Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Iraqiyya and the “Surprise” Endorsement of Abd al-Mahdi: Some Legal Problems

Posted by Reidar Visser on Sunday, 10 October 2010 12:08

To some extent it has been in the making for weeks, but at the same time yesterday’s apparent endorsement of ISCI’s Adel Abd al-Mahdi as premier candidate by Iraqiyya spokesman Haydar al-Mulla should raise eyebrows.

According to Mulla’s logic, Iraqiyya can nominate Abd al-Mahdi because it has the right to nominate the premier in its capacity as the largest bloc in parliament. So far, one can follow the logic, since Iraqiyya does not recognise the idea of post-election bloc formation and hence does not recognise (well, most of the time) the pan-Shiite National Alliance that was formed after the elections.

The problem, though comes to the second part of the argument. Mulla says Abd al-Mahdi is nominated as the “candidate of the Iraqi National Alliance”, the ISCI/Sadr-dominated half of the would be all-Shiite National Alliance. The semantics of this argument reveal the contradiction: According to the constitution the premier nominee shall be the “nominee of the biggest bloc in parliament”:

مرشح الكتلة النيابية الاكثر عدداً

So Abd al-Mahdi must be the nominee of Iraqiyya. He cannot possibly be the nominee of the Iraqi National Alliance, which is the term used by Mulla:

وقال المتحدث باسم  القائمة حيدر الملا  إن القائمة تدعم ترشيح عبد المهدي لمنصب رئيس الوزراء كمرشح للائتلاف الوطني

This is so because under no circumstances does INA satisfy the criteria for being the biggest bloc in parliament; in fact, with the Sadrists and others choosing to define themselves as NA instead, the rump INA is probably not more than a dozen deputies or so.

But Abd al-Mahdi can of course be the nominee of Iraqiyya. Any Iraqi citizen that satisfies the age requirements etc. can; it does not matter whether they come from a big or small party or no party at all as long as they are unequivocally the sole candidate of the biggest bloc.  That last point is pretty important, i.e. Ayad Allawi, until now the Iraqiyya candidate, would have to give up his candidacy for Abd al-Mahdi to be the nominee of Iraqiyya.

The more fundamental challenge for Iraqiyya is whether the rest of the parliament will now accept its more narrow interpretation of article 76 on what constitutes the biggest bloc. Ultimately, then, with the current political configuration, the key to success still lies in convincing the Kurds that an alliance with Iraqiyya is preferable to a Maliki-led government. Identifying Abd al-Mahdi as the Iraqiyya candidate for PM could be a step in that direction, but it is unlikely to be the decisive step.

35 Responses to “Iraqiyya and the “Surprise” Endorsement of Abd al-Mahdi: Some Legal Problems”

  1. Kermanshahi said

    The question now is, which side Badr and Fadhila chose, if the ISCI breaks up than Iraqiyya will only have 9 additional deupties, so 100 seats. If Badr remains part of ISCI, they’ll have 109. Will Fadhila chose to go independent like in 2008 or will they join up with ISCI (which they might, since the reason they left the government in the first place was Maliki, which is also why they left the NA and why they didn’t want to join the INA until Maliki pulled out), if that is the case than they’ll have 115 seats competing against al-Maliki’s 135.

    With Maliki’s bloc not having accepted the Kurdish demands yet, anythying can still happen. It’s for sure the Kurds would much prefer Abd al-Mahdi. If they can accept those of the Kurdish demands which are important (Kerkuk referendum, Ninawa disputed territories & Khanaqin (Diyala) and nominate Talabani as President) and work out a compromise on the oil deal (which is an issue the Kurds are prepared to compromise on), than they’re in no matter what Maliki does. But if they are not prepared to make concessions than the government formation will drag on until either, they do finally accept, or Maliki does it.

    Now Reidar, what do you think are the chances that if an Iraqiyya+ISCI&Fadhila alliance manages to form a government with the Kurds, the rest of the INA (the Sadr dominated half) will defect back to the INA so they can be in the government, since the Maliki attempt by then failed anyway.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    In that case I guess the question is whether they will be invited in! I would assume that their recent change of heart will have compromised whatever credibility the Sadrists had in the eyes of Iraqiyya, although some in Iraqiyya used to say that you “cannot exclude the Sadrists”…

    At any rate, I noticed that Fadila members keep talking as if they are part of the NA. There is also a report today that ISCI approved the 19 Kurdish demands, which will be quite impossible for Iraqiyya to follow.

