Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Allawi To Join National Alliance?

The Arab press is reporting that former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has either agreed to or is in the process of joining the new Iraqi National Alliance (INA) put together by the main Shiite parties such as the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) and the Sadrists. While members of the SIIC are publicly denying it, Allawi has supposedly agreed to join the coalition in return for being their candidate for Prime Minister. Although this would seem to be an alliance of complete opposites, since Allawi appeals to many Sunnis and former regime members and the SIIC and Sadrists are opposed to the return of Baathists, what they have in common is a desire to block Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from returning to the top position in Iraq.

Some stories say that the inclusion of Allawi divided the National Alliance. The Sadrists conducted the negotiations, which the Supreme Council was opposed to because they were talking with Maliki. The Supreme Council and the Prime Minister’s Dawa were supposedly deep into talks with the latter even giving up the demand that Maliki be the Alliance’s only candidate for prime minister. Recently for example, the new head of the SIIC, Ammar al-Hakim gave a speech keeping the door open for Maliki to join the INA. This was part of a larger struggle for leadership of the Alliance between the two factions.

The National Alliance still has additional moves ahead and needs to define itself. First, they seem to be planning a raid on Dawa members, hoping to draw some away from Maliki. Second, Allawi will probably have to compete with Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi for the nomination of prime minister. Third, the INA has no platform. The only thing they have in common is opposition to Maliki, but that’s not something they can openly run on. In fact, if Allawi does ultimately join the coalition, it’s likely to muddle their message even more since it would include both secularists and Islamists, centralists and federalists, critics and friends of the Kurds, opponents and sympathizers with the Baathists, etc.

SOURCES

?, “Source in the “coalition” is likely to hold a preliminary deal with Allawi’s list to reduce the chances of winning the list of al-Maliki,” 9/22/09

Ahmed, Hamid, “Iraqi Shiite leader appeals for unity before vote,” Associated Press, 9/21/09

Roads To Iraq, “Iraqi pre-election political map – The Shiites scene,” 9/21/09

Visser, Reidar, “Why an Allawi-Hakim Alliance would Mean Retrogression in Iraq,” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 9/21/09

Al-Zawraa Media Network, “Supreme Council denies Allawi’s nomination to lead the next government for joining the coalition,” 9/22/09

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