Iraq and Gulf Analysis

The Anatomy of the Government-Formation Talks So Far

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 23 July 2010 13:49

A certain degree of momentum has been building throughout the week in Iraq with an unprecedented degree of “optimistic” statements by several key leaders and with an anticipated meeting this weekend in Arbil of political leaders including Muqtada al-Sadr making the headlines; however as of yet there are zero objective signs of an imminent breakthrough as far as the information available in the public domain is concerned.

One interesting aspect of the negotiations so far has been the relative prominence of the triangle of State of Law (SLA), Iraqiyya (INM) and the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), with the fourth big winner, the Kurdish Alliance (KA) so far taking more of a backseat position. Some of this obviously stems from the fact that the prime minister is likely to come from one of the three biggest lists. Another interesting feature, though, is the apparent focus on writing political programmes prior to deciding on the prime minister. Thus, all three main blocs are ostensibly engaged in various sort of committees working on government-programme issues, though it is slightly unclear for example whether the recently-proposed Sadrist-Iraqiyya one is in fact a bilateral affair between the two or part of a more wide-ranging INA-INM effort.

In itself, a focus on issues is of course promising, in theory at least. Since these programmes are likely to eschew the issues of real importance, it is not altogether inconceivable that within some weeks they could be able to paper over many of the real differences with vague language, primarily related to the difference between federalists (ISCI within INA) and centralisers (the rest). There could be some problems regarding the limitation of the powers of the prime minister (SLA versus the rest); this however could get mitigated by the fact that both the others hope to obtain the next premiership in which case such limitations would clearly lose some of their relevance to them. However, it still remains unlikely that the three could agree on a common premier candidate in the end, which raises the question of whether this is all a waste of time.

Another problem is that the anticipated Kurdish drama – which is going to be the real knot – has been postponed due to the trilateral quarrel about who should be PM. So far, rather than serving as the kingmaker many had predicted, the Kurds have been content to wait for a PM candidate to emerge and have also been comparatively subdued with respect to their own desiderata (it is however noteworthy that both INM and INA appear to think that enlisting Kurdish support is the way to marginalise Maliki). In the unlikely event that the three others can agree on a common candidate, this is where the real problem will begin: The Kurds will present demands relating to autonomy in the oil sector and control of Kirkuk and other disputed territories that will be quite impossible for the other parties to accede to – even the Shiite Islamist parties, at the height of their domination in 2007, were unable to give the Kurds what they wanted on this. In a repeat of the debate on the election law in 2009, we can perhaps expect the dramatic arrival in Baghdad of the speaker of the Kurdish parliament Kamal Kerkuki; when that does not work even Masud Barzani at one point may choose to descend from Arbil to announce that any other solution than a Kurdish annexation of Kirkuk is unacceptable. There will be great consternation and more delays.

Absent any miraculous pact between Iraqiyya and State of Law (which would have the potential to circumvent many of these problems and create a government within a reasonable time frame), everything therefore suggests that a solution could still be a long way off. Some found the earlier prediction on this blog in March that the process could last almost into Ramadan (starting in early August) or even until the US troop drawdown (31 August) to be overly pessimistic. We are now moving towards a phase where the next psychological deadlines are likely to be the November midterm elections on the American side, and, as far as the Iraqis themselves are concerned, past records of government formation: 6 months for Iraq in 2006 (which would mean around September 2010), and around 7 months as the world record (at least the European one: the case of the 208 days in Netherlands in 1977; even optimists would probably stop talking about the beauty of consociational democracy if that point is reached in October 2010).

44 Responses to “The Anatomy of the Government-Formation Talks So Far”

  1. Thaqalain said

    I think that’s End of DEADLOCK. There must be some hidden if and then in Obama’s latest directive.

    Obama presses Iraqi leaders to end deadlock
    22 Jul 2010 21:58:47 GMT

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Thaqalain, I think you are crediting the Americans with far greater dexterity and influence than what they actually have. Obama is not “pressing” anyone in Iraq. Please detail how they are using their leverage beyond the constant expressions of exasperation.

  3. mohammed said

    Hi Reidar:

    The current round of negotiations and dialogue is interesting to say the least.

    However, if Allawi emerges as the PM, Iran would be a huge loser in all of this. Whatever Observer says about how nobody trusts Al-Maliki, I am quite certain that Iran would never trust Allawi to be an advocate for their interests. Allawi has far better relations with the Saudis and Arabs than he does with Iran. Allawi being PM would be a game changer in terms of Iran’s influence in Iraq and their standing in the gulf.

    Thus, for Muqtada and Hakim to agree upon Allawi would mean that Iran does not have nearly the influence on these groups that everybody alleges. But given that Muqtada and Hakim are very chummy with Iran, I doubt that Iran has lost this leverage (after all, Muqtada is still living in Iran!)…

    Thus, this gets back to what is the real meaning of all of these photo-ops? In the end, I think Hakim and Muqtada are just trying to make it loud and clear that they dont want Maliki as PM, and they are willing to hug Allawi to prove it. Maliki of course has tried to wait them out, but this has gotten him nowhere. Maliki’s only hope is that Allawi would agree to letting Maliki stay on as PM (that doesnt look like it is going to happen). And the reverse is not going to happen (Maliki is not about to support Allawi to be the PM).