    Another new variable today is the new Moderate Iraqi Coalition, supposedly a merger of Unity of Iraq and Tawafuq plus an uncertain number of independents. These parties claim to have the support of 30 deputies in which case it would in fact be a major bloc in parliament, but so far few names other than those of the 10 Unity of Iraq and Tawauq deputies have been publicly confirmed. This would seem to be an attempt to create a tempting “Sunni” alternative for Maliki who is probably trying to circumvent Iraqiyya as much as possible.

  3. Kermanshahi said

    10 seats wouldn’t be enough for Maliki, 30 would, but how can that even be possible? If they get all independents they’ll have 18 (and this is unlikely), so they must have taken a large number of Iraqiyya deputies with them if that was true.
    And I guess if ISCI does manage to get the PM position and form a government with Iraqiyya and the Kurds they will invite Shi’as over from the NA. In my opion the whole thing is a power struggle between ISCI and Maliki, who will lead the Shi’a, if they manage to win using the Iraqiyya card they will try take as much as possible of the NA, away from Maliki.

    But what would be in it for Iraqiyya? We know that they are determined to prevent Maliki from become PM, but to get ISCI and the Kurds into their alliance, they would have to do so much compromising it brings me to the question, which one of their policies can they actually imply? They’ll have to go ahead with the Kurds’ federalist/seperatist agenda, allowing decentralisation and a referendum in Kerkuk, they’ll have to give up the PM position to a 9/18-man party and have good relations with the country they wanted to make into arch-enemy and scapegoat for everything wrong in Iraq: Iran. They’ll also be building, what is with no doubt, an ethnic-secterian coalition with ISCI and the Kurds, all that for those who claim to be “the non-secterianists” of Iraqi politics…

  4. Reidar Visser said

    To some extent I agree with you. It is not particularly logical, but it seems the personality of Adel Abd al-Mahdi will somehow help sweeten the pill for Iraqiyya when it comes to making compromises on some of their core issues, although it is hard to see them giving up on Kirkuk (and therefore hard to see the Kurds supporting them.)

    I suspect they take a different view from you when it comes to recolonising the government with the rest of the NA after first sidelining Maliki. I am not sure they expect this to happen.

  5. M said

    The news that followed indicated Iraqiya’s abandoning demand for the PM post and re-entering negotiations with Maliki.

    All those other moves by Iraqiya/ISCI and Adil’s endoresement are last-minute desperate moves to counteract the impending Maliki/Sadr/Kurds governemnt’s formation. None is likely to succeed.

    Predictably, now all the left-over coalitions and parties-big and small, solo or coalesed outside the triad are hurrying to re-enter talks to make sure they get their share. I think the 10-seat new unions among the small groups and independents is quite appropriate to garnish a post or 2.

    What it remains to be seen is whether the subsequent rounds of negotiations among all will result in a full-scale power-sharing or Maliki/Sadr/Kurds domination + accommodation of others. Pick your poison?

  6. Reidar Visser said

    Well, in theory Iraqiyya might still want an Abd al-Mahdi premiership coupled with an Allawi presidency, which would be a “hostile takeover” bid rather than compromise with Maliki.

  7. Kermanshahi said

    Guess that was always the risk of the ISCI policy, now there might come an Iraqiyya-Maliki government afterall. They had a good plan, but due to Sadr backint out suddenly, it failed, but how badly it will fail for them is still to see. Personally I think 4 years in the opposition won’t do the Supreme Council any harm, this is something which basicly needed to happen, the voters indicated so aswell. If they stay out of government for once, they’ll regain some popularity, I believe.

    My only question is, why the hell did Muqtada al-Sadr waste everybody’s time for 7 months just to create the same sort of government as there is now. There was a whole fight with Maliki, a war even, the INA was formed, a new election was held, than for 7 months nothing happened and now suddenly news is that nothing is going to change at all. They wasted the whole country’s time, breaking the world record of government formation, than awarded the crown to the same man who was in charge now, so useless.

    I wonder though, they made the mistake of making al-Maliki PM in 2005 and as the government started going the way it did they said “Never Again!” , yet in 2010 they made the same mistake again, they made h im PM and infact the exact same government has been formed (only possibly without ISCI and Tawafuq and with Maliki having like almost all the seats), in two years time I bet both the Kurds and the Sadrists will be extremely unhappy about government Maliki II, which makes me wonder, will they make the same mistake three times in 2014? That is, if there are any free elections at all by that time…

  8. Mohammed said

    Hi Reidar:

    Allawi may be trying to pull off some last minute miracle and get the Saudis to heavily push the US to back away from al-Maliki.

    what influence do you think Saudi Arabia has with the Americans with respect to Iraq policy? Saudis clearly want Iraqiya calling the shots in Iraq, not Maliki.

