Thursday, June 14, 2018

Iraq Moves Towards Another National Unity Government


(Baghdad Post)
Iraq’s leading lists have taken a major step towards creating a new government. Moqtada al-Sadr and Hadi Amiri of Badr announced an alliance between the two. Previously, Sadr’s Sairoon, Ammar Hakim’s Hikma and Vice President Iyad Allawi’s Wataniya agreed to cooperate. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said they supported the Sadr-Amiri deal. Sadr allegedly grew tired of talks with Prime Minister Haidar Abadi’s Nasr. Sadr wanted the premier to resign from his Dawa Party in return for a second term, but the PM would not budge. With those discussions going nowhere, and pressure from Iran, Sadr moved towards Amiri instead. This could be the basis for another national unity government like all the others since 2005 where al the major lists are included.

165 seats are necessary to form a majority and have the right to create a new government. Sairoon won 54 seats, Hikma 19, Wataniya 21, and Badr 22 for a total of 116. If all of the Fatah list, which Badr is part of were to be included that would be another 25 seats. Abadi’s Nasr will not want to be left out and has 47 seats. Added to the others that would be more than the 165 necessary, not to mention the 43 seats the KDP and PUK could add. Vice President Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law could be included as well, and it has 26 seats. Sadr originally said he wanted no part of Maliki, but one story claimed Iran talked him into accepting the vice president.

Several media sources believe that Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander General Qasim Suleimani was behind the Sadr-Amiri talks. Arab News reported that Suleimani was in Baghdad in May and told Amiri to have open talks with all the major parties. Al Mada said the general worked out a deal whereby Fatah and State of Law would be included in the government and in exchange the Hashd would be integrated into the security forces, and the Shiite lists would give up their objections to the election results. Maliki for example has been challenging the returns claiming widespread cheating, and Sadr has demanded that the Hashd be disbanded. Suleimani is now supposedly working on the Kurdish parties to get behind the Shiite lists. Iran has played a role in every government since 2005. Its main goal has been to unite the Shiite parties so that they can form a ruling coalition. This provides stability next door, and maintains its influence in Baghdad.

Now that a new alliance is forming the big question is whether Sadr will follow through with his campaign promises. He said he would form a technocratic government and end the ethnosectarian quota system that divides up all the top posts. Having another government where all the major parties are involved would seem to go against both of those goals. Parties join alliances so that they can obtain ministries and other positions not to carry out reforms that would deny them power. This year’s election has gone through many twists and turns so what the final government will look like is still up in the air. Right now however, it looks like the status quo will be maintained.

SOURCES

Al Aalem, “Source: Sadr waives…And demands Abadi to suspend his membership in the Dawa Party as a condition for a second term,” 5/20/18

Baghdad Today, “Information on the signing of an alliance between Sadr, Hakim and Allawi to form largest bloc,” 6/7/18
- “Soleimani exerted pressure on Sadr to form alliance with Amiri: sources,” 6/13/18

Iraq News Network, “Source: Suleimani in Kurdistan to unite Kurdish parties,” 6/13/18

Kullab, Samya, Tahir, Rawaz, Hussein, Mohammed, Van Heuvelen, Ben, “Election fraud dispute veers toward constitutional crisis,” Iraq Oil Report, 6/7/18

Al Mada, “Iranian mediation succeeded in ending the reservation of Sadr against al-Maliki and Khazali in exchange for Hashd weapons coming under control of the state,” 6/13/18

Rudaw, “KDP and PUK throw their support behind Fatih-Sayirun alliance,” 6/12/18
- “Sadr allies with Fatih, says alliances with Wataniya and Hikma remain,” 6/12/18

Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Nervous Iran races to secure Iraq interests,” Arab News, 6/6/18

Smyth, Phillip, “Iranian Militias in Iraq’s Parliament: Political Outcomes and U.S. Response,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 6/11/18


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