Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New DeBaathification Moves Unlikely To Change Iraq’s Political Scene

As the Accountability and Justice Commission is awaiting a court decision on the fate of nine winning candidates it wants to be disqualified for alleged ties to the banned Baath Party, the names of eight of them have been revealed. Earlier, the Accountability Commission also threw out 52 other candidates, two of which were winners as well. The identity of one of those victorious politicians has also been made public. If all the candidates are banned it could change the total seat count amongst Iraq’s largest lists, but it’s unlikely to end the current deadlock between them.

Eight of the ten known banned candidates come from Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement. Ibrahim al-Mutlaq was one of the 52 earlier banned politicians. He replaced his brother, Saleh al-Mutlaq, who was disqualified in the first wave of deBaathification that started in January 2010. The National Movement revealed the names of seven other candidates in April. They are Muhammad Naser Karbuli who ran in Anbar, Iskander Witwit who ran in Babil, Attab Jasem Nasif, Qays Shathr, and Adnan Janabi who all ran in Baghdad, Jamal Batikh from Wasit, and Falah Hassan Zaidan of Ninewa. All eight candidates together won 77,266 votes, all of which will be thrown out if the Accountability Commission gets its way.

If the votes are dropped and the National Movement still has the majority in each province, they will be able to name the replacement. However if they don’t win after the ballot change, then the runner-up list will get the seat. According to the Institute for the Study of War and Reidar Visser of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, the National Movement could lose two seats, one in Babil and one in Wasit if all the candidates are banned. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law could take the seat in Babil, while the Sadrist-Supreme Council led Iraqi National Alliance could get the seat in Wasit. That could give State of Law the largest number of overall seats going from 89 now to a possible 90, and cost Allawi his 91-seat lead.

In the end, the latest deBaathification moves are unlikely to change the overall political dynamics within the country. No party has the 163 seats necessary to form a new government, which means the largest parties need to form a coalition whether they lose or gain a few seats. All of Iraq’s top politicians are talking about forming a new national unity government that would include State of Law, the National Movement, the National Alliance, and the Kurdish Alliance. The disqualifications, and the on-going re-count in Baghdad province are just attempts by the leading Shiite parties to weaken Allawi’s nationalist and secular list before a new ruling coalition is formed because he was the winner in the March election. State of Law and the National Alliance are trying to take away his lead and make him a junior partner rather than the frontrunner in negotiations over the new regime. In order to join the new government however, Allawi has to give up his nomination to become the new prime minister since the Shiite parties want that position. Until he does that, State of Law and the National Alliance are likely to continue with various moves meant to weaken him.

Candidates Facing deBaathification (Name, Votes, Province, List, Possible Change)
Falah Hassan Zaidan, 18,954, Ninewa, National Movement, No Change
Muhammad Naser Karbuli, 16,122, Anbar, National Movement, No change
Iskander Witwit, 11,644, Babil, National Movement, Seat goes to Iraqi National Alliance
Jamal Batikh, 9,163, Wasit, National Movement, Seat goes to State of Law
Attab Jasem Nasif, 6,179, Baghdad, National Movement, No change
Ibrahim al-Mutlaq, 5,473, Baghdad, National Movement, No change
Qays Shathr, 3,451, Baghdad, National Movement, No change

Possible Change In Total Seat Count By Party
State of Law 89 to 90
National Movement 91 to 89
National Alliance 70 to 71


AK News, “Al-Iraqiya threatens of withdrawing if its winning members were excluded,” 4/30/10
- “The judiciary board deletes the votes of 52 candidates without their votes to their blocs,” 4/26/10
- “’State of Law interferes in excluding candidates,’” 4/27/10

Associated Press, “Baghdad Vote Recount to Take About 2-3 Weeks,” 4/29/10

Aswat al-Iraq, “Attempts to change election results – politician,” 4/27/10

Danly, James & Sullivan, Marisa Cochrane, “Iraqi Candidate Disqualification Update,” Institute for the Study of War, 4/29/10

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Iraqi Bloc Plans Response To Candidates’ Disqualification,” 4/27/10

Visser, Reidar, “Maliki vs Lami, Maliki/Lami vs Allawi(Update),” Iraq And Gulf Analysis, 4/29/10
- “More Post-Election De-Baathification: Another Blow to the Idea of Democracy in Iraq,” Iraq And Gulf Analysis, 4/26/10


Maury said...

Maliki has to be stopped.

Anonymous said...

Iraq has a weak political democratic system, which seems to have been successfully picked apart at the expense of opposition parties. The two major shiite parties apparently have now decided to form an alliance. Now we are potentially seeing the formation of a new ruling elite of the government, a bit like Iraqi Kurdistan, and more violence.
Perhaps America made a major mistake in transferring power so soon and allowing Maliki to take the reigns, without properly dealing with the security situation. Maybe there was no choice. Time will tell

Joel Wing said...

I don't think you can dump all of what's happening now on the U.S. 1st, Malik is the third prime minister since the U.S. invasion. He was chosen by the Supreme Council and Sadrists, not by the Americans. They had to go with who was in power.

Also the maneuvers going on right now are internal political struggles amongsts Iraq's elite. The U.S. doesn't have much say in the matter, and didn't even when they had more troops in country.

I think your point about a consolidation of power however is true. Right from the beginning I'e said that the new government will look much like the old one. Allawi was in fact a member of the 2005 government as a junior partner. That's what looks to be coming to Iraq in 2010 again.

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