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Enorrste Post: G.E.T Team (“Where We Are” as of 8/4/2010)
2011-08-05 12:29:38
My Assessment of Where We Are as of 8/4/2010

As I suspected nothing of any consequence occurred today in spite of the fact that Melkert had promised a “surprise” related to the formation of the new government when he gave his report today at the UNSC.

Of course he gave his report, but there was no surprise regarding the formation of the new government, unfortunately.

As many of you may know I started retranslating many of the Arabic to English articles the last couple of days. In some cases I have also added my own comments after the retranslations. Hopefully this will prove helpful to you all in understanding these strange documents, and will give you a better understanding of the political scene as it exists today.

I’d like to take a few moments to give you all a summary of where I believe the political situation lies at this point. While I cannot conclude that the government is formed, naturally, I do believe that there might be some light at the end of this long tunnel we have found ourselves in.

First, let’s identify the major players. This may seem a little basic for many of you but if you aren’t familiar with the players everything I say hereafter will seem as if it were Greek instead of English.

The winner of the election, technically, was Ayad Allawi. I will refer to him as Allawi from here on. His alliance is known as the Iraqiya List. The Iraqiya List, often called “the List” in the articles, won 91 seats in the new parliament, coming in first. While the Iraqiya List itself is largely Sunni, there are some Shiites and even some Christians in the coalition. Allawi himself is a Shiite, but he is a secularist, meaning that his religious affiliation does not impact his political activity.

Coming in second in the Election was the State of Law alliance. This alliance is headed by Nuri Al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq for the last 4 years. I will refer to him as Maliki from now on. He still is acting as an interim prime minister with the blessing of Mr. Talabani, about whom I will speak shortly. This alliance won 89 seats in the election. It is entirely Shiite in its conformation.

Coming in third in the election is the Iraq National Alliance, called the INA, which is what I will call them. This group won 70 seats in the parliament. This group is also Shiite in its configuration. It has not identified a single leader up to this point but Jafaari and Mahdi have been mentioned, as well as three other lesser known persons. Muqtada Al-Sadr, the cleric who was living in Iran until recently but now is in Syria, leads a portion of the INA. He hates America and has the backing of Iran. The US does not, therefore, want the INA to be heading the new government, although it would not mind the INA being a part of a larger super coalition.

The fourth group is the Kurdish Alliance, also know as KA. This alliance has several people who speak for it, but the best known is Talabani who was the President of the Republic for the last for years and is the current interim President of the Republic by order of the Supreme court recently. It is Talabani who has given the “ok” to Maliki to remain in office for the time being. The KA got only 43 seats in the parliament.

Now here is why there are so many problems getting the government formed. The first is that Maliki just won’t accept anything other than himself as the new Prime Minister. He formed a larger alliance on May 4 with the INA and his own State of Law. This alliance is known as the National Allicance. The combined alliance has 159 votes, just 4 short of a majority in parliament. He was able to get the Supreme Court to reinterpret Article 76 of the constitution to allow the National Alliance to be able to form the new government since it will come into parliament as the largest block.

However, Allawi, who came in first at the election, is disputing this interpretation. He has shown with documentation that the coalition with the largest votes at the election has the right to form the government.

This is where the impasse started, and as of today this has not been resolved. The UN has come out with a statement that Allawi has the right to form the government. Maliki is ignoring this statement as of today.

The Kurds have stated from the beginning that they will participate only if all four coalitions have a place in the new government. They were the first to suggest this and are finally being called upon to offer a proposal to get the government formed.

In the meantime the US has stuck its finger into the pie with two proposals, both of which have been rejected.

The first proposal was for Allawi and Maliki to share the prime minister position, with each of them serving 2 years. Of course they both wanted to have the second 2 year period, which would be when the economy was humming along nicely and also which period is closest to the next election, giving the person in power then the best shot at being re-elected. Since neither would give in the proposal fell apart. This was the proposal that Biden offered on July 4.

More recently the US has suggested that Maliki remain as prime minister and that a new Presidential position be created for Allawi in which he would be in charge of the military, Iraqi security, and some other ministries.

As we would expect, Allawi has rejected this proposal because he came in first and believes that he should have the right to form the government and therefore be the prime minister. Therefore this proposal was also rejected.

We are now seeing from the articles that it is the Kurds who have been quietly working in the background to get the government formed. Even though there is an article out today in which a Kurdish representative stated that they hadn’t gotten involved yet because it is too early, this is a smokescreen. They have been involved from the beginning, and this was admitted by Melkert of the UN. We know, for instance, that when the US delegation came to Iraq this last week that they met with the Kurdish leadership. Why would they do that if the Kurds were not involved.

The Kurds have finally come out with a proposal that may have merit. They have suggested that the State of Law break out of the National Alliance. It is clear that this alliance was crumbling anyway, and all talks between the INA and State of Law were suspended some weeks ago. So for the Kurds to make this suggestion is not disturbing.

The Kurds then go on to suggest that Allawi of the Iraqiya List and Maliki of State of Law join forces and form a united coalition. This is asking a lot, but it could happen. The big question here would be how they would determine who is going to be the prime minister. However, Maliki has been shown to be quite vulnerable and he might be open to another presidency in exchange for having a big seat at the new government table.

By joining forces these two would have 91 plus 89 seats for a total of 180 seats in parliament, a clear majority. Therefore the government could be formed.

The Kurds then suggest that after this alliance is formed that the new alliance then invite the Kurdish Alliance and the INA to participate in a super coalition which would then consist of all four parties. Presumably the table scraps would go to these 3rd and 4th place finishers.

If Allawi and Maliki are seriously considering this proposal a new alliance could be made in short order, even before Ramadan. Then the invitation to the other two coalitions would follow in short order as well, also conceivably before Ramadan.

Therefore, if cooler heads prevail, this could still get done before Ramadan.

On the other hand, based on what happened today at the UN, it is also possible that Ban-Ki-Moon is getting frustrated and that he may go ahead an install an interim government. If he does, I would suggest that he would also do this before Ramadan.

In either case above, I believe that the RI could occur shortly after the announcement of the new government or the interim government.

Of course I could be wrong.