Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 2008 UNICEF Report on Iraq

UNICEF recently released a report on Iraq. It not only focused upon the country’s children, but health, education, poverty, and the displaced. The organization said that with the reduction in violence there was greater access to Iraq’s communities. That was revealing more examples of poverty and deprivation than anyone knew about previously.

The biggest issue UNICEF reported on was a developing measles threat. It said that nine provinces had reported measles affecting 6,000 people since early 2008. The Iraqi Ministry of Health is worried that it could spread. Najaf, Sulamaniya, Irbil, Maysan, and Dohuk were endangered by this disease, while a more recent report from the United Nations’ IRIN news agency said that Salahaddin, Tamim, Anbar, Diyala, Baghdad, Babil and Dhi Qar were hit the hardest. Most victims were small children under the age of six. Government officials said that the main cause of the spread of measles was the lack of security, which kept health workers out of many areas.

The United Nations agency also went to a few schools in the northern provinces of Diyala, Irbil, and Dohuk. All of them were lacking basic services, especially access to clean water. In Dohuk the schools lacked bathrooms, while children in two villages in Irbil were suffering from water born diseases.

The displaced was another issue the report dealt with. In Tamim, 900 children were found begging on the streets of Kirkuk. 100 of them were orphans. Around half were internal refugees. All of them were trying to support their impoverished families. Internal refugees that were returning to the province lacked shelter, and access to water and sanitation. In Basra 250 squatters in an old navy had no sanitation, health care, or clean water. On the positive side 1,325 displaced families returned to the city of Mosul in Ninewa.

In 2008 Iraq suffered a sever drought. The worst hit areas were in the north. UNICEF traveled to Irbil and Ninewa and saw the drought’s lingering effects. In two areas of Irbil there was high poverty exacerbated by the lack of water that destroyed their farms, which were also their main source of food.

Examples of impoverishment were also found in Anbar. The outskirts of the province had deep poverty. Two areas by Ramadi that suffered because of the violence are now improving because the government has started programs for children. They still lack adequate health, sanitation and other basic services however.

The last part of the report detailed the various projects UNICEF was working on in Iraq. So far, the organization has committed $8 million for humanitarian projects in 59 communities. Those have mainly focused upon water, schools, and health campaigns. The major problem is that United Nations can hardly meet its obligations. UNICEF is short 89% of the money it needs for its various programs.

UNICEF is hoping that the provincial elections will lead to more responsible local governments that will address the needs of the country’s children. They are afraid about the spread of measles. The lack of services is also a large problem across the country. Iraq’s infrastructure has not been kept up because of the violence. Even as that has declined, there is still large-scale neglect. Finally poverty is another major issue. It has led to children begging, and kept them from going to school. More and more of these cases are being discovered as attacks have declined. The lack of money for both the United Nations and the Iraqi government after the fall in oil prices will probably mean these issues will not be solved any time soon however.


IRIN, “IRAQ: Measles emerges in violence-hit regions,” 2/24/09

UNICEF, “UNICEF Humanitarian Action Update Iraq,” 2/17/09

Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama’s Withdrawal and American Public Opinion

Today Friday February 27 President Obama outlined his plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq. In a speech at a Marine base he said that roughly two-thirds of U.S. troops would be out of Iraq by August 2010. The Pentagon presented the president with three withdrawal plans. These were a 16-month plan, what Pres. Obama promised in his election campaign, a 19-month one, and a 23 month one. As reported before, the U.S. commander in Iraq General Odierno had been advocating for keeping as many American troops in the country as possible, and withdrawing them very slowly. The president apparently picked a middle course between his election promise and Odierno’s wishes by going with the 19-month plan. Even after that’s complete, up to 50,000 U.S. troops could remain in Iraq for training, supply, intelligence, and the external defense of Iraq. CBS News and the New York Times recently released a public opinion poll on Iraq that found the American public agreeing with the President’s timeline.

On February 23, 2009 CBS News and the New York Times released the latest American public opinion poll on Iraq. The survey asked 1,112 people questions by phone from February 18 to 22. It included 315 Republicans, 397 Democrats, and 400 independents.

When asked what country should be the focus of the United States Iraq was still number one by just one percentage point. 36% said Iraq was the most important, followed by Afghanistan 35%, Iran 10%, North Korea 7%, and something else or a combination 4%.

When queried on how they thought things were going in Iraq almost two-thirds said things were well. 11% said very well, 52% said somewhat well, 20% said somewhat badly, 9% replied very badly, and 8% didn’t know or did not respond. Overall 63% felt things were good in Iraq compared to 29% who said the situation was bad. That was the highest amount of positive responses since a December 2003 poll. At that time 65% said things were well in Iraq, and 33% said they were bad. By June 2007 the mood had flipped with only 22% saying things were good in Iraq, compared to 77% who felt it was bad. In a December 2008 survey, the mood change could be seen with 56% saying things were well, and 39% saying it was bad. Now would appear to be the most opportune time to pull out U.S. forces as over 60% of those polled feel that things are good in Iraq. If more thought Iraq was going badly the administration would probably be attacked for withdrawing under duress.

Public feelings on such a move was another question in the poll. Based upon President Obama’s original plan to pull out troops within 16 months, the poll asked how important that was. 46% said it was very important, 32% said somewhat, 10% said not too important, 8% said not important at all, and 4% either didn’t know or had no answer.

Early on in his campaign President Obama committed to withdrawing troops from Iraq. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between Iraq and the United States says that all U.S. troops have to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. The majority of U.S. forces will now be about before that deadline. The public opinion poll shows that the American public largely supports this move. The remaining force of several thousand will be there to ensure stability. There’s a good chance that many of these will even stay beyond 2011 if General Odierno has his way. They can remain if the Iraqi government agrees to it. Before than however, the U.S. needs to show that it is committed to pulling out troops because in July of this year Iraq will have a referendum on the SOFA. If it is not passed American soldiers and marines would have to be out by the end of 2009.

CBS News/New York Times Poll February 23, 2009

Which country should be the focus of the U.S. government?
Iraq 36%
Afghanistan 35%
Iran 10%
North Korea 7%
Something else or combination 4%
Don’t know/no answer 8%

How are things going for the U.S. in Iraq?

Very well 11%
Somewhat well 52%
Somewhat badly 20%
Very badly 9%
Don’t know/no answer 8%

Comparing February 2009 Poll to December 2008, June 2007, and December 2003 Polls
Feb. 2009: 63% well, 29% bad
Dec. 08: 56% well, 39% bad
June 07: 22% well, 77% bad
Dec. 03: 65% well, 33% bad

How important is it for the U.S. to withdraw troops in 16 months?
Very important 46%
Somewhat important 32%
Not too important 10%
Not important at all 8%
Don’t know/no answer 4%


Barnes, Julian, “Compromise on Iraq withdrawal timeline appears near,” Los Angeles Times, 2/25/09

BBC, “Obama outlines Iraq pullout plan,” 2/27/09

CBS News/New York Times, “Iraq, Afghanistan, And Iran February 18-22, 2009,” 2/23/09

DeYoung, Karen and Kornblut, Anne, “Obama Sets Timetable for Iraq,” Washington Post, 2/28/09

Rubin, Alissa and Robertson, Campbell, “Iraq Backs Deal That Sets End of U.S. Role,” New York Times, 11/27/08

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Iran Tried To Trade Security In Basra For Nuclear Program

At the end of February 2009 the BBC is going to air a program “Iran and the West: Nuclear confrontation.” In the show they interview Sir John Sawers, the British ambassador to the U.N. He claims that Iran sent messages to England that they would help improve security and political stability in Basra in return for allowing Tehran to work on its nuclear program. At the time the Iranians were deeply involved in supporting a variety of Shiite militias in the city that were attacking British troops.

