Baghdad / Najaf, Asharq Al-Awsat – Sources in the National Iraqi Alliance [NIA] that is led by Ammar al-Hakim have confirmed that leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, following pressure from Iran, has agreed to State of Law [SLC] candidate Nuri al-Maliki remaining in office for a second term “in return for guarantees.”
Sources have revealed that al-Sadr agreeing to al-Maliki heading the forthcoming government occurred after al-Maliki agreed to offer concessions. A source also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Iran played a major role in persuading many of the parties that opposed al-Maliki undertaking a second term [in office]” and that “Iran did not pay any attention to the opposition of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq [ISCI] to al-Maliki’s nomination.” The source also revealed that the ISCI, that is led by Ammar al-Hakim, was absent from the National Alliance meeting [between the SLC and NIA] held on Monday, and that this “represented a message rejecting the mechanism of consensus and compromise in place with regards to choosing a prime ministerial candidate” and that the NIA “desires to move to another mechanism [for choosing a candidate] whereby a candidate is selected according to agreed specifications and conditions.”
Members of the ISCI had been absent from the meeting that took place on Monday, and which was expected to be crucial for al-Maliki, however their absence failed to completely resolve the situation. At the same time that this meeting was taking place, ISCI leader Ammar al-Hakim was meeting with Iraqiya bloc leader Iyad Allawi, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and Iraqi Vice President and NIA prime ministerial candidate Adel Abdel-Mahdi. Some political circles interpreted this meeting as potentially leading to an alliance that would prevent al-Maliki from becoming prime minister, instead seeing Abdel-Mahdi obtaining the post with the support of the ISCI, the Kurdish blocs, and the Iraqiya bloc. However, according to sources, the ISCI returned yesterday to withdraw its opposition against al-Maliki remaining in office for a second term.
For his part, Ali Shabar, a senior member of the NIA told Asharq Al-Awsat that the mechanisms that have been put in place by the National Alliance will select a candidate within the next two days. He also revealed that both parties within the National Alliance are adamant that their candidate [al-Maliki for the SLC; Abdel-Mahdi for the NIA] should be the National Alliance’s candidate, and that the NIA insist that Adel Abdel-Mahdi should be the National Alliance’s prime ministerial candidate.
The National Alliance agreed last week that its prime ministerial candidate would be chosen via a mechanism of consensus, and imposed a 5-day deadline for this to take place. However other sources have confirmed that this deadline has been extended for another 5 days. In the event of the National Alliance not being able to nominate a single candidate, Shabar told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we hope to see an end to the crisis inside the National Alliance, and if this does not happen, we say that the Iraqiya bloc is a bloc that has political weight, and everybody will certainly listen to and support it in this issue, for every action there is a reaction.”
The second mechanism through which the National Alliance can choose its prime ministerial candidate is via a vote, with the candidate that wins between 60 percent and 65 percent of the vote of the National Alliance’s 159-member General Assembly winning the nomination. A third mechanism could see a candidate chosen by a vote of the “Rulers Committee” that is made up of 14 figures, with the candidate winning 65 percent of the vote – or 9 of the 14 votes – being named the National Alliance prime ministerial candidate.
In addition to this, Adel Abdel-Mahdi confirmed that the ISCI supports the formation of a successful government that includes the Iraqiya bloc, the SLC, and other winning electoral bloc; however this is not a condition that is currently being imposed [by the National Alliance’s nomination mechanism]. In a press conference held yesterday, Abdel-Mahdi said that the ISCI and the Iraqiya bloc – following the meeting between them – agreed on the importance of forming a national consensus government, and for dialogue to take place with all parties.