Iraq and Gulf Analysis

The Fourteen Wise Men

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 12 June 2010 15:45

It is being reported that the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) has now nominated its 7 representatives to the so-called committee of wise men charged with selecting a premier candidate for the would-be Shiite alliance referred to as “The National Alliance”. The full list  is supposed to be as follows, with party affiliations added:

SLA representatives

1. Tareq al-Najm (Daawa)

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

3. Hassan al-Sunayd (Daawa)

4. Ali al-Adib (Daawa)

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

6. Khalid al-Atiyya (Independent bloc)

7. Hussein al-Shahristani (Independent bloc)

INA representatives

1. Nassar al-Rubayie (Sadrist)

2. Amir al-Kinani (Sadrist)

3. Bahaa al-Aaraji (Sadrist)

4. Humam Hamudi (ISCI)

5. Hamid Muala (ISCI)

6. Falih al-Fayyad (Islah/Jaafari)

7. Hassan al-Shammari (Fadila)

The list shows striking similarities with the previous list of 10 men, in particular as far as the SLA contingent is concerned. There is continuity among the strong Daawa group, with additions of two representatives of the numerically insignificant (6 deputies in parliament in total) group of independents. Within INA, the Sadrists are now better represented whereas INC (Chalabi) has been excluded.

It is hard to see how the committee can agree on anything, in particular with the ingenuous requirement that 80% (11.2 representatives!) consensus be achieved! Apparently a clear message to the Iraqi electorate that this group intends to torment the country with indecision for some considerable time to come… In a first round, all the SLA members will be required to support Maliki, whereas the Sadrists and Islah (4 members) will probably vote for Jaafari, leaving Adel Abd al-Mahdi with a maximum of three supporters (two from ISCI and, conceivably, Shammari of Fadila.)

It is not very surprising therefore, that a second unconstitutional solution to the premier question – on top of the one already proposed by Ammar al-Hakim – is being discussed in these circles: A scheme in which three deputies would share the premiership! This is of course just as illegal and constitutionally subversive as the Hakim scheme in that they both attack one of the few remaining majoritarian features of the otherwise highly consociational Iraqi constitution – article 76.

The committee of wise men is supposed to meet tonight, but so are, reportedly, also Nuri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi!

13 Responses to “The Fourteen Wise Men”

  1. amagi said

    Oh to be a fly on the wall during that meeting.

    It’s being reported that the meeting ended with an agreement on the need to form an all-inclusive national partnership government. Really? That’s why they met? What’s going on here?

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Yeah, there isn’t much in the way of details yet. Ali al-Musawi, a Maliki advisor, described the atmosphere as “very positive” and said Maliki and Allawi met for 45 minutes and would meet again…

  3. Jason said

    “Apparently a clear message to the Iraqi electorate that this group intends to torment the country with indecision for some considerable time to come…” Ha, quite funny!

    Why would Maliki consider going along with a committee system when he has overwhelming numerical strength? Why not demand a majority vote, immediately. I’m guessing that is what is going on. INA is still holding out – thus the meeting with Allawi. And let us not forget that once Maliki and Allawi start talking “partnership” of any kind, it puts the two of them in the driver’s seat, with the option of handing out only morsels to whoever else they choose from the other groups.

  4. I watched a TV interview (Baghdadiya) with a Kurdish member of parliament, I was surprised by the directness in analysis of the latest Iranian incursions into northern Iraq: it was in response to Barzani’s repeated support for Allawi’s constitutional priority in forming the government. I wonder if the incursions were really a message to Talbani instead; most likely it will be him who decides who’s priority to form the government. The political style is subtle, covert pressure characteristic of the Iranian. On the other hand, the American Assistant Secretary of State announced visit to Baghdad has a focus on the political process, a blaring mission. What a contrast.

  5. Jason said

    Some parts of this article seem questionable, making me wonder about the accuracy of the rest, but there are some interesting bits toward the end about possible defections from Iraqiya to go with Maliki.

  6. observer said

    Stephanie Sanok, an Iraq expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington Never heard of this “Iraq expert” before. What does she know besides reports written in the Green Zone? By the way, there are many reports of SLA factions (Sheristani group) walking away from SLA because of Da3wa insistence on Maliki. So it goes both ways. Why is this “expert” focused on Iraqia alone? Could it be a case of wishful thinking!!!

    Here is an article that has some real hidden nuggets that tell us what Iraqia bloc is thinking on the issue of PM. Incidentally, it is written by a person who was tied hand to hand with Al Khoie on that fateful day in 03 when Muqtada Sader issued the orders to kill Majeed Khoie.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, I think Hasan al-Alawi must take some of the blame for the image of a “weakened Iraqiyya” in that AP report.

    As for the interview in AA, I must say it is painful to read Allawi expressing confidence in Ammar al-Hakim when it comes to the true intentions of the new Shiite super-alliance. This is in stark contrast to the attack on muhasasa which he articulates so well elsewhere in the interview.

    Does he not realise that Hakim is just interested in a couple of Sunni ministers in an Abd al-Mahdi government?

  8. observer said

    i have no idea why (or if) allawi has trust in hakim (or any other politician). Further, I am not as sure as you seem to be that Hakim expects to have the PM from the ranks of sciri. Further, with respect to Hassan Allawi – I do not think that anybody in Iraqia expected to have the largest bloc. Thus to say that if the PM is not going to be from iraqia, then it will suffer from defections is a false argument, as it is rather silly of Iraqia (six months ago, when it was formed) to believe that they will be the biggest bloc. Formation of alliances are part and parcel of the Iraqi politics for the foreseeable future. Until two or three large parties are formed, we will have the factional politics of today. That is one of the reasons of making iraqia into a political party.

  9. observer said

    It sounds to me that Iraqia will insist on the “constitutionality” issue and will not relent. Allawi, it appears, is serious in making sure that the PM is from iraqia (no necessarily Allawi). It is about how the constitution is to be interpreted in the future (i.e they want the precedent set!). Not sure if this is wise or not, but as I stated here before, i think allawi is a Statesman not a politician…..He could have joined INA but instead decided to keep his principals !!!

  10. Thaqalain said

    What I noticed is: Party, ideology is immaterial, any body can change loyalty or stay independent until they will be picked/ traded with the best vendor in the horse trading market.

    Emergence of Hussein al Sharestani is another stamp on the trend of hereditary/feudal political system.

    No Principles, no more clean politics. To get power, we can alligin with any alliance. The common agenda of partners in the client regime is to get green signal from Green Zone Embassy Masters.

  11. Jason said

    If the “Green Zone Embassy Masters” were calling the shots, this thing would have been settled a long time ago. No, this is an Iraqi clusterfark.

  12. The idea of Al-Hakim, as far as I understood, was to have three different prime ministers in a row, not at the same time. This revolutionary approach might be exactly what Iraq needs. With 3 PM’s in a row, all three blocs would have the chance to focus much more on execution of a government program to improve the life of the Iraqis, instead of having one PM busy for four years with improving only his own power base, as we have seen during Al-Maliki’s reign.

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Anneke, as far as I know, Hakim personally has supported the other scheme (involving the other blocs) whereas the rotational/shared solution was something contributed by “anonymous” sources to Sumeria or some other TV channel.

    At any rate, the goal seems to be to keep the premiership within the Shiite bloc when they cannot agree on a single candidate internally and hence do not really constitute a true kutla/bloc – I still find this to be a blatant attempt at subverting the constitution first and foremost.

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