Beginning in late 2003 Iran began negotiating with Britain, France, and Germany over its nuclear program. The talks did not go well with Iran refusing to back off. At one point, the Iranians did offer a deal. According to Ambassador Sawers, the Iranians left several messages for the three European countries that involved Basra. Tehran said they would stop attacks on British troops in the city as well as halt undermining the Iraqi political system in return for Britain, France, and Germany accepting Iran’s nuclear program. The Iranians were intent on continuing work on their project. Sawers said the British did not accept the offer.

The Iranians started exerting influence over Basra immediately after the U.S. invasion. In March 2003 Iran’s leaders President Mohammad Khatami and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei decided that they would deploy the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council’s Badr Brigade to several Iraqi cities after the U.S. attack including Basra. At the time the militia was a formal part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force, and received up to $20 million a year in funding from them. The Qods Force also used front groups like the Iranian Red Crescent to infiltrate Basra.

Eventually Tehran began supporting a wide variety of Shiite militias in Basra to carry out attacks on the British. In 2005 they were supplying Iraqi militias with the Explosively Formed Projectile (EFPs) roadside bombs that were used against the English forces. Iran also offered $300 a month to anyone that would carry out attacks on the British. In October 2005 the British said that they captured a Mahdi Army commander who admitted to using EFPs, and blamed Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah for supplying them. Basra also became a major transit point for the Qods Force to ship weapons to militias they supported throughout southern Iraq. By mid-2007 the U.S. and British claimed that these supplies had increased with larger caliber rockets being provided to militias. Earlier in March 2007 breakaway militia commander Qais Khazali, his brother Laith, and Hezbollah commander Ali Mussa Daqduq were arrested in Basra. Qais Khazali had once been one of the leaders of the Sadrist movement, helping keep it alive during the Saddam era. In 2004 however he broke away to form his own group, and was eventually named the leader of what became known as the Special Groups by Iran. Daqduq was sent to Iraq to coordinate Hezbollah’s work with the Qods Force.

While the British were focused upon Iran’s military policy in Basra, Tehran also began increasing economic ties. In July 2005 the two countries signed an export deal to ship 150,000 barrels of Iraqi oil per day to Iran for refining. Basra also imported electricity from Iran. Iranian products flooded the Basra market. England’s Guardian reported that Iran was using friendly militias to intimidate local merchants to buy Iranian goods. A free trade zone between Basra and Iran also facilitated this trade. Iran became so influential that many stores in Barsa had signs in Persian, and Iranian money was accepted.

Iran was willing to give up their support for the Badr Brigade, the Mahdi Army, Special Groups, and the Thar Allah militias in return for England’s acquiescence in Tehran’s pursuit of its nuclear program. When Britain turned them down was not mentioned in the press reports, but Iran’s strong military influence was finally curtailed when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched his offensive in Basra in March 2008. During the fighting General Petraeus claimed that Iranians were helping the Sadrists with tactical operations. Tehran’s goal has always been political influence within Iraq however, so they helped negotiate the cease-fire to end the conflict. In the aftermath several Mahdi Army commanders were captured that detailed the training Iran offered to militiamen. New Iranian weapons with 2008 production dates were also found in the city, and a Hezbollah operative was captured there. Iran was dealt a setback in Basra, but its economic power remains, and it showed its political importance when it helped end the fighting.

Ambassador Sawers’ revelation shows the role Iraq plays in Iran’s foreign policy. Before Saddam Hussein was Iran’s greatest rival and threat. After the U.S. invasion, Iraq became a great opportunity for Tehran. They could increase their political, economic and cultural influence in Iraq, while using it as a tool in its dealing with the West. Supporting Shiite militias was not only a way to exert power in Iraq, but also a means to hold down American troops as Iran feared that the Bush administration might attack them. The offer to England also showed that Iran’s military policy was always subject to its political needs. Whether Iran will continue to play such a role in the future is a big question as Iraqi nationalism is now re-emerging.


Abdul-Ahad, Ghaith, “’Welcolme to Tehran’ – how Iran took control of Basra,” Guardian, 5/19/07

Allam, Hannah, Landay, Jonathan, and Strobel, Warren, “Is an Iranian general the most powerful man in Iraq?” McClatchy Newspapers, 4/28/08

Alsumaria, “Militias and neighbors loot Iraqi South Oil,” 2/9/08

Baxter, Sarah and Colvin, Marie, “Iran joined militias in battle for Basra,” Sunday Times of London, 4/6/08

BBC, “Iran ‘behind attacks on British,’” 10/5/05

Beehner, Lionel, “IRAN: Nuclear Negotiations,” Council on Foreign Relations, 5/16/05

Beehner, Lionel, Bruno, Greg, “Iran’s Involvement in Iraq,” Council on Foreign Relations, 3/3/08

Borger, Julian, “Iran offered to end attacks on British troops in Iraq, claims diplomat,” Guardian, 2/20/09

Cochrane, Marisa, “The Fragmentation of the Sadrist Movement,” Institute for the Study of War, January 2009

Dreazen, Yochi, “U.S. Weighs Messages From Iran,” Wall Street Journal, 4/29/08

Felter, Joseph and Fishman, Brian, “Iranian Strategy in Iraq, Politics and ‘Other Means,’” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, 10/13/08

Glanz, James and Rubin, Alissa, “U.S. and Iran Find Common Ground in Iraq’s Shiite Conflict,” New York Times, 4/21/08

Hendawi, Hamza and Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Hezbollah said to train Shiite militiamen in Iraq,” Associated Press, 7/1/08

Kagan, Kimberly, “Iran’s Proxy War against the United States and the Iraqi Government,” Institute for the Study of War, 8/20/07

Katzman, Kenneth, “Iran’s Activities and Influence in Iraq,” Congressional Research Service, 12/26/07

Mazzetti, Mark, Myers, Steven Lee and Shanker, Thom, “Questions Linger on Scope of Iran’s Threat in Iraq,” New York Times, 4/26/08

Norton-Taylor, Richard, “British troops to stay in Basra ‘for the long term,’” Guardian, 5/2/08

Oliver, Christian, “Iran and Iraq look to heal old wounds with oil deal,” Reuters, 7/19/05

Overhaus, Marco, “European diplomacy and Iran’s nuclear programme,”, 7/27/07

Partlow, Joshua, “Iraq and Iran: the ties that bind,” Seattle Times, 1/27/07

PBS Newhour, “Iran’s Role in Iraq, Nuclear Ambitions Cloud U.S. Policy,” 4/16/08

Pearson, Bryan, “Clear Iranian role in Baghdad violence: military,” Agence France Presse, 4/27/08

Phillips, James, “Deter Iranian and Syrian Meddling In Postwar Iraq,” Heritage Foundation, 4/4/03

Rayment, Sean, “Iran ‘paid Iraq insurgents to kill UK soldiers,” Telegraph, 5/25/08

Rubin, Alissa and Gordon, Michael, “Iraq Team to Discuss Militias With Iran,” New York Times, 5/1/08

