Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for December, 2010

Replacement Chaos in the Iraqi Parliament

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 30 December 2010 20:18

The announcement of the partial Maliki II government on 21 December has transformed Iraqi politics into something of a chaotic construction site. As of today, no one knows who will be in government or how many ministers will eventually be named.

Additionally, due to the stream of deputies hastily leaving parliament in search of greener pastures in the executive branch of government, no one any longer has a complete list of deputies. Based on lists of new ministers and old deputies it is clear that at least 20 of the 325 deputies in Iraqi parliament will need replacement, probably with more to come as ministries held as deputyships by existing ministers will get distributed. As of today, the Kurds have yet to name any replacements (and have also yet to name several of their ministers), and Iraqiyya has apparently named only around half of their 7 replacements. Some glaring errors in the way the names of new deputies have been rendered in official statements from the Iraqi parliament also make analysis of the information released so far somewhat problematic.

Still, around a dozen of the replacements can be identified with reasonable certainty, as indicated in the table below.

Name Kutla/List (Entity) Governorate Personal votes (97% count) Notes
Maysun al-Damluji Iraqiyya (Wifaq) Baghdad 560 Female
Faris Abd al-Aziz Iraqiyun/Iraqiyya (Iraqiyun) Nineveh 6,207
Jawad al-Bulani Wasat/Unity of Iraq (Constitutional Party) Baghdad 3,161 Supposedly replaces Ali al-Sajri
Khalid Sulayman Wasat/Unity of Iraq Anbar 3,710
Salim Abdallah Al-Jibburi Wasat/Tawafuq (IIP) Diyala 5,370 Replacement for Usama al-Tikriti
Fuad Kazim NA/State of Law Karbala 7,317
Haytham Ramadan al-Jibburi NA/State of Law Babel 6,193
Salah Abd al-Majid NA/State of Law Basra 9,256
Abd al-Sattar Abd al-Jabbar NA/INA (Sadrist) Baghdad 4,488 Fayli Kurd
Jawad Ghanim Ali NA/INA (Sadrist) Dahuk 3 Replaces Baghdad candidate
Muhammad Kazim al-Hindawi NA/INA (Fadila) Karbala 4,959 Replaces Baghdad candidate
Hussein Salman NA/INA (Fadila) Baghdad 4,007
Mina Mahdi Salih NA? INA (Badr) Diyala 2,511 Female

The legal framework governing these replacements is a law on replacement of parliamentary deputies from 2006. It has not been adjusted to the realities of an open-list system, and basically leaves it to the relevant party leaderships to find a replacement candidate from the non-winning candidates – in the case of governorate seats (i.e. the 310 seats allocated to governorates) it should be someone from the same governorate; if it relates to one of the seven compensation seats, it does not matter where the replacement comes from. The women quota can be ignored, but the law makes a mess of the terminology when it comes to the question of bloc versus registered entity as the relevant framework for making the replacement: It mixes up “bloc” (kutla), “list” (qa’ima) and “entity” (kiyan) within the same paragraph, thus making it unclear what basic unit shall be used as point of departure for reckoning the potential candidates for replacement.

That in turn highlights the numerous problems and indeed constitutional infractions that have been committed through the replacement so far. Of the players involved, State of Law seems to be following the rules reasonably well, with replacement candidates apparently being brought in from the relevant governorates from which ministers were recruited. Additionally, Jasim Muhammad Jaafar had been given a compensation seat so he can be replaced by a candidate from anywhere in the country. Fewer replacement candidates are known for Iraqiyya but legally they seem fine so far, and one wonders whether perhaps the new deputy reported as Abbad Khalaf Muhammad in the parliamentary records might in fact refer to Abdallah Khalaf Muhammad of Iraqiyya from Kirkuk. On the other hand, there are problems with the way in which both the Sadrists and Fadila apparently have brought in people from other governorates (Karbala and Dahuk) to replace some of their Baghdad candidates. If true, that would be unconstitutional since the principle of 1 deputy per 100,000 Iraqis would be in jeopardy. In particular, one wonders about bringing in Jawad Ali Ghanim  with no more than 3 personal votes in Dahuk!

