As Iraq’s parties complain and contest the counting of the votes that were cast on March 7, 2010 for the country’s next parliament, those same lists are already hard at work trying to put together a new ruling coalition. On March 9 for example, former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of the Iraqi National Alliance was quoted as saying that he felt a “conviction” to join with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law. The next day, Vice President Tariq Hashemi who ran as part of the Iraqi National Movement met with Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) leader Ammar al-Hakim, who is part of the National Alliance. For his part, Hakim courted the Kurds at a press conference on March 11 saying that they were an essential part of the country. The Kurdish Alliance, made up of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), are demanding that PUK leader Jalal Talabani return as President of Iraq. Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani already nominated Talabani for the post, while a parliamentary member of the Alliance said that the presidency would be a key demand. Finally, a member of State of Law said that it wouldn’t give up on its current allies in the government, the Supreme Council and the Kurdish Alliance.
Anything is possible in Iraqi politics, and the results of the election are only slowing trickling out, but early signs point to the current ruling coalition of Maliki’s Dawa led State of Law, the SIIC, KDP, and PUK joining together once again as they did in 2005. There were plenty of hints and rumors before the election that the State of Law and National Alliance were going to re-unite afterward. The Kurdish Alliance wants to maintain its influence in Baghdad, and has a long-standing relationship with the Supreme Council dating back to before the U.S. invasion in 2003. SIIC leader Hakim said back in January 2010 that the two had already agreed to a post-election deal. The National Alliance on the other hand, looks to be finishing a disappointing third behind the State of Law and National Movement, so maintaining the current line-up of the government would allow them to hold onto power. Finally Maliki’s main priority has always been to return as prime minister. He would’ve joined the National Alliance back in late 2009 if they had promised him that. Although he’s had disagreements with both the National and Kurdish Alliances in the past, holding onto his position is more important, and will likely lead him to make concessions to the two to gain their support. That could also mean shutting out former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s National Movement. The National Alliance already targeted Allawi’s list before and after the vote by banning their candidates through the Accountability and Justice Commission, which the National Alliance controls. Members of Allawi’s list have also said that they want an Arab to be president, which would be unacceptable to the Kurds. What direction the leading lists will actually take will be revealed soon enough as the Iraqi Election Commission announce their findings in the coming days.
AK News, “Ammar al-Hakim: The Kurds will always be main partners in Iraq,” 3/11/10
- “Maliki seeks coalition after March polls,” 3/1/10
- “Post of President “crucial point” for Kurds in forging alliances,” 3/10/10
Alsumaria, “Hashimi meets Hakim, tackle post elections,” 3/10/10
- “Al Maliki surprises Iraqi National Coalition,” 1/7/10
Aswat al-Iraq, “Maliki’s bloc member says fresh mechanism to activate quadruple alliance needed,” 3/11/10
- “Presidency of Kurdistan nominates Talabani President of Iraq,” 3/10/10
- “PUK, KDP agree to form national bloc – al-Hakim,” 1/14/10
- “State of Law to ally with National Coalition to achieve majority-official,” 1/11/10
Dawlat Al-Qanon Network, “Al-Maliki Answers Reporters’ Questions Online,” MEMRI Blog, 12/8/09
Najm, Hayder, “coalition possible, constitution vital, says jaafari,” Niqash, 3/9/10
Al-Qabas, Al-Watan, Baghdad Times, Al-Hayat, Al-Zaman, “Iraq Votes – Part IV,” MEMRI Blog, 3/11/10
Shadid, Anthony and Arango, Tim, “In Early Tally, Tight Race Deepens Splits,” New York Times, 3/11/10
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, “Al-Maliki Meeting With Al-Sistani Indicates Approaching Alliance with Shi’a Coalition,” MEMRI Blog, 1/5/10