Susman, Tina, “Iraq jumps into U.S.-Iran tussle,” Los Angeles Times, 4/29/08

Tanter, Raymond, “Iran’s Threat to Coalition Forces in Iraq,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1/15/04

White, Jeffrey, “Fighting Iran in Iraq,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2/14/07

Wong, Edward, “Iran Is Playing a Growing Role in Iraq Economy,” New York Times, 3/17/07

Wright, Robin, “Iranian Flow Of Weapons Increasing, Officials Say,” Washington Post, 6/3/07

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Iraq's Displaced – 3 Years After The Samarra Bombing

There are around 2.8 million internally displaced Iraqis. This crisis has gone through three major phases. First Saddam was responsible for one million Iraqis losing their homes largely due to his campaigns against the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south. From 2003-2005 200,000 more were displaced due to the U.S. invasion and the following operations against the insurgency and Shiite militias. Then on February 22, 2006 the Shiite shrine at Samarra was bombed, which set off the sectarian war that lasted until 2007. As a result, 1.6 million Iraqis became internal refugees. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the premier refugee organization in Iraq. It has polled and assisted 80% of those that were displaced after the Samarra shrine was blown up. Recently the IOM released a report on the state of these internal refugees on the three-year anniversary of the attack. It found that the process of return has begun, but the vast majority have still not gone back to their homes. Fortunately there has been little new displacement recently. Those that have still not returned are facing increasing problems finding jobs, shelter, and sustenance. The government has not been able to adequately deal with this situation, and the amount of foreign aid has not been adequate either. The IOM warns that Iraq's internal refugees are facing an increasingly uncertain future as a result.

History Of Displacement

2006 saw the largest number of Iraqis lose their homes, but that process has slowed since then. After the February 2006 bombing 5.5% of Iraqis became displaced. On average 14,152 families left their homes a month in 2006. From January to June 2007 that slowed to 8,033 families per month, dropping to 2,269 per month from July to September 2007, and finally 866 a month for the last quarter of the year. By 2008 378 families were losing their homes a month. That went down to almost zero by June 2008. In October the Christian community in Mosul was attacked, with twelve killed. That led to 2,465 families to flee. That process has begun to be reversed.

Displacement By Period


Average number of displaced families per month

Percent of total displaced beginning in 2006




January – June 2007



July – September 2007



October – December 2007






Displacement in Iraq also followed certain patterns shaped by the fighting. 57% of the internal refugees are Shiite, 31% are Sunni, 5% are Christians, 4% are Sunni Kurds, and 3% are other. During the sectarian war Shiites left Baghdad and Diyala and fled south. Sunnis on the other hand, exited Baghdad and the south for the north and west. For example, the majority of Iraqis that fled Basra were Sunnis, while most of the displaced there are Shiites from Baghdad. In Anbar almost 100% of the displaced are Sunnis, while 60% that left were Shiites. Almost all of the displaced in Karbala, Maysan, Muthanna, Najaf, Dhi Qar, and Wasit are Shiites from Baghdad and Diyala. Christians and Kurds went north to Ninewa, Tamim, Diyala and Kurdistan. In comparison, the majority of Iraq's refugees that have left the country are Sunnis.


The issue of return is the newest one facing Iraq's displaced. Based upon its work, the IOM believes that the majority of Iraq's internal refugees want to go back to their homes if security improvements hold. They found that around 130,000 families, 61%, want to go back to their original residences, 45,000 families, 22%, would like to settle where they are, while 35,000, 17%, want to leave and relocate in another country. Already the IOM has identified 49,432 families, around 296,592 people, have returned. 69% of those were displaced within their home province, 20% came back from a different one, and 11% returned from a foreign country. Of that last group most were in Syria and went back to Anbar and Baghdad. The first returns were recorded in April 2007 in the Madain, Abu Ghraib and Taji districts of Baghdad. Since then the numbers coming back have increased, with 31,521 families going back to the capital. Interviews with almost 3,000 of them found that 36% came back because of better security in their communities, and 36% said it was a combination of that plus hardships.

Returning Families By Province

















That still leaves 273,243 families as internal refugees. Baghdad province has the most, 90,732 families, followed by Diyala, 22,784 families, Ninewa, 19,100, and Dohuk, 18,706. The majority came from just eight of Iraq's eighteen provinces. Baghdad provided the most, 64.3%, as it was the center of the sectarian war. Of those, opinions on return are different depending upon where they currently reside. Baghdad, Diyala, Najaf, Tamim, and Anbar have the highest numbers of those that want to go back to their homes. Most of those come from Baghdad and Diyala. In comparison, Basra, Wasit, Dhi Qar, and Qadisiyah have the most families that want to resettle there.

Location Of Displaced By Province


Number of Families

% of Total








































Dhi Qar















Origins Of Displaced





















Another factor related to going back is the state of their property. Only 16% of the post-Samarra displaced had access to their homes. 43% have no accessibility, mostly because their residence has been occupied or destroyed. 38% don't know the status of their property.

The government has not been able to handle those that have returned. Families that go back are supposed to register with the authorities, making them eligible for 1 million dinars ($870). As of January 2009, only 12,969 families have signed up with the government. Most of those, approximately 9,100, are in Baghdad, followed by Diyala, 3,096, and Anbar, 522. That's only 26% of the returnees. Even though that's a small number, the IOM believes that the government is being overwhelmed dealing with them.


99% of Iraq's displaced have housing, but the quality varies greatly, and some are worried of losing it. 82% of Iraqi internal refugees surveyed by the IOM said housing was a concern. 59% of the internal refugees rent a house, but those costs are going up and many families are having a hard time earning money. 18% are living with family or friends. 22% are squatting or living in makeshift housing. Many of those feared for their future after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued Order 101 in 2008 that told the security forces to evict squatters. That was suspended for the January 2009 provincial elections, and there's no word if it will be re-enacted. The last 1% is living in camps. That usually only happens out of desperation.

IOM's polling shows that food, shelter, and work are also top needs. Those are followed by water, legal aid, and health care. Most Iraqis depend upon the government's food rations. 81% of the displaced surveyed said that they need greater access to food. 19% have no access to the food ration system, while 44% only receive them sometimes. Kurdistan, Basra, and Kirkuk have the spottiest access. In Dohuk for example, 90% do not receive their rations. Maysan, Karbala, Muthanna, Salahaddin, Dhi Qar, and Baghdad have the best distribution. Health care was a secondary concern with 16% saying it was a need. That's probably because 86% said they had access to some kind of aid, however that doesn't account for its quality. The health system has been greatly degraded since the U.S. invasion. Many doctors and nurses have left the country, and there is a shortage of equipment and medications.


In the end, the IOM believes that Iraq's displaced are facing a precarious situation. Three years after the Samarra bombing and the majority of the 1.6 million that lost their homes are still displaced. Some Iraqis have begun going back to their homes, but it is still a small percentage of the total, and the government has only been able to help a fraction of them. Those that are still refugees face problems finding work, housing, and food. The IOM has tried to help, but the amount of international aid has not met the needs. These problems will only grow as more time passes.