    Thus, despite all the photo-ops, nothing has really changed as far as I can see. Of course, Observer apparently has his ears to the inner circles, but I haven’t seen anything that he has said that really would point one to believe that things are progressing. Observer is correct that Iraqis do not want to repeat the mistake of allowing a single party to rule the country (so I agree Da3wa should not be able to dominate everything), but allowing Iraqiya (the most pro-baath party of the big 4) doesnt seem like a safe path to travel away from future single party domination either.

    I think Reidar’s suggestions of SOL + Iraqiya with Maliki as PM is probably the best option, but it does not seem to be in the cards yet.

    So despite your excellent analysis, where exactly are we as compared to 4-5 months ago?

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, I would say we have not moved very much at all. The current configuration reminds me of the debate on the “electoral behaviour code” and the budget in December 2009-January 2010: Everyone against Maliki. But that doesn’t solve anything unless INA is truly prepared to accept Allawi as PM. I agree with you that so far there is no solid evidence to back up the idea of an imminent breakthrough between Iraqiyya and INA.

  5. Jason said

    Whatever happened to the idea of a split term where Allawi takes over from Maliki two years in.

  6. Jason said

    Looks to me like the danger to Iraq now is not too few parties, but too many, with no winner and no mandate to govern the country.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    That was another unconstitutional proposal from the US – specifically from Zalmay Khalilzad who now sits on the board of DNO and therefore is in something of a “Peter Galbraith situation”, i.e. he should stay far away from the public debate on Iraqi politics given his own vested business interests.

    Also I think we need to get away from this absurd idea that there is a problem with the election result and that the Iraqi voters are to blame.

  8. Jason said

    I don’t blame Iraqi voters or the allocation of their votes at all. It is just that (to an American) it is a strange and vexing system that can produce such a protracted deadlock. A solution to that would be as simple as a Supreme Court order setting a date forcing Parliament to hold a vote for President.

  9. Kermanshahi said

    There are reasons the Kurds couldn’t be kingmaker this time. First of all, the Arab parties made sure that 1 Arab vote is worth almost twice as much as a Kurdish vote by the way they chose to divide the seats per governorate, which resulted in Kurds getting 20 seats less than they deserved and thus reducing their significance. Secondly they were hoping they would be needed for a majority and than they could put their demands on the table and hope that either Maliki would accept these demands in return for the Prime Ministership. However the political process among Arab parties has been too unclear so far, one thing that has been realised is that Allawi’s allies will make a Kurdish deal with him impossible. But than Maliki and the INA still don’t have their own proper alliance and both are still in talks with Allawi.
    Had the Kurdish parties recieved the 75 seats they should have got, if all Iraqis votes were equal, they could have been the king maker for al-Maliki who could have then made a deal with them and include some smaller parties like Tawafuq to than avoid making a deal with Allawi or al-Sadr and al-Hakim. But even then it would be up to Maliki to decide whether a compromise with the Kurds (one which he is capable of making, but Allawi isn’t) would be worth it’s while. Maybe a deal with INA + others or INM would be easier and better for him.

  10. Thaqalain said

    Leverage is the ground reality and see Ex US Ambassador contracted oil drilling contracts due to his business contarct’s, this is just and example. Numerous companies have emerged and resurfaced and left behind others.
    We talk here about Kirkuk and to whom it belongs but we don’t want to tell the audience wh are actual power holders and authoritative people in the regime who are running companies behind the scene.
    Its my understanding liberation and freedom means” Iraq is for all but not for general Iraqis.”

  11. observer said

    Muhammad,
    When I say nobody trusts maliki, I implicitly talk about Iraqi politician. Iran’s interests are supposedly not a concern of an Iraqi politician (at least in theory). Of course Iran does not trust Allawi. Conversely, the Arabs do not trust Iranian backed politicians. And it is not only Iran’s interests that need to be considered. There are Turkish interests, American interests, Kuwaiti, Saudi, Jordanian, Syrian, Russian, Chinese, British and sorts of interests. If you look at the entire picture (i.e. look at the forest instead of the trees) you will see a complex web of decisions that are taking place. Consider for yourself the reason why Americans acquiesced to the Chinese and Russians to “win” the concessions on the two largest oil fields in Iraq? (consider the timing of the decision of award to the UN vote on Iranian sanctions). Anyway, I do not mean to be giving lectures here – but the larger point is that there is a complex game going on in Iraq of arm twisting, shin kicking, and boxing below the belt to get the upper hand, not only in Iraq, but regionally, and aybe even globally.

    As for the Baathiness of Iraqiyya, I refer you to my answer to Ali W in the previous thread on this blog.

  12. observer said

    Jason, it is strange that you say what you say, because I had a conversation with a person involved in the “discussions” who mentioned that it is possible that they may not have an agreement well after ramadhan. Apparently, they will be having negotiations instead of Taraweeh prayers..

