Today, August 24, 2009 the new Iraqi National Alliance was announced. This was the long-awaited revised version of the United Iraqi Alliance, which was the largest vote getter in the 2005 elections. The new grouping includes the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), the Sadrists, former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s National Reform Party, the Dawa-Iraq Party, and two Sunni figures, Sheikh Hamid al-Hayes of the Anbar Salvation Council and Khalid Abd al-Wahhab al-Mulla from Basra. It appears that the new list was unable to convince the Fadhila Party to join. In July 2009 they said they would not, and in August claimed they were going to form their own list, the Alliance for Integrity and Development. More importantly, the National Alliance did not include Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party.
Dawa was said to be involved in negotiations right up to the last minute of the press conference of the new list, but couldn’t get their demands met. Maliki was asking for a majority of seats in the alliance and a promise that he would be their sole candidate to be prime minister, which the other parties objected to. The National Alliance however did leave the door open to Maliki joining the list at a later date.
As reported before, Maliki’s main reason for flirting with rejoining the alliance after running separately with his own State of Law List in the 2009 provincial balloting, was to secure the top post in the country. While Maliki was considered the biggest winner in the 2009 election, a breakdown of the results show that he was in no position to hold onto the prime ministership if he ran alone again. Of the fourteen provinces that held elections, Maliki’s State of Law only won majorities in two, Baghdad and Basra, and even then, came away with 38% and 37% of the vote respectively. Overall, State of Law won 15.1% of the ballots and took 27.5% of the 440 seats up for grabs. That was hardly a hold on the electorate to ensure that he be re-elected. In comparison, the new National Alliance members walked away with 17.1% of the vote and 27.7% of the seats.
January 2009 Provincial Election Results Comparison
Maliki’s State of Law: 15.1% of vote, 121 seats, 27.5%
SIIC’s Al-Mihrab Martyr List: 6.6% of vote, 58 seats, 13.1%
Sadrists’ Independent Free Movement List: 6.3% of vote, 41 seats, 9.3%
Jaafari’s National Reform Party: 4.2% of vote, 23 seats, 5.2%
Iraqi National Alliance members together: 17.1% of vote, 122 seats, 27.7%
This leaves the Prime Minister in a quandary because there are few other major parties left for him to align with. The Fadhila Party and Dawa have not gotten along. The State of Law List did not include it in any of its ruling coalitions after the 2009 provincial elections, and Fadhila had a poor showing in the voting. Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha of the Awakening and National Independents List has repeatedly expressed a desire to run with Maliki in 2010. The al-Hadbaa Party of Ninewa, the Change List in Kurdistan, and Mithal al-Alusi’s Ummah Party may also be new partners. Those together would still probably not deliver a plurality of the vote. Maliki flirted with allying with parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq’s National Dialogue Front after the 2009 balloting, but was attacked for it by the other Shiite parties who claimed Mutlaq was a Baathist. Mutlaq is now in discussions with former speaker of parliament Mahmoud al-Mashhadani of the National Dialogue Council, Vice President Tariq Hashemi of the Iraqi Islamic Party, former Prime Miniser Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National List, and Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani of the Constitution Party to form a new alliance. Bolani is said to be a candidate for prime minister, so it’s unlikely that Maliki would want to work with this grouping. After that there are only a plethora of smaller parties that tend to have very localized support.
Iraqi politics are in a state of flux. The Shiites along with the other ethnosectarian groups are fragmenting into smaller parties as the 2009 elections showed. This makes it much harder to form winning coalitions. Maliki may have to cobble together an ad hoc group of parties and hope for the best if he wants to be prime minister again. Even if he ran with the National Iraqi Alliance there was no guarantee he would hold onto the spot as the SIIC was only hoping to ride Maliki’s coattails back into power and then drop him afterwards. After the 2010 vote is completed and negotiations begin for a ruling coalition, the Prime Minister will also have to contend with the fact that the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (KDP) alliance is set against him, along with many in the Islamic Party. No matter what then, Maliki is facing an uphill battle after his spate of military and political victories in 2008 and 2009.
Alsumaria, “New Iraq political coalition in the offing,” 8/24/09
Associated Press, “New Shiite alliance excludes Iraqi prime minister,” 8/24/09
Aswat al-Iraq, “Fadhila party announces new alliance for next elections,” 8/10/09
- “Sunni leader envisions alliance with Maliki in next polls,” 7/26/09
Domergue, Jeremy and Cochrane, Marisa, “Balancing Maliki,” Institute for Understanding War, June 2009
Fox News, “Iraqi Clan Leader May Hold Key to Lasting Political Stability After U.S. Exit,” 4/4/09
Iraq The Model, “Accord Front Collapses, Sunni Tribes Seek Shiite Allies,” 8/15/09
- “Maliki promises a crackdown that could reach political figures,” 8/23/09
Kazimi, Nibras, “Announcing the ‘New’ UIA,” Talisman Gate, 8/24/09
- “Iraq: Alliances Galore,” Hudson Institute, 7/17/09
- “Iraq: Rumors Swirl,” Hudson Institute, 8/6/09
Londono, Ernesto, “Iraqi Shiite Parties Form Coalition Without Maliki,” Washington Post, 8/24/09
Myers, Steven Lee, “Iraqi Shiite Leaders Create Alliance, Minus Maliki,” New York times, 8/24/09
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Parker, Ned and Salman, Raheem, “In Basra, political skirmishing heats up as elections near,” Los Angeles Times, 12/28/08
Shadid, Anthony, “In Iraq, Political Ambiguity,” Washington Post, 4/4/09
Visser, Reidar, “After Sadr-Badr Compromise in Tehran, the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) Is Declared,” Historiae.org, 8/24/09
- “Claiming Nothing Has Really Changed, Fadila Rejects the Offer to Rejoin a ‘Reformed’ UIA,” Historiae.org, 7/17/09