Thursday, August 19, 2010

U.S. And Iran Both Support Maliki, But Disagree Upon The Coalition Behind Him

Both Washington and Tehran are currently backing Nouri al-Maliki to return as Iraq’s premier, but they disagree about how to form a ruling coalition. The United States is hoping that Maliki’s State of Law and Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement will come to a power sharing agreement where Maliki remains as prime minister and Allawi becomes the head of a new national security council that is supposed to place some kind of checks on the use of the armed forces, which Maliki has been criticized for in the past. The U.S. is also hoping to sideline the Sadrists for their anti-American views. Iran supports Maliki as well to preserve Shiite control of Iraq, but disagrees upon how to achieve that goal. They want State of Law and the Sadrist-Supreme Council led Iraqi National Alliance to form the backbone of the new government, and don’t want Allawi to have a prominent role because Tehran believes he will bring back Sunni and Baathist rule. Both Iran and America are talking about a national unity coalition after the two main parties are established. That would include State of Law, the Iraqi National Movement, the Iraqi National Alliance, the Kurdish Alliance, and perhaps some of the smaller lists as well.

Despite this congruence of interests, Washington and Tehran are still working at cross-purposes within Iraq. They both support Maliki, they both want the major parties to come together, but they are divided on the role of Allawi. They are also running up against the personal politics of Iraq’s leaders. Allawi and Maliki for example are both demanding to be premier, while the National Alliance does not trust Maliki. This outside influence, plus the shortsightedness of Iraqi politicians is a major reason why Iraq has no government months after the March 2010 elections. When one is formed, it will look a lot like the previous one, and be just as divided, unwieldy, and dysfunctional. How it’s made up will likely show which foreign power has more influence as well, Iran or the U.S.


Aswat al-Iraq, “Iran’s presence in Iraq relies on NC’s existence – Shiite source,” 7/17/10

Christie, Michael and al-Salhy, Suadad, “SCENARIOS-What is going on in Iraqi politics?” Reuters, 7/19/10

Dagher, Sam, “Iraq Weighs New Post to Help Form Government,” Wall Street Journal, 8/16/10

England, Andrew, “Deadlock in Baghdad as rivals stand firm,” Financial Times, 8/12/10

MEMRI Staff, “Divisions among Shi’a Could Prolong Discussion to Form a New Government,” MEMRI Blog, 6/25/10

Najm, Hayder, “al-maliki to bring washington and Tehran closer,” Niqash, 8/13/10

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