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Seems we are getting back to several subjects that could potentially derail the whole conversation… Kermanshahi, we have discussed your peculiar way of calculating seat allocations before (the “low” Kurdish representation being chiefly the result of a higher rate of participation) and I don’t think we should go down that alley again. I just wanted to say that in theory, a bigger share of Kurdish seats might conceivably also have produced greater incoherence among the Kurds (i.e. more Goran) and hence more inter-ethnic alliances. Observer, I am a little bit surprised that you seem to be adopting the historiography of your hosts in the Kirkuk question! After all, Barzani’s claim to Kirkuk was above all a late-1960s innovation which took Baghdad by surprise at a time they were prepared to offer the Kurds substantially more than any other neighbouring state. I wrote briefly about this at http://historiae.org/disputed.asp

    Anyway, let’s see what the weekend produces, if anything, in terms of concrete negotiation results.

  14. observer said

    Reider,
    I am not sure what you are referring to as a Kurdish historiography of the Kirkuk issue. I am actually using history as I have lived it. I started in 1971 (in the previous thread).. as to the solution. Not in 1948..If on the other hand to a previous post to Kerminshahi in regards to the 1948 events of the short lived Mahabad Republic – that has nothing to do with Kirkuk.

    As for Kurdish aspirations for nationhood – if I find myself compelled to support the right of Palestinians for a homeland, how can I not support the rights of Kurds for a homeland? As to the boundary and viability of this homeland, that is something else entirely. The Kurds KNOW that even if they got Kirkuk, they will not be able to export the oil without a “tax” – be it to Turkey, Iran, Syria or even southern Iraq. So the game is not about who gets the oil of Kirkuk only. It is about actually getting a fair share of the resources of Iraq and being able to leverage. I happen to think that the Kurds are over playing their cards (they have historically done that just like the Palestinians). But that is their problem. I hope that we can get the issue resolved without blood shed or increase tensions, etc.

  15. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, a one-man, one-vote system (which is actual democracy and has nothing peculiar about it), would have definetly resulted in more seats for Gorran. The KA would have had 50 instead of 43 seats (+16%) while Gorran would have had 14 instead of 8 (+75%), meanwhile the Islamic Kurdish parties would have had 12 rather than 6 (+100%), but it wouldn’t have changed much since only the KA or a combined Kurdish alliance, as we see now could have given any of the major coalitions a majority. Also it wouldn’t have changed the fact that neither of the Kurdish parties is able to give up the Kurdish demands they have now. Infact an important part in Nawshirwan Mustafa’s campaign was saying that Masoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani in 7 years have still failed to give the Kurds Kerkuk and if he would allign himself with anti-Kurdish parties such as Iraqiyya, it would have been his end aswell.

    As for Kerkuk city and who it belongs to, even you admitted in one of your previous disucssions (with someone else) that Kerkuk’s country-side was always overwhelmingly Kurdish and your claims Kerkuk should belong to the Arabs are based on the fact that for a small period of time, due to the Ottoman occupation, the city’s majority (when it was still tiny) was Turkish. But the real discussion is not about who was a majority where, a long time ago. The discussion is this: Kurds want autonomy, should this be based on where the Kurds live, where do they have a majority, so that all Kurds can live within the Kurdish Autonomous Republic, or should this be based on some provinces which Saddam drew (mostly with anti-Kurdish motives and have no historical basis at all?

    Some Arab Iraqis have now taken up a stand that these provinces are holy or something and their integrety should be repsected no matter what, meaning that 3 Kurdish majority provinces should become KRG, but the 4th Kurdish majority province shouldn’t because it’s also got a lot of non-Kurds living in the South of it. Well these provinces are worthless, artificial, and have been created by Saddam Hussein’s regime, who’s legacy is not very great. They have been changed many times before and should be changed again. Northern parts of Ninawa should join Dahuk, northern parts of Diyala should join Silêmanî, meanwhile Kerkuk should be split up with all Kurdish majority areas joining the Kurdistan Autonomous Republic and the rest can form a new province or join Salah ad-Din.

  16. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, my arguments are always focused on the city of Kirkuk. Observer, if the Kurds want their own homeland, fine, they should just make up their mind and try not to wreck the idea of a functioning government in the rest of Iraq in the process. Bb, jut to give an idea of who we are talking about, the principal SLA figures currently in govt are Shahristani the oil (and now electricity minister), Safa al-Din al-Safi (who took over trade, he is from Basra), Shirwan al-Waeli (from Dhi Qar, national security and now also transport if I remember correctly) and Khudayr al-Khuzai (education, of Tanzim al-Iraq). You may recall that Safi and Waeli were originally ministers of state who came to the fore after they replaced ministers dismissed for various forms of incompetence. Also the sports, planning and defence ministers have personal ties to Maliki and ran with SLA even though they used to belong to other parties (they have ties to northern Iraq).

    Anyway, it would be helpful if we could stay focused on the coalition-forming process please.

