Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that 149 MPs out of 198 in attendance voted for the security pact, including the three major blocs, the (Shiite) United Iraqi Alliance, the Kurdistan Alliance, and the (Sunni Arab) Iraqi Accord Front. The Iraqi Accord Front demanded as the price of its positive vote, and got, a commitment that the Iraqi government would conduct a national referendum no later than July on the agreement. Al-Hayat said that the Sadr Movement MPs came dressed in black and held up placards on which was written “Absolutely “No!” to the Agreement.” The 30 Sadrists were among the 49 present who voted against the agreement. For its part, the Islamic Virtue Party (Fadhila) boycotted the session (it has 15 seats).
Al-Zaman writing in Arabic pointed out that 149 out of 275 MPs is only 54 percent, while Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani had said he wanted a broad buy-in among the diversity of the Iraqi people.
I suspect the big Sunni Arab vote of the Iraqi Accord Front, along with that of the Kurdistan Alliance and the United Iraqi Alliance Shiites, will satisfy Sistani.
Joseph Krauss of AFP interviews analysts on the passing of the Iraqi-American Security Pact on Thursday. He quotes Hamid Hassan of Baghdad University as saying, “This agreement will make Maliki’s position very strong (in Iraq) because it includes a timetable for the withdrawal of American and coalition forces. . . This success will also send a message to President-elect (Barack) Obama and his people that Maliki is a strong person and a person who can be relied on.”
Krauss also quotes Hosham Dawod at France’s CRNS, “He knows that he has a small party, Dawa, but he is trying to create a dynamic around his person to enlarge his base . . . He is trying to obtain the support of the t19ribes, the technocrats, the middle class, the urban population of the big cities and even the Sunni Arabs in the areas disputed with the Kurds.”
I am quoted saying, “Maliki can only survive in the medium to long term if he can avoid being painted as a puppet of the Americans . . . This security agreement, because of its stipulation that the US gets out on a timetable, potentially turns Maliki into a hero of national independence.”
McClatchy reports the views of analysts who fear that al-Maliki may get too powerful in the wake of this victory. He is establishing tribal councils, which have a paramilitary element, and which some fear will become the prime minister’s private militia, and might intimidate voters so as to strengthen al-Maliki’s Da’wa Party.
McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Thursday:
– Around 10 pm of Wednesday a magnetic bomb targeted a civilian car in downtown Baghdad. An officer of police commandos was seriously injured and then died in hospital.
– Around 7 am a roadside bomb targeted an army patrol in Qahira neighborhood (east Baghdad). One soldier was killed and three others were wounded.
– Around 10 am a roadside bomb detonated in Maisloon intersection in Karrada neighborhood (downtown Baghdad). One civilian was killed and six others were wounded.
– A suicide bomber targeted a police patrol in downtown Mosul city. Six policemen were wounded.
– A suicide car bomber targeted a police patrol in Mansour neighborhood in Mosul city. Two civilians were killed and 28 others were wounded including 16 policemen.’