Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for September 27th, 2010

More Drama between ISCI and Daawa as the National Alliance Meets

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 27 September 2010 21:54

The recently-finished nightly meeting of the putative all Shiite National Alliance combining State of Law and the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) stands out if only because the poker play went a little further than usual: ISCI was absent; the rest of the parties apparently came very close to declaring Nuri al-Maliki their prime ministerial candidate.

The scenarios sparked off by this constellation of players are intriguing: Would ISCI really be prepared to defect from the Shiite umbrella in order to voice their contempt for Maliki? If so, would it do the only logical thing after so much dialogue with the secular Iraqiyya on the anti-Maliki theme, i.e. support Ayyad Allawi as premier candidate despite the wishes of Iran (which used ISCI to start the process towards forming the NA in the spring of 2009)? It would have been something of a political earthquake, but the numbers could have added up: Iraqiyya has 91 seats, ISCI including Badr around 17, the Kurdistan Alliance 43 with further support from Kurdish independents and some of the minority representatives amounting to maybe 15 extra deputies. Altogether some 166 MPs on a good day, just above the magic 163 mark.

In the end, it wasn’t quite that dramatic. Despite a simultaneous meeting between Iraqiyya and Ammar al-Hakim and Adel Abd al-Mahdi of ISCI (he is ostensibly the INA candidate to compete with Maliki), Hadi al-Amiri, the chief of the Badr organisation, was reportedly present at the NA meeting, and the meeting itself decided not to formally adopt Maliki for the time being, giving ISCI instead 48 hours to come around (and with some Sadrists for the nth time indicating doubts about Maliki). Perhaps what the episode underlines more than anything is the gradual marginalisation of ISCI within the NA. If Badr stays with the other Shiites, there will be less than ten deputies left with ISCI – certainly something to think about for American and other Western ambassadors who tend to use Abd al-Mahdi and Hakim as their main points of contact with the INA half of the NA. And, importantly, also something that would impact on the arithmetic of it all: Any ISCI/Iraqiyya/Kurdistan Alliance project would fall below the 163 mark again.

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