  17. Ali W said

    Observer, I dont remember you answering the question about INM not linked to the baath, pls copy and paste, i might have missed it.

    I think you have to answer the question also of how close Allawi is to Saudi Arabia, and ask yourself if the shia had only two choices, one is pro iran and the other is pro saudi/wahabi countries, why should they choose the saudi puppet.

    I also think your looking too deeply into the Iran sanctions.

    As for my question, please answer this, who will back down on Kirkuk? The Kurds or INM (Mutlaq,Hadbaa,Turkmens)

    You have insider information, does Nujeifi seem in the mood about giving up on Kirkuk?

  18. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, the Kurds do want their own homeland and would much rather declare independence from Iraq than have any part in it’s government or have any oil money from Basra. Arab Iraq however still does not accept the Kurds’ right for independence, they demand they stay part of Iraq and therefore at the side of the Kurds, they are willing to reluctantly accept remaining an official part of Iraq however they have to be represented in the government (unlike Iraq’s past governments…) and have autonomy. If Iraq’s central governmen would give permission, they would declare independence right now and all their MPs can leave parliament. Your idea of “fine, they can have independence, but don’t bother the political process” is not shared by any of the Arab parties or people.
    If you look at other countries which declared independence unofficially, like South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Kosovo, Nagorno Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, Tranistria, Somaliland, they have all still failed to gain international recognition and only have relations and recogntion from very few (or no) states and this is what Kurds don’t want.

  19. Reidar Visser said

    Kermanshahi, you would be surprised to see how many Arab Iraqis are prepared to give up the undisputedly Kurdish areas (obviously not including Kirkuk) in order to get rid of all the problems they create for the rest of the country. This has been a growing trend for the past few years. What infuriates most Iraqis is the double-game played by the Kurds: Playing for independence while at the same time trying to weaken the existing Iraqi state as much as possible through their participation in the federal government.

  20. Thaqalain said

    Redidar, accept the ground reality Kurdistan is already got independence, they have their own airport, valleys and oil city of Kirkuk, they already running a Parrnell government. Tell me is there any Baghdad Control in Hawler, Kirkuk, Mosul?
    They have all trading routes from Turkey, Iran, why they need to be in Baghdad’s Geography? Why we needs Kurd’s vote to tilt so-called Democratic setup?

    We can’t say Kurdistan in Iraq’s Geopgraphy if a Baghdadi needs a visa to travel Arbil while USIsaelies, , South African Spies, Mercenaries, Europeans/UAE based Oil Drilling Contractors are being welcomed open hearted.

    Why don’t we accept Americans have destroyed Iraq totally where even ite House Powered democracy failed to achieve hearts of any Iraqi. The nation is totally frustrated and a massive revolt and rebellion on the way to explode, soon after American’s demobilization ( if we believe their intention is honest).

    If Shias want success they should focus their energy on southern +central oil peninsula. There is no force to unite Iraqis except Najaf brokered deal as it’s Iraq’s/Iran’s Vatican.

  21. Reidar Visser said

    Thaqalain, very few Iraqi Shiites agree with the following quote by you:

    “If Shias want success they should focus their energy on southern +central oil peninsula.”

    Except maybe Basim al-Awwadi and Ammar al-Hakim. But hey, Awwadi and Hakim are after all the Shiite Islamists that Hill, Biden, Melkert, the Kurds, the Iranians, the Saudi king and… uh, Allawi, like to talk to.

  22. Ali W said

    Kermanshahi, Reidar is very right, you have no idea how many Iraqis want the Kurds to have their independence without Kirkuk. We benefit nothing from the Kurds. On the contrary, we give you oil that could be better spent in Basra,Amarah etc areas that are more deprived then Arbil etc.

    The kurds rule themselves and the rest of Iraq. I’m not racist, I love the Kurdish people, but your politicians are destroying our chances of having a strong country, they pushed for a terrible constitution that benefits them not the rest of Iraq.

    If it was Up to me, I would give you independence and stop the oil supply that builds part of Iraq that Iraqis have to get permission to enter and get treated like rubbish by the border guards, the same way the Jordanians treat us, like a completely different country.

  23. observer said

    Ali W,
    You can do your own search. My answer to you is in the thread before this one. Simply put, you want to question the baath credentials of some Iraqiyya delegates, then I would like to question the Baathis history of delegates in SLA and INA lists. I do have lists of former Baathis (i.e. wear Zaitoni on April 9th 03). But it seems that you like to convince yourself that all baathis are sunnis and that the propaganda od Chalibi and company is actually an accurate reflection of the truth.

    I will repeat one last time. This is not a debating forum and I do not have time to try to convince you (assuming that you even have an open mind). You want to keep your conviction, that is fine by me. it is a free world. But if you have the right to one, so do I. I, however, do have access to information that you do not. I am interested in Reidars’ analyses but he is not the only one I listen to nor do I agree with him a 100% of the time.

