The announcement of the discovery of a secret prison in Baghdad where Sunni Arabs suspected of involvement in guerrilla activities were held and sometimes tortured may have an effect on the shape of the next Iraqi government. Over 400 Sunnis were held at the facility. The revelation starts one thinking about the true character of Iraq’s ‘democracy.’
The London Daily ash-Sharq al-Awsat points out that the prison was administered by the ‘military office’ of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is presently attempting to form a government so as to enjoy a second term as the Iraqi head of state.
Baha al-A’raji, a Sadrist spokesman, confirmed that the movement has decided that not only will it reject the candidacy for prime minister of Nuri al-Maliki, but they do not want a prime minister from the Islamic Mission (Da’wa) Party at all.
The prison torture revelations may make it more difficult for al-Maliki to form an alliance with another potential partner, the Iraqi National List. That list had strong Sunni support. And, supporters of the Iraqiya list are already upset the recount of ballots in Baghdad province, which they fear al-Maliki will manipulate to his advantage.
One possibility is that the Shiite religious coalition will split, with a majority following Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. That division would allow al-Maliki to ally with the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, headed by cleric Ammar al-Hakim. If the two of them could do a deal with the Kurdistan Alliance, they could form a government.
But the price of going for broke with another Shiite-Kurdish alliance is that it would be unacceptable to the Sunni Arabs. The Iraqi National List of Allawi is already threatening to boycott any such government and to instead sit in the opposition and to refuse to join in a government of national unity.