London / Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – Statements issued by the State of Law Coalition that is led by the leader of the outgoing government, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc were in stark contrast regarding the results of their separate meetings with a delegation from the chancellorship of US National Security, which has been visiting Iraq over the past two days.
Al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition confirmed that the US delegation had come to a decision with regards to the issue of a joint government being formed with the Iraqiya bloc, confirming Washington’s desire to see a coalition government formed between the State of Law coalition and the Iraqiya bloc. However the Iraqiya bloc denied this, and stressed that it is close to allying and forming a government with the National Iraqi Alliance that is led by Ammar al-Hakim, and the Kurdistan Alliance.
According to information leaked from the US delegations meetings with the Iraqi parties, the US delegation put forward a number of scenarios to resolve the political stalemate in Iraq including granting al-Maliki a second term in office whilst granting Allawi a key position in government such as head of the Political Council for National Security, which would grant him significant political power.
However Mohammed Allawi, member of the negotiating committee on behalf of the Iraqiya bloc, rejected al-Maliki being granted a second term as prime minister.
Allawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “what al-Maliki hasn’t acknowledged is the Iraqiya bloc’s constitutional entitlement to form the next government as the winning coalition at the legislative elections, and because it is the largest bloc [in terms of parliamentary seats] therefore there will be no serious dialogue with the State of Law coalition [about this]”.
Mohamed Allawi, who was speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Amman yesterday, also stated that “we sent a clear message to the US administration’s delegation which is made up of US National Security figures during their meeting with the head of the Iraqiya bloc and a number of its senior members the day before yesterday who suggested that we form an agreement with the State of Law coalition to form a coalition that has a comfortable majority and which can form a government.” Allawi said that “we informed the US delegation of the importance of implementing the [Iraqi] constitution, which is something that al-Maliki does not acknowledge, and if he remains determined to breach this, we will not cooperate or come to an agreement with him, because we do not want to violate the Iraqi constitution”.
Allawi added that “Al-Maliki implementing the constitution would mean his acknowledgement of the Iraqiya bloc’s right to form a government under the leadership of Dr. Iyad Allawi, who is the Iraqiya bloc’s candidate for this post. We do not agree with someone who wants to play games with the constitution”.
The Iraqiya bloc senior member also stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the agreement and understanding with the National Iraqi Alliance that is led by Ammar al-Hakim…has reached its highest level, and we are in extremely advanced discussions with them [over forming a government].” He revealed that “the next few days will reveal that we have come to an agreement to end the stalemate surrounding the formation of the next government.”
Allawi added that “the American delegation came with an agenda to urge the Iraqi leaders to form a government before the month of Ramadan, and we consider this to be impossible.” He also said that “the Iraqiya bloc refuses to respond to any agendas, whether they are US agendas or otherwise, and we insist upon working according to an Iraqi agenda.”
On the subject of the likely scenario for forthcoming electoral alliances, Allawi told Asharq Al-Awsat “we are on our way to forming an alliance that brings together the Iraqiya bloc, the National Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdistan Alliance”. He also said that “the meeting between the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, and Dr Allawi, which took place yesterday [Sunday] at the Salahuddin resort near Erbil, was positive and fruitful, as usual, since there is a high degree of understanding between the Iraqiya bloc and the Kurdistan Alliance. Also the historical relationship between President Barzani and Dr. Allawi contributed to shortening the time during our discussions with our Kurdish brothers.”
Mohammed Allawi also described the news that were being put forward by some media outlets, and which were repeated by Iraqi politicians, that he was being put forward as a compromise candidate to head the next government of Iraq as “unfounded rumors.” He added that “part of the goal [of these rumors] falls under failed attempts employed by some to dismantle Iraq, either through pathetic attempts or by spreading such rumours.”
He told Asharq Al-Awsat “I will tell you myself that the issue of my being named as a compromise candidate for the premiership is completely out of the question, and the Iraqiya bloc members insist upon Dr. Iyad Allawi, and we reject any other candidate for the premiership of the next government.”
According to Allawi “the discussions between the Iraqiya bloc and the State of Law are ongoing, and the talk revolves around general issues, although these do not go into great detail, especially with regards the issue of the next prime minister and the other senior governmental positions.”
Allawi commented about what was offered by a senior member of the State of Law coalition, saying “al-Maliki’s coalition offered [Iyad] Allawi the post of Iraqi president in addition to leadership powers, or the post of the president of the Political Council for National Security.” He said that “with regards to the position of Iraqi president, we support the Kurdistan Alliance candidate, President Jalal Talabani; therefore we did not ask for and will not talk about this position, or the position of parliamentary speaker. If our brothers in the State of Law Coalition want to discuss the position of Iraqi President, they should talk to the Kurdistan Alliance, not us, because we insist upon our constitutional entitlement to form a government and prime minister”
He added “as for the position of president of the Political Council for National Security, the Iraqiya bloc offered this position to al-Maliki, because our candidate will form the government, and the Iraqiya bloc is [the electoral bloc] that will offer them posts, not vice versa.”
A senior member of al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity said “the State of Law coalition has offered Allawi the Iraqi presidency, with additional powers, or the presidency of the Political Council for National Security. This is an important position as members [of the Political Council for National Security] include the President, the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister, Interior Minister, and National Security Minister, and the heads of the political blocs. This was proposed in return for the Iraqiya bloc’s agreement of al-Maliki remaining Prime Minister, although they rejected this offer.”
The senior State of Law coalition member, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Baghdad yesterday, said “we welcome the proposals made by the US delegation, and we are very interested in allying with the Iraqiya bloc to bring their programs and views closer to our programs and views, but their determination to hold onto the position of prime minister remains an obstacle to us forming a strong alliance with them.” He added that “allying with the Iraqiya bloc will enable us to form a strong government away from the extortion of the other blocs”, in a veiled reference to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the Sadrist trend and the Kurdistan Alliance.
State of Law coalition member Izzat Shabandar also welcomed the proposals put forward by the US delegation, telling Asharq Al-Awsat “this time the Americans are serious with regards to their involvement in Iraqi affairs” adding that they had “listened to the advice of others.” He said “the delegation sees the whole picture, and it is continuing its discussions with the leading [political] blocs in the country.” Shabandar told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the delegation was able to reach a lot of shared values that correspond with the American vision and direction with regards to the future of Iraq, and the formation of the next government.”