    Anyway, this being not a debating society and just a place to put down ideas and sounding them out, I put forth to you that the Kurds themselves have no problem with Iraqiyya. It has been stated often enough by the leadership. If you do not believe that the pronouncements of Masoud Barazani are to be trusted. .. that is your right and privilege to do so.. Reidar himself can not fathom why Iraqiyya is not pursuing the 180 solution and he is having a hard time buying the argument that Da3wa is not be trusted, and I consider him to be one of the most informed – so what can I tell you.

    At any rate, my problem with posters around here is that it seems that the majority are posting from outside iraq without real life connection to what is happening inside except through second hand reports. So excuse me for saying that from now own, I will just communicate with Reidar privately and save myself the heartache of getting into side debates about how Baathi is Iraqiyya and hoe holy is SLA or INA or how sneaky the Kurds are.
    Regards

  24. mohammed said

    Observer:

    I am sure that there is a complex game going on here as you say, but I hope on this forum we don’t get bogged down in second and third order details. There are a set of political equations governed by theorems and axioms that are likely to show us where things are heading.

    When I bring up Iran’s influence in Iraq, that is looking at a “first order” factor. I am not going to get bogged down in how the Kuwaitis are going to sway Al-Hakim or Muqtada to support Allawi. The Saudis and other regional players would prefer Allawi (and also do not trust Al-Maliki, but do not have first order influence of INA as Iran does).

    I do not really view Al-Hakim or Muqtada Al-Sadr to be the second coming of Imam Ali. They are politicians wearing 3bayas. Their goal is not martyrdom. They are intersted in power for themselves and their supporters. They have seen that al-Maliki has shut them out of the power game for the past couple of years. Right now, they seem to be dependent on Iran to help them to attain that power.

    Iran’s ability to bargain with the Saudis and Americans regarding regional politics would be far worse off if Allawi were selected to be PM since we all know that he is in the Saudi & Arab camp. Iraq is a huge jewel in geopolitical influence game, and you dont just give that up. Thus, my prediction that Iran would not allow al-hakim and al-sadr to sign on to an Allawi premiership is based on that.

    Your response of “looking at the forest instead of the trees” really does not add to the conversation. Since you seem to have your ears in the inner circle, can you enlighten me on a realistic scenario that al-Hakim and Al-Sadr can still be pro-iranian and support Allawi?

    For al-Hakim and al-Sadr, their hopes of attaining power rests upon getting rid of al-Maliki, and appeasing Iran. The only way for that to happen is for Allawi to agree to letting somebody from INA get the PM (like adel abdul mahdi, or some weak no-name alternative). If you have a more logical scenario and politically realistic scenario, I am all ears.

    As for Iraqiya having pro-baathist leanings, it is not so much having former baathists in their party that is worrisome, but rather what their current views are that bothers me.

    You previously stated: “Are there former Baathis in Iraqiyya? yes. Are there no former Baathis in your preferred lists – dare to answer? I do have a list.”

    Yes, I am sure that SOL has former baathists too. What worries me are statements from people like al-mutlag and company that “the baath party is the best party to ever rule iraq.” I agree with Reidar that there is no law that has been set up to ban such statements (thus their exclusion from the poliical process was not legally mandated), but as an Iraqi I would not trust such a person’s judgment to be presiding over the security services. In the USA, there is no law against being a white supremacist or neo-Nazi, but they usually do not become secretary of state or defense.

    I am all for including secular people in the political ruling class, and would rather have a secular, ethical, competent PM rather than somebody who is in Iran’s camp, or Saudi Arabia’s camp. But, frankly, with the statements that have come out from Iraqiya’s big wigs, I can certainly understand why State of Law would not “trust them” with the PM position. I don’t mean to label all of Iraqiya to be that way, but enough of them are to worry me. And btw, I agree with your views about including the Kurds and not repeating the mistakes of the past.

    But, I still believe we are at a stalemate until either Allawi or Maliki agree to give up the PM position.

  25. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, it’s not a double game play by the Kurds, it’s basicly they want independence, the Arabs want them to stay, or at least their politicians do (and as far as I know, so do the majority of the people), and Kurds can only accept that on certain conditions: being represented in the government to ensure this government doesn’t start yet another Kurdish genocide, and having their own autonomy + military forces to protect them.
    But if the Iraqi government accepts the Kurdish right for independence, they will definetly take it. We’ve seen the 2005 referendum already show 98% of Kurds want to seperate, so any referendum held any time soon will have a similar result.

    Ali W, Kurds have been damaging Iraqi chances at having a strong country but they should have never been forced to become a part of Iraq in the first place. It only goes to prove that greed is never good, there are plenty of examples for it, but in this case we can definetly conclude that forcefully taking Kurdish territory into your country hasn’t been good for either Turkey or Iraq.

  26. Kermanshahi said

    BTW, Ali, Kurds might get part of that Basra oil money from the central government, but than they are only allowed to keep 17% of the money earned from exporting their own oil, the rest all goes to Iraq’s central government.

  27. Reidar Visser said

    BTW Kermanshahi, KRG produces between 50 and 100,000 bpd on a good day I think; Basra in excess of 1 million bpd with deals already signed to quadruple that or more.

