Reactions to the results announced yesterday varied from one party to another but in general it seems that the results were welcomed outside Iraq more than inside as politicians here re still have the task of looking for a way to form a government that convinces all concerned parties.
The positive thing about those reactions is that objections weren’t as harsh as they were when the preliminary results surfaced. Now, those with objections confirmed that they want to push the political process forward; on al-Hurra, a spokesman of Maram said today that "although we have reservations on the results, we intend to go on with the political process" and this will most likely be enough to cast away the ghost of a bloody conflict we were afraid of.
All are convinced now that solutions lie within politics and negotiations but what concerns us now is that some parties will perhaps keep a high ceiling for their demands. It is true that no single bloc can form a government without forming a coalition with other bloc(s) but the number of seats each bloc got will remain the factor that decides the form of and terms of cooperation despite the calls for forming a government of national unity that overlooks election results and focuses more on dealing with the current challenges and dangers.
Today the supreme judicial board decided to extend the term of the interim national Assembly and interim government for another 3 months after a request submitted by the presidency council, apparently to avoid facing constitutional vacuum.
This decision suggests that forming the government is expected to take quite a lot of time.
The UIA looks excited and seems to be rushing things more than other blocs; yesterday they said they’ve formed to committees to direct talks with the two other major blocs; the Kurdish and the Sunni. The UIA hope they can form the government before the end of February when the reconciliation conference will be due, maybe to avoid external influence from Arab countries-that back the Sunni parties and Allawi-on the process. However, I think the UIA will not make it and will have to come to the conference before the government is in place.
The UIA is discussing many internal issues now, among which is the issue of nominating the PM as well as the need to reorganize their lines after facing objection on the policy of the UIA from the Fadheela and the Sadrists who said that it’s not the right time now to talk about federalism.
I expect the UIA to focus on renewing their coalition with the Kurdish parties but I doubt it will be as easy as it was last year for the changes that erupted on the Kurdish end, mainly the recent union of the two Kurdish administrations.
The UIA has put a condition-though they refuse to call it so- on the participation of the Sunni, that is “we want to form the government with the good elements in their bloc”. I believe this was a wrong choice of words because the Sunni too do not think that all UIA members are “good” and I think both parties should look at each other as a whole since all members in each individual bloc have come together to enter the election as one body after agreeing on a unified policy. This selectivity on the UIA’s part is in my opinion illogical and impractical.
Meanwhile, Mowaffac al-Rubai’i warned today from the allegedly continuous negotiations between the Americans and Iraqi militants and he strongly condemned these negotiations which he described as a threat to national security.
While the American embassy today resumed its talks with the Sunni leading politicians, 6 Iraqi militant groups announced that they will unite their forces and join the rest of resident of Anbar and Salahiddin in fighting al-Qeda. The new militant groups included the Islamic army, the Anbar martyr’s brigades and the 1920 revolution brigades.
This change sounds positive and encouraging. Although I always preferred that the government deals with such issues instead of militias because if those militias succeed in their new mission, they will have demands and they will gain leverage in later bargains when they will be asked to drop their arms (that’s if they have a plan to do so in the future).
However, the facts on the ground are not the same and the theory of excluding militias can be overlooked for a while because the government already has no enough power in the areas in question while those militias know their targets and they can reach those targets; they know the battlefield very well and they have the sufficient intelligence for this kind of battle.
Although those militant groups have a bad history of violence and terrorizing the population, the positive new change s that they are expected to coordinate their work with city councils which gives a feeling that they are not very far away from the government’s sight and that they meet with the government on the need for fighting foreign terrorists. But, this service will not be for free and the battle is going to be fierce as al-Qaeda realizes that the new enemy is very well informed this time.