In the 2010 parliamentary elections, the Iraqi Accordance Front and the Unity of Iraq lists only won six and four seats respectively. That was a huge disappointment for both. The Accordance Front, led by the Iraqi Islamic Party, ran in the 2005 balloting, and came away with 44 seats. The Unity of Iraq list, made up of Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani’s Constitution Party, Sheikh Ahmad Abu Risha’s Anbar Awakening movement, former speaker of parliament Mahmoud al-Mashadani, and the Sunni Endowment, were hoping to win over the Sunni and nationalist vote with their claims of securing the country. Neither was successful. From December 2009 to January 2010 the Accordance Front fractured with members like Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraqi National Dialogue Council departing over charges that the Islamic Party was attempting to monopolize power. Before the 2010 vote, more members left, with many of them joining Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement such as Vice President Tariq Hashemi. The Unity of Iraq’s platform turned out to be indistinguishable from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law’s, and lacked its standing with the public. That resulted in both having poor showings at the ballot box.
Since the March election not much has been heard from either list until recently. On October 10, it was announced that the two would join together in the new Iraqi Centrist Alliance. Then it appeared to be playing Allawi off of Maliki in an attempt to gain as much influence as it possible could for such a minor list with only ten seats. On October 11, a member of the new alliance said that ten other parliamentarians were willing to join, and that it would then back the National Coalition made up of State of Law and the Sadrist-Supreme Council led Iraqi National Alliance. Then on October 13, the Iraqi National Movement claimed that it had 130 parliamentarians on its side to support current Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) member, for the premiership. The Iraqi Centrist Alliance was supposedly a member of this new group, but then the next day it denied any such alignment.
Iraqi politics has taken one gradual step with Moqtada al-Sadr’s recent about face on supporting Maliki. Now State of Law and the National Movement are focusing upon gaining the backing of the remaining parties, such as the Kurdish Coalition and the Centrist Alliance to reach 163 seats, which is the necessary majority in parliament to begin naming a premier. This turn of events, has led the rather minor Accordance Front and Unity of Iraq lists to try to maximize their positions with Allawi and Maliki by offering their support to the highest bidder. This explains the apparent flip-flop by the Centrist Alliance that at one time said they would join the National Coalition, and then the National Movement, and then announced it would explore its options instead. If it can work out a deal before the Kurds, who are the largest unaligned bloc, make up their mind it can probably get more positions in a new government than ten seats might otherwise be able to. If not, it faces the possibility of being an after thought, a coalition left out, or added at the end, just to maintain the image of a national unity government, which means it will get less. In the end, when all the personal rivalries are sorted out amongst Iraq’s major parties, all of them will be jockeying for key posts and ministries in a new ruling coalition, which will allow them to dole out patronage to maintain and build upon their supporters. No list wants to be left out of the spoils, which is why the Centrist Alliance is now making its move.
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I was mentioned in “Is Donald Trump to Raqqa and Mosul what Assad was to Aleppo?” by Alastair Sloan for Middle East Monitor.
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