  28. Salah said

    What’s the truth in all of this, its just bazaar these guys wasting time and play with wordس each timee as if they work hard on the issue which clearly they not care much as much as they hold the time for long stay and with their eyes what they can gain in the next government structures..

    واكدت عضو التحالف الوطني عن الائتلاف الوطني العراقي سلام سميسم ان تشبث بعض الكتل السياسية بمرشحها الوحيد يبقى هو العقبة الرئيسية امام تشكيل الحكومة اذ لا يتم تشكيل الحكومة دون الاتفاق على شخصية رئيس الوزراء قبل الذهاب الى مجلس النواب ” .

    من جانبه صرح عضو إئتلاف دولة القانون حيدر العبادي إن هناك جهات سياسية عراقية تحاول عرقلة المباحثات والمفاوضات المتعلقة بتشكيل الحكومة من اجل تدويل المشكلة.

    قال القيادي في التحالف الكردستاني، محمود عثمان، إن هناك جهوداً تبذل حالياً من قبل قادة الكتل السياسية لتسمية أعضاء الرئاسات الثلاث خلال الأسبوع الجاري .وقال عثمان في تصريح نقلته cnn إن “هناك شبه اتفاق على إنهاء المسألة هذا الأسبوع ،” مستدركاً بالقول: “في حال عدم الإتفاق فسيتم تأجيل إستئناف جلسة البرلمان المفتوحة،” مشيراً إلى إن الأكراد “لم يحسموا موقفهم بشأن التحالف مع أية كتلة بعد.

    المح القيادي في القائمة العراقية عبدالكريم السامرائي الى تغيير مسار مفاوضات ائتلافه من دولة القانون الى الائتلاف الوطني .وقال السامرائي في تصريح نقلته الوكالة الاخبارية ان هنالك تحول في مسيرة مفاوضات القائمة العراقية بعد عدم الجدية التي لمسناها من قبل ائتلاف دولة القانون خلال المفاوضات مستدركاً لكن لا تزال اللقاءات مستمره مع إئتلاف المالكي .

  29. Ali W said

    Reidar and lets not forget that big chunk of the oil produced in KRG is being smuggled to Iran by the politicians, and I doubt they are only keeping 17% of the proceeds either.

    Kermanshahi I agree with you, its better for the Kurds to gain their independence, being apart of Iraq is not good for the Iraq.

  30. bb said

    “Bb, …. the principal SLA figures currently in govt are Shahristani the oil (and now electricity minister),…” and etc.

    Thanks Reidar.

    Would it be fair to say therefore that Maliki and Dawa have been running a government that is relatively competent (compared to its predessors), relatively (ditto) uncorrupt, and relatively (ditto) secular/unsectarian in its admin, partic now the Sadrists are out of it?

    Would it be fair to say the non Dawa ministers from Kurds, ISCI, Tawafuq are also relatively the above?

    One thing is for sure. They must be very experienced; and further they brought Iraq through the extremely hard yards of the 2006/09 period when facing raging insurgency, sadrist/fadhila challenge to the authority of the govt in Basra and Sadr City, sadrist subversion of constitution by imposition of sharia law in the areas it controlled, Iran’s subversion and US bullying.

    And despite dire predictions from all and sundry the govt did not fall apart. Indeed it regained security control, negotiated the US withdrawal and conducted successful provincial elections and a painstakingly uncorrupt general election. Not bad achievements, relatively speaking.

    The longer this goes on – particularly with the sadrists still playing their customary opportunistic spoiler role, ISCI under Chalabi desperately trying to get back the power not justified by their electoral support and Allawi’s ego, enough said, the better the status quo is looking, don’t you think?

  31. Reidar Visser said

    Bb, briefly, no I disagree with that, I do not particularly admire the Maliki govt as a whole or the SLA contingent within it. I would say though that both Nuri al-Maliki and Hussein Shahristani stand out for having achieved things that few had expected only a couple of years ago. Maliki by restoring the very notion of centralised government in Iraq at a time when it was about to collapse; Shahristani by achieving a package of oil deals that guarantee a very sustainable production increase in Iraq in the coming decade in a manner that even hardline critics are unable to criticise in a serious way, even in their most bitter mutterings.

  32. Salah said

    The fails of all politicians in Iraq reflects that these folks are not politicians. In politics, politicians should be more diplomatic by playing their interests to reach to results by forming new government/ collations to lead forward the nation & the country.

    Here we got folks who are not interested to lead a country rather than their personal interests in gaining power, money and control of a land that have a lot of wealth not a nation which looking for prospers future and development.

    This is the problem with new Iraq politics.

  33. Kermanshahi said

    No doublt Basra produces more oil than the Kurdistan region Reidar, however not even nearly all of it goes to the KRG (not that it should), meanwhyle 83% of the profit made out of Kurdish oil goes to the Baghdad central government.

    Ali W, I hope others realise this soon too, however sadly, I think they will rather start a new war.

  34. Bb,
    What do we need the elections for if all we want is relative improvement? Isn’t that the argument of the dictators?
    The previous status you are comparing with is a status of crisis, it is temporary by definition and not valid for comparison.

