Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Change Inside Iraqiyya?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Sunday, 14 November 2010 11:14

Rumours about some kind of serious internal dissension within Iraqiyya have been flying around for weeks, but so far not much of substance has materialised. It does however seem significant that a press release from Iraqiyya, published today through the ordinary party bureaucracy and in itself not particularly remarkable, all of a sudden talks of Kazim al-Shammari as “official spokesman” of the list.

Earlier this autumn, Ayad Allawi has had a tough job enforcing unity within Iraqiyya ranks, and at one point explicitly limited the list of people authorised to speak on the behalf of Iraqiyya to Maysun al-Damluji and a few others. Even though there could of course be practical and/or holiday-related reasons behind it, the sudden “promotion” of Shammari, who earlier in the week was one of the few Iraqiyya deputies to express support for Maliki before the conclusion of the political talks in Baghdad, does seem to mark a break with Allawi’s line. If confirmed, this could indicate a deeper split within Iraqiyya, at least partially related to tensions between the “exiled” and the “domestic” circles within the coalition which seemed further highlighted in a separate meeting yesterday between Jalal Talabani and Usama al-Nujayfi, Salih al-Mutlak, Rafi al-Eisawi, Izz al-Din al-Dawla and Jabir al-Jabiri, all of Iraqiyya. It is noteworthy, though, that Shammari, who was elected from Baghdad, is a Wifaq member (Allawi’s own branch), indicating the potential depth of any split.

16 Responses to “Change Inside Iraqiyya?”

  1. Kirk Sowell said

    Haydar al-Mulla is one of the individuals most commonly quoted as speaking for Iraqiya, but he and Allawi seem to have been out of line with each other yesterday. While Mulla was holding a press conference saying that the “misunderstanding” from Thursday had been cleared up with the Shia and the Kurds, al-Jazeera was quoting Allawi as saying that it was all off. And someone from Iraqiya on al-Arabiya’s “From Iraq” yesterday – I don’t remember his name – seemed amazing realistic, by standards of Iraqi political rhetoric – he frankly admitted that the INM had made a mistake by not coalitioning with Maliki early on, letting Maliki stay PM to keep him from having to merge with the INA. Given how canned a lot of the rhetoric is, his tone was quite somber, as if they are just now realizing what I think has been obvious for some time – they are out of it. And this was on a program quite sympathetic to Allawi’s bloc.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Mulla is from the Hiwar/Mutlak faction and there has been tension between him and Allawi for a while. Wifaq members will often tell you to listen to Damluji only.

    Please do post the name of that Iraqiyya figure in the Arabiyya interview if you come across it again.

  3. Kirk Sowell said

    Hassan al-Bazaz. This is the program: From Iraq.

    One of the interesting comments that came through here – from the analyst in London as I remember, not the Iraqiya rep – was that Allawi says Obama gave him a “commitment” that this new political council would satisfy his expectations and be passed within 30 days. In the Arab world there is this amazing, unshakeable belief that the President of the United States can just “commit” to something happening, the fact that we have so thoroughly failed to show any influence over the past months notwithstanding.

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Thanks. He happens to be a friend of mine. He is the brother of a previous PM of Iraq in the 1960s. As for the apparent belief in US omni-potency held by Allawi and many other Iraqiyya leaders, I find it equally frustrating. They do not realise that the only thing the USG is doing in Iraq is engaging in spin, which is in fact what they were in the process of doing even as the parliamentary session on Thursday was unravelling!

  5. Robinson said

    From the man himself:

    وأوضح علاوي: “لقد حصلت على ضمانات من أمريكا ومن قوى أخرى بأن يحصل اتفاق على تقاسم السلطة وإطلاق عملية مصالحة حقيقية.” مضيفاً أن الرئيس الأمريكي، باراك أوباما، كان قد اتفق مع علاوي على أهمية هذه النقاط، ووجه التحية له بسبب موافقته على التنازل في قضية رئاسة الحكومة

  6. Reidar Visser said

    My guess is that the part relating to Obama agreeing to the “importance” is correct and that the part relating to “guarantees” is wishful thinking!

