The Iraqi press has begun to talk about a new possible ruling coalition that would break the current deadlock. The main parties involved would be the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement, and the Kurdish Coalition. According to the media current Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi of the SIIC would become premier, the presidency would go to Allawi, and the Kurdish Coalition would get the speaker of parliament. There would be one vice president, which would require new legislation to create since the current tripartite presidency is due to expire when a new government is formed. That post would be offered to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law. There would also be three deputy prime ministers, which would be divided between State of Law, the National Movement, and the Kurds.
Allegedly the major parties involved have also agreed to a formula to divide up the major ministries as well. The National Movement would receive nine, State of Law seven, the National Alliance and Kurdish Coalition four a piece, the Iraqi Accordance Front two, and the Communist Party, Christians, and Yazidis one each. The Defense and Interior Ministries would be given to independents. The Foreign Ministry would go to a Sunni of the National Movement in an effort to re-integrate Iraq into the Arab world. The Kurds would control the Oil Ministry, and either the National Alliance of State of Law would get the Ministry of Finance.
There are two contentious points in the proposed deal. First the Supreme Council is supposedly joining this coalition on its own, not as part of the National Alliance. This is to exclude the Sadrists, who are said to be promoting former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari or Iraqi National Congress head Ahmad Chalabi as alternatives to Mahdi within the List. It’s also been said that Sadr is asking for the end of the State of Forces Agreement with the U.S., and either the Interior or Defense Ministries, which no one is willing to give him. Washington has also been pushing to keep the Sadrists out of any new government because it considers them Tehran’s closest allies in Iraq. The Americans are against the SIIC for the same reason as well. The other major problem is that the plan would require changes in the constitution. When a new government is put together the presidency will lose its veto power and be reduced to a ceremonial position, while there will be no more vice presidents. The new regime idea calls for giving the president’s post powers again to appease Allawi, and creating a vice president post that could be offered to Maliki.
On the other hand, there are incentives for the major lists involved to agree to this proposal. The National Alliance and Kurds will recognize the National Movement as the winner of the election, which is what they have been calling for all along, and Allawi will get a newly empowered presidency. The Supreme Council will get the top post in the country, the premiership, and be able to break away from the Sadrists who they were afraid of being eclipsed by since they won the majority of seats within the National Alliance. The Kurdish Coalition will get the speaker of parliament that is more influential than the presidency, and the Oil Ministry, which will end their conflict with Baghdad over petroleum exploration and exports. Both the National Alliance and National Movement have been opposed to Maliki’s return to the premiership, and this will plan will marginalize him by either giving him a minor position or pushing him into the opposition. Some of the smaller parties, even the Communists who did not win a seat in the new legislature, will be included as well. Together, the Supreme Council with 17 seats, the National Movement with 91, and the Kurds with 57 will have 165 total, two more than is necessary to have a majority in the 325 member parliament. If the Accordance Front, Christians, and Yazidis were also included that would give them twelve more seats. The question now is whether this story has any legs or if it is just the latest rumor running through Iraq’s political class.
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