The same problems apply to some of the replacements for Unity of Iraq and Tawafuq which have more recently joined to form a single parliamentary bloc. Already there have been protests in Salahaddin about the way in which Jawad al-Bulani, the interior minister and a Baghdad candidate for the Iraqi Constitutional Party within Unity of Iraq, was given a replacement seat for Ali al-Sajri of the “People’s Current” within Unity of Iraq in Salahaddin governorate. The same kind of reactions have materialised regarding Salim al-Jibburi, a Diyala candidate, although it is noteworthy that this replacement is not due to anyone becoming a minister but rather relates to the retirement of Usama al-Tikriti of the Iraqi Islamic Party in Salahaddin. The first of these cases, i.e. that of Bulani, not only touches on the governorate balance but also on the perpetual question of the coherence of the parliamentary blocs: Wasat had just been formed from Unity of Iraq and Tawafuq, but here the constituent parts of Unity of Iraq are quarrelling among themselves!

Posted in Iraq parliament membership, Iraq's 2010 parliamentary election, Iraqi constitutional issues | 2 Comments »

Iraqiyya Not Such a Big Bloc After All?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 20:05

The past couple of days have seen two developments in Iraqi politics that haven’t quite received the attention that they deserve.

Firstly, as at least some of the media has noted, the all-Shiite National Alliance (NA) that leads the new Maliki government has selected Ibrahim al-Jaafari as leader of its parliamentary bloc. Many would say it was an obvious choice: Jaafari was reportedly favoured as premier candidate by both the Sadrists and Iran before Maliki managed to sway those forces behind himself instead. At the recent meeting of parliament where the new government was sworn it, Jaafari held a longish speech that seemed a little out of place at the beginning of the ceremony as if he was screaming for a role beyond that of an ordinary deputy: He may now have found it.

Even less noticed is the fact that the Nujayfi bloc of Iraqiyya, also known as “Iraqiyyun” (“Iraqis”), has elected Hasan Khalaf al-Jibburi to head their parliamentary faction of around 10 deputies (they sometimes claim as many as 20). This is interesting for several reasons. Firstly, the reason NA has gone out of its way to elect a single leader is the fact that it needed to do a merger between Maliki’s State of Law (89 deputies) and the Sadrists (40 deputies) to grow in size and trump the argument by Iraqiyya that it was the biggest bloc in parliament as it emerged from the elections with 91 deputies. Having lost that contest, it now appears Iraqiyya leaders are happy to revert to their constituent elements, and it will be interesting to see whether others (Hashemi, Eisawi, Karbuli, Mutlak etc.) will follow Nujayfi’s lead or stay loyal to Ayad Allawi.

A second interesting question is whether the grey-zone elements on the margins of the National Alliance, such as Fadila and ISCI, will fall in line with the rest of the Shiites or form their own smaller parliamentary blocs on the Iraqiyyun pattern.Regardless of the eventual outcome, the idea of a single parliamentary leader as a defining criterion for constituting a parliamentary bloc or kutla seems reaffirmed by these developments.

Posted in Iraqi constitutional issues, Iraqi nationalism | 19 Comments »

Abd al-Mahdi in Tehran: Who Is Paying for This?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Sunday, 26 December 2010 14:30

Those who prefer to adopt a jubilant narrative on the wonderful successes of Iraq in the post-2003 period often dwell at the supposed brilliance of the new, free press in the country. Free it may well be, at least to some extent, but competent it surely isn’t.

Take its collective failure when it comes to detecting some of the serious fraud involved in the illegal multiplication of vice-presidents of the country in the past two months. When Jalal Talabani was elected as president on 11 November this year without deputies, his two previous deputies, Adel Abd al-Mahdi of ISCI and Tariq al-Hashemi of Iraqiyya automatically lost their jobs. The reason for this is simple: The transitional presidency that lasted from 2005 and 2010 and the ordinary presidency are two entirely different political institutions: The first was a powerful instrument of consociational democracy that featured significant veto powers; the second is an ornamental institution only with largely ceremonial powers and no right to veto anything. No vice-presidents were elected on 11 November because the law for electing the presidential deputies has yet to be adopted. Unlike the modalities for electing the president – which have been spelt out in the constitution and made it possible to move ahead with the election of Talabani even though this too was legally somewhat dubious since no special law for electing him had been passed – neither the number nor the powers of the vice-presidents (not to speak of the method for their election) have been hammered out in the constitution. A law on the subject is currently snaking its way through parliament, with suggestions that there may be three or four deputies to Talabani in the next cycle. Like Talabani himself they will play a symbolic role only, but as of today the law has yet to be passed.

Despite this situation, Iraqi media keep referring to Adil Abd al-Mahdi and Tariq al-Hashemi as if they were still vice-presidents! For example, in a press release after the recent visit by Abd al-Mahdi to Tehran, Iraqi media covered the event as a visit by an Iraqi vice-president, echoing the tone of the press release from Abd al-Mahdi’s own office.

