Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Parliament Replacement Update

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 7 January 2011 15:05

Thankfully, the numerous violations of both the relevant “replacement law” and the constitution in the process of substituting deputies who became ministers in the second Maliki government have prompted reactions in Iraqi political circles. So far, at least five cases have reportedly been submitted to the federal supreme court.

It seems fairly easy to predict the outcome of these cases as long as one can assume that the judiciary will manage to resist attempts at political pressure. Three of the five cases should lead to cancellation of the replacement candidates because both the law on replacement of deputies and the constitution are clearly violated since the seats have been given to candidates from different governorates than the deputies who left to become ministers. These are Daghir al-Musawi from Basra (replaced Hasan al-Sari from Maysan), Jawad Bulani from Baghdad (replaced Ali al-Sajri from Salahaddin) and Muhammad al-Hindawi (replaced Hassan al-Shammari who was a candidate in Dhi Qar). Musawi comes from the all-Shiite Iraqi National Alliance and is the longstanding leader of the controversial Sayyid al-Shuhada movement with particularly close ties to Iran; although he replaces someone who is from “Hizbollah in Iraq” with similarly close connections to Iran, the two formed a unified political entity in the March 2010 elections and are technically part of ISCI. Bulani is of course from Unity of Iraq but from a different sub-entity (the Constitutional Party) than Sajri, whereas both Hindawi and Shammari are from Fadila, meaning the intra-list dynamics will be unaffected either way in that case. But these replacements are likely to be invalidated by the court since the governorate balance gets affected and since the only exceptions to the principle of upholding the governorate quotas in the “replacement law” relate to 1.) cases where all the candidates of a list already have a seat in parliament; and 2.) cases where one of the seven compensation seats are being replaced. Additionally, this same logic should relate to two more cases not mentioned as having reached the federal supreme court yet, those of Jawad Ghanim Ali (a Sadrist who apparently was a candidate in Dahuk) and Salim al-Jibburi (who has taken a Salahaddin seat even though he was a Diyala candidate).

Two other reported cases are likely to be thrown out. There have been challenges to the seats given to Abdallah Khalaf Muhammad (Iraqiyya in Kirkuk) and Fuad Kazim al-Dawraki (State of Law in Karbala) from others within these alliances that got a higher number of personal votes. However, the number of personal votes has moral rather than legal significance in this case. The Iraqi elections commission previously attempted to introduce rules for computing the compensatory seats that would take into account personal votes and thereby make the system more in harmony with the open-list logic adopted in the revised elections law in 2009. However, on this they were overruled by the party leaderships and similarly no revised version of the “replacement law” better attuned to the open-list logic has been adopted. Accordingly, as of today, the party leaderships can decide the replacements themselves as long as they stick to the same governorate, as has been done in these two cases.

Meanwhile, these important questions have no chance of breaking through the Western mainstream media’s preferred dichotomy of Muqtada=bad; everything else=the charming wonders of Iraq’s interesting democracy. Today, enlisting the assistance of a “special correspondent”, the prestigious Washington Post wants us to believe that “Parliament met on 10 of the past 11 days to debate a national budget, nominees to head security ministries and other weighty topics”! The truth of the matter is that parliament hasn’t met since 27 December and won’t meet again until Sunday (9 January), but who are we to disturb the exciting narrative of the epic battle between Muqtada al-Sadr and the energetic US-sponsored democrats of the new Iraq?

13 Responses to “Parliament Replacement Update”

  1. amagi said


    What do you think it will take for these two narratives to be reconciled?

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Amagi, I think that would happen if the issue that is most vital to Iraq’s economic well-being, the oil sector and how to run it, came on the political agenda in a real way. That would separate the rabble-rousers and opportunists from those with a true long-term vision for the people of Iraq.

