New Iraqi Shiite Coalition coming together

Ahead of January’s parliamentary elections, Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a leader of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI) announced that the United Iraqi Alliance will announce five coalition partners next week. They include the Sadr Movement of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Islah Party of former Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, the Badr Organization (the political wing of the Badr Corps paramilitary attached to ISCI), section of the Da`wa Party- Iraq Organization, and ISCI itself. These are all fundamentalist Shiite parties. ISCI continues to reject the demand of the Islamic Da`wa Party of current prime minister Nuri al-Maliki for more seats in parliament within the UIA coalition, and for a lock on the prime ministership.

The significance of the report is that the Shiite religious parties won the two parliamentary elections of 2005 because they banded together into the United Iraqi Alliance. If Da`wa of al-Maliki runs separately, and some other Shiite parties do as well, they could split the religious Shiite vote and create an opening for secular or other ethno-sectarian parties.

Aljazeera English reports that the Sunni fighters of the Awakening Councils haven’t been paid for months now that the Shiite government of Nuri al-Maliki has taken over responsibility for them. The government never intended to integrate more that 17 percent of them into the state security forces, and now it seems the percentage may be even less. One problem with demobilizing the Awakening Councils is that the fighters have many enemies, and if they disarm they are at extra risk for reprisals.

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