  35. Jason said

    Reidar, please elaborate more on Bb’s points. What do you see as the weak links in the Maliki govt, and to what extent are those weaknesses the fault of Maliki versus the result of the last effort to cobble together an oversized unity govt stuffed with unqualified ministers? To what extent would those weak links follow over into a new Maliki cabinet? What is your opinion of Dawa, not in absolute terms, but compared to what other contenders: Allawi, ISCI, Sadrists, the Kurds, etc, can be expected to bring to a new govt? As I mentioned to Observer, we can not look at the players in a vacuum, but compared to what else Iraq has to offer.

  36. Ali MM said

    Ali w, it is unfair and unfounded to blame the Kurds for the delays in the formation of the government, or accuse them of weakening or compromising the government in Baghdad. Over the past seven years, the Kurds have provided the best and most competent ministers such as Latif Rashid and Hoshyar Zebari, have been the most active supporters of Iraqi democracy and have had affinity with victims of Saddamist and Baathist oppression. They had the chance to secede in the post-2003 period but decided to stick it out.

    Kermanshahi, your pipe dream of Kurdish independence is just that: a dream. Iraqis will not accept the secession of one square inch of Iraqi soil, and Kurdistan is an eternal, indivisible part of our nation. In an era and a century when people are uniting and overcoming their difference, it is a regressive and backward step for the Kurds (or the Scots or the Basqeus for that matter) to try and split based on ethnicity or race or a warped reading of history. Kurds have never had it this good: if you want to give up your autonomous region and representation in parliament and try your luck with the Turks up north, then good luck, but it’s best to realise your future lies with a successful Iraq.

    The oil produced in Kurdistan is IRAQI oil, so it is only rightful that proceeds go to the central government which should then equitably assign revenue based on the KR’s population. Regarding another point you made, unlike the rest of Iraq, the three provinces in Kurdistan have their OWN government. Baghdad has no say on any of Kurdistan’s internal politics or on Kurdistan’s roads, schools, hospitals, police or even foreign relations. So it makes complete sense that the three provinces get LESS representation (I think they should have less representation than they have now) in the central government parliament that deals with issues that only affect the 15 other provinces. This is the SAME as the case in the UK, where the Scottish have less MPs than their population warrants, due to their own devolved government with similar powers to the KRG.

  37. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, I don’t have much to add, again, Maliki and Shahristani are among the few that have done practical things that are good for the Iraqi population at large. It has to be added that in doing so, they have systematically been opposed by the Kurds that Ali MM is so impressed by. They are not “sticking it out”; they live from the proceeds of the oil produced in Basra, period. Their politicians know this; the population at large pretends to be ignorant about it.

  38. Ali W said

    Ali MM, please re-read my post, i have not blamed the Kurds for the delay in government formation. I like Zebari as well. However I blame them (with SICI) for pushing for a weak constitution.

    Observer, I have changed my views from when I first started to follow this blog. 5 months ago, Allawi was a baathi bent on restoring arab nationalism, now I think although still too close to baathist and Saudi Arabia, he still could potentially be a good PM if joined with other shia parties to curtail some of his other policies, I also thought the debaathification was the best thing ever to happen to Iraq, now iam not so sure.

    It is for you to persuade people like me, as I’m apart of a majority of Iraqi Shia (and many Kurds)who do not trust Hadbaa/Mutlaq/Hashemi.

    Reidar can correct me, but you can debate different views on this blog as long as we stick to the topic at hand.

  39. Kermanshahi said

    Ali MM, all Kurds prefer independence, but they can accept staying in Iraq on certain conditions. There has to be autonomy for all Kurdish areas, including northern Ninawa, Khanaqin and Kerkuk + Kurds have to be represented in the Iraqi government. You cannot have it both ways, if you are not prepared to give the Kurds these rights but want to force them into your Arab state nonetheless, than you will have another war. There have been two major wars between the Iraqi state and the Kurds, from 1961-1970 and from 1974-1991, both resulted in defeats for the Iraqi government. Preferably this should be solved through dialouge, but if you refuse to make any concessions, you leave Iraq’s Kurds with no other choice.

    And speaking of the Turks up North, they have chosen for war rather than peace. Meanwhile over 100 Turkish soldiers have been killed so far this year by Kurdish rebels, there are riots in every major Kurdish city in Turkey, pipelines are being blown up and meanwhile bombings are even hitting the West of the country. And the PKK only has 8,000 men, while the Turkish army has over 500,000 with 400 fighters 3000 tanks, a budget of 25 bilion and full American backing. Iraqi Peshmerga have as many as 400,000 men, more than Iraq’s Army, which is a shadow of it’s former self, hit heavily by infighting and disloyalty among militias aswell as an ongoing Sunni insurgency in the South, they have no airforce, almost no tanks, so I hope Iraq’s Arabs know what they’re dealing with before they decide to rally al-Nujayfi and al-Mutlaq.

