A day after Prime Minister Haidar Abadi announced that he had made a deal with the Hashd’s Fatah list it was cancelled. January 11 was the Election Commission’s deadline to sign up coalitions for the upcoming vote. Instead of ending talks between parties, it seemed to only accelerate them even though they could no longer run together. At that time, Prime Minister Haidar Abadi was in discussions with the Fatah group made up of 20 pro-Iran Hashd factions. The two disagreed over where Abadi and Fatah leader Hadi Amiri of Badr would be on the ballot, each wanted to be listed first, with talk that the latter also wanted to replace Abadi as prime minister. Those differences were overcome, and the two signed an agreement on January 14. That just meant the two would cooperate as they could not be an official alliance. Abadi had two inspirations for this move. First, was to isolate Vice President Nouri al-Maliki who was hoping to depose Abadi. The VP aligned with the pro-Iran Hashd during the war against the Islamic State hoping to achieve that, but in recent months they have moved away from each other. Second, Abadi wanted to hold onto the premiership, so even though he and Fatah have diametrically opposed views on Iraq he was willing to come to an agreement with them for short term gain. Within a day however, the two moved apart.
There were a number of reasons for why Fatah and Nasr split. Al Aalem reported that Abadi changed his mind due to the high level of criticism he received from places like Najaf. Moqtada al-Sadr was also incensed because he believed he and Abadi were going to work together to limit the power of the pro-Iran Hashd, which also consisted of Sadr’s biggest rivals. Rather than isolate Fatah, Abadi was willing to bring them into the fold. Abadi then set a number of impossible conditions on Fatah that made them withdraw. Announcements from Fatah appeared to be face saving such as claims that the election law favored medium not large lists and that Nasr represented the corrupt political class. In the end, this marriage was always one of convenience. Fatah and Abadi have diametrically opposed views. They were only willing to work with each other for short term political gain in the 2018 elections. Now that Fatah has left, it opens the door to Maliki playing the spoiler again.
Al Aalem, “What is the secret to the disintegration of the Nasr coalition hours after its announcement?” 1/15/18
Anadolu Agency, “2 Shia blocs withdraw from Iraq PM’s coalition,” 1/15/18
Buratha News, “Electoral Commission: There is no extension on the period for alliances,” 1/11/18
Iraq News Network, “Amiri: I am the next prime minister thanks to the voice of the crowd and the Supreme Leader and my deputies,” 1/13/18
- “Al-Asaib: Our withdrawal from Abadi’s list tactical,” 1/15/18
- “Badr: All faction of the crowd withdraw from the Nasr list,” 1/15/18
Al Maalomah, “Leading story: Al Fatah Alliance includes 20 faction of the popular crowd,” 1/11/18
- “Sources confirm the accession of Hikmat with Nasr,” 1/14/18
Al Mada, “Abadi is allied with the crowd and provokes Sadr’s indignation,” 1/14/18
Mostafa, Mohamed, “Newspaper: differences hinder Abadi’s election alliance with PMF,” Iraqi News, 1/13/18
Rasheed, Ahmed, “Iraqi PM Abadi to seek re-election, in alliance with Iran-backed group,” Reuters, 1/13/18
Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Iraqi PM signs election pact with PMU leaders,” Arab News, 1/14/18