Baghdad / Najaf, Asharq Al-Awsat – At the same time that leader of the Iraqiya bloc Iyad Allawi was preparing to meet his election rival, Iraqi Prime Minister and leader of the State of Law coalition Nouri al-Maliki yesterday, informed political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that that Iran is intensifying pressure to ensure that the post of prime minister remains within the electoral alliance that was formed between the Iraqi National Alliance – State of Law coalition following the March elections.
Sources within the Iraqiya bloc and the State of Law coalition described the meeting that took place yesterday between Allawi and al-Maliki – at the request of the outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister – as being “decisive.” In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, sources said that they expect this to be the last meeting between the two leaders and that they would either “part company or come to an agreement.” Other political sources revealed that deals would most likely be discussed during this meeting, although they did not expect al-Maliki to relinquish his post as prime minister.
Sources also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “over the past two days, Iran has made quick moves to bring together the Shiite bodies and not miss out on the post of prime minister.” The source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, also revealed that Iran has intensified its pressure upon some members of the alliance that has been formed between Ammar al-Hakim’s Iraqi National Alliance and Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition “in order to force them to accept any figure within this alliance [for Prime Minister] and also to set aside their differences.”
This alliance yesterday held what was described as an extremely important meeting for unity in an attempt to deter some parties from backing out of this electoral coalition, in a clear reference to the Sadrist trend. Al-Hakim, who presided over this meeting, stressed the importance of unity, and sources attending the meeting said questions were raised about the outcome of the meeting that took place between Allawi and al-Sadr in Damascus.
A leading figure within the Sadrist trend, Baha Araji, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “three points were agreed upon during this meeting; firstly that no candidate would be named for the position of prime minister but rather for the political agendas of the winning electoral blocs to be examined and for a national partnership government to be formed. Secondly, over the necessity of a government being formed before 4 August in order to ensure that the Iraqi case is not internationalized. As for the last point, this is the formation of negotiation committees from the Iraqiya bloc and the Sadrist trend through the Iraqi National Alliance.”
For his part, Adnan al-Danbous, a leading figure within the Iraqiya bloc, described the meeting between Allawi and al-Sadr in Damascus as being important, especially as it took place more than 6 years after their last meeting. Al-Danbous also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the meeting was “cordial and put the final touches on the formation of joint [negotiating] committees between the Iraqiya bloc and the Sadrist trend that will have positive results with regards to forming a new government in the coming days.”
Al-Danbous denied that any of the two parties had offered concessions to the other during the meeting, stressing that “all that happened was dialogue in order to reach a common view with regards to forming a government, and the Iraqiya bloc for its part is upholding its constitutional duty and putting forward Iyad Allawi for prime minister, and we believe that in the coming days, and following the meeting with the leader of the Sadrist trend, we will see positive results in this regard.”
As for Muqtada al-Sadr’s recent statement calling for an independent figure to assume the post of prime minister in order to ensure complete loyalty to Iraq rather than partisan politics, al-Danbous told Asharq Al-Awsat that following his meeting with Allawi the leader of the Sadrist trend stressed that “he has no objection against the Iraqiya bloc forming a government, or even against the candidacy of Dr. Iyad Allawi for prime minister, and this is a clear indication of the Sadrist trend’s support for the Iraqiya bloc forming the new government.”