Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for August 3rd, 2010

A Question for ISCI/Badr: Why Should the Next Iraqi Premier Be “Regionally Acceptable”?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 3 August 2010 17:35

A new member of parliament and a high-ranking member of the Badr corps in Wasit, Qasim al-Aaraji, made some interesting comments in an interview with the Aswat al-Iraq news agency today. Rejecting Maliki’s accession to a second term, he stressed how the next prime minister would have to be “nationally and regionally acceptable”:

“نحن نعتقد ان المالكي هو الذي يتحمل تأخر تشكيل الحكومة منذ أربعة أشهر”، مشيرا الى ان “المالكي سد الطريق أمام أعضاء دولة القانون للترشيح الى رئاسة الوزراء، ونحن على استعداد لقبول أي مرشح من القانون بديل عن المالكي، إذا كان مقبولا وطنيا وإقليميا”.

“Regionally”, Mr. Aaraji? That is a remarkable statement for someone who spent many years in Iran,  whose regime also created the Badr brigades to which Aaraji belongs. But surely, the only possible meaning of the statement is in fact “acceptable to Iran”, since Aaraji most probably is not trying to defend Saudi interests all of a sudden (it is probably also a better reflection of Iran’s true feelings about Maliki than stories that have been circulating recently in the Saudi-sponsored “pan-Arab” press where there are plenty of somewhat rabid Maliki haters). It should also serve as a reminder to Iraqiyya, which still seems to be conducting some kind of dialogue with the Shiite coalition that Aaraji is a part of – the Iraqi National Alliance, or INA – that this coalition was in fact created by Iran last May with the aim of creating a sectarian Shiite front in the 2010 parliamentary elections, except that Maliki refused to join them. Lest there be any confusion: Aaraji in another recent interview made it clear that the negotiations between INA and Iraqiyya were going nowhere because Iraqiyya was insisting on having the prime ministerial position and that it be given to their candidate, Ayad Allawi:

ذكر عضو الائتلاف الوطني قاسم الأعرجي ان العقبة الرئيسية في الحوارات بين ائتلافه والقائمة العراقية التي حالت دون التوصل الى نتيجة، هي مطالبة العراقية بالاعتراف بحقها الدستوري في تشكيل الحكومة ونيل رئاسة الوزراء.

So both Allawi and Maliki are “regionally unacceptable” according to Iran and Aaraji; the better solution, in the words of Aaraji, is a “compromise candidate” from the would-be Shiite alliance (in a recent interview the Syrian foreign minister, too, made it clear that the whole idea of black-listing individual premier candidates and attempting to exercise a “regional” veto power comes primarily from Iran). That is a pretty upbeat negotiating position for INA, which came third in the elections, with no individual candidates capable of matching the 1 million personal votes that Maliki and Allawi share between them. Should really Badr/ISCI, with less than 20 seats in parliament, be able to use the argument of “regional acceptability” generally and Tehran’s interests especially to override the wishes of so many Iraqi voters? Is it not abundantly clear that the strongest proponents of the oversized “government of national unity” with a weak prime minister intend to use this device to subvert the will of the Iraqi electorate and instead serve their own party interests and those of their regional patrons?

Posted in Iranian influence in Iraq, Iraq's 2010 parliamentary election, UIA dynamics | 31 Comments »