وقال بيان لمكتب عبد المهدي :” ان نائب رئيس الجمهورية التقى في طهران امس رئيس جمهورية ايران الاسلامية محمود احمدي نجاد ، حيث قدم الرئيس الايراني في بداية اللقاء التهاني والتبريكات بمناسبة تشكيل الحكومة العراقية الجديدة ، معتبرا ذلك خطوة مهمة لتحقيق الامن والاستقرار في العراق والمنطقة عموما “.

Of course, the fact that his office keeps referring to Abd al-Mahdi in this way may simply be down to sheer hubris among his staff. But the failure of the Iraqi press to detect the problem is more serious and relates to a fundamental failure in understanding the nature of the political system in the country. Not least, it begs the question of who paid for the trip! It may well be that Abd al-Mahdi eventually gets elected as (ordinary) vice-president, perhaps already in a few weeks’ time. But right now, unless he has taken the oath as an ordinary deputy of parliament, he is a private citizen. In times of austerity the Iraqi electorate has the right to know whether government funds are being used to finance travel activity on the part of non-existing vice presidents or not.

Posted in Iranian influence in Iraq, Iraqi constitutional issues | 26 Comments »

Parliament Approves the Second Maliki Government

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 21 December 2010 15:55

In a recent press conference, Ala Makki of Iraqiyya complained that the standard of Iraqi students sent on scholarships abroad was not always as good as it should be. The problem, Makki maintained, was that the system of quota-sharing whereby ethno-sectarian groups are allotted percentages of the places available based on their proportion of the population (muhasasa) meant incompetent students were frequently sent abroad simply in order to fulfil the quota requirements.

Makki’s comments are of course eminently relevant also with respect to another process in which his own Iraqiyya is taking part these days: The enduring Iraqi government-formation saga. With the vote in Iraqi parliament today in favour of around 35 ministers that will serve in the next government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, it seems clear that the goal of satisfying narrow party interests has taken precedence over the idea of creating governance for Iraq… Full story here.

Posted in Iraq's 2010 parliamentary election | 54 Comments »

Maliki on Track towards Forming the Next Government

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 18 December 2010 13:57

UPDATE 20 December 2010: Maliki will reportedly present a partial list of ministers to the Iraqi parliament this afternoon at 4 PM Baghdad time.

UPDATE (2) Maliki may meet Nujayfi tonight but no parliamentary action on the candidates is exptected until tomorrow, at the earliest.

After a stormy session in the Iraqi parliament today which saw both the lifting of de-Baathification measures against three members of Iraqiyya and the withdrawal of Kurdish deputies in protest against the first reading of the budget, it seems as if Nuri al-Maliki, once more, is on track with his agenda for the next government. One of the least noticed items of important news out of Iraq so far is a statement by Safa al-Din al-Safi that Maliki intends to present his cabinet early next week.

Before he does that, it will be interesting to follow the recalibration of parliamentary factionalism that is necessary in order for the next government to achieve the 163 votes it needs. For Iraqiyya, the outcome of today’s session was a mixed bag. The acquittal of Salih al-Mutlak, Zafir al-Ani and Jamal al-Karbuli was logical in so far that their de-Baathification appeared questionable in the first place; however the way it was done today was decidedly messy. By lifting the sanctions against the three, parliament was acting in an extrajudicial way, reportedly on the basis of signed letters in which the three members disavowed any links with the Baath party (some reports suggest a fourth member, Rasim al-Awwadi, failed to produce this kind of letter). A more proper course of action by parliament would have been to sack the de-Baathification committee, enact legislation under chapter 7 of the constitution, or revise the accountability and justice law of 2008. Conversely, by infringing on the authority of the judiciary, it produced a decision that smacks of cliquishness in its narrow focus on three privileged members of Iraqiyya. What about the thousands of other Iraqis that have been targeted by the de-Baathification committee without due process?

Be that as it may, one does get the impression that Iraqiyya leaders are increasingly coming to terms with the prospect of a second Maliki premiership. In so doing, they appear to be following their own agenda rather than the American one, which was always focused on some kind of formal power-sharing through the presidency or more recently via the elusive “national council for high/strategic/whatever policies”. With Maliki possibly pressing for a vote on the next government as early as next week, the prospect of legislating the American-sponsored council before the vote seems increasingly unrealistic – a tendency that was just strengthened by the, um, American-led initiative to pour praise on Maliki in the UN Security Council recently. Symptomatically, perhaps, Rafi al-Eisawi of Iraqiyya was reported as having discussed the proposed law for the council with the US ambassador last week; a more realistic course of action, on his part, would of course have been to engage National Alliance leaders close to Maliki on the subject.

