Thursday, May 29, 2014

Re-Forming National Alliance May Be Waste Of Time For Iraq’s Shiite Parties

Since Iraq held parliamentary elections on April 30, 2014 the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) led by Ammar Hakim and the Ahrar bloc led by Moqtada al-Sadr have moved to re-form the National Alliance, which emerged during the last round of balloting in 2010. Hakim and Sadr have talked about institutionalizing the alliance as the representative of the Shiite religious parties and make it the main decision maker as to who should be nominated prime minister. The problem is that it seeks to include Premier Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law (SOL), while opposing his third term in office. This means that this entire exercise may be a futile act.
Sadr (left) and Hakim (right) have been trying to bring back the National Alliance to stop Maliki from a third term but it is unlikely to work (Al Kashf)

As soon as voting was over in Iraq the major Shiite religious parties began talking about the National Alliance (NA). On April 30, the day of the balloting ISCI head Ammar Hakim called for the NA to be brought back. Ten days later Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Fadhila party made similar comments, and then on May 13, members of the National Alliance met with Maliki. Since then much of the talk has been about making the coalition a formal organization that represents the Shiite parties, and therefore has the right to name the prime minister. The Sadrists and Supreme Council have been trying to set up formal rules to make this happen. At the same time they want to include a two-term limit on the premiership. Shiites are the majority of the population in Iraq, and because of the ethnosectarian quota system they receive the premiership. What ISCI and the Sadrists are trying to do is simply codify control over that position. At the same time they want to prevent Maliki from maintaining his office.

Therein lies the problem with the alliance. State of Law has stated that since it won the most seats in the balloting the National Alliance should follow its lead and approve Maliki as prime minister again. It has also mentioned forming a government without the coalition. Sadr and Hakim have little leverage over the situation right now. Even if they were able to get Fadhila and Ibrahim Jaafari’s National Reform Movement the two other members of the Alliance to join them they would only have 77 seats compared to SOL’s 95. Only if Maliki came to them for support and they were able to remain unified, which is not a given would they have some say.

The National Alliance may have passed its prime. Sadr and Hakim are hoping that the coalition will allow them to name the next prime minister. The problem is that they oppose Maliki and he will never go along with their attempts to block him from a third term. Instead of trying to bring back the NA the Sadrists and ISCI would be better served if they started negotiations with other Maliki opponents such as Kurdish President Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Speaker of Parliament Osama Nujafi’s Mutahidun, and Iyad Allawi’s Nationalists. Together they could pose a real counter to Maliki. Instead they are fighting a losing battle within the National Alliance.


Hasan, Harith, “Prospects of Shiite ‘National Alliance’ hinge on Maliki,” Al Monitor, 5/22/14

Iraq Times, “National Coalition declares its readiness for an alliance with the state of law in the absence of Maliki’s nomination for a third term,” 5/22/14

Al Mada, “National Alliance held a meeting in the presence of al-Maliki: securing a good atmosphere between the government and the parliament is necessary,” 5/13/14

New Sabah, “”Citizens” and “Liberals” talking about “strong government” and Erbil raise the ceiling demands: annexation of Kirkuk and Khanaqin,” 5/22/14

Al Rafidayn, “Hakim: We still start from now re-formation of the National Alliance,” 4/30/14
- “Maliki and the Virtue Party underline the importance of activating the National Alliance to build a strong government,” 5/10/14
- “State of Law: we will form a government without reference to the National Alliance,” 5/10/14

Al Rayy, “The political body of the National Alliance emphasizes the need to “develop” rules of procedure,” 5/22/14

Shafaq News, “Ahrar bloc: We will face the difficulty in adopting rules of procedure of the National Alliance for one reason,” 5/26/14
- “Jaafari Movement: The quest to define the mandate of Prime Minister is contrary to the Constitution,” 5/27/14
- “National Alliance agree on writing internal system and mechanism of decision-making by naming Prime Minister,” 5/18/14

Yunus, Muhammad, “Analyst: National Alliance differences may lead to disintegration,” Radio Free Iraq, 5/26/14

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