November 12, 2010
by Michael Leon
by Michael Leon
I don’t think there is any way to interpret what has happened except as a victory for Iran. –
Iraqi politicians have finally begun forming a government at long last, 8 months after the parliamentary elections of March 7. Parliament finally met Thursday and elected Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani president once again. By the constitution, the president then asks the leader of the bloc with the largest number of seats in parliament to attempt to form a government, for which he has 30 days.
Talabani tapped Shiite lay leader Nuri al-Maliki, whose current (post-election) coalition has over 140 seats of the 163 needed for a majority in parliament. Al-Maliki leads the lay Shiite fundamentalist party, the Da`wa or Islamic Mission Party, which is at the core of the State of Law coalition. Al-Maliki had been a Shiite plotter against Saddam Hussein, based in Damascus, in the late 1980s and the 1990s.
Technically, Iyad Allawi’s secular, nationalist Iraqiya Party has 91 seats to al-Maliki’s 89. But al-Maliki has found a lot of new coalition partners since the election, which the Iraqi supreme court recognized as legitimate; that is, it said that post-election coalitions could legitimately be formed and could make a bid to form a government. Allawi was a Baathist in his youth but he broke with the party and became an important dissident.
In the 1990s, when he was based in London the CIA picked him up to recruit Iraqi officers to defect.) Allawi’s two constituents, the Sunni Arabs and the US, both want him to be influential in the government and to work against Iranian dominance of it. Some 80% of the Sunni Arabs voted for Allawi’s Iraqiya Party in March.
Aljazeera English reports that
Iraqiya has said its participation hinged on four conditions: a bill forming the security body, a committee examining cases against political detainees, codifying the power-sharing deal and annulling the bans against the three Iraqiya members.’