Monday, February 13, 2006

The United Iraqi Alliance...Isn't really that united. (updated)

As expected, the UIA's decision to choose Jafari to become the new Prime Minister has caused a feeling of disappointment and in some cases serious worries among the rest of the blocs.

The first and strongest reaction came as early as last night from Jalal Talbani who was clearly upset by the result of the vote and said that "refusing the participation of the Iraqi list is just like refusing the participation of the Kurdish alliance…I tell those who say that the participation of the Iraqi list is a redline that to us, not giving the Iraqi list a role is a redline".
As you may already know, the Sadrists in the UIA who are supporting Jafari have publicly voiced their opposition to giving the Iraqi list a role in the new government, Baha al-Aaraji said on al-Hurra TV today that they "have nothing against the members of the Iraqi list but we are against Dr. Allawi in person…".

I personally think that the certain parties in the UIA have pushed things to the edge by insisting on Jafari while they know very well that all of the other blocs would be displeased by this decision.
Actually I believe that the unity of the UIA itself is on edge after this vote; the leaders of the bloc insist the decision to resort to voting does not undermine the unity of the UIA but I think it is very obvious that when 63 members voted for one guy and the other 64 voted for another it indicates serious divisions inside the bloc whose name (the United….) doesn't seem to fit anymore!
By the way, I don't know if you have noticed this or not, but Risaliyoon who are a small Sadrist bloc took part in the voting despite the fact that they're officially not members of the UIA which makes one stop to think about how much power the Sadrists really have inside the UIA.

I agree that it is theoretically their right to vote in the way they deem best for them but doing this at this critical point of Iraq's history indicates serious shortsightedness because they know that this would no doubt complicate the process of forming the government.
The power to make decisions must not be concentrated in one hand, that's what everyone agrees on, including the UIA, yet they have allowed themselves to do this by ignoring the other political powers and insisting on choosing Jafari and apparently those who voted for Jafari have no idea of what their choice can bring upon them and upon Iraq.

Right now, it seems that there's an inclination among the Kurds to vote against Jafari when he proposes his cabinet, and it is also very expected that the Iraqi list will do the same especially that the conflict with the UIA in general and the Sadrists is going on the personal level now.
This leaves the UIA with only two options to try if they want Jafari's cabinet to win the trust of the parliament: a) Use the relatively good relationship between Jafari and the Accord Front to persuade the Accord Front to split from its alliance with Allawi and al-Mutlaq and this way they will get the 51% they need. Or b) Make some huge concessions to the Kurds by offering them greater representation in the cabinet and accelerating the implementation of article 58 concerning the Kurds' rights in Kirkuk.

Both options are not impossible to do but the current mood indicates that the UIA is going to face a very tough task trying to work out a solution.

Update: February 14

The cracks between the various components of the UIA keep getting bigger.
Today al-Hurra quoted the head of Fadheela Party Nadeem al-Jabiri as he said:

If the new government refused to adopt our proposed charter of national rescue our party will not be among the supporters of Jafari's government…

The internal charter of the UIA had not been approved yet so there's nothing to prevent us from separating from the UIA if we choose to do so…

The charter of national rescue mentioned by al-Jabiri is basically a pledge proposed by the Fadheela Party and it stresses on forming an inclusive government that doesn't marginalize [or put redlines on] any segment of the people or the Iraqi political spectrum.
This new attitude of Fadheela seems to be another reaction to the Sadrists' opposition to giving Allawi and his bloc a role in the new government.

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