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Fall Guy

Haider Najm
Everyone except the Dawa Party acknowledges the main painful reality to have become apparent with the announcement of the final election results. With the State of Law coalition ranking second behind Iyad Allawi’s…
1.04.2010  |  Baghdad

Ali al-Adeeb, who is Maliki’s deputy in the party and the closest to him, is among those unwilling to accept this reality.

“The State of Law coalition has no nominee other than Maliki and we will continue to insist that he assumes office even if we are going to face fierce objections.”

Yet Adeeb’s name is among those widely circulated as a possible alternative for the Prime Ministerial post.

“Maliki has more right to post than any other candidate whose names are being circulated and widely promoted by the media,” says Adeeb, loyal to his core.

Others in the State of Law coalition, which is composed of more that 40 political parties, gatherings and independent candidates, do not share the urge to keep Maliki as the sole candidate.

Even Maliki’s allies say that the priority for the coalition now is to merge with the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) headed by Ammar al-Hakim, as a starting point in forming a parliamentary bloc big enough to keep Allawi out. This would give them the opportunity to keep control of government and they are prepared to do this even it means sacrificing Maliki.

“The aim of the bigger coalition we hope to form is to keep competitors away from the new government, and this is more important than the name of the prime minister,” said Izzat al-Shabandar, part of Maliki’s coalition explained.

The main problem for Maliki with the INA is that Sadrists make-up 39 of the 70 seats won by the INA. Sadrists oppose another term for Maliki, with the movement’s leaders continuing to remind their supporters of the ‘Knights’ Assault’ in central and southern areas in March 2008.

Much rumour surrounds the negotiations between the parties, with no official consensus reached over the Prime Minister’s name.

“The negotiations that were held between the leaders of the two coalitions did not reach anything other than mutual understanding, similar to negotiations conducted with the rest of the parties,” said Nassar al-Rubaie, a leading member of the Sadrist Movement. “There is no detailed agreement reached. Real negotiations start only when the appeal court gives it final verdict regarding the elections’ final results.”

The INA has already chosen its two Prime Ministerial nominees, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the vice president of the republic, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the former prime minister. Leading members of the Sadrist stream said they kept the door wide open for a coalition with Allawi, in case negotiations with the State of Law coalition do not bear fruit.

Many names are being circulated around the political community from outside the list of those already officially nominated for the post.

“It is most probably that a compromise on the prime minister’s name will be reached in case there is no agreement on any of the names being officially nominated,” said Shabandar.

Jafar al-Sadr, the son of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, is a prominent figure and member of the State of Law coalition. His name is supported because of the position of his father among Shia groups. He is also a brother of Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement.

For the Dawa Party, the situation does not look good. However, even Maliki himself has admitted that his chances for renewing his term in office have shrunk.

“Holding the position of Prime Minister is not a condition we will impose on our allies,” said Maliki in a televised speech. “The selection of the new Prime Ministerwill be decided according to the convictions of the different lists with whom we ally ourselves and we will soon announce their names,” he continued.

But according to al-Naser Duraid, a political analyst, there is still a chance for Maliki.

“The absence of a candidate acceptable to all parties and Maliki’s success reaching out to the Sadrists may give him a slim chance to keep his position for another five years,” he said before admitting the reality that lies beneath.

“Maliki may still become the fall guy in the up-coming negotiations.”