Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi Agriculture Minister Izz Al-Din Al-Dawla has announced the formation of a political coalition called Al-Tariq (“The Way”) to run in the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Dawla, formerly a leading figure in Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya List and the former deputy leader of the “United” bloc led by Osama Al-Nujaifi, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that “the bloc will include a number of politicians, intellectuals and tribal leaders who have not been involved in politics and have not been involved in any of its issues, which are not pleasant to anyone.”
He said his coalition has “a nationalist approach that aims to present a true picture of politics.”
“I will focus on the governorate to which I belong, which is Nineveh, and I will make alliances with other blocs” with similar positions on the issues, Dawla added.
The Iraqi agriculture minister stressed that his new coalition will not accept “any party that has sectarian leanings.”
The United bloc elected Rafie Al-Issawi, a former minister of finance and a leading member of the Iraqiya List, as its new deputy leader in place of Dawla during a meeting in Erbil last week.
Issawi’s election follows accusations by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki that the United bloc was involved in terrorist operations. Maliki described Issawi as a “defendant.”
While the United bloc has remained silent on the subject of Maliki’s accusations, the National Dialogue Front, led by Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Al-Mutlaq, said it rejected the description of Issawi as a defendant.
A leading figure within the National Dialogue Front, MP Haidar Al-Mulla, said on Monday that “some of Maliki’s accusations against political partners, including the former finance minister Rafie Al-Issawi, are politically motivated.”
Mulla said: “The moves made by Maliki to try and appease Issawi are numerous,” pointing to recent visits by his envoy, Izzat Sahbandar, to the Issawi camp.
“It is shameful that after Maliki’s envoy spoke, Maliki goes out and denies it,” he added.
Mulla also said: “We reject the description of Issawi as a defendant, because he is an Iraqi nationalist leader who stood up to dictatorship only to face accusations, such as the ones brought by Maliki.”
Reaction to the possibility of new coalitions and alliances in the run up to next year’s elections has been mixed so far. MP Mazhar Al-Janabi from the United bloc said: “The next week will provide a clearer picture . . . because things are not clear now. What we are working on is adopting a plan that brings everyone together without exception, but under specific rules and regulations.”
However, Talal Al-Zawba’i, an academic who resigned from the Iraqiya List, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The Iraqiya List was originally comprised of diverse ideological trends . . . however, the Iraqiya List faced a reality which showed it as a supporter of a single constituency.”
In response to a question on the Iraqiya List’s support for Shi’ite Iyad Allawi becoming prime minister, Zawba’i said: “If the federal court prevented us from holding that post [prime minister], then it did not prevent us from holding the post of President of the Republic,” adding that “Iyad Allawi lost his luster after allowing the List to crumble and fall under the control of political Islam.”