    Otherwise, why does Allawi spend all of his time in foreign capitals instead of negotiating with SOL?


  9. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, my own view is that the time spent in foreign capitals is generally wasted time. It is conceivable that maybe the USG still has some limited influence with Barzani, but other than that I think Iraqiyya may have an exaggerated view of what Washington and or Riyadh (and or Damascus or Ankara!) can do.

  10. Kermanshahi said

    Mohamad & Reidar
    Nobody wants al-Maliki in power. Not the Saudis, not the Americans, not the Kurds, not the Turks (well the generals definetly don’t, though Erdo might like him, somewhat), not the Syrians, not the Jordanians, not the Israelis, not even the Iranians but the truth is, no-one can do anything about it. Infact even inside Iraq it seems everyone, from ISCI, to the Sadrists, to the Kurds, to the Ba’athists/Arab Nationalists, to the Sunni secteriansts, dislike him. Yet he seems to have pulled it off again.
    As you can all notice, I ain’t a fan, but I gotta give him credit, he played him cards well and he beat everybody. He started as puppet yet hijacked the Iraqi government, by cleverly using all his allies and enemies against each other. Than the man has miraculously managed to get so many people to believe him when he claimed credit for other people’s work. Al-Hakim beat Sadr out of Basra, Abu Risha beat al-Qaeda out of Anbar, yet they have been reduced to nothing politicly and Maliki thrives on what they have done. His entire government (ISCI, Fadhila, Jaafari, KDP, PUK, IIP) has suffered major political losses, because all that is wrong in Iraq is blamed on them, while he himself managed to grow massive off their voters.
    I always thought ISCI had the cleverest politicians and best negotiators in Iraq, but it seems al-Maliki, who outsmarted them before has beaten them at their own game, again. In the end al-Maliki was to smart for everyone, not just ISCI, but Allawi, the rest of Iraqiyya Sadr, the Kurds, the Iranians, Fadhila, Jaafari, Challabi, Tawafuq, they are all losers.

    Basicly no-one can get rid of the man anymore, all political attempts agains him were major failures, the INA for instance is one example of an attempt to get rid of him which badly failed. We’ve got to a stage now that no-one can get rid of him. Americans can’t overthrow him, they lost the war and are on their way out and their only excuse to make up for the WMD-lie was “democracy” and other than military force they don’t have much power. The Iranians can’t get rid of him either, they pulled all their strings, it didn’t work, other countries are even less capable. Neither the Badr Brigades or the Mahdi Army are strong or powerfull enough anymore to get rid of him and an Iranian inavsion would be a disaster, the international community wouldn’t allow it and the Americans would make sure to turn Iraq into a graveyard for Iranian soldiers just like Afghanistan was for the Russians, and any government they’d put in place would lack legitimacy and looking at history that won’t work either. No-one in our outside Iraq can get rid of Maliki anymore, neither can he be voted out, as we saw, he lost the elections but won anyway. He’s gonna become El Presidente for life as far as I see it.

  11. Reidar Visser said

    I am not sure the Americans are sure they don’t want him…

    Nor am I certain the hook-up with the Kurds is a done deal. I mean, it was quite extraordinary today when a Sadrist claimed the NA had yet to receive the 19 Kurdish demands whereas the Kurds said the NA had responded positively! And there were the rumours about Shahristani objecting to Maliki’s greater willingness to give concessions to the Kurds, used by some to explain the unexpected break-off of NA/KA negotiations the other day. Indeed some NA deputies are still saying they look positively “on those Kurdish demands that are within the constitution”, thus clearly signifiying some kind of implicit dissent with at least some of the 19 points.

  12. Kermanshahi said

    The Americans would have much rather prefered someone else than Maliki, someone more secular and pro-American. That’s why they made Allawi Prime Minister in the first place. Currently they can tolerate Maliki but don’t really like him. Later I think they will start disliking him more as he grows less dependent on them and thus starts enforcing policies which they don’t like.

    As for the Kurdish deal, some of the lesser important points can be negotiated on (and I’m talking about demands which are about the Kurds’ position in the Iraqi government and about economical demands). The main issue of importance is Kerkuk, if that is given, the deal is as good as done. Now they’re even asking to be given Kerkuk, they’re asking for a referendum to be held in Kerkuk and let the people decide, a democratic solution and this is also constitution. But I don’t think al-Maliki will allow Kerkuk to go the Kurds. Yes, he will promise them Kerkuk in return for this governmetn formation, after that he’ll just keep pushing back the referendum (exactly like he’s been doing the last 3 years) until another term has been finished and Kerkuk is still divided.
    But one thing is for sure, a NA/CKL government is not a done deal until the important demands are accepted.

