Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki ended speculation surrounding his return to the Shia Iraqi National Alliance coalition by announcing that he will form his own ‘State of Law’ coalition soon. Al Maliki announced that he will contest the forthcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections [to be held in January 2010] by way of this coalition, and ruled out joining any other political coalitions.
The Iraqi National Alliance is a Shia-majority electoral coalition previously known as the United Iraqi Alliance. Al Maliki’s Islamic Dawa party was previously a member of the United Iraqi Alliance and Nouri al Maliki came to power in the December 2005 elections under its banner.
During a question and answer session conducted with journalists through the National Media Center website, Iraqi Prime Minister al Maliki said that the process of forming his own State of Law coalition is ongoing, and stressed that “the door is open with regards to reaching agreements with other coalitions in order to reach an understanding, whether this is prior to- or following- the elections, but this does not mean [we will be] joining other coalitions.”
Al Maliki clarified, “If a coalition wants to join the State of Law [coalition] then we will welcome it, so long as it takes up the standards and principles that we have adopted.” Al Maliki also confirmed that he is in the process of forming a large [political] bloc “in order to protect the political process and activate the executive and legislative role in order to prevent the state of weakness that characterizes the current phase.”
The Iraqi Prime Minister also told journalists that he intends to focus on “the principles of the National Project that has been adopted by the State of Law coalition to eliminate the obstacles that have accompanied the political process over the previous period.”
Iraqi MP Sami al Askari, who has close ties to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the day the new Iraqi National Alliance was announced was like [the declaration of ] the end of genuine dialogue between the Dawa party and the Iraqi National Alliance.” He added, “We stressed that if anybody rushed to announce the [formation of] the new alliance, that person would not be considered a founding member [of the coalition when it is officially established].”
Al Askari also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the course of the dialogue between the State of Law coalition and the [Iraqi National] Alliance involved the latter putting pressure on al Maliki to convince him to catch up with it on a number of issues, as well as [attempting] to intimidate him by saying that he would lose the elections, and that his contesting of the elections individually would result in dividing the Shia vote. Other people [attempted] to intimidate al Maliki through Shia marjas [religious authorities] who do not believe the State of Law coalition to be [religiously] acceptable.”
For his part, Fadhila party MP Bassem Sharif, who is also a member of the Iraqi National Alliance, said, “The Iraqi National Alliance desired and hoped that al Maliki would join [the coalition], because if they competed in the elections as part of one large list then they would achieve greater results. As for entering [the elections] with two coalitions, this will increase the electoral competition, which is something that could lead to political and security problems.”
Sharif added, “The progress indicators with regards to negotiations between the two parties suggested that al Maliki would not join the Iraqi National Alliance unless he was forced to do so by political circumstances, especially considering the continuous calls to delay announcing the [formation of] the Iraqi National Alliance.”