Throughout the extended process of forming a new Iraqi government there have been rumors that Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement could be fracturing. By the end of 2010 for example, several major players in the list were threatening to leave to cut their own deal if Allawi didn’t agree to join a national unity coalition with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Iraqi National Coalition. Since then, every month brings more news of possible divisions within the National Movement.
The Iraqi National Movement is made up of several different political parties. The major ones are Allawi’s Iraqi National List, Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraqi National Dialogue Front, Speaker of Parliament Osama Nujafi’s Iraqiyoon, former Vice President Tariq Hashemi’s Renewal List, Minister of Finance Rafi Issawi’s Future Current, Jamal Karbuli’s Solution Movement, and Rafidain Son’s Movement. This has been a raucous group as many major players such as Allawi, Mutlaq, Nujafi, and Hashemi have large personalities, and their own individual agendas, which differ from each other. That’s been the source for the constant rumors of the list splitting. At the end of January 2011 for example, Parliamentarian Hassan Allawi, who was shut out of getting the Ministry of Culture, said that he and twelve others from the National Movement, were going to form their own faction. On February 13, a member said that a group of lawmakers from the list were going to form an opposition movement in parliament. Finally on February 23, two-thirds of the National Movement gave a petition to President Jalal Talabani in favor of Qutaiba Jabouri to be the candidate for one of the three vice presidencies rather than Tariq Hashemi. This came after the list had kicked out Jabouri two days beforehand. Jabouri told the press that Allawi was against this move, and blamed Mutlaq and Hashemi for plotting against him and having him dismissed. Despite all this talk, the list has stuck together and continued its negotiations with Maliki. The number of stories has increased however, and become more and more specific with people going public rather than just relying upon anonymous sources and rumors.
As long as talks over finalizing the government drag on, these reports of Allawi’s list breaking apart are likely to continue. Many parliamentarians are getting frustrated at Prime Minister Maliki for his foot dragging, others are blaming Allawi, while others are thinking about themselves, and are willing to jump ship for their own personal gain. Allawi needs to keep his group together if he wants to maximize his leverage, but he has already lost much of that after he agreed to join the government with many of his members gaining offices, while he was left out in the cold waiting for the National Council for Strategic Policies to be created. This tension will continue as long as Allawi remains on the outside looking in on the new ruling coalition.
Alsumaria, “Two thirds of Iraqiya members name Jibouri as VP,” 2/23/11
Aswat al-Iraq, “Opposition Front expected to form inside Iraqi Parliament, MP says,” 2/13/11
Dodge, Toby, “Iraq’s perilous political carve-up,” International Institute for Strategic Studies, 11/16/10
Leland, John and Healy, Jack, “After Months, Iraqi Lawmakers Approve a Government,” New York Times, 12/21/10
Mohsen, Majida, “Al-Iraqiya dismisses reports of split,” AK News, 12/15/10
Al-Mada, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Al-Zaman, “Al-Maliki Reneges on Commitments to Allawi; Frustration Intensifies,” MEMRI Blog, 1/31/11