  7. Kermanshahi said

    Somewhat off-topic, but, I recall several months ago you said every parliamentary bloc had their own bloc leader, like last time al-Hakim led the UIA, have the leaders this time been decided yet? I guess Fuad Masum will lead the KBC, Nawshirwan Mustafa the Gorran bloc, but who leads the Centrist alliance, who leads the NA and if Allawi is to become head of some council I guess he can’t be al-Iraqiyya’s bloc leader, or can he?

  8. Reidar Visser said

    There are very few rules but there was a practice established of one leader per kutla in the 2005-2010 period. My sense is that most blocs have not reached agreement, which is why so many of the meetings of “bloc leaders” right now tend to be rather crowded affairs…

  9. Phil said

    On a separate note, do you know if any of the parliament members were sworn in on Thursday or Saturday? I recall that a lot of the Council of Minister members, including Maliki, never swore in on 14 June so that they could retain their positions during the caretaker government.

  10. Reidar Visser said

    That was actually one of the few humorous moments of the session. Fuad Masum made it clear that those who had not yet taken the oath would not have the right to vote, i.e. implicitly he was saying to Maliki he would be welcome to vote if he wanted (in which case he would have lost his job as PM). Maliki remained seated, but as I remember it a couple of female MPs entered the podium to take the oath. By the way, in Iraq the outgoing government is not a “caretaker government”; it is a perfectly ordinary government.

  11. This is really amazing – you know it’s bad when you have to deny that you have splintered from your own bloc –

    Al-Hayat: “Allawi ‘Did Not Splinter’ from His Bloc and Will Return Following Eid to Distribute Ministries Between its Constituent Elements”

    Apparently Allawi left the country and returned to London, and this set off rumors that even he had left Iraqiya!!

  12. Jason said

    Does anyone have any good information on the Sadrist contingent, both in parliament, or potential ministries? Can we expect the problems to be as bad as last time at the Ministry of Health? Or have they weeded any bad ones out?

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, you’ve got the whole spectrum from people like Hakim al-Zamili who has been suspected for involvement in some of the atrocities in the 2006-2007 period to figures such as Qusay al-Suahyl, the new deputy speaker who could symbolise the kind of more pragmatic line associated with the Sadrist parliamentary contingent in 2008 in particular.

    As said, though, watch for developments in the governorates, where the Sadrists have been promised new top positions. Regarding security ministries, the talk is still about giving them to ostensibly “independent” figures.

  14. bb said

    Realistically Iraqiyya is never going to win government in the forseeable future because to accomplish that it would have to win a substantially greater number of seats in the shia provinces. Is this not the case? So, Mr Reidar Visser, I think Iraq (and you) are in for a very, very long period of shia-led powersharing govts in Iraq. This is the best Iraqiyya will be able to do. The Speakership has far more power than the presidency, but the Kurds seem happy with the symbolic position.

    Would Iraqiyya acting as a permanent opposition be better than Speaker/power share do you think?

  15. Reidar Visser said

    I think Iraqiyya would do a lot better as a purely opposition party with a view to shape the agenda towards the next parliamentary elections. Of course, having been awarded the speakership (on the premise of participation in government) they should keep that, which would be an asset in that kind of strategy.

  16. Hasan said

    Hi Reidar,
    I think that your conversation with Kirk Sowell is very frank… And it should be completed by the note that Iraqiyya formation was done out of Iraq…Iraqiyya dose not differ from any Arabic regime… what is different is the time and the place… Iraq is not Saudi Arabia and the 21th century is not the American Century… this is why iraqiyya is now disintegrating…
    I remember once Tomas Friedman was interviewed in AL-Jazeera and was Asked about the unofficial death of the G.W.Bush’s Campaign the spread democracy in the Arabic world.. He said that he traveled to South America, and to the far east and he didn’t find people waiting for Bush to give them democracy except in the Arab region… well.. I hope he’ll not hear it again… at least from Iraq. it’s a shame for Allawi to speak or think this way.

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