Aswat al-Iraq, “150 displaced Christian families return to Mosul,” 2/10/09

International Organization for Migration, “Anbar, Baghdad & Diyala, Governorate Profiles,” December 2008
- “Three Years Of Post-Samarra Displacement In Iraq,” 2/22/09

Oweis, Khaled Yacoub, “Iraqi refugees in Syria reluctant to return,” Reuters, 2/12/09

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Iraq Humanitarian Update,” October 2008

UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, “Human Rights Report 1 January – 30 June 2008,” December 2008

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Election Monitoring Report From The Ninewa Plains

Ninewa is one of the most diverse and volatile provinces in Iraq. It is the home to Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, and Shabaks. The Arabs and Kurds are both vying for power there, and the small minority groups have been caught in the middle. In the 2005 election the Kurds were accused of disenfranchising Christians and others. For this reason the United Nations sent monitors from their Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization working with the Assyria Council of Europe to Ninewa to observe the January 2009 provincial elections. They recently released a report on their work that found the voting and procedures went routinely, but that many displaced Iraqis were not allowed to participate.

In the January 2005 provincial elections the Kurds were accused of violating the rights of minorities in Ninewa. The Kurds issued threats, refused to open voting centers, didn’t deliver ballot boxes, and took part in fraud to ensure their control of the province. The Kurdish militia the peshmerga for example stopped voting boxes being delivered to Christian areas in the Ninewa plains. Thousands of minorities were believed to have been denied the right to vote as a result. It was for this reason that the United Nations decided to send in teams to that area for the 2009 election.

Election monitors were made up of members of the U.N.’s Unrepresented Nations and People Organization and the Assyria Council of Europe. They worked in the Tellkaif and Hamadaniya districts of Ninewa. These were the same areas where minorities were disenfranchised in 2005.

The U.N. found that campaigning before the vote was free and open. In 2005 the Sunni Arabs boycotted, which allowed the Kurds to take control of the provincial election. This time the Arabs were enthusiastic about the balloting because they wanted power. The Kurds on the other hand expected a defeat, but wanted to minimize their loses. All sides used posters, TV commercials, and rallies to garner support. The openness of the electioneering showed the improvement in security compared to 2005.

The Iraqi Election Commission also launched a robust voter education program. They had materials in both Kurdish and Arabic, which were handed out widely. They also regularly ran TV shows on how to vote. Finally, the Commission also held public meetings to educate people.

The U.N. monitors received three complaints of possible violations. The first came from a parliamentarian from the Yazidi Movement for Reform and Progress who told a reporter in Baghdad that Yazidis were being intimidated by the Kurdish peshmerga after they complained to the Election Commission about violations by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Yazidis claimed that KDP officials were using military vehicles to campaign with, and employed soldiers at their rallies. A Shabak lawmaker from the Shabak Democratic Assembly told the U.N. that an unnamed political party was pressuring Shabaks to vote for them. The parliamentarian said he had filed a complaint with the Election Commission. Finally, on election day a voter claimed that he and others were given a ride to the voting center in return for their votes. None of these stories could be confirmed during the time the U.N. team was working in Ninewa.

During the election the largest problem the monitors witnessed were displaced Iraqis not being able to vote. One voting center was told to open two stations for the displaced immediately before the balloting. Those two eventually ran out of ballots. More importantly, over 100 displaced were not allowed to vote because they did not have their documents in order. As reported before, similar incidents were reported across the country.

Otherwise the monitors said the elections went well. Security was tight around the voting centers. Most of the voting materials were used appropriately with only minor problems. They did receive complaints about political parties attempting to manipulate voters, but none of those stories could be checked. The greatest issue was the disenfranchisement of internal refugees. It seems as if the Election Commission did not do a good enough job informing the displaced about how and where they were to register. They could either vote in their home provinces, or in their current residencies, but either way they had to sign up with the Commission. This did not get through and an unknown amount of refugees were not allowed to participate in the provincial election as a result.


United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, “Iraq Report – 2008,” December 2008

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization-Assyria Council of Europe, “Election Observation Mission, Nineveh Plain, Iraq, January 28-February 2, 2009” 2/13/09

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pres. Talabani Heads Off Political Revolt Within The PUK

On February 18, Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani met with officials from his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) who were threatening to leave the party. According to the Iraqi paper Azzaman, Talabani held a conference with Kosrat Rassoul, the Vice President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Secretary General of the PUK, the head of the Kurdish Alliance Barham Salih, and four members of the PUK headquarters Omar Sayid Ali, Othman Hajji Mahmoud, Jalal Johar, and Mustafa Sayid Qadr. All of them were threatening to resign from the PUK unless their demands were met. They wanted Talabani to create more democratic processes within the PUK and Kurdistan, commit to fighting corruption, and talk with dissident Nishurwan Mustafa. Before the meeting, protests were held in Sulaymaniya and Irbil in support of both sides.

The dissident wanted Talabani to hold discussions with former PUK leader Nishurwan Mustafa to try to convince him to become involved in the party again. Mustafa helped form the PUK back in 1975 with Jalal Talabani. Mustafa was the Deputy Secretary General of the party until December 2006. That’s when Talabani pushed him out. Since then he has increasingly criticized the KRG for all kinds of wrongs ranging from autocratic rule, corruption, a lack of services, failing to improve the economy and standard of living, and trying to control business in the region. He might also be forming his own party to run in the upcoming Kurdish elections. Mustafa has been able to voice these critiques through his media company, Wusha, that has its own newspapers, TV station, and website. The PUK leadership has not taken these statements kindly. In December 2008 for example, they expelled several members in England who were followers of Mustafa. The officials called for Talabani to resign due to corruption.

The PUK officials also wanted graft, bribes, and the lack of democratic practices tackled. It’s been said that both the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, take bribes for contracts in the region. Nepotism is another issue. The KRG inherited two cement factories built by Baghdad when they gained their de facto autonomy after the Gulf War. One was taken over by the PUK, the other by Talabani’s wife. There are also reports that construction contracts are given out to relatives of high officials. 50% of the jobs in Kurdistan come from the regional government. Many of those are handed out as a form of patronage to party officials, or to members of the Talabani and Barzani families. The PUK has also tried to clamp down on dissent. In April 2008 Talabani banned any party member from publicly criticizing the KRG. Journalists have been harassed for reporting on corruption in the government. Intellectuals and human rights groups have charged the Kurdish security forces of arresting their members when they speak out against the authorities.

Coming right before parliamentary elections in Kurdistan, scheduled for May 2009, President Talabani could not ignore this threat to party unity. After his meeting with the dissidents in Baghdad he agreed to all of their demands. He said that there would be more transparency in KRG spending, some officials would be replaced, and he would initiative talks with Mustafa and ask him to come back to the party. One of Rassoul or Salih’s deputies would also take over the PUK’s intelligence agency. The PUK and KDP have had carte blanch rule in Kurdistan since the 1990s. Since then criticism of their leadership has slowly grown. It took the threat of dividing the PUK to finally make one of the two Kurdish leaders to address it. It will be interesting to see how many of these reforms are followed through with.