  40. Ali MM said

    Kermanshahi, the Kurdistan Alliance and other kurdish parties have no inherent right to be represented in the Iraqi government, just like the Shiite Islamist or the sunni Islamist parties or the Christian sectarians don’t. If they want to be in the Iraqi government so bad (and become ministers of portfolios which only affect the non-Kurdistan parts of Iraq) they can either start voting for non-nationalist parties or their parties can start campaigning in the Arab parts of Iraq. In case you haven’t noticed, there has been a change in government in Iraq since 1991, and there is no chance of further genocides or crimes against humanity against the Kurds or the Shia (who in case you’re forgetting weere Arab but victimised by Saddam and the Baath on a level worse than that faced by the Kurds) As a population, Iraqis have to stay vigilant that the government does not slip into autocracy and totalitarianism, but beyond that the way to deal with issues is through thr rule of law and through democratic institutions, not through threats of violence. The borders of the Kurdistan region will not be changed based on the whims of the Barzani or Talabani clans. Kirkuk has never been a Kurdish city except perhaps for brief periods and does not even boast a significant Kurdish majority. Kurdish parts of Ninewa are worth considering although you have to ask yourself whether you want the kurdistan region to be a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural melting pot where race is not important, or whether you want it to be an ethnically constructed entity that shuts out ‘the other’.

    You might be right now, but in 5 years time with 10 million barrels of oil pumping through Basra and Maysan and hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue entering the Baghdad coffers, Kurdish separatists and narrow-minded nationalists will have to ask themselves whether they want a share in this prosperous future or whether they want to take on the might of a stronger Iraqi army.

  41. Salah said

    Reidar,
    What’s your view why not Maliki and Alawi have a public TV debate to Iraqis what made them taking too long to make government just like the civilized debate of Tony Abbott debate Australian PM Julia Gillard

  42. Kermanshahi said

    Ali MM, Kurds have no interest int he rest of Iraq, the reason they want to be represented in the government is to ensure their rights, which in previous Kurd-less governments were violated badly by Arab nationalists. The borders of Kurdistan should nto be changed based on what Barzani or Talabani want but based on where the borders of the actual Kurdistan are i.e., what is a Kurdish majority territory and it’s not supposed to be a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural melting pot, it’s supposed to be a Kurdish region, that’s why it was created in the first place. If Assyrians and Turcomans want their own Autonomous Republics South of Kurdistan they whould be allowed to have these too.

    Now Kurds want to get their territories through democratic insitutions, basicly, a referendum is as democratic as it get’s, hold referenda in all disputed territories and let the people of these territories decide where they want to be part of. If Arabs refsue to allow the people of these regions to decide for themselfes, and instead decide to use military force: soldiers from the South, to occupy these areas and keep them under their control than you leave the Kurds no other chance than to go to war.

    Historicly the Sunnis had a head-start because the military was built around them, by the British, now they have lost this advantage and will never get it back. They are not capable of commiting genocides against Kurds or Shi’a anymore. Now in the olden days, Iraq truly hd a mighty army, as you refer to it, but still, Kurds with just a guerilla force of a mere few thousand man were not afraid to confront them and they defeated it on both occasions. This time they have their own army which can defeat the Iraqi army even if it grows in size (since today it is no match for the Pshmerga at all). And this is not about money, you can keep all the Basra money, Kurds don’t want it, they want their own territory and the right to export their own oil. War is not preferable and that’s why Kurds have been so tolerant thusfar, but if it’s truly nececary it will be used.

  43. Salah said

    reading some commentators comments here, it’s really staggering been very devises promoting ethics/Sec hatful thoughts about Iraq and Iraqis although history of Iraq as long as 5000 years this land were a home for different generations and ethnics all along that 5000 years of history, this division in fact were one of the strength of this land nation not a weakens part who lived tighter defended their land against different and brutal occupiers along Iraq history.
    One of these commentators Kermanshahi with a staggering statement above make no mistake that you did not read the history very well.
    The politic around the word is fluid there is no way the regime, the station in that country of this will be forever.
    take you home and looks back to Shah you can state same things that shah will never come back and your Mullah will keep the power, but the recent Green peaceful opposition movement prove the opposite, those millions who greeting the Lunatic when he landed in Tehran Airport get sick and tired of Mullah and their regime time will come and change will be in Iran sooner or later.

  44. Salah said

    Kurds don’t want it, they want their own territory and the right to export their own oil.

    it’s very clear and basic all the oil around Iraq belong to all Iraqi we cannot banded to one group or ethnics, who wish this happen go check your home and tell us more in matter of your home oil if past of that ethics should keep oil came from specific land they live on.


    All the money should go to the DFI,” said Iraqi Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad, calling the sales “a violation of the instructions of the central government and to DFI. It is only the federal government represented by the Oil Ministry that has the right to export the crude oil and oil products.”


    The IAMB spokesman said any Iraqi oil or fuel exports, from Kurdistan or otherwise, are bound by the UN Security Council’s resolution “and hence IAMB and DFI authority.” But, he said, the IAMB has no authority over oil or fuel sold domestically and then exported.

    UN oversight of Iraqi oil money struggling to adapt

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