The announcement of the “National Alliance” between the State of Law Coalition [SLC] led by outgoing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Iraqi National Alliance [INA] led by Ammar al-Hakim appears to have been a political ploy to form the largest bloc in parliament, as sources inside the alliance say that disagreements are continuing over the government program and who to name as Prime Minster.
While the INA is demanding that the government program should be determined before announcing the two coalitions’ candidate, the SLC is insisting on its candidate Al-Maliki before negotiating the joint government program. These details were also confirmed by Muhammad al-Bayyati, a leading member of Badr Organization, one of the INA’s components, who pointed out that the problems in the negotiations have become dilemmas due to the SLC’s insistence on the name of the candidate for the prime minister’s post before reaching an understanding on the government program, which the INA is underlining. He asserted to Asharq Al-Awsat that the negotiations were ongoing but with the INA insisting on presenting and agreeing on the government program and then reaching an understanding on the candidates.
The decision to abolish the “committee of wise men” the two coalitions had formed to determine the mechanism for choosing the prime minister is an indication of these problems. Reports say this committee’s function was delegated to the administrative committee which is now operating as subcommittees to choose the mechanism for forming the government, the candidate for prime minister, and the government program. According to Al-Bayyati, the committee of wise men or the administrative committee is not the problem, adding that the mere formation of committees necessarily means there are problems between the negotiating teams.
On the other hand, Al-Bayyati has ruled out resorting to the smaller components to complete the numbers of the largest bloc and stressed that the door remains open to all Iraqi coalitions and blocs to form a government of real partnership which the INA had and continues to call for.
Haydar al-Abbadi, a leading Al-Dawa Party figure, had asserted in press statements that Al-Tawafuq Front and the Unity of Iraq Coalition had joined the National Alliance but Salim al-Juburi, Al-Tawafuq’s spokesman, stressed that the next two days would probably see a new announcement from the Front that it would not take part in the next government but would be a positive opposition in the Iraqi parliament and take up the role of supervising the government’s action and rectifying the course. He asserted in statements to Asharq Al-Awsat that negotiations were continuing with all the parties but the closest options for the front were to withdraw and remain on the side of positive opposition. Al-Tawafuq Front has six seats in the new parliament.
On his part, Ali Fulayh, a leading member of the Constitutional Party, which is one of the components of the Unity of Iraq Coalition that is led by outgoing Interior Minister Jawad al-Bulani, said the “coalition” was continuing its negotiations with all the parties in order to form a strong government capable of solving the Iraqis’ problems. He also denied in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat that there was an official announcement about joining the National Alliance but said a decisive session would be held today or tomorrow to make a decision.
However, Al-Iraqiya List adviser Dr. Hani Ashur has stated that the List’s negotiations with the other blocs will continue on the basis that the INA and SLC are two separate blocs whose alliance has no effect on the progress of negotiations due to their different programs and candidates for the sovereign posts and their disagreement over the important issues. He said: The two coalitions’ announcement of the idea of an alliance does not concern Al-Iraqiya List but concerns them and has no constitutional or legal basis but is an attempt to resolve the crisis between them over candidacies for the sovereign posts and their conflicting programs and to find the points of agreement between them. This does not concern Al-Iraqiya List which is adhering to its constitutional right to form the government in accordance with the constitution and the Federal Court’s ruling which gave it the first right to form the government since it is the largest bloc with the largest number of seats. He added: Solving disagreements between the blocs in any way, whether as an alliance or an understanding, is something good under the democratic dialogue, particularly as some have firm wishes to head the government. Al-Iraqiya wishes the SLC and INA can solve their differences for the sake of serving Iraq and achieving the change in faces and programs when forming the next government.