher to the opinion only when it suits them. What did INA do when Sistani asked them to reduce the salaries of MP’s, or any of the other “requests”.

    Anyway, with regards to coming to an agreement with Iraqia and the Kurds — there are no guarantees. As you know, brinksmanship is a trade mark of Iraqi politics, and it is usually not over even “after the fat lady sings”- as the re-count episode clearly shows. Maybe it is all a show meant to distract.

    But what kills me is that all this maneuvering is “turning off” the average Iraqi from politics and democracy. The street is UNHAPPY and now they are cussing all. Yesterday, the temperature in Baghdad was 49 degrees and the electric service is down to 5 to 6 hours, and even when it comes – it is like a “traffic Light”. So the average Iraqi is cussing ALL OF THEM. People are actually lamenting the days of Saddam. Can you believe that????

    What the INA will do to “correct” its path, is in the future, but I can tell you that they can read the public mind better than me and you and they know very well that there is no support in the south for the super she3a region. So maybe they have put plans on hold for now, and are waiting for the right time to revive the south region again in the future – who knows. On Chalabi and Lami – well, if INA has to get rid of them, I can tell you Iraqia should get rid of some of it’s pillars too and the same goes for SLA. Nobody is innocent !!!

  24. Reidar Visser said

    Forgive me, but to me the fact that ISCI invented the “Iqlim al-Wasat wa-al-Janub” and promoted it for at least two years was a very clear indicator of a complete lack of understanding of Iraqi society and history!

  25. observer said

    I agree completely with you.
    For the record, I am aware that Adel Abd Al Mahdi has always argued for decentralization as opposed to “regionalization”. As for ISCI calling for Aqaleems and why – let us not get into that.

  26. mostafa said

    Hi Reidar,
    about the (adherence to the directions of the marjaiyya).
    why do you think that it is a bad thing?
    did Ayatolla Sistani say or do anything bad in the last 7 years?
    I think that Ayatolla Sistani is the most sober minded man a Iraq and he is the most effective buffer who prevented Iraq from sinking in an endless civil war.
    Also, he is the biggest defender of the simple people agianst the greediness and corruption of some politicians (as indicated by the repetition of talking about people’s problems every Friday by Shiekh Abdalmahi Alkarbala’y and others).
    Finally, all Iraqi politicians (including secularists and nonshiites) respect him.

  27. Reidar Visser said

    But who knows whether Sistani is alive one year from now. And the term “marjaiyya” (it doesn’t even say the “marjaiyya of Najaf” or “of Iraq”) is in the eye of the beholder. To some in Badr, it means Khamenei, to some Sadrists, it means Kazim al-Haeri.

    I think “iltizam” goes way too far.

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