London, Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – A prominent Iraqi politician has disclosed that there are major disagreements within the State of Law Coalition [SLC] which is led by incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and that the “Iran wing” in it is pressuring for removing Al-Maliki and not naming him for the post of prime minister.
The Iraqi politician, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity said that the “Iran wing inside the SCL is pressuring for replacing Al-Maliki with other figures, one of them Shirwan al-Waili, the present minister of state for national security affairs”, adding that the “majority inside the SLC supports nominating Al-Maliki for a second term.”
On its part, an informed Iraqi source in Tehran told Asharq Al-Awsat that Iran punished Al-Maliki and is working to deprive him of leading the government because he “rebelled against it” by refusing to have an alliance with the Iraqi National Alliance [INA] which is led by the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council whose leader is Ammar al-Hakim. Al-Maliki split from his Shiite allies and contested the elections alone after the sweeping victory his coalition achieved in local elections held early last year.
This development comes amid signs of a split inside the SLC following Al-Maliki’s insistence on renewing his mandate for a second term. Sources talked about the withdrawal of more than “two important figures” for failing to obtain posts in the next Iraqi government since Al-Maliki’s bloc stopped being the principal player on the Iraqi political stage after Al-Iraqiya List of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi forged ahead in the legislative elections held on 7 March.
The INA expressed reservations about naming Al-Maliki for a second term and Al-Sadr Trend leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who is allied to Al-Hakim, also refused to name Al-Maliki. The Iraqi politician added “there are parties which believe it is important to discuss with Al-Iraqiya List about working with it to form a coalition government while other parties believe that the INA’s embracing of Al-Iraqiya List is to prevent Al-Sadr Trend from attempting to split from the coalition and join Al-Iraqiya List.” Al-Maliki is refusing Al-Iraqiya’s participation in the Iraqi government while Al-Hakim and Al-Sadr are insisting on this. But Al-Sadr Trend is fearful that its cozying up to Allawi’s Al-Iraqiya List might be interpreted as cozying up to the Baathists.
The Iraqi politician went on to stress that “Al-Sadr Trend is now using tactical steps to get a proper position in the next government. Al-Iraqiya List probably promised them this position on condition that they will represent the Shiites in it.” He pointed out that “there are scenarios for the alliances which might be surprising. The first includes the SLC, Al-Iraqiya List, and the Kurds leaving the other parties and blocs in opposition in parliament.” He added that “there is another scenario which is to name Iyad Allawi president of the republic, Nuri al-Maliki prime minister, and Tariq al-Hashimi parliament speaker. This scenario has not been resolved so far and talks about it are ongoing since another decision is being awaited from the Elections Commission and the announcement of the results of the appeals.” Al-Maliki, who won 89 parliament seats, refused the elections results, considered them “fraudulent”, and appealed against them to the commission. The results of the appeals are expected after 10 days. The Iraqi politician noted that “the United States wants the winning four blocs (the blocs of Allawi, Al-Maliki, Al-Hakim, and Kurds) to be included in order to pave the way for its withdrawal from Iraq.”