Jacoby: US Withdrawal on Schedule; Al-Maliki’s party has strong showing in Basra; Al-Maliki said Convinced he can retain Prime Ministership

Al-Hayat [Life] is reporting in Arabic that Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby now says that the US military withdrawal from Iraq is on schedule and that only 50,000 US troops will be in the country by the end of August. He also affirmed that the Iraqi military and police are now capable of keeping order in Iraq, saying that the role they played in providing security during the March 7 elections shows that they have made a big advance in their capabilities.

The Obama administration is eager to get out of Iraq militarily, and so far is experiencing good luck insofar as security has improved, and the civil war has subsided.

The parliamentary election has also not developed into an obstacle to withdrawal. Indeed, it is likely to produce a government that looks somewhat like that of summer, 2006, with Nuri al-Maliki again prime minister and a national unity cabinet with representation for the Shiite fundamentalist parties and for the secular Sunni-Shiite coalition of Iyad Allawi. It will take weeks or months to cobble this ‘alliance of rivals’ together, since government ministries are given out as inducements, and there is wrangling over who gets what. (Iraq operates by the ‘spoils system’ common in the 19th century US, whereby victorious parties get to hire their party workers to staff government jobs in the ministries they control).

That al-Maliki is likely to get a second term has pros and cons for Washington. The pros are that there will be continuity in Iraqi politics, that al-Maliki has gotten control of the armed forces and will remain in control, and that while he has good relations with Iran, he is not as close to Tehran as some of the fundamentalist Shiite parties in the Iraqi National Alliance. The cons are that al-Maliki has shown little interest in reconciliation with secular, Arab nationalist Sunnis, that he has cultivated tribal militias loyal to himself, and that he has not shown very much interest in or capacity for starting and speeding along projects key to Iraq’s economic infrastructure. Washington would no doubt prefer to have an anti-Iran prime minister like Allawi, and one less hostile to Israel.

Al-Hayat also says that the Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq has released further partial results from the March 7 parliamentary election, showing that the State of Law coalition of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is substantially ahead in Basra, with the fundamentalist religious parties of the Iraqi National Alliance coming in second in the southern Shiite oil port. (See also the numbers below).

Al-Maliki’s coalition is also said to be leading by a good margin in Baghdad province (where it had won 38% in last year’s provincial elections). This assertion is contested, however, by political commentator Hazim al-Na’imi, who expects Baghdad in the end to divide its vote in almost equal thirds among al-Maliki’s coalition and its two major allies. Al-Hayat says that with 60% of the vote counted, Baghdad has returned 158,763 votes for al-Maliki’s party, 108,126 for the Shiite Iraqi National Alliance, and 104,810 for Allawi’s secular Iraqiya.

Al-Hayat says its sources close to al-Maliki report that he has become convinced that he will remain prime minister, insofar as his coalition defeated the Iraqi National Alliance, Shiite parties close to Iran, among the 60% of the population that is Shiite Muslim.

The National Iraqi List of former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, which has attracted a lot of Sunni Arab votes along with those of secular-minded Shiites, is coming in third after the Shiite fundamentalists, but only by a small margin.

Although Allawi’s secular party has largely supplanted the Sunni fundamentalist party, the Iraqi National Accord (Tawafuq), the members of the cabinet will likely be somewhat similar to those of past Iraqi governments.

Reader Harmis4 helpfully writes in:

“Results as Sunday 7PM EST

The IHEC has released election PDF files of 10 provinces on it’s website. Perhaps 10% of the national vote is listed. The combined totals and the estimated seat distribution based on Iraqi Electoral Law and the partial totals are as follows.

State of Law – 345,005 57 Seats

Iraqi National Movement – 290,724 58 seats

Iraqi National Alliance – 276,403 48 seats

Kurdistan Alliance – 130,409 14 seats

Iraq Unity Coalition 31,150 4 seats

Iraq Accordance – 30,360 9 seats

Change – 22,948 2 seats

Kurdistan Islamic Group – 12,511 1 seat

Islamic Union of Kurdistan – 11,173 1 seat

Others 70,085 0 seats

Total: 1,220,768 194 of 310 regular seats.

More of the mainly Sunni Provinces are in in than the Shia or Kurd.

Based on these results the final seat totals may look something like this.

