On June 14, 2010 Iraq’s new parliament was finally seated. The problem was it was only in session for 18 minutes before it went into recess for an indefinite period until the largest blocs come up with some kind of agreement upon who will be the next prime minister. The two main Shiite parties, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law and the Sadrist-Supreme Council led Iraqi National Alliance (INA) are trying to lay claim to the top spot, but internal divisions are preventing them from forming a new government. The Sadrists came out early against the current prime minister remaining in office, but now the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) is also voicing opposition to Maliki as well.
The SIIC went public with their criticism of Maliki recently in a meeting with Baathists in Syria of all places. The same day that Iraq’s parliament convened, members of the Supreme Council met with three Baathists outside of Syria’s capitol Damascus, where they announced there was “no way” Maliki would return as prime minister. The Supreme Council’s envoy to Syria went on to claim that the Maliki was vengeful and isolated all those who disagreed with him. Finally, he said that the State of Law-National Alliance coalition should be able to nominate several candidates for prime minister, and then let the parliament decide upon the winner. The Iraqi constitution says that the list with the largest number of seats will put together a majority coalition in parliament, and then name the premier making the Supreme Council’s proposal unconstitutional, but they are just trying to find ways to marginalize Maliki.
Another way that the Supreme Council is trying to block Maliki’s return to power is by blocking his nomination within the State of Law-National Alliance coalition. On June 6 the two sides created a fourteen member “wise men” committee that is suppose to select the super-lists’ nominee for the premiership. The group is made up of seven State of Law representatives (4 Dawa members, 1 Dawa-Iraq, and two from the Independent bloc), and seven Iraqi National Alliance members (3 Sadrists, 2 SIIC, 1 National Reform Party, and 1 from the Fadhila Party). The Supreme Council successfully pushed through their plan that 80% of the committee, 11 members, had to agree on the coalition’s nominee. With the Sadrists and Supreme Council holding five out of twelve seats, and both being against Maliki he has no chances of winning that contest right now. On the other hand, neither does the National Alliance, which means continued deadlock.
The reason why the SIIC is increasingly against Maliki is because they are afraid of being marginalized within the new Shiite coalition. State of Law came in second in the election with 89 seats, 35 of which belong to Maliki’s Dawa Party. The National Alliance was third with 70 seats, but the Supreme Council only won 20 of those. They want their candidate Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi to become the next prime minister, something they have been pushing since the 2005 elections. That’s impossible right now since the Sadrists, who have the largest number of seats within the National Alliance are pushing former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari as their nominee. Since both State of Law and the Sadrists outnumber the SIIC, the only thing the Supreme Council can do is play spoiler until they figure out some back room deal that will get their man Mahdi into office. The problem is that’s as unlikely as Maliki retaining power. Until the Shiite parties work out their differences there will be no real movement towards a new Iraqi government, and that could take months, perhaps until the winter.
Aswat al-Iraq, “2 Shiite alliances to form “committee of wise men,”” 6/6/10
BBC News, “Iraq Shias move to form coalition,” 2/14/05
Sands, Phil, “Pro-Baathist Iraqis side with rivals against PM,” The National, 6/15/10
Shadid, Anthony, “Anger With Political Class Grows Among Iraqi Public,” New York Times, 6/14/10
Visser, Reidar, “The Fourteen Wise Men,” Iraq And Gulf Analysis, 6/12/10
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