Saturday, August 15, 2009

Accord Front Collapses, Sunni Tribes Seek Shiite Allies

There have been many changes in political alignments in Iraq recently. Old alliances fragment, new ones emerge, only a few seem to remain unchanged.

It appears the Accord Front (largest Sunni bloc) is no more. The bloc was not in great shape to start with as one of the three groups that originally formed the Front (the National Dialogue Council of Khalaf Ilayan) broke away several months ago. However, the disintegration is happening faster these days. Adnan al-Dulaimi, a founding member of the Front admitted to reporters that the groups that made up the Front are breaking away and joining other alliances to prepare for elections.

The Islamic Party, which is considered the backbone of the Accord Front is suffering from defections too, at the highest levels. A senior member of the Front mentioned that VP Tariq al-Hashimi, the head of the Islamic Party is going to announce his own slate, separate from his party, next week. A number of “prominent members” are said to have left the party and joined Hashimi. All reports so far indicate that Hashimi has joined forces with former PM Iyad Allawi in a bid to secure majority in the parliament.

A member of parliament who once led a campaign to turn Basra into an autonomous region is forming his own slate, apparently to compete for the same province’s representation in the parliament. MP Wa’ail Abdul-Latif, who was once member of Iyad Allawi’s bloc said his slate (The People’s Solidarity Front) has been joined by more than 60 political entities. Abdul-Latif described his coalition partners as “liberal and independent” but did not name specific parties.

The United Iraqi Alliance (the main Shiite bloc) is not in better shape than its Sunni counterpart. The Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI) has been relentlessly trying to put the bloc back together but hardly made any progress. ISCI announced several times that the new UIA would be declared “next week”. However, “next week” never comes!

ISCI, however, seems to be making progress in a different direction. Today there is some interesting news coming from the west, in Anbar.
Two main tribal factions have not been getting along very well lately. The Anbar Salvation Council (led by sheik Hameed al-Hayis) and the Iraq Awakening Council (led by sheik Abu Risha) have been competing for power in the province for a while, and lately the competition became a little aggressive. The interesting thing is that reports indicate that both Sunni factions are looking for Shiite allies. Abu Risha’s Awakening Council is said to be seriously considering allying with PM Maliki. On the other hand, there is a report today that says Hayis’ Salvation Council has joined ISCI as a member of the new UIA.

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