Iraq: Shiite Bloc Distances Itself from Controversial Biden Resolution

The USG Open Source Center reports on the way that the United Iraqi Alliance, the largest Shiite bloc, led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, has attempted to distance itself from the Biden-Gelb plan for a soft partition of Iraq. (This attempt at distancing come despite the similarity of the ISCI plan for an 8-province Shiite superprovince in the south to the Biden proposal.) This report calls the United Iraqi Alliance ‘the United Iraqi Coalition’ and refers to ISCI as IISC; the acronyms differ because the original Arabic terms can be translated in more than one way.

Iraq: Shiite Bloc Distances Itself from Controversial Biden Resolution
Iraq — OSC Report
Friday, October 5, 2007

Against the backdrop of widespread condemnation of the US Senate’s 26 September non-binding resolution sponsored by Senator Biden, the United Iraqi Coalition (UIC) [United Iraqi Alliance] — the largest Shiite bloc in the Iraqi parliament — endorsed a 3 October Iraqi parliamentary statement rejecting the US resolution. In addition, the UIC has attempted to distinguish the Biden plan from the federalism project spearheaded by the UIC’s main party, the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council (IISC), expressing concern that opponents of its initiative have been drawing connections between the Senate resolution and the UIC proposal.

Joining the widespread denunciation of the recent Biden resolution, the UIC endorsed a 3 October Iraqi parliamentary statement rejecting the resolution on the grounds that it was “interference in Iraqi internal affairs” and that it was based on “ethnic and sectarian foundations” (Al-Iraqiyah TV, 3 October). In addition, UIC officials sought to distinguish their longstanding position on federalism from the Biden initiative.

In a transcript from an interview with Radio Sawa posted on the website of his foundation, Ammar al-Hakim — son of the IISC’s ailing leader, Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim — stressed that the UIC’s version of federalism is based on “geographic” rather than ethno-sectarian grounds, and that Iraq’s federal structure would be determined by the public in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution (www.belagh.com, 1 October).

The news website of senior IISC official Jalal al-Din al-Saghir stated that he rejected “the partition of Iraq into Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish entities” on the grounds that each group exists in “every area” and that such a partition would involve the “expelling” of Iraqis from their homes (Buratha News, 29 September).

Earlier, UIC officials and media had complained that “some” were exploiting the uproar over the Biden plan by drawing false links between it and the current UIC federalism proposal.

Al-Saghir complained that “some” were using “deceitful” methods to associate the Biden resolution with the UIC plan in order to “fool the people” (Buratha News, 29 September).

Hadi al-Amiri — head of the Badr Organization, the IISC’s formerly armed wing — objected that the debate over the Biden plan was being used to insinuate that federalism is a means “for partitioning Iraq” (Al-Sharqiyah TV, 2 October).
Front page commentaries in the papers of the Badr Organization and of the UIC party, Hizballah Movement in Iraq, complained that the Biden resolution gave ammunition to those who wish to confuse Iraq’s internal debate over federalism by allowing them to depict the proponents of federalism as “tools implementing US schemes” (Badr, Al-Bayyinah, 1 October).

Lending weight to UIC officials’ concerns, critics of UIC’s federalism plan have pointed to what they claimed were connections between the UIC’s vision and the controversial Biden plan.

According to Radio Sawa, Ayad al-Samarra’i and Salih al-Mutlaq, major figures in leading Sunni parties with a history of criticizing the IISC’s federal designs, charged that the IISC and the US Senate “coordinated” on federalism, while Iraqi List MP Izzat al-Shabandar, who sponsored a late September declaration condemning the Senate resolution, observed that there were “several similar facets” between the two proposals (www.belagh.com, 1 October; Radio Sawa , 30 September).

Condemning the Biden plan as an attempt to partition Iraq, Al-Sadr Trend MP Salih al-Ukayli stated that “federalism and partitioning are two sides of the same coin so long as the occupation of beloved Iraq continues” (Al-Sharqiyah TV, 2 October).

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