Al-Maliki Allies with Sadrists; Al-Hakim and Allawi as Strange Bedfellows

UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Friday, and praised Iraq’s recent provincial elections.

The USG Open Source Center translated Iraqi television coverage of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s remarks on this occasion, in which he sought a new relationship of iraq to the UN Security Council: “Within its 1500 GMT newscast, Al-Sharqiyah reported: — “Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on the Security Council to reconsider the resolutions it issued on Iraq since 1990. During a joint news conference with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Al-Maliki said that he discussed with the UN Secretary General three main issues; namely, Iraq’s call for the Security Council to reconsider the resolutions considering Iraq a threat to international security, the Kirkuk issue, and the $25-million grant Iraq offered to the United Nations.”

Al-Maliki also spoke about the prospect of electoral alliances or coalitions among the various parties that won seats in the provincial councils. Apparently al-Maliki’s Islamic Mission Party will likely partner with the Sadr Movement.

The USG OSC conveys from Sharqiya Television:

‘ Al-Maliki said that alliances among the winners of the provincial council elections are inevitable in order to make change in the Iraqi governorates. During a joint news conference with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Al-Maliki said that there are talks with the winning lists to form alliances in the governorates where (his list) achieved high percentages.”
— “Amir al-Kinani, head of the Independent Free People Trend, which is backed by the Al-Sadr Trend, revealed that his trend has agreed, in principle, with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in his capacity as head of the State of Law Coalition, to form an alliance in the governorate councils won by the two lists. Speaking to Al-Hayah newspaper, Al-Kinani said that if any party wishes to join the alliance, it should adhere to the three principles of maintaining Iraq’s unity and preventing any plans to divide it, strengthening the central government, and postponing the discussion over federalism.”‘

If the followers of Shiite cleric Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr actually do form a coalition with al-Maliki’s Islamic Mission Party (Da`wa), that will be ironic. Al-Maliki’s party did so well because he sent his military against the Mahdi Army,the paramilitary of the Sadr Movement. But it may be that the Sadrists who ran for office were not close to the paramilitary wing of the party. Also, the Sadrists are fundamentalist and vehemently anti-American, whereas al-Maliki ran as a lay nationalist and has cooperated with the US. In fact, the Sadrists withdrew from their federal alliance with the Da`wa over al-Maliki’s refusal to snub George W. Bush, and they campaigned against the Status of Forces Agreement concluded by al-Maliki with Washington.

Sawt al-Iraq says that the provincial coalition between Da`wa and the Sadrists is virtually a done deal. The Sadrists asked the PM to have detainees from the party released, and he pledged to look into letting those not accused of serious crimes out. Al-Maliki in his turn urged the Sadrists to strengthen their moderates and to expel from the party those who resorted to violence.

Such a coalition would take Da`wa to 47% of seats in Baghdad province,

The alliance does make some sense. Both are religious parties aiming at an Islamic state in Iraq and both can be traced to members of the prominent Sadr clerical lineage. Da`wa’s major theorist twas Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, whom Saddam executed in 1980 and is therefore known as ‘the first martyr.’ And the Sadrists were founded by Muhammad Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, a cousin of the first martyr, who was himself killed by Saddam in 1999 and so became ‘the second martyr.’ Muqtada al-Sadr, the son of the second martyr and son-in-law of the first, at one point seemed to make a bid for the loyalty of Da`wa members, has found himself upstaged and it is the Sadrists who now seem to be following the lead of al-Maliki, the head of the Da`wa.

Even stranger bedfellows would be created by the bruited alliance of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (led by cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim) with the Iraqi List of former appointed prime minister Iyad Allawi.

The USG OSC translates a broadcast from Sharqiya (referring to the Islamic Supreme Council as SIIC rather than ISCI; the latter is IC house style):

‘ “The Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council (IISC) announced that it will form an unprecedented alliance with the Iraqi National List, the first of its kind between the two sides. The announcement came following a meeting held between IISC Chairman Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim and Iyad Allawi, head of the Iraqi National List, in Abd-al-Aziz’s office yesterday, Thursday, according to the IISC website. The website cited the head of the Iraqi National List during the meeting, which was attended by IISC leaders Adil Abd-al-Mahdi and Ammar al-Hakim, as asserting his interest in forming political alliances with Iraqi forces that believe in Iraq’s stability, safety, and unity, spearheaded by the IISC, led by Al-Hakim. The Iraqi National List has thus far not issued a statement to clarify this position.” ‘

Sawt al-Iraq also reports on the contacts between ISCI and Allawi’s list and speculates that ISCI is attempting to strengthen its position on provincial councils as a bargaining chip to use with Da`wa.

The only thing that ISCI and Allawi’s list have in common is that they have been sidelined by al-Maliki’s electoral victory and would like to improve their relative political positions. ISCI is clerical and favors Shiite fundamentalism. The Iraqi List is secular and seeks a separation of religion and state.

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