The interesting thing is that Iraqiyya appears to be responding to this new situation with relative calm. Today’s meeting in parliament was characterised by relative harmony between the two sides, with the speaker of parliament, Usama al-Nujayfi, making a big point of congratulating the Shiites on the Ashura holiday, Ayad Allawi returning to parliament and sitting in close proximity to Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi, and Rafi al-Eisawi taking the constitutional oath as a member of parliament – thereby effectively resigning as vice premier and signalling that the end of the first Maliki government must indeed be near. Instead, it was the old tension between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the rest of Iraq that came to dominate the session, as Kurdish members (and the deputy speaker) withdrew from the assembly or opted to protest against the first reading of it. Sources in PUK and Goran suggest the core of the protest had to do with the percentage of state revenue set aside for the KRG or ways in which Baghdad was attempting to make it conditional on Kurdish behaviour regarding oil exports; technically, however, it unfolded as a procedural protest against  proceeding with the first reading of the budget without it having been considered in the financial committee first. In so doing, the Kurds appear to be right according to article 128 of the parliament bylaws:

الإجراءات التشريعية
المادة رقم (128)
يحيل رئيس مجلس النواب مشروعات القوانين المقدمة من السلطة التنفيذية الى اللجان المختصة، لدراستها وأبداء الرأي فيها قبل عرضها على المجلس لمناقشتها على ان يجري ذلك بحضور ممثل عن اللجنة مقدمة المشروع.

Politically, of course, it is more interesting that Nujayfi of Iraqiyya proceeded to overrule the Kurdish representative Khalid Shwani on this point and let Baqir Solagh, the outgoing finance minister of ISCI, proceed with reading the draft budget without the Kurdish deputy speaker present on his left hand.

In some ways, the sudden tendency of National Alliance leaders over the past few weeks to focus on the constitutional deadline for forming the government (which expires on 24 December) seemed to suggest that it was moving ahead to pre-empt any bids by Iraqiyya to legislate the council for national and instead rely on the “political majority” concept to simply reach the 163 threshold. Today’s developments,  the apparent tendency of Iraqiyya leaders to be satisfied with less, and even rumours that Hussein al-Shahristani may keep the oil minister job in the next government all raise the question of whether Iraqiyya or the Kurds will be the main contributor to that majority. That in turn, of course, would inevitably prompt another question: Does Maliki really need all the 30 plus ministers that are currently under discussion when he theoretically has the option of forming a governance-oriented majority instead?

Posted in Iraqi nationalism, Oil in Iraq | 2 Comments »

Once More, Washington Puts the Cart before the Horse in Iraq

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 15 December 2010 19:25

First, the Obama administration played a key role in Sunnifying the Iraqi nationalism of Iraqiyya so that it could be more acceptable to Iran: By encouraging Iraqiyya to accept a junior, “Sunni” role in a power-sharing arrangement for the next government where the Iranian-supported Shiite parties clearly have the upper hand, Washington basically gave Iran what it wanted in Iraq in terms of a politics defined in sectarian fronts. To add insult to injury advisers to Obama went on to spin the US involvement in the affair as a triumph of American diplomacy against Iran! Today the US government went a little further: To celebrate the latest “progress”, it decided it was time for the UN Security Council to give up some of what little remains of outside-world leverage in Iraq, including a formal termination of the oil-for-food programme and restrictions relating to weapons of mass destruction.

Unsurprisingly, it was Vice-President Joe Biden that dominated today’s proceedings in the UN Security Council, convened under the US presidency, but in every other respect awkwardly timed. Despite the lack of substantial progress in the Iraqi government-formation process, Biden chose to focus on supposed “remarkable developments” in Iraq. Other US officials have cited “very real progress” and even “tremendous progress”. They do not even seem to notice that the Iraqi parliament has yet to address the legal framework for the supposed cornerstone of the power-sharing “deal”, the national council for high policies, without which the whole “agreement” is basically a spin-doctor masquerade. It should be added that the UNAMI report that formed the basis for today’s discussion of the “progress” is comparatively sober: Although it fails to acknowledge the considerable challenges involved in legislating brand new institutions of power to make the deal work, at least it recognises that some of the issues involved in the power-sharing deal belong to the sphere of constitutional revision – where progress is measured in years rather than in months.

