Shiites Have Majority
The Iraqi Electoral Commission confirmed on Thursday the projection I reported here last Monday, that the United Iraqi Alliance or the Shiite religious parties have a 51 percent majority of seats in the new Iraqi parliament. They have 140 seats out of 275. The wire services have been confused about this matter all week. Some were reporting the 140 seat total but then saying it was 48 percent. ??? Others did not seem to know about the second-round process where the votes that went to small parties that did not get seats would be reapportioned to the parties that did win. This is called the reapportionment variation on the “Hare” method, and was apparently the suggestion of the United Nations official Carina Perelli. Some observers are convinced that this method makes room for a lot of mischief.
Ibrahim Jaafari of the Dawa Party seems almost certain to win the prime minister slot. In my view the persistent reports that Ahmad Chalabi is still in the running are baseless propaganda coming out of Chalabi’s formidable but empty PR apparatus. I take it he wants an important cabinet post, and this is his way of staking claim to it.
Note that if there is a disagreement among the Shiite religious parties on who should be prime minister, they say they will take it to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who will resolve it. Sistani would certainly choose Jaafari, an old-time Dawa operative from Karbala close to the ayatollah.
Interestingly, Sistani would informally be playing a role here similar to that played by the monarch in the UK. Sistani as Elizabeth II. It certainly wasn’t what Bush had been going for with this Iraq adventure.
Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder is reporting that Jaafari’s aide, Jawad Talib, says,
‘ “Can Islam be applied now? No. We cannot do it now because the situation is not right for applying Islam,” Talib said. “But that does not mean we do not prefer an Islamic state.” ‘
Gilbert Achcar kindly shares his translation of a recent article in al-Hayat:
‘ The “High Commission” will proclaim the official final results of the Iraqi elections today
Al-Hayat 17 Feb 2005
Al-Sadr Supports Al-Jaafari
Amer al-Husseini, a leader of al-Sadr’s Current in Baghdad, told Al-Hayat that the Current “supports the designation of Ibrahim al-Jaafari to the post of Prime minister of the Iraqi government resulting from the elected National Assembly.” He added that al-Jaafari’s presence at the head of the new cabinet would be “a positive beginning for a better stage in Iraq.” Al-Husseini revealed that contacts were being held between the Coalition [the Unified Iraqi Coalition, backed by al-Sistani and the winner of the majority of seats in the Assembly] and the leadership of al-Sadr’s Current in al-Najaf. He did not exclude the participation of the Current in the new government.
Al-Hayat has also learned that the Bureau of the Highest Shia Authority Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and the leader of the Iraqi National Council Ahmad al-Chalabi try to normalize relations between “Al-Badr Organization” which is lead by the “Supreme Council” [of Islamic revolution in Iraq, al-Hakim’s movement] and the leadership of “Al-Mahdi Army,” the military wing of al-Sadr’s Current, in light of the tensions that dominated the relation between the two groups during the bloody events at al-Najaf some months ago.
The New Army
Al-Hayat has also learned that a security plan, which was mentioned earlier for the case where the Coalition would lead the new government, foresees the integration of large numbers of “Al-Badr” and “Al-Mahdi Army,” as well as the militias of Hizbullah and Al-Dawa, in the ranks of the new Iraqi army.
“Al-Badr Organization” published a communique denouncing the killing under torture of two of its members in one of the headquarters of Iraqi police in Baghdad. It demanded an immediate investigation of the event as well as measures to prevent such “crimes” to occur again.
In the meantime several forces opposed to the US occupation met in Um al-Qura Mosque on Tuesday and issued a joint statement renewing their demand for the withdrawal of multinational forces from Iraq, the abolition of the principle of sectarian distribution of power and the adoption of the principle of equal rights and duties. One of the participants, Abdul-Salam al-Kubaisi [prominent member of the Association of Muslim Scholars — see my previous translation from the same journal], said that the statement “does not mean that the signatories accept to take part in the drafting of the permanent constitution, but sets patriotic conditions for starting a general process enabling a broader participation of Iraqi communities in the drafting of the constitution despite their reservations on the elected government.”
Al-Kubaisi stressed that the elected Parliament should demonstrate its good intention toward those who boycotted the elections, and that the insistence of its members on the importance of the broad participation of political and religious forces in the constitutional process and in the government, notwithstanding their position on the occupation or the elections, is important for the new Iraq. ‘
[Am on the road and postings may be irregular for a couple of days]