Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday’s Meeting In Irbil Leads To No Breakthrough On Forming New Iraqi Government

 Maliki, Talabani, Allawi (l to r) at the Irbil meeting
Source: Agence France Presse

On Monday November 8, 2010 all of Iraq’s major political leaders including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi National Movement head Iyad Allawi, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met face to face in the Kurdish capital of Irbil. The day before, government spokesman Ali Dabbagh, who is a member of State of Law, claimed that Maliki and Allawi would formally announce a power sharing agreement at the conference. Instead, the party heads met for 90-minutes, talked with the press, and then departed. All the same people are due to talk again on November 9 in Baghdad.

Despite the failure to come to an agreement, Iraqi politics has progressed. When Moqtada al-Sadr decided to back Maliki at the beginning of October, it basically assured his return to the premiership. Since then the Kurds and the Fadhila Party have openly and tacitly come out for Maliki as well. The main sticking point now is getting Allawi’s list to join a national unity government. KRG President Barzani has been pushing for a round table meeting of 8-12 representatives of the major lists to resolve their outstanding issues, and they have come up with three draft papers on a national security council, a national unity government, and the control and reorganization of the security forces. 

The main sticking point now appears to be the division of the major posts. State of Law and the Kurds have been offering Maliki as prime minister, Talabani as president and Allawi or someone from his list as speaker of parliament. Members of the National Movement however have brought up Allawi as president as an alternative. This is something supported by the U.S. and Turkey. Some in the National Movement believe that the presidency is a more prominent position, and that it can be a counter to Maliki as premier. That would only be true if the constitution is changed and the president is given expanded powers, because under the new government the Presidential Council will cease to exist and the presidency will revert to a largely ceremonial position. An additional problem is that the Kurds have said they will not give up the president’s office, and hence the deadlock continues.


 Arraf, Jane, "U.S. calls for Iraqi president to step down, amid more bomb attacks," Christian Science Monitor, 11/8/10

Aswat al-Iraq, “Blocs’ leaders will not form government in two meetings – Allawi,” 11/8/10
- “”Several suspended issues were not settled” VP,” 11/8/10

Aziz, Raber, “Iraqi leaders break “psychological barrier” to settle disputes,” AK News, 11/8/10
- “Prominent Iraqiya leader not optimistic about Erbil meeting,” AK News, 11/8/10

Hanna, Michael, “The Race for the Iraqi Presidency,” Middle East Channel, Foreign Policy, 3/11/10

Al-Hayat, Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Aljewar, Alcauther, “The Political Scene in Iraq Remains Confusing – A Status Report,” MEMRI Blog, 11/8/10

Al-Jaaf, Wisam, “Al-Iraqiya renews its claim on the Presidency,” AK News, 11/6/10

Salman, Raheem and Parker, Ned, “Top Iraqi political leaders discuss forming new government,” Los Angeles Times, 11/8/10


Maury said...

This can still go either way Joel. Each coalition has about 130 votes of 163 needed. Whichever side the Kurds choose will form the next government. Conventional wisdom says they'll go with Maliki, but you just never know.

Joel Wing said...


Everything I'm reading says that the Kurds will back Maliki. It's now all about trying to get Allawi on board, and his list is split. It's been said that he doesn't want anything to do with Maliki, while another faction is willing to compromise.