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Iraq: Sadr and Hakim form new "strategic" alliance - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), and Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, hold a news conference in Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Haider Ala

Ammar Al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr hold a news conference in Najaf, 100 miles (160 km) south of Baghdad, on May 8, 2013. (REUTERS/Haider Ala)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Sadr Movement leader Moqtada Al-Sadr has announced a new alliance with the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) led by Ammar Al-Hakim, describing it as a “strategic” alliance.

In reply to a question from one of his followers about doubts in the alliance between the Sadrist Al-Ahrar Bloc and the ISCI’s Al-Muwatin Bloc, Sadr said: “Many people have tried to end this alliance and make it a failure in any way they could.”

He added: “This alliance strengthens the Iraqi, national, Islamic Shi’ite alliance,” and “makes the political arena fairer and removes domination and monopoly.”

This alliance brings together the two most important Shi’ite factions in Iraq following an experiment that seems to be somewhat of a success on the local level, namely the sharing of power in a number of Iraq’s governorates, particularly Baghdad. This experiment has seen a Sadrist-ISCI coalition defeat Iraqi prime minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s State of Law (SLC) coalition, which had monopolized the most important posts in the capital, including that of governor and head of the governorate council, for more than eight years.

Al-Ahrar bloc MP Mohammed Ridha Al-Khafaji informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the new alliance between ISCI and the Sadr Movement also includes the Kurds.” However, the leader of the Kurdistan Alliance in the Iraqi parliament, Fuad Maasoum, denied that the Kurds had joined any alliance.

Khafaji said: “The meeting between the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani, and the political bureau of the Sadr Movement, discussed the basis of this alliance.”

He added: “The political bureau of the Sadr Movement has told Barzani that it rejects any extension in the terms of the three leadership posts, including that of the post of prime minister.”

Khafaji stressed: “The new alliance, which includes the Kurds, will not be against any one, including the Sunni front, because everyone knows that the Shi’ite–Kurdish alliance is a historic alliance.”

The leader of the Kurdistan Alliance in the Iraqi parliament, Fuad Maasoum, denied that the Kurds had joined this alliance. Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Maasoum said: “This issue was not raised by anyone, whether during the visit by Massoud Barzani to Baghdad and his intensive meetings with senior leaders and officials, or at the Kurdish leadership level.”

He stressed, “It is premature to talk about any type of alliances, and therefore, I confirm that there is no truth in any reports about this [alliance].”

Commenting on Barzani’s visit to Baghdad, Maasoum said: “The visit achieved its aims from all angles, and the most important thing about it is that the leaders agreed not to delve into the details and leave them to the joint committees.”

He added, “Barzani was very satisfied with the meetings and the points which were discussed, and what had been achieved by all parties,” adding, “There is agreement between the two main parties in Kurdistan—the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)—on this visit and what was discussed. Everything takes place with the agreement of both parties, for the interest of the Kurdistan region and Iraq.”