  13. Jason said

    I can’t speak for Pres. Obama, but I believe Allawi would be America’s first choice, but Maliki is considered acceptable. We mainly want someone that can hold the country together without being run over by al Sadr and/or controlled by Iran.

    But I predict the USG will firmly back Maliki if they believe he has the best chance of finally getting a govt formed. Obama’s party is about to get crushed in the midterm elections, and he desperately needs something to claim as a success.

  14. To all,

    Here is a scenario that is playing over and over in my head:

    The Kurds announce their support for Maliki’s candidacy. Afterwards, the new Centrist Alliance with 10 seats (Unity of Iraq/Tawafuq) join, as well as 30-40 Sunni deputies from Iraqiyq defect and join Maliki. I doubt at this point ISCI and Fadhila would be left out as well. In all respects, the end result in whatever way you want to slice it, the Kurds are no longer the kingmakers. Maliki no longer needs their support for a quorum to be reached in parliament. Being kingmaker doesn’t just mean your participation is necessary in the initial stage, but more importantly, it also means maintaining that leverage in which your support is always needed throughout the process. In other words, if the Kurds threaten to withdrawal, and their participation is no longer necessary with the scenario I just mentioned, do they still maintain the leverage of a kingmaker? The answer is NO. The Kurds are foolish to believe that promises made by Maliki now are going to be sustained a year from now (whether on paper or not). That’s why the Kurds demanded the 18th point of the 19 submitted: the government is resigned if the Kurds withdrawal, which is basically a method for maintaining that kingmaker leverage throughout the four years just in case Maliki tries to pull a fast one. But the problem is, the 18th point IS NOT LAW! So what if Maliki signs off on a piece of paper, it has no constitutional validity whatsoever, and will basically be ignored by everyone.

    In all respects, the Kurds are much more better off with a pro-Kurdish PM like Adel Abd al-Mahdi backed by Iraqiya and ISCI. Sure Hadbaa and the Sunnis in Iraqiya are strongly against Kurdish claims to “disputed territories,” but at least they can sleep at night knowing that Mahdi will never use the Iraq Army to deal with the Kurds. Frankly, I can’t have that guarantee with Maliki in power (actually, he’s used the Iraq Army in the past against the Peshmerga – remember what happened in Khanaqin anyone?).

  15. Kermanshahi said

    Mahmoud Abassi,
    What you say doesn’t only go for the Kurds. Maliki will do the same to the Sadrists and other Shi’a parties which joined him. If Unity/Tawafuq join he’ll do the same. Everything Maliki accepts now is a lie, what he is going to do in the end is what he’s always been doing, using all his allies and enemies against each other and that way making sure he always gets majority approval. I also said in my post here, what he’s gonna do with the Kurds is accept their demands, than keep postponing the Kerkuk referendum anyway. Personally I think Massoud Barzani is to power hungry himself to leave the government (that’s why he didn’t leave the current one either) but others, like Sadr, Fadhila, probably Tawafuq, possibly ISCI will leave and possibly rejoin later at some point.

    But Kurds are not going to sit and watch another 4 years of promises being broken and of no progress at all. By then, that al-Maliki will never allow a democratic solution to the Kerkuk issue will be a very well established fact. Kurds are going to go to war and with the way al-Maliki has been making himself “populair” in Syria and Iran you can bet they get foreign backing and he doesn’t (since the Arab leaders don’t like him either).

  16. My view is that ISCI’s talk about an alliance with the INM/Iraqiya are just theater. For all sorts of reasons which I think are obvious, this doesn’t make any sense. I think with all the talk of ISCI’s patron Iran pressuring Sadr to endorse Maliki, this is their chance to show some independence. Also, some of their statements suggest that they and Fadhila are angered by the “manner” or the “mechanism” by which Maliki was chosen – i.e. in a side deal with the Sadrists in which Sadr got the best deal.

    As for Allawi himself, he is all over the place, rhetorically as well as geographically. While his spokesman made this statement “endorsing” Abd al-Mahdi, Allawi is also now saying he will consider the presidency as long as some of the PM’s powers are shifted over. I think Maliki would agree to that only if it were his absolute last option.

    I think Maliki is going for an alliance with the Kurds. See my article yesterday in World Politics Review: New Iraq Govt May Hinge on Census Deal. I think Maliki delayed the census to gain leverage over the Kurds, but is willing to go through with it to be reelected. I think ISCI will probably fall in line if the Kurds do.