For good measure, with respect to the lifting of the measures relating to weapons of mass destruction, the action by the UNSC came before Iraq had actually conformed to the relevant inspections protocols, with the only hard leverage now remaining in the hands of the international community relating to Kuwait and debt. The circularity of the US approach and the problem of timing were clearly revealed in the speech by the Iraqi foreign minister, Hosyar Zibari, before the council today: According to Zibari, the latest action by the Security Council proved that today’s Iraq was very different from the Iraq of Saddam Hussein! Of course, a major worry among many Iraqis is precisely that Maliki’s second premiership could develop into a very authoritarian one, but instead of asking critical questions (and using leverage) at this sensitive stage of the government negotiation process, the international community elected to celebrate the non-existent progress and the imaginary power-sharing. There was a deafening chorus about “Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and Christians” by confused diplomats who do not understand that their “inclusive power-sharing government” is just a carve-up whereby some hundred politicians get the jobs they want at the expense of the governance of Iraq and its people. In this respect, the Arabic language is actually more honest than the English: They call it simply taqasum al-sulta, i.e. “divvying up” power, rather than sharing it.

Zibari promised the new government would be formed “very, very soon”; representatives of Lebanon and Bosnia were among the well wishers.

Posted in Iraqi constitutional issues, US policy in Iraq: Leverage issues | 16 Comments »

Open Versus Closed Lists – Again!

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 9 December 2010 18:46

Many Iraqi seat winners in the 7 March parliamentary elections were not really interested in becoming members in the national assembly. Rather, they were aiming for seats in parliament as stepping stones for grander, ministerial ambitions.

With the current rush among these deputies towards securing ministerial appointments, the law on replacing vacant seats in the Iraqi parliament – adopted in 2006 and confirmed in the national assembly law of 2007 – will once more become relevant. However, as the debate on the compensation seats after the 7 March 2010 elections showed, there are hidden problems related to the Iraqi elections law due to its rag-tag composition, with elements from laws adopted in 2005, 2008 and 2009. Indeed some of these elements have already been declared unconstitutional by the federal supreme court.

With regard to the replacement of candidates, the debate that will come up again concerns the distinction between an open-list and a closed-list system. In late 2009, the Iraqi elections commission (IHEC) challenged procedures on compensation seat allotments in the law from 2005 because they were predicated on a closed-list system still being in force despite the change to an open-list system adopted in the autumn of 2009. However, the federal supreme court refused to touch the issue, leaving it to the political leaderships to trump the commission. Given this opportunity they naturally opted to hold on to the distribution key adopted in 2005 with its quintessential closed-list character: It basically left it to the political leaderships to distribute the compensation seats as they saw fit as long as their preferred choices – i.e. their own protégées – had been candidates in the elections, regardless of geographical location or placement on the candidate lists.

Similarly, the law on replacement of candidates adopted in 2006 which will likely be used in the case of deputies being promoted to ministerial roles in the next Iraqi government gives the political leaderships considerable leeway in deciding who should replace deputies in question. In the case of compensation seat holders, they can basically choose whichever candidate they prefer. In the case of ordinary governorate seats they need to stick to the governorate lists, but the placement of the candidates on those lists – and indeed their scores of personal votes, which were not in play when the law on replacements was adopted in 2006 – will not have to be taken into account.* More democratic alternatives like referring to the personal votes achieved or even holding by-elections are likely to get rejected by political elites that will prefer those solutions that give them patronage power instead.

The open-list system started up as a promising project. Those that got the most from it were the Sadrists who managed to manipulate it in ways probably not envisaged by its authors. The 7 compensation seats have already been lost to the old way of thinking, and with the considerable number of deputies likely to end up as ministers the idea of close connections between representatives and represented will likely get further diluted in Iraq over the coming months.

Footnote: It should be added that there appears to be an error in the official PDF of the replacement law published on the parliament website. Previous versions as well as the current Iraqi debate relate to the following paragraph:

اذا كان المقعد الشاغر ضمن مقاعد المحافظة التي حددها القانون الانتخابي، فيعوض من الكتلة التي ينتمي اليها العضو المشمول بالاستبدال ضمن قائمة المحافظة وفي حالة استنفاد اسماء المرشحين في محافظة ما فعلى الكيان المعني تقديم اسم مرشح آخر على ان يكون من بين من رشحهم الكيان ضمن القائمة الانتخابية في محافظة اخرى ومن الذين سبق للمفوضية ان صادقت على ترشيحهم.

