Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Maliki Dissolves the National Alliance and Says No to U.S. Forces after 2011

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 17:19

It is fair to say that the life cycle of the all-Shiite National Alliance (NA) – the all-Shiite bloc that delivered a second premiership to Nuri al-Maliki in November 2010 – has been an unusual one. In the first place, one could of course argue that when it first came into existence in 2010, the NA was really a reincarnation of the previous Shiite coalition that had existed as the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) from 2004 to 2008 and that was partially re-launched with Iranian support as the Iraqi National Alliance by Ahmad Chalabi, ISCI and the Sadrists in the spring of 2009. But that’s another story. Suffice to say in this context that the National Alliance was actually born twice after the 7 March 2010 parliamentary elections – first in May, when INA nominally merged with the State of Law bloc of Nuri al-Maliki but nothing much happened and no name was given to the new bloc, and later in June, when the leaders of INA and State of Law tentatively began a  process of selecting a prime minister candidate and claimed the position as the biggest bloc in parliament in order to challenge Iraqiyya and Ayyad Allawi (who had emerged as the biggest bloc based on the elections results). Not until October 2010, thanks to steady support from both Iran and US ambassador Chris Hill, did Maliki emerge as prime minister candidate of the Shiite super-bloc.

Now the NA is dead again, or so it seems. The thing is, there is no death certificate as such , only the much-overlooked selection yesterday of Khalid Atiyya, from the bloc of independents affiliated with Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani, as parliamentary head of the State of Law bloc. That in itself may not sound terribly exciting but it is: One of the few defining criteria for a bloc (kutla) in Iraqi parliamentary practice post-2003 is that it must have a head or rais. Now, importantly, after much dithering, the National Alliance did eventually agree on such a bloc leader in December 2010, when Ibrahim al-Jaafari was selected. Accordingly, Atiyya’s emergence as head of the State of Law faction yesterday amounts to nothing less than a de facto secession from the NA, since the recognition of State of Law as a kutla by implication negates the continued existence of the National Alliance. It should be added in a footnote that Iraqiyya has actually moved in the opposite direction, despite lots of centrifugal forces being at work. Also in December 2010, the Iraqiyyun faction led by Usama al-Nujayfi announced the election of its own bloc leader in what seemed to be tantamount to a secession from the broader Iraqiyya coalition. But since at least February 2011, Salman al-Jumayli has quite consistently been described as the bloc leader of Iraqiyya.

These developments are not necessarily going to change anything in the short term. In the first place, bloc size comes into play only when the question of selecting the premier is on the agenda. Second, if Maliki really wants to reshuffle the cards and dissolve parliament, he is still in a position to claim the “biggest bloc” since Iraqiyya has shrunk by some 10 deputies over the past month through the defection of White Iraqiyya whereas State of Law has only lost Safiya Suhayl (who became an independent) and therefore is biggest with 88 deputies. But these latest moves do seem significant as possible elements in a long-term plan by Maliki to create some kind of “political majority” government to replace the current “national partnership”one, possibly based on an alliance between State of Law, the Kurds, Wasat and White Iraqiyya. Still, if that is really Maliki’s plan, he will need to convince Iraq’s president, the Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, to support him as premier once more, which in turn could mean a demand for further concessions by the Kurds. Another question is how Ibrahim al-Jaafari, until recently the head of the NA, will react. Could the recent selection of his party ally Falih al-Fayyad as deputy minister for national security mean that a deal has been done between Jaafari and Maliki? So far the Jaafari website is silent on the issue.

At any rate, any such new coalition will enjoy only a small majority in parliament. In a move apparently intended to pre-empt Sadrist criticism, State of Law today officially declared it is against any prolongation of the US presence in Iraq after 2011.

26 Responses to “Maliki Dissolves the National Alliance and Says No to U.S. Forces after 2011”

  1. amagi said


    I follow your thinking, but given the loosey-goosey interpretation of constitutional law in the past, is there any evidence there that anyone has drawn the same conclusion as you? That is, has anybody even noticed the move?

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Amagi, the choice of Atiyya as parliamentary bloc leader of State of Law has been widely reported but I have not seen the legal implications being spelt out in full in the Iraqi press yet. But they are pretty obvious, given the energy these factions spent in the competition to become the “biggest bloc” last year.