    Also, you may have noticed that Badr is now clearly in the ISCI fold. I don’t think there was every that huge of a rift anyway; some difference of opinion perhaps, but Badr and Hakim have the same paymaster.

  17. gabri133 said

    Timing is everything in politics. Allawi lost the chance for a very favorable deal on power sharing.
    Al-Maliki knows the importance of a large coalition and will seek an accommodation with elements of Iraqiya. He will want to ensure that he has enough votes in parliament so that the later defection of any single party (the Sadrists) would not bring down his government.
    The challenge for him is to have the Kurdish support at a price that is not so high it drives away moderate Sunnis.

  18. Reidar Visser said

    Kirk, I think it is still hard to quantify the defection from the NA. Daawa people keep estimating it at 10 deputies, which would imply the assumption of some kind of ISCI/Badr split. It is true that the Badr media is still mostly in line with Hakim but I suspect that is only part of the story.

  19. amagi said

    I confess I am finding all of this very hard to follow. I don’t understand how Maliki has made this arrangement with Sadr without alienating at least some portion of Daawa. Politics makes strange bedfellows and so forth, but this seems to go a bit far. I don’t understand how this move now makes it look as though he will be able to form a government — if anything it should reveal exactly what everyone on this thread has maintained, that he will not govern in the national interest, which is precisely the platform on which he was elected!

    It doesn’t help that as an American I have little experience with parliamentary style government formation, but I’m afraid at this point I have lost the “plot.”

  20. Observer said

    i am reading and I am shaking my head. Talk about reading tea leaves. Guys, there is so much more happening than you know. Allawi’s travels are wasted – that is your opinion only. Frankly, his game would have been over ages ago if he is not meeting face to face with decision makers. All of these leaders claim hands off, but in reality they are as engaged as the Quds Brigades are in Iraq. Syria screwed Iraqiyya in a major way and soon enough we will find the terms of the deal that Asad cut with Najat… But the game is not over as you guys think it is.

  21. Reidar Visser said

    Observer, I tried to suggest back in July that Syria were screwing you already then, viz. the failed Damascus summit (failed in the sense that it did not produce any lasting alliances) and my criticism of Iraqiyya’s belief in the “Sadrist miracle”. I was told back then that the wonderful body language between Allawi and Sadr demonstrated how mistaken I was!

    What can Riyadh do, i.e. where does it have influence outside Iraqiyya? Maybe with Abu Risha, whose party just signed up for the apparently pro-Maliki Moderate Alliance? Anakara may have some influence with the KDP, but other than that, what is the use of all the travel?

  22. Jason said

    I admit I’m new to parliamentary government. Is it common in other countries for coalitions to form based on promises like those being demanded in Iraq? Isn’t that kind of futile, given that it is entirely speculative whether the promises can be delivered even if a party made the attempt? For example, won’t many of the demands of the Kurds require at least a majority vote of parliament, which no PM candidate can promise to deliver?

  23. Reidar Visser said

    It’s normal to agree on programmes, i.e. aspirations and goals. For example, the government could have as part of its programme that it should introduce legislation on a Kirkuk referendum, or a particular oil and gas law as per the Kurdish demands. But as you rightly point out, given the idea of parliamentarism, the passage of those bills in parliament cannot be guaranteed by the government. This is where the Kurds violate the principles of separation of powers and parliamentarism, i.e. when they demand some kind of binding commitment by the parliamentary bloc of the PM and even that the government as a whole be considered resigned if the Kurds demand it.

    The normal procedure would be to have a programme and if members of the cabinet were unhappy with the ways things were turning, they would be free to offer their resignation as individuals and that would be the end of the affair unless there was a normal vote of no confidence based on parliamentary action.

  24. OK Reidar, it was me who demonstrated the body language and called it “The Alliance of the Diagonal” :)) as an oddity and wondered if it will succeed. But then came the US red line on the Sadrists, which in turn helped the Iranians persuade Muqtada to back Maliki..etc..
    I see the most progress could be initiated by the US if it re-thinks its policy, I see the problem is in the US’s reaction towards those who hate it: The US excludes them from the political process, like the Sadrists, which makes them a US problem, and by extension an Iranian problem, instead of letting them be a local problem and be dealt with (cheaply) as a minority in an elected government.
    And if you want to call a spade a spade then the US’s red line is an interference and a license for Iran and the others to do the same. That was a wrong move.
    While I’m at it I would like to address one aspect of Kirk Sowell’s comment, I am glad he highlighted the importance of Iraq’s census and the details of Maliki’s in his article. It should have dawned that an objective and accurate census can only be assured with direct UN supervision, otherwise it will be politicized like almost all institutions in Iraq today.