Agence France Presse, “Five Iraqi Kurdish Party Officials Resign,” 2/13/09

Alsumaria, “Talabani to share power within his party,” 2/18/09

Azzaman, “Al Adeeb Warns Of Kurdish Ambitions That Lead To Iraq’s Break Up,” 2/18/09
- “Talabani Tries To Prevent His Party From Splitting And Rejects The Resignation Of Rasul,” 2/17/09

Clark, Kate, “Corruption in Iraqi Kurdistan,” BBC News, 1/11/08

Fifield, Anna, “Kurdistan: the other Iraq,” Financial Times, 11/11/08
- “Kurdistan’s press pays for tackling corruption,” Financial Times, 10/3/08

Hama-Tahir, Wrya, “Iraqi Kurds frustrated with own leaders, security forces,” Middle East Online, 2/18/08
- “Kurdish Party Hits Out at Former Leader,” Institute of War & Peace Reporting, 12/5/08

Kurdish Media, “Kurdish lawmaker defends corruption in Kurdistan administration,” 5/26/08

Mahmood, Azeez and Mahmood, Rebaz, “Talabani Supporters Rally Over Media Controversy,” Institute For War & Peace Reporting, 4/4/08

Majid, Kamal, “An Assessment of the conditions in the Kurdish part of Iraq,” Brussels, 7/23/08

Osman, Twana and Zagros, Roman, “Ex-Kurdish Leader Takes On Old Allies,” Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 11/12/08

Reuters, “Iraq’s Kurds to elect parliament on May 19,” 2/2/09

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 1/30/09

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Voter Disenfranchisement In Provincial Elections

Iraq’s Election Commission recently announced that there was voter fraud in all fourteen of the country’s provinces that participated in the provincial elections. 30 voting boxes were thrown out as a result. That however was a very small fraction of the total used. There were 37,000 voting centers alone for example that used countless numbers of ballot boxes. A much larger and more serious problem was the apparent disenfranchisement of an unknown amount of Iraqis that could not find their names on the registration rolls.

In Wasit province Hayat Yusif was an independent woman candidate running for office for the first time. She spent her own money campaigning. On election-day January 31, 2008 when she went to cast her ballot she couldn’t find her name on the voting list. When she went to the Election Commission about it they said that up to 700 others had already complained about the same issue. From news reports this situation apparently played out across the entire country. In each situation the Election Commission said that it was the voters’ fault for not registering.

There was much confusion about exactly how this process worked however. The New York Times’ Baghdad Bureau Blog said that every Iraqi that had a food ration card was automatically registered to vote. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy said everyone over 18 was allowed to vote. Iraqis still had to sign up however. The biggest problem was with the displaced that had very low registration numbers.

The government ran public information campaigns about the new system, but many were still left out. Hayat Yusif was one of these. She didn’t register because she believed that everyone who had a food ration card was automatically signed up. The same thing happened to thousands of others, especially the internal refugees. The exact number is not known, but the Election Commission claimed it was only 1% of voters. The Los Angeles Times reported that some Iraqis went from voting station to station looking for their names. A journalist that worked as an election monitor in Kut, Wasit said that 90 people were turned away from the voting station he watched because they were not on the voting rolls. In Basra, the Election Commission admitted that many displaced were not able to vote because they didn’t register. In Diyala the Kurdish Alliance claimed that 16,000 Kurdish families in the Khanaqin district couldn’t vote. 700 displaced families in the provincial capital Baquba protested over the same matter, as well as in Haswa, a town west of Baghdad. In Ninewa the Kurds said thousands couldn’t vote there as well.

A voting monitor from Europe who went to eight voting centers in northern Iraq said the registration system was flawed because so many voters were left off the lists. For the displaced, some might have been registered in their original provinces instead of where they currently resided. For others like Hayat Yusif they might not have understood the new system and never signed up. Whatever the case it’s apparent that the situation was widespread enough to keep several thousand of Iraqis from participating in the provincial ballot. This was a sad note for an otherwise successful election. The major question now is if these people that were not allowed to vote will continue to participate in the other elections planned for this year or whether their disenfranchisement will make them cynical and drop out.


Abdul-Zahra, Qssim, “Iraqi election commission acknowledges fraud,” Associated Press, 2/15/09

Abdullah, Muhammed, “displaced denied vote in diyala,” Niqash, 2/3/09

Bruno, Greg, “Iraq’s Political Landscape,” Council on Foreign Relations, 1/29/09

Carpenter, J. Scott and Knights, Michael, “Provincial Elections Kick Off Iraq’s Year of Choices,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1/26/09

Fadel, Leila, “Calm Iraqi election marred as thousands were denied vote,” McClatchy Newspapers, 1/31/09
- “Low turnout in Iraq’s election reflects a disillusioned nation,” McClatchy Newspapers, 2/2/09
- “Some fraud found but no revote,” Baghdad Observer Blog, McClatchy Newspapers, 2/15/09

Morin, Monte, “Iraq vote turnout fails to meet expectations,” Los Angeles Times, 2/2/09

Naji, Zaineb, “Voter Apathy Among Iraq Displaced,” Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 9/24/08

Rubin, Alissa, “Election Turnout: Analysis,” Baghdad Bureau Blog, New York Times, 2/1/09

Sands, Phi, “’Great confusion’ at Iraqi polling stations,” The National, 2/3/09

Sands, Phil and Latif, Nizar, "Registration rule denied many Iraqis their vote," The National, 2/8/09

Al-Wazzan, Saleem, "al-maliki emerges triumphant in basra," Niqash, 2/4/09

Williams, Timothy, “The Ballot: Inside Iraq’s Voting Booth,” Baghdad Bureau Blog, New York times, 1/13/09

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Possible Ruling Coalitions In The Provinces

Now that Iraq’s Election Commission has announced the final results and seat allocations the winning parties have two weeks to form coalitions to rule. They need 51% of the seats to appoint the governor, deputy governor, head of council, and the provincial police chief. Only in Basra and Ninewa did the victors, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law and the Al-Hadbaa List respectively, gain enough seats to have outright majorities. Three possible set of partners have already been reported. First, Moqtada al-Sadr has told his followers to consult with Maliki’s State of Law. The Awakening of Iraq and Independents has formed an alliance with Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraq National Project. Finally, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council’s Al-Mihrab Martyr List is talking with Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National List.

If these deals work out Maliki’s list could have majorities in Baghdad, Dhi Qar, Maysan, and Wasit. The Awakening would also rule Anbar. In Karbala, Muthanna, Najaf, and Qadisiyah the State of Law and the Sadrists would have to bring in one more party to rule. Babil, Diyala, and especially Salahaddin are much more fragmented, especially the last one, and will take several parties to come together to run those.

Overall, the elections have revealed three things about the current state of Iraqi politics. First, the Dawa has surpassed the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) as the predominate Shiite party. Second, the Kurds’ loss of control of Ninewa and Salahaddin shows their declining position within the country. They once had a winning combination with the SIIC, but after both lost in the provincials their hopes of greater federalism is probably dead. The Kurds will be coming under increasing pressure to give up their hopes of annexing territories outside of Kurdistan as a result. Finally, the vote showed that Sunni politics is as fragmented as ever. The Iraqi Islamic Party ran in 2005 despite the Sunni boycott, gaining a head start on their competitors. This time they will have to form coalitions with newer parties to rule in Diyala and Salahaddin, and lost control of Anbar.

