Baghdad/London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Adel Abdel-Mahdi, the Iraqi Vice President and senior member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq [ISCI] that is led by Ammar al-Hakim said that the political crisis in Iraq is nearing its conclusion, while also confirming the ISCI’s opposition to State of Law [SLC] candidate Nuri al-Maliki’s nomination for a second term in office, describing this opposition as being “clear and frank.” This took place at the same time that informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Sadrist trend that is led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has given al-Maliki until 15 October to convince other blocs to nominate him as prime minister of the next government.
Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the National Iraqi Alliance [NIA] that includes – in addition to his own party the ISCI – the Sadrist trend and other Shiite parties, formed the “National Alliance” with al-Maliki and the SLC. The NIA had proposed Adel Abdel-Mahdi for the National Alliance’s prime ministerial candidate, whilst the SLC had proposed Nuri al-Maliki, and the momentum is now with al-Maliki after the Sadrist trend announced its support for him. Meanwhile, Ammar al-Hakim has rejected the nomination process and opened dialogue with the Iraqiya bloc that is led by Iyad Allawi. The Iraqiya bloc considers itself to have the constitutional right to form the next government as it was the bloc that won the largest number of seats at the elections.
In a statement released by Adel Abdel-Mahdi and which Asharq Al-Awsat obtained a copy of, the Iraqi Vice President and ISCI prime ministerial candidate said that “the issue has become clear, and we have reached a state of centralization, rather than the previous state of disorganization…there is a competition with whoever obtaining a majority becoming the nominee for the Iraqi premiership, in addition to agreements being made with regards to [who will be] speaker of the Iraqi parliament and President of Iraq. Therefore there is competition to obtain the required majority as put forward by the constitution.”
As for the position of the ISCI towards al-Maliki’s nomination, Abdel-Mahdi said that “the position of the ISCI on this issue is clear, and with our respect to Mr. al-Maliki, we do not support his nomination, and this is a clear and frank position that has been publicly announced by the ISCI.”
As for the issue of the ISCI remaining part of the National Alliance [between the NIA and SLC] al-Mahdi said that “it is not important whether we are part of the National Alliance or not, in all countries in the world there are political powers that are involved in alliances or blocs who differ on certain issues, this does not call for leaving or entering an alliance. We expressed a clear and frank opinion in our non-attendance of the National Alliance meeting (in which al-Maliki was nominated), which is our opposition to his nomination, and this is the most important issue that deserves to be focused on.”
As for what is taking place with regards the meetings between the ISCI and the Iraqiya bloc that is led by Iyad Allawi, and whether this aims to bring about a new political scenario capable of putting an end to the Iraqi crisis, the Iraqi Vice President said “there is no scenario, and I do not think that the brothers in the SLC have a full vision with regards to any scenario [to form a government]; the reality of the situation is that they have a certain number of deputies but not enough for a quorum, they have not reached the constitutional ceiling of obtaining the 163 votes required; therefore everybody is seeking to obtain the support that they need to obtain a majority in the Iraqi parliament, as required by the constitution.”
As for the position of the Badr organization – which is affiliated to the ISCI – that attended the National Alliance meeting where al-Maliki was nominated for the premiership, Abdel-Mahdi confirmed that the organization had published “official statements that it supports the political position of the ISCI.”
In addition to this, sources within the NIA have revealed that the Sadrist trend have given him till 15 October to convince other parties to support his nomination, otherwise another National Alliance meeting will take place – it is unknown at this time whether the NIA would attend this meeting – to put in place a mechanism for nomination.
Sources previously informed Asharq Al-Awsat that al-Maliki and al-Sadr had come to a political agreement that would guarantee the Sadrists sovereign positions in the forthcoming government, as well as guaranteeing Moqtada al-Sadr’s return to Iraq from Iran, and the release of Sadrist prisoners, in return for the Sadrist trend’s nomination of al-Maliki.
However speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Adnan al-Sarraj, a prominent member of the SLC, denied that the Sadrist trend had imposed conditions or a deadline on al-Maliki. He said that the Sadrists had demanded that a parliamentary session be held as soon as possible to expedite the formation of the forthcoming government. As for negotiations beginning once more with the ISCI and the Islamic Virtue Party, al-Sarraj told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the ISCI and the Islamic Virtue Party are committed to the alliance and will not abandon it; they are committed to voting for al-Maliki as the nominee for the National Alliance.” He added that “the next few days will see a clear breakthrough in the political crisis, and there will be a clear position towards al-Maliki’s nomination.”
At the same time, Allawi traveled to Cairo yesterday from Amman, in order to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. During this visit, Allawi is set to conduct talks with a number of Egyptian officials to discuss the latest developments in the Iraqi arena. The Iraqiya bloc that is led by Iyad Allawi and which obtained 91 seats at the Iraqi elections had announced its opposition to al-Maliki’s nomination, and threatened not to participate in any government led by him.