  25. Santana said

    I agree with Observer that the Syrians are playing a dirty game….there will be some positive surprises very soon… positive for Iraqiya that is.

  26. IMARK said

    Kermanshahi said
    “Nobody wants al-Maliki in power. Not the Saudis, not the Americans, not the Kurds, not the Turks (well the generals definetly don’t, though Erdo might like him, somewhat), not the Syrians, not the Jordanians, not the Israelis, not even the Iranians but the truth is, no-one can do anything about it. Infact even inside Iraq it seems everyone, from ISCI, to the Sadrists, to the Kurds, to the Ba’athists/Arab Nationalists, to the Sunni secteriansts, dislike him. Yet he seems to have pulled it off again.
    As you can all notice, I ain’t a fan, but I gotta give him credit, he played him cards well and he beat everybody. He started as puppet yet hijacked the Iraqi government, by cleverly using all his allies and enemies against each other. Than the man has miraculously managed to get so many people to believe him when he claimed credit for other people’s work. Al-Hakim beat Sadr out of Basra, Abu Risha beat al-Qaeda out of Anbar, yet they have been reduced to nothing politicly and Maliki thrives on what they have done. His entire government (ISCI, Fadhila, Jaafari, KDP, PUK, IIP) has suffered major political losses, because all that is wrong in Iraq is blamed on them, while he himself managed to grow massive off their voters.”
    Because I am a libral democrat who puts the interest of the ordinary citizen above the false nationalistic/secetarian/islamic/clan ideologies, I equaly hate Daawaa party, ISCI, Fadhila, Jaafari, Hakim, Sadr, KDP, PUK, Ba’athists/Arab Nationalists, Sunni and Shiit secteriansts as well as the medling of Iran, Syria, US, Saudis and Turkey in Iraq affairs.
    I hated Maliki as well. But if he is really hated by all the enemies of Iraq, there may be some thing good in this man and I may be ready to change my mind about him, specially it seems that he is genually steering Daawaa away from its Islamic agenda. Actually Kermanshahi himself answers the question he raised: Why he succeeds while all political parties and foreign powers hate him? The answer is that the ordinary Iraqi voter seems to think or at least hope that the man may serve THEIR interest.

  27. Kermanshahi said

    IMARK, the man got 24% of the vote, at least 75% of Iraq voted against him. He’s succeeded in fooling many voters, for instance he has no right at all to claim credit for the Basra operations against Sadr and the following pacification of the Mahdi Army, or the demise of the Sunni insurgency, yet he’s got many people to believe he is repsoinsible. Further he’s managed to succesfully put the blame of his governments major failure on all his coalition partners (hence the decline of ISCI, Fadhila, Jaafari and Tawafuq), with himself as head of that government, supposedly not responsible for anything bad. His real power lays in his sneaky policies the way he used the Sadrist-ISCI powerstruggle to become PM, than use them against each other and in the end back stab both of them and Jaafari. He also used the Kurds during all his reign, than backstabbed them and used the Sunnis and Ba’athists to marginalise his former Shi’a allies and start an anti-Kurdish campaign. Than he went against them, after (and before) they beat him in the elections. The man is a snake who cannot be trusted by anyone.

    You label all Iraq’s neighbours as Iraq’s enemies and you think the fact that this guy is making himself so unpopulair among all of them is a good thing. You know you are surrounded by countries which Maliki is making into Iraq’s enemies.

    A an anti-Kurdish authoritarian leader, hated by both religious Shi’a and Sunnis, who makes enemies in all Iraq’s neighbours and infact most of the world. You know who that reminds me of? Saddam Hussein. And that’s exactly what al-Maliki wants to become, he’s gonna be the Shi’a Saddam Hussein. So if you think that’s a good thing and that’s gonna serve Iraqi interests…

  28. The Clown said

    Reider: “…what is the use of all the travel?”

    Answer: He is trying to get an Airmiles Platinum card.

  29. Mohammed said


    I agree with Observer. While I very much disagree with Iraqiya and some of Observer’s views, he is exactly correct that Saudi Arabia is as active as (or at least trying to be) as Iran. Ask yourself this….how much is it worth for Saudi Arabia to restore Sunni domination of Iraq? 1 billion? 10 billion? 50 billion? Or asked another way… How much would they pay to neutralize Iran? Then ask who has a price and can be bought? allawi yes. Al-hakim yes. Abu risha yes. America yes. America will not ignore king abdullah. That is for sure and they will not allow the Saudis to lose can take that to the bank. If allawi wins…Iran is finished in Iraq. It would be a geopolitical game changer. The Saudis are evil. But they are rich. Allawi is not that dumb to waste his time as you think. There must be a reason alhakim is now going to the Saudis too. This is winner takes all power politics. I don’t blame al-Maliki from screwing them over.