Provinces Currently With Majorities

Basra: Maliki’s State of Law 20 of 30 seats
Ninewa: Al-Hadbaa 19 of 37 seats

Possible Ruling Coalitions

Anbar: Sheikh Abu Risha’s Awakening of Iraq and Independents – 8 seats plus parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraq National Project – 6 seats. Total of 14 of 29 seats
Baghdad: Maliki’s State of Law – 28 seats plus Sadr’s Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – 5 seats. Total of 33 of 57 seats
Dhi Qar: Maliki’s State of Law – 13 seats plus Sadr’s Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – 7 seats. Total of 20 of 31 seats
Maysan: Maliki’s State of Law – 8 seats plus Sadr’s Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – 7 seats. Total of 15 of 27 seats
Wasit: Maliki’s State of Law – 13 seats plus Sadr’s Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – 3 seats. Total of 20 of 28 seats

Provinces Up In The Air

: State of Law – 8 seats plus Sadr’s Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – 3 seats. Needs five more seats for majority of 16 of 30 seats
Diyala: Iraqi Accordance Front – 9 seats. Needs six more seats for majority of 15 of 29 seats
Karbala: Youssef al-Habboubi – 1 seat plus Maliki’s State of Law – 9 seats plus Sadr’s Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – 4 seats. Needs one more seat for majority of 14 of 27 seats
Muthanna: Maliki’s State of Law – 5 seats plus Sadr’s Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – 2 seats. Needs seven more seats for majority of 14 of 26 seats
Najaf: Maliki’s State of Law – 7 seats plus Sadr’s Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – 6 seats. Needs two more seats for majority of 15 of 28 seats
Qadisiyah: Maliki’s State of Law – 11 seats plus Sadr’s Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – 2 seats. Needs two more seats for majority of 15 of 28 seats
Salahaddin: Iraqi Accordance Front – 5 seats. Needs ten seats for majority of 15 of 28 seats


Agence France Presse, “Sadr renews idea of local alliances with Iraq PM,” 2/20/09

Alsumaria, “Iraq parties form alliances after elections,” 2/13/09

Associated Press, “Iraqi provincial election results,” 2/19/09

Fadel, Leila, “Volatile Anbar province a test of Iraq’s future,” McClatchy Newspapers, 2/17/09

Rubin, Alissa, “Prime Minister’s Party Wins in Iraqi Vote but Will Need to Form Coalitions,” New York Times, 2/6/09

Visser, Reidar, “The Provincial Elections: The Seat Allocation Is Official and the Coalition-Forming Process Begins,”, 2/19/09

Friday, February 20, 2009

The On-Going Kurdish-Arab Dispute

Part of Iraq’s new political dynamic is the increasing feud between the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and Baghdad. The dispute began when the constitutional article on the city of Kirkuk was never followed through with at the end of 2007. The future of the city has been put on hold indefinitely. In 2008 Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also began confronting the Kurds by moving troops into the Khanaqin district in Diyala, and forming Tribal Support Councils across northern Iraq. Now every month Kurdish officials attack the central government, and they respond in kind. The latest event happened when the Associated Press (AP) interviewed the Kurdish Prime Minister and deputy speaker of the Kurdish parliament who claimed Maliki was dangerous, and that the argument over Kirkuk could lead to war.

The AP article was another example of the growing frustration the Kurds are feeling. The Kurdish officials began by complaining about the United States doing nothing about Kirkuk. Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said that unless the Americans stepped in there could be war with Baghdad over the issue. The deputy speaker of the Kurdish parliament added that Maliki was dangerous and becoming more autocratic. The speaker said that Maliki was acting like Saddam, something other Kurds have claimed before. Both were afraid this dispute with the central government could escalate after Maliki’s victories in the provincial elections.

As could be expected, these statements led to some heated responses. A member of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance said the Kurds were being counterproductive. A member of Maliki’s Dawa Party tried to turn the tables by accusing the Kurds of trying to annex northern regions of the country. A State Department spokesman made the most cogent remark by stating that Iraqis needed to solve their problems using their own institutions rather than always turning to the U.S. A few days later, the Kurdish deputy speaker denied that he said anything about Maliki, and claimed that he had never even spoken to the Associated Press.

Every few weeks the Kurds have made similar statements. In the beginning of February 2009, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani warned Baghdad about moving the 12th Iraqi Army Division towards Kirkuk. At the end of January, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani gave a speech in Dohuk where he said that the government was using the security forces to create a dictatorship. In the second week of that month, President Barzani also gave an interview with the Los Angeles Times where he claimed that Maliki was becoming drunk with power, which was making him authoritarian and autocratic. Barzani warned that if things did not change the Kurds could declare independence. At the very beginning of the year, President Barzani released an open letter that said Iraqi Arabs were showing their prejudice against Kurds and stirring up trouble. He implied that this could lead to the same kind of persecution the Kurds faced under Saddam.

The warnings about Kirkuk and Maliki’s growing power have been the major themes of the Kurds’ attacks on Baghdad. The 2005 constitution included Article 140 that said there should be a census and referendum on the future of Kirkuk by the end of 2007. As reported before, this deadline was at first extended, and then in effect dropped. The United Nations is supposed to be dealing with the issue, but has made no headway. A special election committee hasn’t even started its work to set up a process to hold a vote there for the provincial council. This has caused immense frustration amongst KRG officials. The International Crisis Group argued that the Kurds have held up major legislation in the parliament as a result.

The Prime Minister also began directly confronting the Kurds in the disputed territories when he moved troops into the Khanaqin district of Diyala in the summer of 2008, and then formed Tribal Support Councils in Ninewa and Kirkuk’s Tamim province. This stoked fears in Kurdistan that Maliki was not only going to refuse to allow any resolution of Kirkuk, but block the Kurds’ desire to add a series of other areas in northern Iraq. The Kurds feel that any area that has a large Kurdish population or that they lay historical claim to should be annexed, while Maliki wants to contain them to their current borders of Dohuk, Irbil, and Sulaymaniya.

Neither side has shown any willingness to compromise or negotiate. At the end of 2008 five committees were created of the five ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), the Dawa Party, and the Iraqi Islamic Party, to work out differences within the government. By December 2008 only two committees had done anything however, and those were on finances and natural resources. The more important ones on foreign policy, disputed territories, and the armed forces had gone nowhere. The lack of checks and balances in the Iraqi government has also meant the Kurds could do nothing about Article 140 being put on permanent hold, or Maliki organizing tribes. The only thing they could do is try to organize a no confidence vote in parliament and bring down Maliki’s government. This has been a hotly debated issue in recent months, but nothing has happened.

At the heart of the matter is that the Kurds and Maliki have diametrically opposed views of how to run the country. As the recent provincial election showed, those parties like Maliki’s that advocated Iraqi nationalism, and a strong central government did the best. The Kurds on the other hand want decentralization, and more autonomy. Iraqi nationalism has also been increasingly fashioned as being anti-Kurdish, opposed to giving Kurds more freedom or to allow them to annex any territories. The Kurds were once in a strong position to fight off their opponents when they were allied with the Supreme Council that also wanted an autonomous Shiite region in the south. With no strong prime minister, the Kurds and SIIC could cut deals in parliament and create facts on the ground through their control of provincial councils and the local security forces to back their positions. Now that time is over as Maliki is asserting his control over all the security forces, and has used them and ad hoc organizations like the Tribal Support Councils to impose his will on the country.

With Prime Minister Maliki on the rise, the Kurds can only look forward to more frustration in achieving their goals of expanding and gaining more autonomy. So far the dispute has been kept in the political arena with the two sides trading verbal jabs at each other. During the summer of 2008 the two sides almost came to blows however, with only American intervention preventing it from escalating. The recent election has only made things worse from the Kurds’ perspective as they lost control of both Ninewa and Salahaddin, two things they could’ve used as trading chips in any negotiations. At the same time Maliki’s party did very well improving his position, while an anti-Kurdish party Al-Hadbaa won in Ninewa. Violence is also a threat in Iraq, but a more likely result will be the Kurds pushing for independence as Kurdish President Barzani has already warned of. If they can’t get what they want within the Iraqi system, the urge to secede will probably increase. This conflict will be one of the major issues of 2009.


