Monday, February 22, 2010

Former PM Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement Breaking Apart

Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement list that is running in the March 2010 parliamentary election is quickly breaking apart. One of the major Sunni members of his bloc, the Iraqi National Dialogue Front of Parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq recently announced that they would boycott the election because of Mutlaq’s banning by the Accountability and Justice Commission for alleged Baathist ties. Mutlaq claimed that his barring was the work of Iran that controlled the Commission, and that they were tainting the vote. The party is also protesting the arrest of one its members in Diyala at the beginning of February by government forces. The boycott is not a complete one however, as members of Mutlaq’s party will reportedly still participate in the balloting in Tamim province, stating that the situation in Kirkuk requires them to.

The Dialogue Front is said to be upset with the National Movement as well. It feels that it didn’t support Mutlaq enough during his problems with the Accountability and Justice Commission. The National Dialogue Front’s announcement also came right after the National Movement said that it would participate in the elections despite the problems with their candidates and the anti-Baathist campaign.

Just a few days before, one of the smaller coalition members in the National Movement, the Authentic Arab Gathering, said that it was leaving Allawi’s list too. It quoted differences in views, and that it would be joining parliamentarian Mithal al-Alusi’s National Party instead.

Allawi’s list was considered the main nationalist rival to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law heading into the March elections. After the Prime Minister’s coalition won pluralities across the south and Baghdad during the January 2009 provincial balloting, it backed away from its nationalist and security based campaign due to the bombings against Iraq’s ministries in Baghdad that hurt Maliki’s standing. Instead, he turned to his Shiite base by joining the anti-Baathist campaign started by the Accountability and Justice Commission, which opened the door to Allawi’s National Movement to assume the mantle of the leading secular list in the March vote. Now he has lost one of his main allies, Mutlaq, and one of his smaller coalition members, the Arab Gathering. That probably means the nationalist vote will be even more diluted and divided. At the same time, no other party seems willing to join Mutlaq’s boycott. If he doesn’t change his mind he will lose the 11 seats the National Dialogue Front currently holds in parliament, and can only hope that his party does well in Tamim to maintain any official role in Iraqi politics. Mutlaq could come out the biggest loser in the end, more than Allawi.

SOURCES

Alsumaria, “Candidates withdraw from Al Iraqiya List,” 2/18/10

Myers, Steven Lee, “In Turmoil, Sunni Party in Iraq Calls for Vote Boycott,” New York Times, 2/21/10

Al-Rafidayn, “Key Sunni Group to Boycott Iraqi Elections,” MEMRI Blog, 2/19/10

Roads To Iraq, “Mutlaq’s National Front drops out of the elections? Not exactly,” 2/20/10

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