  30. IMARK said

    you are a Kurdish nationalist who have been consistingly (on this platform) advocating war if the Barazini’s demands are not met. You and people like you from all factions do not belong to the present century and they are hindering and harming progress in the possible? and painful birth of democracy in Iraq.
    I do not see Maliky making enemies with neighbouring countries (you said your self he is too clever for that) but I hope he stands firm against their blatant interference in Iraq affairs.

  31. observer said

    I am not sure what is meant by the alliance of the diagonal. I admit i do not read this blog on daily basis, but I missed that one entirely.

    As for the Clown’s comments – one answer: Hard to get millage when you are traveling on a friend’s burrowed aircraft.

    Look guys, everybody that lives in Iraq knows that no serious business in the middle east is done on the phone. All the phone lines (mobile or otherwise) of the leaders, their body guards and close friends are listened to and are bugged. So those who complain about allawi traveling are only complaining because they do not get to listen or find out about what really was said. So joke all you want about his travels but know that he will continue to travel as there is no replacement for face to face in the middle east, encryption technology not withstanding.

    As to what this side or that can offer – let me ask you why is Maliki going to go see Asad? Or Hakim going to Egypt and Saudi on the heals of Allawi going to the same two places.

    Imark.. To build on the statement of Kermenshahi, the new theory in town that many believe is the new conspiracy (and every conspiracy theory has a few threads that make sense on the face of it). The US and the west want a new power struggle in the region to maintain “creative tension”. A She3a – Sunna divide can be a good thing if controlled properly. Iraq is a good place for that confrontation, oil reserves not withstanding.

    I recall you objected when I said pretty much the same things when I joined this blog. Glad you are talking to new sources now…Yes pretty much everybody is afraid of Da3wa and Maliki becoming the new Baath/saddam….

  32. Observer,
    If you divide the Iraqi political scene into two dichotomies: Secular/Sectarian and Centralist/Federalist, then an alliance of Iraqiya with the Sadrists (or ISCI for that matter) will look like double opposites, as in diagonal. I know the Sadrists are slightly centralist but they are under a federalist banner.

  33. Mohammed said


    Observer, you are a very intelligent man—that much I can see from your writings. However, beyond one line slogans, I would much rather understand from you what the facts on the grounds are. You seem genuinely concerned about the people of Iraq, and I give you credit for going there and trying to rebuild the country. Like I said, I share your vision of a secular, democratic Iraq. However, do you really think that Saudi Arabia shares such a vision? Is that why they want Allawi?

    Forgive my simplistic thinking, but if you fear a new “Baath/saddam” then don’t you first look to see what the “old baath” is up to? As far as I can see, Allawi created the Iraqi National Accord mainly from Baathist officers and party officials. Furthermore, he has aligned himself with people who glorify the Baath party. When he was interim PM, he put tons of Baathists (or ex-baathists) in positions of influence in the security and intelligence. Now you ask us to trust Allawi that he is not trying to bring the Baath back?

    In your most recent post you stated that all the regional countries are as engaged as the Quds brigades are in Iraq. I can only take that to mean that the Saudis, Syrians, and Jordanians are interfering in Iraq too. So rather than seeking Iraq’s independence from regional actors, Allawi’s only real protest against Iran is that they oppose him.

    You ask why there is a trust gap? It is patently obvious that Allawi says one thing, and does another. Observer, you once said that you are not a psychologist. Neither am I. But in my experience, people rarely change over their adult lives. If Allawi in the 60s and 70s hung out with slime ball thugs and had no moral qualms about it back then, he is unlikely to have had a major adjustment in his moral compass now. Say what you will about al-Maliki, but he fought his entire life against tyranny. He is not perfect, and I don’t like the fact that he has put unqualified dawaah people in positions of influence, but if it boils down between him and Allawi, Allawi has too many question marks and warning signs for me to ignore.

    Kermanshahi, al-Maliki received the most votes of any candidate by far. It is not fair to say 70% of the people voted against him. Obviously the kurds and sunnis would not vote for al-Maliki no matter what. He and SOL managed to earn more votes than ISCI by a huge margin. If you believe in democracy (as you seem to indicate when it comes to Kurdistan), then how can somebody like adel abdul mahdi (essentially zero votes) compare to al-Maliki?