However, in the PDF version this has apparently been conflated in an erroneous and misleading way:

إذا كان المقعد الشاغر ضمن مقاعد المحافظة التي حددها القانون الانتخابي من الكتلة التي ينتمي أليها
العضو المشمول بالاستبدال ضمن قائمة تقديم اسم مرشح أخر على ان يكون من بين من رشحهم الكيان ضمن
القائمة الانتخابية في محافظة أخرى ومن الذين سبق للمفوضية ان صادقت على ترشيحهم

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Supreme Court Rules against Power-Sharing in the Iraqi Legislature

Posted by Reidar Visser on Sunday, 5 December 2010 12:13

In a milestone ruling that potentially signifies a reawakening of the Iraqi judiciary as an independent force in Iraqi politics, the federal supreme court has ruled that the current bylaws of the Iraqi parliament, now under revision, are in conflict with the constitution. Specifically, responding to a query instigated by Iraqiyya and its new speaker of parliament, Usama al-Nujayfi, the court says that the notion of a collective, three-man presidency of the parliament is at variance with the vision of pre-eminence for the speaker himself in the constitution, with his two deputies filling more auxiliary roles.

The bylaws of the Iraqi presidency, adopted in the heyday of ethno-sectarian quota-sharing in 2006, went further than the constitution in reproducing the paradigm of tripartite consensus in Iraqi politics. Whereas the constitution enables the election of the speaker separately from his deputies and without any special majority requirements, the bylaws create the “presidency of the parliament” as an institution that to some extent must act in concert when it comes to setting the agenda of the parliament. Importantly, whereas the vision of the speakership in the constitution seems clearly majoritarian, the bylaws, through the collective presidency, in several instances in the previous parliament enabled dissatisfied factions to obstruct or at least delay legislative projects with which they were unhappy.

To Iraqiyya, this ruling by the court should serve as a reminder of the significance of the speakership that they received as part of the political agreement clinched on 10 November. At, the same time though, it would prudent of them to be aware that their logic of an orthodox reading of the constitution will probably apply with equal force to another institution that is much debated these days: the national council for strategic policies, which was identified in those talks as the keystone of Iraqiyya’s participation in the next government, but which is not even mentioned in the constitution – precisely like the “[collective] presidency of the parliament” which Iraqiyya complained about to the supreme court.

That in turn obviously raises the question of what sort of political participation constitutes the best strategy for Iraqiyya in the coming parliamentary cycle, with two tendencies already discernable within the party and sometimes within the same politicians! For example, Nujayfi has fronted the bid to boost the powers of the speakership as a national institution, and yet on other occasions has resorted precisely to the logic of ethno-sectarian quota sharing (muhasasa) that he tried to avert in the case of the speakership. By way of example, he has discussed the idea that Yazidis and Turkmens should have representation in government on an ethno-sectarian basis, and has charged a 3-person committee (Sunni, Shiite, Kurd) with preparing a draft law for the projected council on strategic policies. Other Iraqiyya representatives from Diyala have even made the point that their governorate needs to achieve representation in the next cabinet! By pursuing this kind of thinking to its logical conclusion, Iraqiyya would end up making a “component” (mukawwin) of every faction and village in Iraq, thereby contradicting the very nationalist values that supposedly formed the basis of their recent election success.

At the same time, the inflationary pressures of Iraqi politics mean that the next Iraqi government is going to be a densely populated body: Already, ISCI with its 18 deputies says that should equate “4 to 5 service ministries”; Iraqiyya itself says it expects around 12 ministries (91 deputies), whereas the all-Shiite National Alliance is talking about 20 to 25 ministries for itself. We have not even mentioned the Kurds so far, but do the math and we are looking at an overcrowded government potentially so weak and fragmented that Iraqiyya would probably do better in a purely opposition role.

Meanwhile, other parties are apparently discovering potential problems in the deal they agreed on 10 November. Apparently, a query is being considered by the supreme court regarding the veto powers of the president, with the Kurds apparently disconcerted that these prerogatives are now gone. Other reports say Iraqiyya plans to introduce a law on the powers of the vice-presidents, which again are not defined by the constitution. Hopefully the recent ruling by the supreme court means it is now in a better position to adjudicate this rush of greedy office seekers than it was just half a year ago.

Posted in Iraqi constitutional issues | 11 Comments »