Abbot, Sebastian, "Iraq's stability threatened by Arab-Kurdish rift," Associated Press, 2/8/09

Agence France Presse, “Maliki, Kurd Leader Trade Barbs Ahead of Polls,” 1/26/09

Ali, Ahmed and Knights, Michael, “Kirkuk: A Test for the International Community,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1/14/09

Alisha, “Iraqi Kurds Leader Blames Arabs for Growing Rift,” UAE Daily News, 1/2/09

Alsumaria, “Barzani warning of war spurs major reactions,” 2/17/09

Associated Press, “Iraqi Kurds want U.S. help to avoid war with Arabs,” 2/15/09

Aswat al-Iraq, “Kurdish Lawmaker Denies Reports on Describing Maliki As ‘new Saddam,’” 2/18/09

Hiltermann, Joost, “Iraq’s elections: winners, losers, and what’s next,” Global Democracy, 2/10/09

International Crisis Group, “Oil For Soil: Toward A Grand Bargain On Iraq And The Kurds,” 10/28/08

Kurdish Globe, “Negotiations Ongoing Between Erbil and Baghdad,” 12/4/08

Parker, Ned, “Kurdish leader sees authoritarian drift in Iraq,” Los Angeles Times, 1/11/09

Rubin, Alissa, “Ahead of Election, Iraq’s Leader Pushes for Gains,” New York Times, 1/26/09

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Official Iraqi Election Results (REVISED)

Iraq’s Election Commission finally released its official results for the January 2009 Provincial Elections. The report broke down how many seats each list received. As noted before, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law List came away the victor in nine of the fourteen provinces that voted. Those were Babil, Baghdad, Basra, Dhi Qar, Najaf, Qadisiyah, and Wasit. In Maysan and Muthanna they were tied for first. The List also finished third in Karbala, and tied for fifth in Diyala and Salahaddin.

The other big winners were the Iraqi Islamic Party and its larger Iraqi Accordance Front coalition that came in first in Diyala, tied for first in Salahaddin, and came in second in Baghdad, tied for second in Anbar, third in Ninewa, and fifth in largely Shiite Basra. The Iraqi National List of former Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi also had one victory tying for first in Salahaddin, and also coming in tied for third in Babil, Baghdad, Qadisiyah, Wasit, and fourth in Diyala, and tied for fifth in Anbar. That was much better than the preliminary results.

There were three new victors as well. The coalition Al-Hadbaa List won in Ninewa running on a largely anti-Kurdish ticket. Youssef Majid al-Habboubi, an independent Shiite and former Baathist won in Karbala. Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, one of the leaders of the tribal Anbar Awakening won the most seats in Anbar.

The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) also did better than originally predicted. They tied for most seats in Maysan and Muthanna with the State of Law List, and also got second place in Babil, Basra, Najaf, Qadisiyah, and Wasit, third in Dhi Qar, tied for fourth in Karbala, tied for fifth in Diyala and Qadisiyah. They did finish a disappointing sixth in Baghdad after having controlled that province since the 2005 elections.

Independent Sunni parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraq National Project also did well for a small party. They came in tied for second in Anbar and Diyala, and tied for third in Salahaddin.

The Kurds were expecting to lose control of Ninewa and Salahaddin because of the larger Sunni turnout. They did, but their lists got the second most seats in Ninewa and Diyala. They got no representation in Salahaddin.

The Sadrists, former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s National Reform Party, and the Fadhila Party fared the worst of the major parties. Initially Sadr’s followers were said to have finished second in Maysan, Dhi Qar, Baghdad, and Babil, third in Najaf and Wasit, fourth in Basra and Karbala, fifth in Qadisiyah and Muthanna, and eighth in Diyala. When all was said and done they came out second in Dhi Qar, third in Maysan and Najaf, tied for third in Babil, Baghdad, and Wasit, tied for fourth in Karbala and Muthanna, tied for fifth in Basra, and no seats in Diyala. Al-Jaafari’s list tied for third place in Babil, Muthanna, and Qadisiyah, fourth in Dhi Qar and Maysan, tied for fifth in Baghdad and Najaf, and a distant seventh in Baghdad and Diyala. The biggest loser had to be the Fadhila Party however. Not only did they lose control of Basra finishing seventh, but they only did slightly better with two fifth place results in Dhi Qar and Qadisiyah.

Parties or alliances need to hold 51% of the seats to name the top positions such as governor, deputy governor, head of council, provincial police chief, etc. After the seat allotment was announced, Maliki’s State of Law list and the al-Hadbaa List came out with majorities in Basra and Ninewa. In the other twelve provinces ruling coalitions need to be formed. The talk is that Maliki’s State of Law list will form an alliance with Sadr’s followers, while the Supreme Council is reaching out to Allawi’s Iraqi National List. In Anbar, the tribes have formed a coalition with al-Mutlaq’s Iraq National Project to shut out the Iraqi Islamic Party from power. This after Sheikh Abu Risha joined with them in a coalition at the end of 2008. Salahaddin, which was formerly ruled by the Kurds had the greatest fragmentation. Ten parties finished with enough votes to receive seats at the council. In Karbala independent Shiite Youssef Majid al-Habboubi won the most votes, but because he did not run as part of a party or list he only received one of 27 seats. That left the independent Hope of Rafidain list and Maliki’s State of Law with the most representation with nine seats each. Habboubi could become governor, but the real powers would be with the parties behind him.

Below is a breakdown of the major parties that won seats, how they fared, and then how many seats were allotted by province.

Major Parties & Candidates
Awakening of Iraq and Independents – Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha. One of the leaders of the tribal Awakening movement in Anbar
Coalition of Diyala – Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council’s Diyala list
Fadhila Party – Ayatollah Mohammed al-Yaccoubi. Claims the mantle of Moqtada al-Sadr’s father’s movement
Al-Hadbaa Party – Coalition of four parties in Ninewa that ran an anti-Kurdish campaign
Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr supported a group of independents that called ran on a nationalist, strong central government, and non-sectarian list
Iraqi Islamic Party/Iraqi Accordance Front – Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi. Main Islamic Sunni party that split apart just before the election. Called for a withdrawal of the U.S., and revising laws that are considered anti-Sunni like the DeBaathification policy
Iraqi National List – Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Appealed to nationalists and former Baathists
Iraq National Project – Parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq. Independent Sunni politician that ran on a secular and nationalist campaign
Kurdish Alliance – Made up of two major Kurdish parties, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, plus several other smaller parties
Al-Mihrab Martyr List - Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC). Islamic party formed in Iran. Ran on religion and federalism
National Movement for Development and Reform – Jamal al-Karbouli. Made up of former Baathists and insurgents
National Reform Party – Former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Broke away from the Dawa party
Ninewa Brotherhood List – Kurdish Alliance list for Ninewa
State of Law – Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa Party. Islamic party that ran on a nationalist and strong central government platform
Tribes Of Iraq – Sheikh Hamid al-Hayes. Led by one of the Anbar Awakening leaders
Youssef Majid al-Habboubi – Independent Shiite and former Baathist

