Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kurds And Supreme Council Re-Affirm Alliance Before 2010 Iraqi Elections

On January 12, 2010 the head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) and the Iraqi National Alliance Ammar al-Hakim traveled to Kurdistan. Hakim first went to Irbil where he met with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani and KRG Prime Minister Barham Salah. The next day Hakim traveled to Sulaymaniya where he met with Iraqi President and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) chief Jalal Talabani. These talks coincided with a conference between the political bureaus of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and PUK in Irbil. The purpose of Hakim’s visit was to solidify the alliance between the SIIC, KDP, and PUK before the March 2010 elections.

The result of the trip was an announcement by Hakim of plans to form a national coalition to rule the country after the voting this year. Hakim said that no party could run Iraq with just 51% of the seats in parliament, and that a broad based collection of lists would be needed instead. This is an attempt to replay 2005 and 2006 when the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance led by the SIIC joined with the KDP-PUK’s Kurdish Alliance to form the backbone of both Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s governments.

The SIIC and Kurds have had a long-standing relationship since the 1980s. That was when all three parties fought on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq War. After the fall of Saddam they took leadership positions in the U.S. created Iraqi Governing Council in 2003, and then the interim Iraqi government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in 2004. In the January and December 2005 national balloting, the SIIC led United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdish Alliance walked away with the lions share of the votes. In parliament they continued to work together to push through the 2005 constitution that included policies they advocated such as federalism and an article on Kirkuk, and a federal regions law in October 2006. They also worked actively to defeat or hold up legislation they were against like a new oil law, the provincial powers law, and the 2009 and 2010 provincial election laws.

Heading into the 2010 vote the two sides are hoping to maintain their relationship. Besides their advocacy for federalism, opposition to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also unites them. Any broad coalition they might attempt to form after the elections will likely be aimed at keeping Maliki out of a second term, and naming one of their own as the new prime minister of Iraq.

SOURCES

AK News, “MP: Ammar al-Hakim’s visit Kurdistan, confers with President Barzani,” 1/13/10

Associated Press, “A Look at Iraq’s New Interim Government,” 6/1/04

Aswat al-Iraq, “Barzani, Ammar al-Hakim discuss forming ‘wide national bloc’ in Iraq,” 1/12/10
- “Al-Hakim calls to resort to constitution to tackle problems between Arbil, Baghdad,” 1/13/10
- “Political bureaus of KDP, PUK meet in Arbil,” 1/13/10
- “President Talabani to meet SIIC chief in Sulaimaniya,” 1/13/10
- “PUK, KDP agree to form national bloc – al-Hakim,” 1/14/10

BBC, “Guide to Iraqi political parties,” 1/20/06

Burns, John and Glanz, James, “Iraqi Shiites Win, but Margin Is less Than Projection,” New York Times, 2/14/05

International Crisis Group, “Iraq After The Surge II: The Need for a New Political Strategy,” 4/30/88
- “Shiite Politics In Iraq: The Role Of The Supreme Council,” 11/15/07

Tyler, Patrick, “Iraq pieces together its first postwar governing council,” San Francisco Chronicle, 7/13/03

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