Abu Dhabi’s The National talked with a senior member of the Iraqi National Movement who said that there are now two factions within the list. One group led by Allawi refuses to join any government led by Nouri al-Maliki. On November 2, 2010 for example, he told the press that he was considering going into the opposition because he wasn’t willing to join a regime that wasn’t going to work. Since then, other members of the INM have said similar things. Another faction wants to join a ruling coalition as long as they get senior positions. England’s The Independent claimed that 40 of the INM’s 91 parliamentarians are willing to accept the current premier holding onto office. This group may include
leading figures such as Deputy Prime Minister Rafi Issawi, leader of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front Saleh al-Mutlaq, and Osama Nujafi, whose brother runs the al-Hadbaa party in Ninewa. A sign of their willingness to compromise was seen on November 10, when after a meeting in Baghdad Issawi and Mutlaq held a private conference with Maliki.
Different priorities are likely driving this division within the National Movement. Allawi’s main motivation appears to be sour grapes. He has consistently stated that as the winner of the most seats in the March election he has the exclusive right to form a new government. That was usurped early on by Maliki when his State of Law joined with the Sadrist-Supreme Council led Iraqi National Alliance, and formed the Iraqi National Coalition in May who then said they were the largest list in parliament. With the Sadrists, Fadhila, and tacitly the Kurds all now behind Maliki, Allawi has little to no chance of becoming prime minister again. Bitterness at being the victor in March, but coming away empty handed when it comes to the premiership appears to be a driving force for Allawi. He has also mentioned undue Iranian influence and meddling as another issue, seeing Maliki and the Sadrists as leaning towards Tehran too much for his liking. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries may be encouraging Allawi in this positions as they are weary of Iran’s growing power in the region. The other element within the INM may be looking at several factors. One is that they along with others are all concerned about Maliki’s increasingly autocratic behavior in the last two years, and believe that being inside the government rather than out, especially if they receive important positions, could check the prime minister’s actions. If they went into the opposition, it would just be ceding power to Maliki. Another could be purely selfish as joining a new ruling coalition will mean ministries and other government offices, and those equal patronage and jobs to be dealt out to followers. Finally, Issawi, Mutlaq, and Nujafi could unite with Maliki on nationalist issues such as Kirkuk that would prove to be a counter balance to the Kurds later on.
Iraq’s parliament is supposed to meet today November 11. Allawi could be a no show. If Issawi and company appear that could be a sign of the break within the National Movement. Of course, Iraq is bereft in such rumors so until something more concrete is reported these stories should be taken with a grain a salt, and be seen as just the latest story to float around Baghdad.
Chulov, Martin, “Ayad Allawi ready to quit power-sharing talks and lead Iraqi opposition,” Guardian, 11/2/10
Cockburn, Patrick, “Eight months without a government. Can Iraq’s leaders finally do a deal?” Independent, 11/9/10
Fadel, Leila, “Iraqi political leaders scramble ahead of mandated parliament session,” Washington Post, 11/9/10
Latif, Nizar, “Iraqi parties fail to strike deal,” The National, 11/9/10
Roads To Iraq, “The creation of the Sectarian Maliki(te) Republic of Iraq,” 11/10/10
Visser, Reidar, “Contours of a Deal in the Making?” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 11/10/10