  3. I would like to re-state Washington’s preferred dichotomy: We Are Democracy, if they hate us (like Muqtada/Baathists etc) then they don’t deserve us or democracy, they can be excluded, they are out. If they like us then they are in.
    The fallacy now is easier to see: Who takes care of the excluded? If we follow the dichotomy then it is the US and the rest of the world who will accomodate all the refugees from Iraq (and Afghanistan). Exclusive democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan are the planned responsibility of the US and its policy, the first step to reconcile the two narratives is for the US to admit responsibility and stop blaming the victims.

  4. Jason said

    Faisal, that makes no sense. In what fantasy were Iraqis under the Baathist control, or those in Basra or Sadr City while under JAM control, democratic?

    Now, the true relevancy is whether a people are capable of living peacefully with their neighbors and within the world community. If fair elections were held in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, would that result in a peaceful democracy, or crazy, war-minded fanatics with regional imperial ambitions similar to Iran? I don’t know the answer, and I am afraid to find out. I do believe that there are many Iranians that are sick and tired of the mullahs and ready for self-rule, and peace with their neighbors.

  5. bks said

    Jason, with respect to Iraq, I think the question the world community wants answered is whether the USA is capable of living peacefully with its neighbors.


  6. Salah said

    is whether a people are capable of living peacefully with their neighbors and within the world community.

    This question very let to ask. I don’t know if the commentator lived in Iraq before 2003 or not specially the time of Iraq-Iran war ended or after Kuwait invasion, followed by 13 years of inhuman sanction.

    The fact is Iraqis all after first war were sick and tired of useless war, I can imagine any Iraqi have the will to fight or raise a weapon to kill anyone, but what make them so disoriented lost their humanity was the harsh sanction that well known by the UN and US it was heartening the Iraqis not the regime and they insisting to impose it on them.

    That the bad human game on Iraqis. So coming now and asking are they can live in peace its too let after creating evils inside each of them.

  7. Jason,
    I don’t know how or why you read that I meant the Sadrists or the Baathist are democratic but even if you assume that for argument sake then it does not justify their exclusion from the political process. I know the answer to the question who will win if a fair election was done in Egypt or Saudi Arabia: It doesn’t matter. Democracy is a process, not an end game like it seems you think. There are costs to the aggressor, we will always have aggressors. What happened to Israeli aggression Jason?

  8. Reidar Visser said

    OK please can we get back to the replacement seats? Many thanks. Alternatively, there is a previous posting this week that is still relevant since the secretary-general of the Arab League finds it useful to meet in Baghdad with Iraqi vice presidents that don’t exist. Secretary-general of the muhasasa principle, what a shame.

  9. Salah said

    Just to add to Arab League move toward Baghdad, the news tells US secretary of state Hilary Clinton will be in gulf states to push for more close ties with Baghdad, also there is some stories that Saudi king while he is recovering from recent illness advised by US to move closer with bagdad and some suggested may be there is visit by him to Baghdad.

  10. Samir Abdallah said

    Some elected deputies in the parliament, are still using their executive power in posts in the executive branch of the government. Two examples are dr. Ali Al-Allak, General Secretary of the cabinet and Adnan Al-Asadi, Senior Deputy Minister of the Ministry of the Interior. Do they attend parliament sessions? Is this allowed by the constitution?

  11. Reidar Visser said

    Samir, very interesting question, thanks. If the two have indeed held two jobs at one time then it is a constitutional violation, since the whole point of Maliki and others refraining from taking the oath as deputies was that they could not continue to serve in government if they did so. I’m not sure about Asadi, but I distinctly remember having seen Allaq in parliament on television recently. According to the parliament record, he spoke as a deputy as late as 20 December 2010, at which time he also served as secretary-general of the cabinet, so someone should challenge him for that I think. With respect to Asadi, there are of course strong rumours that he may be the next minister of interior, but that actually makes it even more important that he has a clean record.

  12. Samir,
    Dr. Ali Al Allaq is secretary of Maliki until now, he is different from Ali Al Allaq who was a member of parliament, of course both are affiliated with Dawa party.

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Thanks Faisal, that appears to be the case. The cabinet secretary is علي محسن إسماعيل العلاق whereas the deputy that I referred to is علي حسین رضا حیدر العلاق

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