  3. Jason said

    Not sure I understand: Are you saying that this appointment of an SOL leader alone amounts to a full-fledged divorce of SOL from the rest of the NA? Or is there more solid evidence of a deeper split? And what are the issues dividing them?

    What does such a split suggest as far as Iranian influence? A split from the NA seems to contradict Santana’s claims that Maliki is an Iranian stooge. Yet the bold rejection of continued American presence seems to suggest it may be true.

    I dare say that the USG has already gone into early reelection mode for the November 2012 elections, and much of what it does until then will have to be analyzed closely to separate out posturing from anything meaningful. This election is shaping up all about the economy and the budget deficit, without even a whisper so far about Iraq (other than cost). At this point no one has the slightest clue whether 2012 will bring four more years of Obama (significantly weaker minus Sec Gates) or a fire-breathing Republican like Gov. Rick Perry. So if I were Maliki I wouldn’t make any premature alliances with Iran.

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, it is not just an appointment of an SLA leader, it is the appointment of a “leader of the parliamentary bloc of State of Law”. The explicit reference to a parliamentary kutla is perfectly clear: as long as there is a kutla called State of Law they cannot be part of another kutla called the National Alliance. There is just one category of parliamentary blocs.

    As regards Iranian influence, I have always claimed that as long as bloc-formation is defined in communitarian terms, Tehran will have the upper hand. Iran would probably be perfectly happy with State of Law and the Kurds in government, with Wasat and maybe some Iraqiyya breakaway elements as “Sunni” decoration. My guess is that Maliki knows this and will try to keep the Sadrists and ISCI at an arm’s length while at the same time making sure that they cannot attack him on the question of the US military presence. Despite the regional meddling, the imperatives of maintaining some sort of Iraqi nationalist rhetoric continues to apply across the board. I think only some kind of real rapprochement between Iraqiyya and State of Law could have enabled Iraqi leaders to creatively reconcile a post-2011 US presence with a dicourse of Iraqi sovereignty, but my impression is that we may now be past that point.

  5. Salah said

    Very Funny, Maliki saying NOOOOOO to USSSSSS.

    very smart analyst…..: What withdrawal from Iraq?

  6. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, I very much doubt that the US State Department post-2011 will be anything like that described in the report. Iraq has a historical tradition for rejecting “advisers” and “bases”, and if the Sadrists feel vindicated in the SOFA question they will move downwards to the next target on their list which will likely be the megarexic and largely unrealistic plans for the US embassy in Baghdad.

    It is quite striking how passive the US seems to be in this question: They should know that unless they can help Iraqi leaders find some kind of plausible justification for extending the US presence, the withdrawal argument will prevail.

  7. Apparently nearly all “blocks” and parties have parliamentary leaders, SOL having a parliamentary leader is not significant and not expected to rub on Jaafary.

  8. Salah said

    Iranian proxy Maliki and others just playing their games, as in 100 day revaluation scenario it was very laughable case ended with Maliki saying to his committee” we are in process of “Manufacturing” a new Manal Yunis!!
    (I do not know how this PM call finding new Women by “Manufacturing” her) How smart that tell…I leave the rest of his speech to you..

    Manal Yunis, was one of Tyrant apparatus that Maliki and Da’awa most hatful Women in Iraq
    Manal Yunus Abd-al-Razzaq al-Allusi, who was president of the GFIW for several years, had escaped to Jordan along with her family, in order to avoid arrest by Iraqis.29 This story remains unconfirmed.

    Leon Panetta, the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and incoming Defense Secretary, told the Senate Committee panel, “It’s clear to me that Iraq is considering the possibility of making a request for some kind of presence to remain there.

    I believe that if Prime Minister al-Maliki -— the Iraq government -— requests that we maintain a presence there, that ought to be seriously considered by the President,” he further testified.

    The remarkable part of Panetta’s testimony is that he was able to act as if the Iraqi government’s request was not a foregone conclusion. There is nothing the Obama Administration would not do (or the administration that will follow it) to maintain its invaluable outpost of the American Empire in Mesopotamia.

    For his part, Maliki said in May that he would make the appropriate request provided that the other factions in his ruling coalition backed the move.

