Allawi Resigns Joins New Government

Allawi resigns, Joins New Government

Iyad Allawi has consented to join the new Iraqi government. He is demanding 4 of 31 cabinet posts for his Iraqiya Party, which only has 40 seats in the 275-member parliament, including at least one important cabinet post.

Allawi has now submitted his resignation as prime minister and is dissolving his government, in accordance with the interim constitution, according to al-Zaman.

BBC world monitoring for April 10 reported:

“Al-Dustur publishes on the front page a 50-word report quoting Sa’d Jawad, official spokesman of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, as announcing that it is expected that the National Assembly will discuss today, 10 April, a number of issues related to “violations” committed by Iyad Allawi’s former government.”

NPR, April 7, reported on corruption scandals in the Allawi government as well:

Mr. RADHI AL-RADHI (Commission on Public Integrity): (Through Translator) The Allawi government used secrecy in all its financial proceedings, and this is against the transparency principle which was adopted in the new Iraq. In the coming days, Iraq will witness many prosecutions concerning the corruption that happened in the ministries.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Radhi says that almost no ministry in Iraq has clean hands, but the most egregious examples of corruption have come from the ministries of housing, electricity and health.

Makes you wonder if Allawi decided to join the government because if he remained in the opposition he was open to being investigated by his religious Shiite enemies, who were already threatening to proceed in that way.

Allawi was the candidate backed by the CIA and US ambassador John Negroponte. Despite his enormous advantages of incumbency, and his blanket presence on Iraqi television and radio in the run-up to the election, his Iraqiya list got only 14 percent of seats in parliament and did even worse in provincial elections. His only signfificant support appears to have been the secular-leaning middle classes of Baghdad and Basra, who were easily outvoted by the religious Right among the Shiites. Allawi shot himself in the foot by becoming too associated with the Americans, who are no longer popular in Arab Iraq, and by enthusiastically endorsing the destruction of Fallujah late last fall.

Allawi’s crushing defeat in the open elections engineered by Grand Ayatollah ended President George W. Bush’s forward policy in the Middle East. The religious Shiite parties would never put up with a US attack on Iran, and they are likely to find ways of supporting Amal and Hizbullah in Lebanon over time. Nor is it likely that they will moderate Hizbullah.

Initially Allawi had decided to remain in the opposition, which would have been just fine with the religious Shiites who won the election. But the Kurds and the Americans wanted to see a government of national unity where Allawi and the secular, largely ex-Baathist Shiites retained at least a little influence inside the new state.

Al-Zaman reports that the cabinet posts set aside for Sunnis have been reduced from 6 to 4 (to accommodate Allawi’s list?) This is not good news for national reconciliation.

The change came in part because the religious Shiites and Kurds have decided that the distribution of cabinet posts will be in accordance with the percentage of seats each major bloc gained in parliament. Thus, 27% will go to the Kurds, 53% to the religious Shiites, etc. Allawi’s list would get about 4 or 14%, and the Sunni Arabs if they also got four would actually be much over-represented (they won’t see it that way).

In addition to the prime minister, there will now be two vice premiers, according to the same newspaper. One will be Ahmad Chalabi, as vice premier for security affairs. The other will be a Kurd, Barham Saleh. The interim constitution had not specified any office such as vice premier.

Jalal Talabani was on Wolf Blitzer on Sunday on CNN. He seemed constantly confused. He referred to the new prime minister as “Ibrahim Allawi” (He meant Ibrahim Jaafari, whose name he forgot when he was nominating him as PM last week!) And he clearly confused Abu Musab al-Zarqawi with Muqtada al-Sadr for a while. Blitzer pressed him on Muqtada and Talabani at length said he was also a criminal like Zarqawi. Since Muqtada has something close to 30 supporters in parliament, and since Talabani may at some point need their votes, this equation of Muqtada with Zarqawi might have been unwise. I couldn’t even tell if that is what Talabani really meant to say.