Finishes By Party
State of Law – Maliki: 1st Babil, Baghdad, Basra, Dhi Qar, Najaf, Qadisiyah, Wasit, tied 1st Maysan, Muthanna, 3rd Karbala, tied 5th Diyala, Salahaddin
Iraqi Islamic Party/Iraqi Accordance Front/ Alliance of Intellectuals and Tribes – 1st Diyala, tied 1st Salahaddin, 2nd Baghdad, tied 2nd Anbar, 3rd Ninewa, tied 5th Basra
Iraqi National List – Allawi: Tied 1st Salahaddin, Tied 3rd Babil, Baghdad, Qadisiyah, Wasit, 4th Diyala, tied 5th Anbar
Al-Hadbaa Party: 1st Ninewa
Youssef Majid al-Habboubi: 1st Karbala
Awakening of Iraq and Independents – Sheikh Abu Risha: 1st Anbar
Al-Mihrab Martyr List/Diyala Coalition – SIIC: Tied 1st Maysan, Muthanna, 2nd Babil, Basra, Najaf, Qadisiyah, Wasit, 3rd Dhi Qar, tied 4th Karbala, tied 5th Diyala, Qadisiyah, 6th Baghdad
Ninewa Brotherhood List/Kurdish Alliance: 2nd Ninewa, tied 2nd Diyala
Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – Sadr: 2nd Dhi Qar, 3rd Maysan, Najaf, tied 3rd Babil, Baghdad, Wasit, tied 4th Karbala, Muthanna, tied 5th Basra
Iraq National Project – al-Mutlaq: Tied 2nd Anbar, Diyala, tied 3rd Salahaddin
National Reform Party – Jaafari: Tied 3rd Babil, Muthanna, Qadisiyah, 4th Dhi Qar, Maysan, tied 5th Baghdad, Najaf, 7th Baghdad, Diyala
Fadhila Party: 5th Dhi Qar, tied 5th Qadisiyah, 7th Basra

Results By Province:

Anbar (29 seats)
1. Awakening of Iraq and Independents – Sheikh Abu Risha: 8
2. Iraq National Project – al-Mutlaq: 6
2. Alliance of Intellectuals and Tribes – Iraqi Islamic Party: 6
4. National Movement for Development and Reform - al-Karbouli: 3
5. Iraqi National List - Allawi: 2
5. Iraqi Tribes List – Sheikh al-Hayes: 2
5. Iraqi National Unity: 2

Babil (30 seats)
1. State of Law - Maliki: 8
2. Al-Mihrab Martyr List - SIIC: 5
3. Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – Sadr: 3
3. National Reform Party – Jaafari: 3
3. Civil Society List: 3
3. Iraqi National List - Allawi: 3
3. Independent Justice Association: 3
8. Independent Ansar List: 2

Baghdad (57 seats)
1. State of Law – Maliki: 28
2. Iraqi Accordance Front: 7
3. Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – Sadr: 5
3. Iraqi National List – Allawi: 5
5. Iraq National Project – al-Mutlaq: 4
6. Al-Mihrab Martyr List – SIIC: 3
7. National Reform Party – Jaafari: 3
8. Christian: 1 – through quota
8. Mandean: 1 – through quota

Basra (35 seats)
1. State of Law - Maliki: 20
2. Al-Mihrab Martyr List – SIIC: 5
3. Gathering of Justice and Unity: 2
3. Independent Trend of the Noble Ones - Sadr: 2
5. Iraqi National List - Allawi: 2
5. Iraqi Islamic Party: 2
7. Fadhila Party: 1
8. Christians: 1 – through quota

Dhi Qar (31 seats)
1. State of Law - Maliki: 13
2. Independent Trend of the Noble Ones - Sadr: 7
3. Al-Mihrab Martyr List – SIIC: 5
4. National Reform Trend – Jaafari: 4
5. Fadhila Party: 2

Diyala (29 Seats)
1. Iraqi Accordance Front: 9
2. Iraq National Project – al-Mutlaq: 6
2. Kurdish Alliance: 6
4. Iraqi National List - Allawi: 3
5. State of Law - Maliki: 2
5. Diyala Coalition – SIIC: 2
7. National Reform Party – Jaafari: 1

Karbala (27 seats)
1. Youssef Majid al-Habboubi: 1
2. Hope of Rafidain: 9
2. State of Law - Maliki: 9
4. Al-Mihrab Martyr List - SIIC: 4
4. Independent Trend of the Noble Ones - Sadr: 4

Maysan (27 seats)
1. State of Law - Maliki: 8
1. Al-Mihrab Martyr List – SIIC: 8
3. Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – Sadr: 7
4. National Reform Party – Jaafari: 4

Muthanna (26 seats)
1. State of Law – Maliki: 5
1. Al-Mihrab Martyr List – SIIC: 5
3. The People’s List: 3
3. National Reform Party – Jaafari: 3
4. Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – Sadr: 2
4. Gathering of Muthanna: 2
4. Independent National List: 2
4. Gathering of Iraqi Professionals: 2
4. Gathering of Middle Euphrates: 2

Najaf (28 seats)
1. State of Law – Maliki: 7
1. Al-Mihrab Martyr List – SIIC: 7
3. Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – Sadr: 6
4. Loyalty to Najaf: 4
5. National Reform Party – Jaafari: 2
5. Union of Independent Najaf: 2

Ninewa (37 seats)
1. Al-Hadbaa Party: 19
2. Ninewa Brotherhood List – Kurdish Alliance: 12
3. Iraqi Islamic Party: 3
4. Shabak: 1 – through quota
4. Christian: 1 – through quota
4. Yazidi: 1 – through quota

Qadisiyah (28 seats)
1. State of Law – Maliki: 11
2. Al-Mihrab Martyr List – SIIC: 5
3. Iraqi National List – Allawi: 3
3. National Reform Party – Jaafari: 3
5. Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – Sadr: 2
5. Islamic Loyalty Party: 2
5. Fadhila Party: 2

Salahaddin (28 seats)
1. Iraqi Accordance Front: 5
1. Iraqi National List – Allawi: 5
3. Iraq National Project – al-Mutlaq: 3
3. National Project of Iraq: 3
5. Group of Intellectuals and Scientists: 2
5. Iraqi Turkoman Front: 2
5. Front of Liberation and Building: 2
5. Salahaddin Patriotic List: 2
5. Brotherhood and Peaceful Coexistence: 2
5. State of Law – Maliki: 2

Wasit (28 seats)
1. State of Law – Maliki: 13
2. Al-Mihrab Martyr List – SIIC: 6
3. Independent Trend of the Noble Ones – Sadr: 3
3. Iraqi National List – Allawi: 3
3. Iraqi Constitutional Party: 3


Associated Press, “Iraqi provincial election results,” 2/19/09

Farrell, Stephen, “Election: Preliminary Results,” Baghdad Bureau Blog, New York Times, 2/5/09

Hamid, Nirmeen, “anbar’s Islamic party and tribes vie for power,” Niqash, 12/12/08

Madhani, Aamer, "In Anbar, new partnership are taking root," USA Today, 2/8/09

Rubin, Alissa, “Prime Minister’s Party Wins in Iraqi Vote but Will Need to Form Coalitions,” New York Times, 2/6/09

Al-Sa’dawi, Ahmad, “post-election analysis: real change or more of the same?” Niqash, 2/19/09

Iraq’s Oil Exports And Revenue Drop In May

In May Iraq suffered a drop in international oil prices. Its exports dipped as well.