    On cue, Panetta said that such a plea would be heeded by the United States and that they would recur to their Iraqi counterparts as to the number of troops needed and the timeframe for the continuing occupation. Not surprisingly, no specific numbers for either was provided by Panetta in his testimony.

  9. Reidar Visser said

    Faisal, could you prove that with references please? Who is the current Sadrist parliamentary leader for example? (It used to be Nassar al-Rubayie before the last elections) Or the Fadila one?

    The Shahid al-Mihrab bloc (ISCI/Badr) might be an exception as they sometimes call themselves a kutla but then again they were always in doubt about NA after Maliki became the premier candidate. I have seen a press report suggesting Humam Hammudi was the new ISCI bloc leader but the Hammudi website does not describe him as such.

  10. Reidar,
    Amir Al Kinani is the Sadrist parliamentary leader.
    Hasan Shouerid is Iraqiya’s, Salman Jumaili is Mustaqbal’s and Alaa Maki is the Mustaqbal’s.

  11. Thanks, Reidar, excellent anaylsis.

    My prediction on withdrawal: in a few weeks’ time Maliki and the US will find some new definition of ‘troops’, or some new purpose for them to be there (a la ‘withdrawal agreement’, ‘combat troops’, outside ‘cities’ etc etc). Perhaps a US-Iraq Technical Support and Friendship Agreement?

    Maliki still needs their help, as much as he needs to be publicly seen as demanding their exit.

  12. Salman Al Jumaili is from Tawafuq, sorry.

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Faisal, I’m afraid there are some problems with what you say above. Firstly, Jumayli is the head of all of Iraqiyya, as already said in the report. You can just look at his website:

    Second, could you please link to a source from 2011 that authoritatively specifies Kinani as the head of the Sadrist parliamentary bloc?

    Greg, I thought the State of Law/Daawa statement was pretty clear: Withdraw all troops from Iraqi lands, air and waters by end of 2011. That doesn’t leave that much potential for ambiguity, does it?

  14. Salah said

    Maliki still needs their help, as much as he needs to be publicly seen as demanding their exit. ?

    Very nice trick, let not forgot US Embassy in Baghdad the biggest and most advance and most expensive presence in the world. So no doubt, that US will leave but as you put nicely above.

  15. Jason said

    Salah, you are correct that the USG will (and should) press hard to maintain a presence in Iraq as a deterrent to Iranian meddling. Aside from that your continued “America as the Imperial Great Satan” dogma is tired and worn out beyond all recognition. If the Americans leave all at once, multi-sectarian democracy in Iraq will face attack from both Iranian proxies and from Sunnis wanting to reestablish their domination. So which side are you playing for? Certainly not for protecting the fragile democracy.

  16. Reidar,
    You are right, Salman Al Jumaili is the parliamentary leader of Iraqiya block. But Hassan Shouairid is the parliamentary leader of Iraqiya National List which is part of Iraqiya block and headed by Allawi.

  17. Reidar Visser said

    Faisal, sorry to be so insistent, but it would be great if you could post a link if you’ve got one! Thanks…

  18. Chatham House Rules, sorry Reidar.

  19. Reidar Visser said

    Okay, but if it so secret that the source cannot be uttered in public then I would suggest that it loses some of its relevance! I tried in vain to obtain clarification from the various Iraqiyya-affiliated websites, but to no avail. On the Iraqiyya site proper, if you hit “man nahnu” (who are we) absolutely nothing happens! (With my browser at least.) Could be ominious for Iraqiyya… If you go to Wifaq, it is marketed as the site of Ayad Allawi and again contains mostly personal Allawi information. If you search for the Iraqi National Movement on Google in Arabic, you’ll end up on the Wifaq website as well…

  20. Santana said

    The chances of any extension of troop presence is waning day by day…..Maliki’s stay in power is tied to Iran and the Sadrists as I mentioned previously…the economy in the U.S is not getting any better so money is tight and Congress is not happy with any foreign expenditures- Rohrabacher is gonna raise hell with all GOP members in Congress about the cost of extension especially after Dabbagh made that statement to his face and said- “Thanks for removing Saddam but you won’t get a cent for it” so now it is personal….. Stae keeps saying a troop extension is as easy as getting one official request from Maliki” which is not gonna come cuz he loses Sadrist support.