  34. Kermanshahi said

    IMARK, I am not a Kurdish nationalist, neither do I advocate war. What I advocate is the right of people to determine their own futures and governments, which is deomcracy. If Arab nationalists (under the label of Iraqi nationalism) do not allow a peacefull and democratic solution on the Kerkuk issue and instead chose to use their military presence to put this Kurdish-majority city under Arab rule, same way as using military force to make Kurdistan to be part of an Arab state against it’s people’s will, is occupation and this can and must be resisted by all means including war. Kurdish politicians make no unreasonable demands, they say there is a dispute here, we claim this territory and so do you, why not let the people living there determine under who’s administration they want to live? Arab Nationalists deny there is disputed territory, they consider everything theirs and refuse to allow a peacefull solution to take place. Now what choice do you leave the Kurds?

    The bottom line is: If Iraqi democracy means ethnic majority using their majority to violate ethnic minorities’ rights, than this is not a positive thing and that means there is no future for Iraq (in current borders) as a democratic state. If they are not acquire their rights through democratic means because the rulers are to unreasonable to allow it, than the only option left for them is to achieve this through military means.

  35. Observer said

    this is not for blog discussion, but I will try. I submit to you that the “blood on their hands” baathists are gone. What remains are ex-baathists and baathists who were jailed by Saddam (some for corruption and now they claim to be political victims). These ex-baahtists are not only in Iraqiyya, but in Sadirsts and in SOL and even in Kurds. I once was shown a list that is mind boggling – i wish I had asked (or was allowed to keep a copy) that lists current “stars” that were Baathis, One name that stuck to my mind what Serwan Waeli !! He is not minister of state for national security. So what is it: Baathis that join the Islamic parties are considered repentant and those that keep on their secular credentials are not to be trusted? The bottom line, Iraq was under the Baath for longer than any other regime and thus there were many Baathis. I submit to you that She3a Baathis were more “inhumane” to their fellow She3a to prove that they were not Iranians !!! I know that will raise a few eye brows, but I will submit to you that there were more She3a Baahtis than there were Sunnis because that is only a reflection of the demography.

    Anyway, as far as Allawi and Iraqiyya are concerned, i will tell you that I have known Chalabi and I have known Allawi and I have known Jaafari and a few other “luminaries” of the present Iraq. I can tell you that Chalabi is not a democrat but a first class charlatan (i used to support him! – but learned my lessons first hand). I can tell you that Allawi has a first class clinical mind for politics of Iraq and the region. He has the ability to grab an idea and expound on it. As for his credentials as a democrat: I can tell you that you have to judge a man by his actions. Tell me how long did it take him to give the reigns of power after his defeat? How long did Jaafary hang on, and how long did maliki (and continues to) hang on the reigns. Are there unsavory characters in Iraqyya ? Sure – but which alliance is composed on angles? Care to tell me?

    I tell you that the untimely death of Abd Al Azziz Hakim ruined attempts to create a large coalition that is truly Iraqi that would have excluded Da3wa, but it was not to be. That would have been a truly Iraqi coalition that has She3a/sunna/kurds. That is what Allawi wanted to create for the elections but it was not to be.

    As for the influence of Arabs – tell me what do you want allawi to do to counter the massive support the Iranians give to She3a religions parties in their attempt to create williat faqeeh junior? People claim that the uS supports Allawi, but I know they give him nothing, not logistical support, nor money covert or overt. Tell me how can Jaafary run a tv station when Alalwi can’t. Where does Jaafary get his money? Khumus? or his thriving medical practice (sorry 0 he did nto have one, he lived off the dole and taking people to makka)

    Alalwi, in my opinion, is a first class politician who has Iraq’s interest at heart. he is not perfect (by a long shot), but to run after him for being a baathi in his twenties and not do the same for others is hypocritical. Recall that abd al mahdi is the one that convinced Allawi of joining Baath, then (mahdi) went on to become a communist, then Islamist. Which version of Mahdi do you think will come out when he becomes PM?

    Allawi never changed his tune. He was a secular and talked about non sectarian politics and reconciliation from before 2003. Chalabi wore the garb of democracy, then became an Iranian and now he has Hussainias and hits his chest in 3ashura. Come on my man – give me a break and talk to me about practical things. Do not talk hypothesis of Iraqis in diaspora. Talk to me about the street in Baghdad which has more than 2 million ex-baahtis !!!

    One last thing Muhammad, and all, Da3wa is the other side of the coin of Baath. There is no difference except in the “ism” they follow. Dare I say they may be worse than the Baath, for they can justify their actions no in the name of 3ruba and otehr secular slogans, but in the name of God All Mighty and his khalifa, the coming Mahdi. Look at Iran and tell me – do you want to live in such a country?

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