Rule of Law – Maliki – 90 to 95 Seats

National Movement – Allawi/Hashimi 80 Seats

Iraq National Alliance – Hakim/Sadr
75 to 80 seats

Kurdistan Alliance – Talabani/Barzani 40 seats

Small Parties – 75 Seats including 8 religious minority seats”

End/ (Not Continued)

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Responses | Print |

7 Responses

  1. The Sadrists, who practically made Maliki PM in 2006 now say that he cannot remain PM.

    This is quite critical. Most of the Iraqi National Alliance votes are actually for the Sadrists, who also have a long running fued with the Hakim family. I would rate the chance of a Sadrist withdrawl from the INA at over 80%. The weight of the rest of the INA is too small and there is no love lost between them and Maliki anyway.

    The Kurds are now in fourth place, (Maliki + Kurds would muster maybe135 seats well short of the 167 seat threshold. They have a huge list of demands in exchange for a deal, and Maliki has already said that a deal with them is unlikely.

    An Allowi/Maliki coalition can produce a majority, but the fight over the spoils will not be settled easily, and can also result in walkouts by disgruntled members from both.

    A government of national unity has already been derided by Maliki and most of the Arab politicians. It has already failed to deliver as every minister follows the oreders of his or her party, not the PM.

    The individuals winning the seats are largely different from the 2006 parliament too. Fewer are from the London and Tehran mobs that the US tanks brought in, and there are far more nationalists.

    The new government will therefore be very different indeed.

  2. .
    Any word on a drawdown in the number of contractors who are authorized to engage in combat operations as part of their assigned duties ?

  3. It is stunning how quickly IRAQ has been and will continue to drop off the radar screens of most Americans. imho They will shun their invasion and military occupation so completely that ~ rather than their being some lingering "reality" -vs- "revisionist" historical polarization, 'IRAQ' will become so radioactive, so distasteful a chapter that everyone, right, left and center will want to disown it. There never was any Old Glory opportunity for American assault and occupation troops, from the beginning ~ and the ending will be entirely managed by international 'corporatists', who, unlike mis-led soldiers ~ almost always remain unashamed of the rubble they wrought.

  4. link to nytimes.com

    March 14, 2010

    Netanyahu Offers Apology, but No Shift in Policy

    JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel told his cabinet on Sunday that the ill-timed announcement of new housing plans for a Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. last week had been “regrettable” and “hurtful.”

    Mr. Netanyahu also said that the government had set up a committee to “examine the chain of events and to ensure procedures” to prevent such an episode from happening again.

    But he did not indicate that the building project would be canceled — a move that might mollify the Obama administration and ease the start of indirect, American-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. In fact, the prime minister did not refer explicitly at all to the contentious issue of building in East Jerusalem….

  5. "Jacoby: US Withdrawal on Schedule"

    Glad to hear that since June of last year there are no longer any combat forces in Iraqi cities (including Baghdad) as was required by article 24 section 2 of the US-IRAQ SOFA.

    "All United States combat forces shall withdraw from Iraqi cities, villages, and localities no later than the time at which Iraqi Security Forces assume full responsibility for security in an Iraqi province, provided that such withdrawal is completed no later than June 30, 2009."

    We're on schedule, sure we are, by re-designating what "cities, villages, and localities" are, and re-branding "combat troops" as "Advisory Training Brigades" or "Advisory Assistance Brigades".

  6. man, i almost want the usa to stay in iraq so the us military doesn't have the strength to attack iran, or give israel the go-ahead to do so

  7. Estimated Seat totals based on vote totals listed on IHEC website and a calculation of seat distribution based on Iraqi electoral law.

    Rule of Law – Maliki – 92 Seats

    National Movement – Allawi/Hashimi 89 Seats

    Iraq National Alliance – Hakim/Sadr
    70 seats

    Kurdistan Alliance – Talabani/Barzani 41 seats

    Change (mainly Kurdish) – 9 Seats

    Iraqi Accordance – (mainly Sunni) 6 Seats

    Iraq Unity Coalition – 4 seats from mostly Sunni areas.

    Islamic Union of Kurdistan – 4 seats

    Kurdistan Islamic Group – 2 seats

    Religious Minorities – 8 seats
    Total Seats: 325

    There is a small chance that Allawi will overtake Maliki
    as the overseas votes are counted.

    Should Maliki keep his lead he will have to (1) form a government with his arch rival Allawi. or (2) form a largely Shia supported government with Sadr. or (3) try to break apart the other coalitions and form a government with the Kurds, small parties, and defectors.

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