    Nejaifi will be in Washington next week thru an invitation from John Boehner and when asked- he will say- it”s Maliki’s call to request a troop extension”……..Iran will celebrate the troops departure and throw flowers at the feet of the departing troops…and say “Thanks America- you gave up a trillion bucks and 4,400 dead and are now handing Iraq to us on a Golden plate- and we are now that much closer to Syria and Lebanon and will wreak havoc on our new neighbors Jordan, Saudi and Kuwait….and just think Uncle Sam, you are our enemy too ! imagine what we would get if we were friends ???”

  21. Reidar Visser said

    Today the Americans are talking to Adel Abd al-Mahdi of ISCI again. I’m really not sure what he can offer them. So far this year, ISCI has been quite consistently anti-extension. Also today, Zuhayr al-Aaraji of Iraqiyya is quoted as being in favour of an extension of the US military presence.

  22. Xenophon said


    What exactly is it you envision Iran doing in/with/to Iraq after US troops depart (and particularly in the context of current developments in Syria)?

  23. Xenophon,
    I don’t speak for Santana but your question is too important to pass.
    Iran was pushing for a regional pact which includes her, if the US can’t give Maliki what he wants, which is an extension of his regime, then he would get it from Iran, backed with an official mutual defense pact. So brace yourself for an Iranian interpretation for democracy.
    Financial benefits are gravy.

  24. Re “If the Americans leave all at once, multi-sectarian democracy in Iraq will face attack … protecting the fragile democracy.”
    – Jason, are we reading the same blog here?

    Re “That doesn’t leave that much potential for ambiguity, does it?”
    – Reidar, I thought Maliki was quite unambiguous in April, then he switched to ‘maybe’ in May, now he’s back to ‘no’. I’m not sure today’s statement is a very good guide to tomorrow’s position…
    The Sadrists never seem to have established very much traction on this issue, for reasons I don’t really understand. They seem to me a less potent force these days, in spite of their parliamentary gains last year.

  25. Santana said


    As usual- I agree with Faisal ….as far as Iran’s move into Iraq- I envision it as somewhat similar to Hezbollah’s presence and control in Lebanon ..after the U.S troops leave, there will be a massive build up of Jaish Almahdi and other terrorists like Promised day, Hezbollah Iraq, Rightousness Brigade (or whatever the hell it’s called) – JAM will get missiles just like Hezbollah does in Lebanon-

    Then to clear what is left of Sunnis in Iraq- I predict Iran will blow up one or two Shiite Mosques or assissinate some shiite religous figure early on just to get the sectarian war started sometime 1st Quarter 2012 and as a result-there will be another mass exodus of Sunnis. Maliki’s power and dictatorship will be unmatched and worse than Saddam .

    The PRTs in Iraq will all be closed and the 18,000 Americans shipped home for their safety.

    As far as Syria goes -what Iran does there depends if the Allawites are still in power or not ? My guess is they are out by then, so Iran will start stirring up things with whatever new regime is there cuz it will clearly not be pro-Iranian (like the Allawites are), the Sunni refugees will go there and to Jordan and Egypt.

    Iraqi Resistance will hit the streets again backed by the GCC, CIA , France and even Turkey.

    The Kurds will not live in peace either for selling out Iraq to Iran.

    Not a pretty picture. NO ONE has stood up to Iran since 2003 –

    If Ahmedenejad is not overthrown then one or two daisy cutters on Tehran maybe what it takes??

  26. Salah said

    Aside from that your continued “America as the Imperial Great Satan” dogma is tired and worn out beyond all recognition.

    Jason, do not put your words in my mouth, these are your folks words “The Mullahs “who are for the last 30 years they dancing on this slogans, definitely it’s NOT Iraqi verse about US.

    Basically we talking about interests of both sides Iranians and US having Iraq, there is no comparisons between two side although looks to most of Iraqis (if your Iraqi) both they helped each other to some extent on the ground. There is red lines both they agreed/ knew they do not pass.

    The PM Nuri Maliki still hold the ministry of internal affairs, the central intelligence also he is the command in charge of the military forces, so he is the man he should advise Iraqi government for its readiness of accepting or rejecting US call for extension of SOFA.
    So is the man should all other parties/elements in his government should give his advise /testimony for them, isn’t?

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