Stage two of the current phase of the political in Iraq which we anticipated a few days ago has just begun and its beginning is marked by the emergence of a new large political bloc.
The new bloc was announced today in Baghdad after the largest three blocs of Maram-the Iraqi list, the Accord Front and al-Mutlaq’s Dialogue Front-signed an agreement to form one unified political body.
This agreement will grant the new political body a significant political weight with a total of approximately 80 seats in the parliament and with good prospects for reaching something close to 100 seats if a few other smaller lists like Mishaan al-Juboori’s list, the Islamic union of Kurdistan, Turkmen and Christians chose joining it.
Of course these numbers are not final until the election commission gives the final count and the international investigation team verifies those results and finishes studying claims of fraud.
Anyway, now the equation seems easier to read with only three variables instead of four or five!
Allawi who appeared in a press conference today after a relatively long hiatus emphasized again that talking about forming the government should take place only after the investigation is over.
Adnan al-Dulaimi and Salih al-Mutlaq were standing behind Allawi during the press conference which means that the two men have given Allawi the leadership of the new alliance.
Allawi stressed that the new bloc rejects and condemns terrorism, of course this is something not unusual from Allawi but I think that Allawi this time was speaking on behalf of al-Dulaimi and al-Mutlaq who have recently been accused so many times by the UIA of backing terrorism.
Allawi also pointed out that he recently spoke to president Talabani and that their talks were friendly and they agreed on many issues but he also said that the formation of the government wasn’t part of the discussion.
The fuel crisis is still among the Iraqis’ major daily concerns, especially after the price of gasoline reached as high as 2 $/gallon, a price that has never been reached before.
Only days after the government gave the oil minister a long forced vacation and replaced him by Ahmed Chalabi, they are asking the minister Bahr al-Iloom to come back but Bahr al-Iloom set two conditions for his return to the ministry; first is adopting a plan for gradual in crease in fuel prices and second is to distribute the excess money resulting from the increased prices to the poor families in Iraq.
Actually the second part is already part of the government’s announced plan and Bahr al-Iloom’s demand suggest that probably he was expecting the government to abandon this part concerning distributing the excess money.
The day’s other big event is something that has been awaited for quite along time, and it is an achievement of special importance for the Kurds in Iraq, today Masoud Barzani announced that the KDP and PUK have finally reached an agreement to unite the two Kurdish administrations in Erbil and Sulaymaniya. It’s worth mentioning that since after 1991, the Kurdish region was run by two separate administrations; one by the KDP in Erbil and Duhok and the other by the PUK in Sulaymaniya.
Via Ali al-Dabbagh, Sistani delivered a message to the rival parties in which he expressed support for the formation of a national unity government but with respect to the results of the elections.
Moreover, the UIA’s 3rd candidate for PM Nadeem al-Jabiri had a meeting yesterday with Ayatollah al-Yakoobi in Najaf to discuss his decision to run for office. Al-Jabiri told al-Sabah that he came out with “a positive reaction from al-Yakoobi represented by supporting his nomination”.
Reading this as well as Sistani’s message, one can see that the clergy still wants an active role in Iraq’s politics even from a far although top clerics said more than once that they would leave politics to the politicians.
Anyway, I think the next few days until the (unverified) final results are announced will be a waiting phase for most political powers.
Politicians already know that neither the election commission nor the international investigators can change much of the results; they will pretend to be awaiting announcements from those two entities, basically to use this time to organize their lines, probe the pulse of other parties and prepare for the real negotiations that are yet to come.